Morning Report: What Went Right for the Bristol Pirates?

The season ended last night for the Bristol Pirates, as they were able to avoid a couple of dubious marks with a win. One would be not losing 50 games during a 68-game schedule, which had two rain outs shorten it to 66 games. The other would be not posting the worst winning percentage in the city’s history, which dates back to 1911, although there are some missing years in there where they didn’t have a team.

With as bad as the team was on paper, offensively, defensively and with the pitching, there were actually some bright spots for the team. Here’s a small list, because that’s all I could come up with for positives, without stretching for more.

1. Braeden Ogle is one of the top positives from the team. He pitched well and has developed nicely as a prospect, which includes hitting 98 MPH this season. His season ended slightly early due to knee surgery, but the operation went well and was considered minor. I talked to him Tuesday night and he said he’s already resuming some activities, so his off-season should be completely normal. That includes a trip to Pirate City during the instructional league, where he will continue his rehab.

2. Edison Lantigua showing some nice offense was really the only positive on offense for the team. I like that Yondry Contreras continued to move up the system and had his best season, but it wasn’t actually a good season, he just didn’t set the bar high in the past. He has tools and can play center field well, so between that and his youth, he remains a player of interest, which is a nice way of saying he has some ways to go before he’s a prospect. As for Lantigua, he’s a nice hitter with a solid line drive approach and with the way he hit, we could see him jump to West Virginia. He would then have a chance to go from a fringe top 50 prospect (he may be in there for the Prospect Guide) to a legit prospect.

3. Alex Manasa was the 11th round pick, which is one of the most important rounds in the draft. It’s obviously not up there with the first round pick, but teams can figure out what they have to spend during the break between the second and third day of the draft, then match it up through phone calls with the best talent available. Those are usually players who dropped due to bonus demands that they usually end up dropping because they really want to go pro. Manasa didn’t seem too impressive at first, especially during his first few outings, but he was pitching much better as the season went along and already went from sitting high-80s to low-90s. Throw in that he’s young and has a projectable frame, and he looks much better now than he did on draft day.

4. Domingo Robles didn’t put up the best stats, but he did look much better on the mound than he did prior to this season. The Appalachian League is a high offense league and he turned 19 at the end of April, so the stats weren’t too bad when put into perspective. The important part is that he looked the part of a prospect and wasn’t over-matched in the league, giving the team (along with Ogle), two solid lefty prospects in the starting rotation.

5. I wanted to go to five, but that would be stretching the definition of positive. I’ll point out that Max Kranick pitched great in his two starts with the team and most importantly, was healthy. I’ll also point out that they got him there with enough time to make three starts by keeping him on the five-day schedule in the GCL, then went an extra day between starts for no reason, which limited him to two starts. Not quite sure about that move, but he is scheduled to get 20 innings in during instructs, which will give him a nice overall base going into next year.

The other almost positive could be the way all of the pitchers I talked to raved over throwing to Jason Delay, with one of them saying he is the best catcher he has ever had. Delay was too old for the league, but if you go by the comments I received, he was in the right spot.

Delay being with Bristol allowed Deon Stafford to catch daily with Morgantown, which is one of the reasons that having Bristol helps pay off the cost of owning a team that draws about 600 fans a game. The experience gained outweighs the financial cost involved in player development. Lantigua and Contreras played full-time while Morgantown and the GCL had no room for them in the outfield. Pitchers like Robles and Ogle got innings without being held back in the GCL, or pushed up to Morgantown against mostly college competition. In most years, you would also hope to have a shortstop prospect at each level, but that didn’t happen this year for Bristol.

PLAYOFF PUSH

The Pirates trail in their division by 10.5 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 one game with four games remaining. The division winner gets home field advantage.

Bradenton has been eliminated from the playoffs

West Virginia is tied for first place with two other teams. 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.

PIRATES GAME GRAPH

The Pirates were off yesterday.

TODAY’S SCHEDULE

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates were off yesterday. They open up a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds at home tonight with Gerrit Cole on the mound. He will make his 28th start of the season. Cole has a 3.19 ERA in nine starts since the All-Star break. He has a 4.24 ERA in 12 starts at home. The Reds will counter with right-hander Luis Castillo, who has a 3.26 ERA in 77.1 innings, with 83 strikeouts and a 1.14 WHIP. He allowed one run over seven innings in his start against the Pirates six days ago.

In the minors, Tyler Glasnow is scheduled to go for Indianapolis. Despite spending the first two months of the season in the majors, Glasnow ranks fifth in the International League with 131 strikeouts. Mitch Keller will make his sixth start for Altoona tonight. His last start was his worst one, as he allowed four runs over 5.2 innings. He has picked up at least six strikeouts in each of his last four outings. Bradenton sends James Marvel to the mound for his final start tonight. The stats from his last start were wiped out when the game was called after 3.2 scoreless innings. Oddy Nunez makes his last regular season start for West Virginia. Bristol and the DSL Pirates have finished play.

MLB: Pittsburgh (63-71) vs Reds (57-77) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Gerrit Cole (3.99 ERA, 40:154 BB/SO, 167.0 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (77-61) @ Toledo (68-69) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Tyler Glasnow (2.06 ERA, 31:131 BB/SO, 87.1 IP)

AA: Altoona (71-65) vs Harrisburg (59-77) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Mitch Keller (3.77 ERA, 10:34 BB/SO, 28.2 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (67-62) @ Charlotte (69-63) 6:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: James Marvel (2.00 ERA, 5:15 BB/SO, 18.0 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (66-66) @ Delmarva (58-75) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Oddy Nunez (3.87 ERA, 31:93 BB/SO, 107.0 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (36-33) @ Auburn (27-41) 7:05 PM (season preview)

Rookie: Bristol (17-49)

GCL: Pirates (25-33) vs Yankees East (32-26) 12:00 PM

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

HIGHLIGHTS

Here is Eric Wood hitting his 16th home run of the season. That tied his career high set last year.

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

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.

8/23: Edgar Santana optioned to Indianapolis. Pirates select the contract of Angel Sanchez.

8/23: Cody Dickson promoted to Indianapolis.

8/23: Gage Hinsz placed on disabled list.

8/23: Braeden Ogle placed on the disabled list.

8/23: Arden Pabst placed on disabled list. Henrry Rosario promoted from Bristol to West Virginia.

THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY

Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including the son of a Pirates great.

Dave Rucker, 1988 pitcher. Lefty reliever signed as a free agent prior to the 1988 season. Spent all of 1989 in the minors for the Pirates. In 31 appearances, he had a 4.76 ERA over 28.1 innings. The Pirates had an 85-75 record during the 1988 season, but they were 6-25 in games that Rucker pitched.

Vic Barnhart played 74 games total for the 1944-46 Pirates. He is the son of Clyde Barnhart, who spent his entire nine-year career with the Pirates (1920-28), hitting .295 in 814 games. Vic passed away this year and was the last player alive from any pre-1947 Pirates teams.

Jim Hopper, 1946 pitcher. Was managed by HOF pitcher Burleigh Grimes when the Pirates signed him out of the minors. Grimes played for the Pirates three different times, and said that Hopper was the best young player the Pirates had. Unfortunately, before he played a game for the team, he was called into active duty for the war. The Pirates signed him thinking he wouldn’t go to war because he had two young kids at home. Hopper missed two full years before returning in 1946. He started the fifth game of the season, then pitched again a month later, in what ended up being his last big league appearance.

Fred Nicholson, 1919-20 Pirates outfielder. The Pirates purchased him from the Tigers on June 30, 1919 for $2,500. He hit .273 in 30 games in 1919, then batted .360 over 99 games during the 1920 season. Prior to the 1921 season, he was involved in a trade that included two future Hall of Famers, Billy Southworth and Rabbit Maranville.

Sam Brenegan, played one inning on April 24,1914. If he played in this era, he would be one of the most hated Pirates. Brenegan made his Major League debut in the sixth inning of a game the Pirates were losing to the Cardinals. Manager Fred Clarke decided to give starting catcher George Gibson a rest, sending Brenegan in to catch. Two batters into the inning, he committed a passed ball and walked after the ball behind him, which immediately irritated Clarke. A couple of pitches later, a wild pitch hit his finger and he walked after the ball again. Instead of going back behind the plate, he walked to the bench and sat down. That was his entire big league career.

On this date in 1890, the Pirates/Alleghenys lost all three games of a tripleheader to Brooklyn. It is one of three tripleheaders in Major League history. Pittsburgh lost 10-9 in the opener, 3-2 in the middle game and 8-4 in the last game. Only 915 paying customers showed up and the games took a total of four hours and 48 minutes to play.

  • Given that the talent of West Virginia was panned at the beginning of the season the fact that they are tied for first place now must come as a surprise? Did the whole league really stink?
    Given Bradenton’s talent at the beginning of the season their failure to make the playoffs is a disappointment. I suppose they really missed the players promoted to AA.

    • West Virginia was filled with 22+ yr old players this year. It wasn’t that they were considered a bad team, it was that they were very old for the league and not many are prospects. Those are the types of teams that usually compete. They had Carlos Munoz and Albert Baur in the middle of their lineup. That’s a guy with 7 years of pro ball and a 25 year old. Those are two things you shouldn’t find in your starting lineup in Low-A, but they both helped the team win. Doesn’t help the prospect rankings though

  • The last sentence of this article should’ve read, “Only 915 paying customers showed up and the 3 games took approximately the same amount of time to play as it takes to reach the 7th inning stretch of a modern day Yankees/Red Sox game.”

  • There’s this book, everything men know about women. You open it up and all of the pages are blank.

    In that context, I clicked on this article expecting a blank page.

    • This is as close as you will see probably to a team having a blank page for positives. It got down to the point where I was at #5 and giving half credits to a pitcher making two starts and a 22-year-old catcher being great defensively. If I did five positives for all of the teams, which I’ll likely do, I can guarantee that #5 will be a choice of who do I not want to leave off for the last positive (or I’ll add honorable mentions).

      Records usually don’t mean much. Look at the GCL Pirates with a losing record and I’d have no issue finding ten positives, but Bristol matches the record. They were bad.

  • John – what do you think Stafford’s ceiling is?

    • I like what I saw from Stafford. His bat has a chance to be very good, makes hard contact and he hit for average. His defense wasn’t as bad as the draft reports made it sound. He moves well behind the plate. He has some footwork and accuracy issues on throwing out runners, but that can be taken care of with experience, because the arm is strong enough.

      He’s much better overall than Brent Gibbs, who was also described as raw behind the plate when he was drafted. While Gibbs would get the nod as the better thrower in strength, accuracy and quickness, he looks like a position player being forced to catch a knuckleball pitcher. I was expecting Stafford to be bad from the reports and he actually looked good, so that was a pleasant surprise.

      • That is great to hear. He was one of the guys I was interested since the beginning. Mitchell (high ceiling OF 1), Uselton (high ceiling OF 2), Stafford (hitting C), Martin (plus raw power!), and Madris (because he played in division II). Oh, and David Lee because nothing was known.

        I know Madris is always on highlight section and has been selected as the twenty few times, but do you like what you’ve seen so far?

        • The only thing I didn’t like about Madris was the one game he faced a pitcher with a real nice curve, he looked lost at the plate. I believe he struck out four times in the game and really looked bad doing it. Strikeouts haven’t been an issue for him, so he may have just had trouble picking up that one pitcher. Other than that, there is a lot to like with him. Morgantown has a lot of players who make solid contact.

  • so i guess the pirates won’t call up players until the indians are out of the playoffs?

    • I think Edgar Santana will be up tomorrow. He isn’t eligible to come up today. Hasn’t been ten days. Sounds like today’s additions will be guys off the DL. Not exactly the youth movement we hoped for

      • if we don’t see a youth movement, it would be quite bizarre. when huntington took over he had a clear plan. now it appears he doesn’t have a plan at all. very discouraging.

        • Someone needs to stand near Hurdle with a rolled up newspaper when he makes out the lineup and smack him on the nose when he makes a mistake and say, “no! bad!”. He will learn eventually.

          If they wait until the playoffs are over in Indianapolis, it’s almost a waste. That would mean the earliest anyone comes up is September 10th, but it could be as late as the 17th, which leaves exactly two weeks left in the season. Not a lot of time to get MLB experience for a large group of players.

          • judging from the lineup tonight, it appears that’s what they’re going to do……

  • What happens to all the players on this team? This seems like coming up on a construction site where two lanes are converging to one.

    And in your playoff push section, you might want to start mentioning the Pirates draft slot number for next June. 🙂

  • John, do you think Glasnow would start one more game with Indy? I was sort of hoping Pirates skip Taillon’s start tomorrow and let Glasnow start…

    • Glasnow is starting tonight in Indy from what we have been told. Can’t say I agree with that decision one bit.

      • Oh for christ’s sake… and we are still unsure if Kingham will be called up. I’m having nightmares here…

        • Yes, there is still uncertainty, even though they said last night that Nicasio’s innings were better spent on players who can help for 2018 and after, there were no specifics about Kingham. Me personally, his start last night would have been moved to tonight in Pittsburgh. Glasnow would go Saturday and Cole could start Sunday. The longer they wait to bring him up, the less sense it makes.

          • I’m sure they’ll spend Nicasio’s innings on Neverauskas and maybe even Santana. But the starters are an issue. I feel like they don’t want to skip Taillon and Nova or really, anyone in the current rotation. Don’t feel like they’re really into the 6 man rotation either. Because they are not willing to make those changes, they don’t want to call up Kingham when they already have Brault and Glasnow they can’t take care of.

            • I think you will see Nova and Taillon skipped coming up sometime soon, just not this time through the rotation.

              • I sincerely hope so… I honestly wouldn’t mind skipping any of the guys except for Cole. I hope my rant above sounds really stupid later when you read it

          • I’d rather see Glasnow pitch in the Playoffs and see if he can bring his A game when a championship is on the line.

            • I mentioned to someone else in Tim’s article from today, that Glasnow does have a history of very poor playoff starts in the minors, basically his worst starts in the minors have come in playoff games, so they don’t show up in the stats. I could see them wanting to exorcise those demons for him, but I’d still have him making six big league starts instead

              • Good experience either way. They certainly need Galsnow to fulfill his potential next year!

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