The player going to the four full-season affiliates of the Pittsburgh Pirates left for their respective cities on Friday, leaving behind 63 players in Extended Spring Training. That number includes a large group of players who are either injured or on rehab. Besides players in Major League camp who we have updated already throughout spring (AJ Schugel, Daniel Nava and Nick Burdi), there are some prospects of interest currently on the sidelines. Tim Williams was able to get a few updates on Saturday morning.
The top prospect from this group would be right-handed pitcher Steven Jennings. The Pirates selected the 19-year-old in the second round last year and he debuted with ten starts in the GCL. Jennings suffered a cracked rib over the off-season. He has just started throwing off of the mound and hasn’t yet progressed to bullpens. He’s about 5-6 weeks behind a normal schedule. One thing that was clear from seeing Jennings was that the injury affected his off-season workouts, so he didn’t get a chance to add to his frame.
Jennings was likely headed to Bristol to begin the season, even if he impressed during Spring Training. Considering that we have nearly three months until the Bristol season begins (June 19th), he is still on track right now to pitch a complete Appalachian League season. He is going to miss out on Extended Spring Training innings, but if all goes well from this point on, he will likely get extra innings during the Fall Instructional League to make up for missed time.
Catcher Jin-De Jhang has been throwing and taking batting practice. He suffered a right elbow injury in early January. When he is ready to go in games, he will head to Altoona. We could see him play 1-2 rehab games with Bradenton first, and some Extended Spring Training action is likely in his near future.
Right-handed pitcher Pedro Vasquez has been sidelined with an unspecified illness. He will need to build up his pitch count once he is healthy, then the plan is to send him to Altoona. He had a 3.73 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP in 137.2 innings with Bradenton last year.
Third baseman Sherten Apostel has been out of action since injuring a hamstring on March 13th during the first minor league Spring Training game. He has started taking batting practice. He was scheduled for short-season ball, so this missed time shouldn’t have any affect on his placement in June, barring a setback of course.
We had updates on John Pomeroy, Shea Murray and Jacob Webb over the off-season, as all three recovered from elbow surgeries. All three pitchers are still in their recovery phase and will start off in short-season ball after Extended Spring Training.
Outfielder Edison Lantigua had a hamstring injury earlier this month, but he is almost ready to return to regular action.
Catcher Brent Gibbs has a knee injury and there is no timetable right now for his return.
If you saw our schedule of articles, you’ll notice that we have weekend articles planned out covering Extended Spring Training, so you get updates on all of these players and more. Prospects such as Shane Baz, Conner Uselton, Max Kranick, Cody Bolton, Ji-Hwan Bae, Jean Eusebio and Alex Manasa, to name a few, will be joined early next week by a group of players coming over from the DSL. Between all of those players and the injury updates, there will be plenty to cover at Pirate City before they split up into the three short-season clubs in June.