Morning Report: Highlights From the GCL Pirates Season

The GCL Pirates wrapped up their schedule yesterday. We will have a full recap, along with a top ten prospects list from the team later this month. For now, I just wanted to do a quick look at the highlights from the team.

The Pirates drafted a four high school players with their first four picks this year, so that instantly made the GCL Pirates one of the top teams to follow. The talent on the club didn’t just come from the draft, as there were some interesting international players on the club.

When you have a rotation that consists of three high school draft picks taken in the top six rounds and your top DSL pitchers from the previous year, you are going to have a lot to follow. The Pirates even ended up with two of their top prep pitchers from last year when Extended Spring Training injuries to Max Kranick and Austin Shields, forced both of them to remain with the Pirates. Kranick eventually moved up, but not before he made three starts and Shields put in over 40 innings. Add in Shane Baz, Cody Bolton and Steven Jennings making a combined 29 starts (out of 60 games total), and that’s more than half of the team’s starts from high upside, projectable prep arms.

One of the top pitching highlights got lost in the bullpen, and that was Samuel Reyes, the younger brother of Altoona second baseman Pablo Reyes. Samuel began his first pro season in the DSL and they felt he was ready to move up for the beginning of the GCL season. He ended up posting a 2.65 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in 34 innings over 16 appearances, while walking just four batters.

The Pirates also had two 18-year-old pitchers from the Dominican seeing regular mound time in Leandro Pina and Yeudry Manzanillo. While neither put up great stats, they both have projectable frames and a good feel for pitching. You didn’t get great results from any pitchers, except Kranick and maybe Reyes, but you’re looking for them to get their innings in and work on commanding their fastballs. None of the young kids were over-matched, so that’s a good sign.

The pitching side had a lot of youth and upside, but it didn’t overshadow the offensive side. The season could have been slightly better if Conner Uselton didn’t get hurt in his second game, but they were still running an interesting top of the order out there most games. Lolo Sanchez, Rodolfo Castro, Calvin Mitchell, Mason Martin and Jeremias Portorreal formed a talented group of hitters. All of them finished with an OPS above .700 in a pitcher-friendly league, where there wasn’t one team that had an OPS of .720 and most were well below .700 as a team.

The obvious highlight was the Mason Martin show, coming soon to a South Atlantic League city near you. He won the league MVP award, led the league in OBP and slugging, while setting the Pirates record for homers and posting the third highest OPS ever in league history (52 seasons). His success overshadowed the others, who all performed well at a young age in the league.

Lolo Sanchez got on base, showed some pop in his bat, stole bases and played strong defense in center field. Infielder Rodolfo Castro also got on base and hit for some power. Both of them turned 18 during Extended Spring Training this season. Portorreal had some strikeout issues, but he also finally showed some in game power.

It really was a positive season for prospects, and much better than what we saw during the Bristol review a few days ago, where it was a few individuals showing improvements and not much else. These players aren’t done though. This group will return to Pirate City on September 10th for the Fall Instructional League and we will have live coverage from that league.

PLAYOFF PUSH

The Pirates trail in their division by 11.5 games. They are 8.5 games back for the second wild card spot.

Indianapolis won their division

Altoona clinched a playoff berth. They lead their division by one game with three games remaining. The division winner gets home field advantage.

Bradenton has been eliminated from the playoffs

West Virginia is in first place, with two other teams one game behind them. Their season ends September 4th.

Morgantown is in third place, three games back. Their season ends September 7th.

Bristol’s season is over.

The GCL season is over.

The DSL season is over.

PIRATES GAME GRAPH


Source: FanGraphs

TODAY’S SCHEDULE

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates won 5-0 over the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday night. Trevor Williams will be on the mound making his 22nd start of the season today. He has a 3.76 ERA in nine starts since the All-Star break. Williams has a 4.08 ERA in 11 starts and three relief appearances at home. The Reds will counter with right-hander Sal Romano, who has a 4.91 ERA in 58.2 innings, with 49 strikeouts and a 1.52 WHIP. He allowed four runs over six innings against the Pirates on August 3rd.

In the minors, Casey Sadler makes his first start for Indianapolis since his Tommy John surgery. Altoona needs to finish a suspended game before they play today’s regularly scheduled game. They will pick up the game with a 1-1 score in the sixth inning. Austin Coley will start today, coming off of seven shutout innings on Tuesday, when he struck out eight batters. Ike Schlabach will start for Morgantown. West Virginia needs a spot starter today, which could possibly be tenth round pick Beau Sulser, who was originally supposed to start for Morgantown yesterday. The GCL Pirates, Bristol and the DSL Pirates have all finished play. Bradenton finishes their schedule today.

MLB: Pittsburgh (64-72) vs Reds (58-78) 1:35 PM
Probable starter: Trevor Williams (4.37 ERA, 44:95 BB/SO, 127.2 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (78-62) @ Toledo (69-70) 6:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Casey Sadler (7.30 ERA, 7:9 BB/SO, 12.1 IP)

AA: Altoona (72-65) vs Harrisburg (59-78) 4:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Austin Coley (3.16 ERA, 30:112 BB/SO, 136.2 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (69-62) vs Charlotte (69-65) 10:30 AM (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD

Low-A: West Virginia (68-66) @ Delmarva (58-77) 5:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD

Short-Season A: Morgantown (38-33) vs Williamsport (34-35) 4:05 PM (season preview)

Rookie: Bristol (17-49)

GCL: Pirates (26-34)

DSL: Pirates (36-34) (season preview)

HIGHLIGHTS

Here is Mitch Keller striking out a former Pirate, Dan Gamache. Video starts with a 1-0 count.

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

9/3: Josh Harrison placed on disabled list. Christopher Bostick recalled from Indianapolis.

9/3: Austin Meadows placed on disabled list.

9/3: Anderson Feliz and Justin Maffei promoted to Indianapolis. Mitchell Tolman and Casey Hughston promoted to Altoona

9/2: Kevin Kramer and Taylor Hearn assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab.

9/1: Pirates activate Wade LeBlanc and Joaquin Benoit from disabled list.

9/1: Hunter Owen added to West Virginia. Shane Kemp promoted to Bradenton.

8/31: Juan Nicasio claimed on waivers by Philadelphia Phillies

8/29: Mikell Granberry promoted to Bristol. Jason Delay promoted to Morgantown.

8/29: Brent Gibbs placed on disabled list. Raul Hernandez promoted to West Virginia.

8/29: Daniel Zamora promoted to Altoona.

8/28: Adam Frazier placed on disabled list. Pirates recall Dovydas Neverauskas.

8/28: Johnny Barbato optioned to Indianapolis. Jordan Luplow recalled.

8/28: Hunter Owen assigned to Morgantown.

8/27: Casey Sadler promoted to Indianapolis.

8/27: Barrett Barnes assigned to Indianapolis.

8/26: Francisco Cervelli placed on the disabled list. Elias Diaz recalled from  Indianapolis.

8/25: Francisco Cervelli activated from the disabled list. Elias Diaz optioned to Indianapolis.

THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY

Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a game from the past with ties to a current minor league city and one of the best pitchers ever.

Matt Capps, 2005-09 reliever. Made 271 appearances and had a 3.61 ERA and 67 saves during his five seasons in Pittsburgh.

Juan Perez, lefty reliever for the 2006-07 Pirates. Had a 5.14 ERA in 24 appearances over his two seasons.

Dave Clark, outfielder from 1992 until 1996. Had an .801 OPS in 388 games with the Pirates, splitting his time between the two corner outfield positions.

Ed Konetchy, 1914 first baseman. Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss had a man-crush on Konetchy and tried multiple times to acquire him before giving up way too much to get him in December 1913, sending Dots Miller and Chief Wilson to the Cardinals as part of the five-player package. Konetchy rewarded Dreyfuss by having one poor season, then jumping to the Federal League.

Harry Decker, 1890 Alleghenys. Playing for the worst team in franchise history, Decker had the highest batting average (.274) and he hit five homers, which account for all of the homers he hit in his four-year MLB career.

On this date in 1890, the Pittsburgh Alleghenys took on the Cleveland Spiders in an exhibition game played in front of 2,000 fans in Altoona. Both teams were scheduled to meet the next day in Pittsburgh, but the exhibition game was put on the schedule so the teams could make extra money during the season. The Spiders won that day by a 10-6 score behind the pitching of a 23-year-old rookie named Cy Young, who had four career wins at the time. The Alleghenys made ten errors, including two by catcher Harry Decker, who you may remember from the last player you just read about before this paragraph. He also picked up two hits on his 26th birthday. The day after this exhibition game, the Alleghenys beat the Spiders 6-2 to snap a 23-game losing streak….yes, 23 games.

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