Morning Report: Playoff Notes, Prospect Status Updates and AFL Prospects

Some news and notes for your Saturday morning. In case you were wondering, the Pirates would have the 11th overall draft pick if the season were to end today. Also if that happened, this would be the earliest the season has ended since the 1994 strike-shortened season, which would be ironic because I think a lot of Pirates fans went on strike these last few days. Enjoy the notes.

** The prospect status updates that I have been giving all season will be winding down very soon hopefully, because only two players can still lose their prospect status and they are close. Technically, there are plenty of games left for Max Moroff to get 58 more at-bats, and multiple positions where he can get those at-bats, but I’m trying to be serious here. He hasn’t started once in his last 32 days with the Pirates. No reason to pretend that all of a sudden he will start getting MLB experience that could do something crazy like help him in the future.

Steven Brault is starting in place of Ivan Nova this time through the rotation, which sounds like a one shot deal. If he gets in 3.1 innings, then he’s no longer a prospect. Out of the 2018 Prospect Guide for the current 15th ranked prospect. The other would of course be Elias Diaz, who is now 16 at-bats away from getting the Prospect Guide boot. That should be done four starts, so I’m guessing Tuesday he will reach that…I mean Tuesday, the 26th. We ranked him eighth overall, so the farm system strength will take a bit of a hit losing these two players.

If you’re wondering about next closest, well that would be Dovydas Neverauskas with 12 appearances. If I did the math, Gift Ngoepe might have the edge with his 54 at-bats, but he’s not in the majors and shouldn’t get many at-bats if he does come up after the playoffs for Indianapolis.

** Andrew McCutchen tied Dick Groat for 14th place on the Pirates all-time hit list yesterday with 1,435 each. It’s interesting to note that they basically got there in the same amount of at-bats. Groat is 15th in at-bats for the Pirates with 4,950, which is just 14 at-bats ahead of McCutchen in 16th place. On the all-time batting average list for the Pirates, they rank 34th and 35th, with McCutchen holding an .001 lead.

** West Virginia took over first place yesterday, as the two teams they were tied with going into the day are playing each other. Hickory and Greensboro had their game suspended due to rain in the third inning, so by winning, the Power now have a half game lead with three days left in the season. It’s likely going to come down to Monday’s action to decide the playoffs. Altoona also gained a half game on their lead yesterday because Bowie was rained out. Those two teams are both already in the playoffs, but they are playing for home field advantage now. The lack of call-ups by the Pirates took some fun out of the playoffs, because we won’t get as many (any?) late promotions.

** MLB Pipeline posted an article covering ten players to watch in the Arizona Fall League. It’s not a top ten prospect list, although it does include many of the players who would be on that list if you go by Pipeline’s top 100 rankings. Of note in the article, the authors mentions that he is looking forward to seeing both Mitch Keller and Cole Tucker. There is a paragraph on each player in the article linked above. There are 11 top 100 prospects going to the league this year, which appears to be just slightly below average. We will have a nice little feature on the AFL soon which I’m sure you will enjoy…yes, you specifically.


The Pirates trail in their division by 11.5 games. They are 9.5 games back for the second wild card spot.

Indianapolis won their division

Altoona clinched a playoff berth. They lead their division by 1.5 games 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 a 1/2 game behind them. Their season ends September 4th.

Morgantown is in third place, 3.5 games back. Their season ends September 7th.

Bristol’s season is over.

The GCL Pirates have been eliminated from the playoffs.

The DSL season is over.


Source: FanGraphs


Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates lost 7-3 to the Cincinnati Reds of Friday night. Jameson Taillon will be on the mound making his 21st start of the season today. He has a 7.68 ERA in nine starts since the All-Star break. Taillon has a 5.43 ERA in 11 starts at home. The Reds will counter with 22-year-old right-hander Tyler Mahle, who made his pro debut against the Pirates six days ago and allowed three runs over five innings.

In the minors, Tyler Eppler will start for Indianapolis. He has allowed one run on six hits and no walks over seven innings in each of his last two starts. Altoona starter Alex McRae ranks fourth in the Eastern League with 144.2 innings pitched. Only Drew Hutchison has thrown more innings among minor leaguers for the Pirates. West Virginia starter Luis  Escobar needs four strikeouts to tie Tyler Glasnow’s team record for a season. Glasnow struck out 164 batters in 111.1 innings during the 2013 season. Escobar has struck out at least five batters in each of his last eight starts. Bradenton will finish yesterday’s suspended game, which is tied 0-0 in the seventh, before playing their regularly scheduled game. The GCL Pirates play their final game today. Bristol and the DSL Pirates have finished play.

MLB: Pittsburgh (63-72) vs Reds (58-77) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Jameson Taillon (4.75 ERA, 41:103 BB/SO, 106.0 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (78-61) @ Toledo (68-70) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Tyler Eppler (4.86 ERA, 32:93 BB/SO, 129.2 IP)

AA: Altoona (72-65) vs Harrisburg (59-78) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Alex McRae (3.67 ERA, 36:85 BB/SO, 144.2 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (67-62) vs Charlotte (69-63) 5:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Bret Helton (3.49 ERA, 36:82 BB/SO, 108.1 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (67-66) @ Delmarva (58-76) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Luis Escobar (3.98 ERA, 58:160 BB/SO, 126.2 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (37-33) @ Auburn (27-42) 6:05 PM (season preview)

Rookie: Bristol (17-49)

GCL: Pirates (25-34) vs Yankees East (33-26) 10:00 AM

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


Here are two highlights, since these were the only options from the last couple days. Sandy Santos homers

Joey Terdoslavich does something highlight worthy.


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.


Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus one transaction of note. On this date in 1972, the Pirates sold pitcher Bob Veale to the Boston Red Sox, ending his 11-year career in Pittsburgh. Veale was actually in AAA at the time of the deal. He didn’t pitch well in 1971 or early in 1972, but at one time he was a dominating pitcher when he was on his game. His 1,652 strikeouts are second in team history and he owns four of the top seven strikeout seasons in franchise history

Players born on this date include:

Gaby Sanchez, first baseman from 2012 until 2014. He had a .722 OPS in 309 games with the Pirates and he was slightly better over five seasons with the Marlins.

Yamid Haad, pinch-hitter for the Pirates on July 5, 1999. Signed as an amateur free agent by the Pirates out of Colombia, Haad was called up after Jason Kendall had his season-ending ankle injury in 1999. He grounded out to third base in his only at-bat. He was called up again later in the season when Keith Osik got hurt, but he never played. Haad made the majors briefly in 2005 with the Giants, his only other big league experience during his 14-year pro career.

Sean Lawrence, lefty pitcher for the 1998 team. He was a sixth round pick of the Pirates in the 1992 draft. Had a 7.32 ERA in 19.2 innings during that 1998 season, his only time in the majors.

Luke Walker, lefty pitcher during the 1965-66 seasons, then again from 1968 until 1973. Won 15 games during the 1970 season, then ten during the 1971 World Series winning season. Started game four of the Series, but couldn’t make it out of the first inning. Walker had a 3.47 ERA in 733.1 innings with the Pirates.

Ben Sankey, shortstop from 1929 until 1931. Hit .213 in 72 big league games, all with the Pirates. Played over 1,500 minor league games.

  • “He hasn’t started once in his last 32 days with the Pirates.”

    Very frustrating. Hurdle’s interview about Jaso and Stewart makes me think we really need a new manager. The team is retooling and he feels like he has to respect the relationship so he’ll give more playing time to the veterans?

    Our GM likes to hoard prospects and our manager likes to play veterans and disregard prospects. What a perfect match.

  • Can you just say the Pirates have been eliminated from playoff contention, John, so we don’t have to get more depressed by the results of this season?

    • Nope. But the Morning Report only runs until the last day of minor league playoffs, so no later than September 16th. That means that at least the last 15 days of the season won’t have playoff updates.

  • Luke Walker, who infamously said “Hello, Mom. I am alive and not pitching in Pittsburght”.

  • Why are they wasting Moroff at the MLB level? Either play him or send him back to Indy. Unless they don’t consider him a prospect? More likely the latter?

  • Hearn is making a rehab start with GCL. nice to see him back before the season ended.

    kramer is playing as well

  • Might as well aim for a top 5 pick now. Draft Hankins!

  • Is the Android app not working?

    Sandy Santos appears to be taking over the Tito Polo best physique status this year.

  • Just completed a week long trip from my WilliamsportPa. base to see six Pirate minor league games at four different
    stadiums in six days! Was in Morgantown, Charleston WV and Altoona. Lots of good pitching of course. But while all teams are winning and doing well, including Bradenton who I saw for several games in Florida back in June, I don’t see a lot of outstanding position players.

    Lots of good looking position players, but no potential All Stars. This is, I believe, a weakness in the Huntington drafting scheme needing correction, given the 2017 failures of Polanco, Marte and Meadows. The Pirates need some offense in their lineup.

    Of course Cole Tucker and Kevin Newman looking good, but we don’t need more Jordy Mercers at this point. Jordy is one of my favorite players from day one. However, we need some guys who can blast from either side of the plate!

    I DID see, as of last night in Altoona, Mitch Keller pitch three of his first four games at AA. Drove to Trenton NJ where he shut out the best team in the Eastern League, then did the same thing next start in Altoona vs the Trenton Yankees. Last night he shut down a weak team, Harrisburg Nationals. He keeps this up and I see him in Pittsburgh possibly, by end of next year. He’s commanding his fast ball while getting over the two breaking pitches for strikes, I think about 10 of them last night in six innings!

    • Pirates loaded up on position players with line drive swings who hopefully can get on base right when MLB changed the baseball to generate more HR’s. In this case, Pirates are step behind the times.

      Hopefully we can get more guys like Mason Martin and the player we acquired from Dodgers for Watson (O’Neil?) in the system by this time next year.

    • So Meadows and Polanco are already failures? That is a ridiculous and unsupported statement badges on unrealistic expectations, in my opinion.

  • The 8th and 9th picks are in striking distance.

    • I doubt the Pirates break double-figures, but I sure do enjoy watching them running in-place while our Management Team decides what they want to do with the rest of the season.

      • 5 more games against reds that’s one spot in and off itself. 6 games mil who’s only 1.5 off the wc. 4 stl and chi. #6 is possible.