Tim Williams wrote yesterday about how Indianapolis is dividing up the playing time with so many prospects on the roster. The focus was around Kevin Kramer and Kevin Newman getting plenty of playing time in the middle of the order. That reminded me of a Morning Report topic from early last year when I took a look at the inexperience of Indianapolis, as far as previous Major League time was concerned.
Just like last year, this season’s club didn’t need to fill up on minor league veterans via free agency. The difference with this year is that they have Major League experience among the players who are still young, at least on the offensive side. The pitching side took the opposite approach, though not an overall change in the number of players, just the amount of time they have combined in the majors.
When I did last year’s chart for MLB time among position players at Indianapolis, it was basically all from Jason Rogers. He had 212 of the 235 MLB plate appearances. This year, catcher Ryan Lavarnway has 420 MLB plate appearances, which is well above last year’s group on his own. Todd Cunningham has another 130 PAs too, so their combined total is well above the “veteran” presence from last year.
The real difference this season is that you have players like Jose Osuna, Max Moroff and Jordan Luplow, who put in some decent time last year (and briefly in 2016 for Moroff). You also have Christopher Bostick and his 20 games, plus Jacob Stalling, who has only played ten games in the majors, but he’s actually been active for 75 big league days. So if the Pirates need to go to position player depth this year, they will be picking from guys who have been there before, at least until Kramer, Newman and Austin Meadows are deemed to be ready.
The pitching side is a little different than when they started with Josh Lindblom, Drew Hutchison and Dan Runzler last year. That gave them three players who all had more than cups of coffee in the majors. A.J. Schugel, Pat Light and Steven Brault gave them other options with big league experience.
This year the experience is limited to 54 games combined between Kyle Crick (30), Johnny Hellweg (8 in 2013), Casey Sadler (7), Richard Rodriguez (5) and Damien Magnifico (4). Magnifico wasn’t even slated for Indianapolis until Clay Holmes was called up. Holmes, as you probably know, made his MLB debut last week.
It’s clear that the Pirates have plenty of solid options to choose from on offense if they need to call up players, but the pitching side is a little thin with many of their young players already in Pittsburgh filling roles. That’s great when you have a young pitching staff in the majors (assuming they are doing well), but it doesn’t give them reliable depth if they need it.
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates were snowed out yesterday. Ivan Nova will make his third start of the season this afternoon, coming off of a game in which he allowed five runs over 5.1 innings. The Cubs will counter with 28-year-old right-hander Tyler Chatwood, who gave up one run in six innings, despite six walks, in his only start this season.
The minor league schedule includes the season debut of top lefty pitching prospects Taylor Hearn and Braeden Ogle. Altoona has their game on Monday postponed due to weather. It will be made up on June 26th. Ogle had his season debut pushed back again due to the weather. West Virginia will play a doubleheader today. Right now, fifth starter Sergio Cubilete is listed as the game two starter, though that could change if they don’t want to use two starters on the same day. Eduardo Vera makes his second start for Bradenton. He allowed one run over five innings in his debut.
MLB: Pittsburgh (7-2) @ Cubs (5-4) 2:20 PM
Probable starter: Ivan Nova (6.10 ERA, 7:4 SO/BB, 10.1 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (2-2) vs Toledo (2-2) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Casey Sadler (NR)
AA: Altoona (3-1) vs Harrisburg (2-2) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Taylor Hearn (NR)
High-A: Bradenton (4-1) @ Lakeland (2-3) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Eduardo Vera (1.80 ERA, 5:1 SO/BB, 5.0 IP)
Low-A: West Virginia (2-2) vs Lakewood (1-3) 5:05 PM DH (season preview)
Probable starter: Braeden Ogle (NR) and Sergio Cubilete (NR)
From Sunday in Indianapolis, the first Triple-A hit by Jerrick Suiter
— Indianapolis Indians (@indyindians) April 8, 2018
4/5: Pirates claim Jesus Liranzo from Los Angeles Dodgers. Placed on Altoona disabled list.
4/2: Kevin Siegrist placed on suspended list for Indianapolis.
4/2: Pirates place Joe Musgrove on DL; Recall Clay Holmes
3/31: Pirates release Clark Eagan
3/29: Pirates placed AJ Schugel on disabled list.
3/28: Pirates release seven minor league players, including Barrett Barnes and Cody Dickson
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
There have been six former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including two players who won World Series rings with the team. Outfielder Lee Lacy signed with the Pirates as a free agent in January 1979 and was used mainly off the bench that first season, where he hit .247/.327/.412 in 84 games. Lacy lasted with the Pirates until 1984 and played a total of 1,523 games during his 16-year career.
Joe Gibbon was a rookie pitcher for the 1960 Pirates. He made nine starts and 18 relief appearances that season, posting a 4.03 ERA over 80.1 innings. He pitched twice during the World Series against the New York Yankees and allowed three runs over three innings. Gibbon pitched with the Pirates until he was dealt in a 1965 trade with the San Francisco Giants that brought Matty Alou back to Pittsburgh. Gibbon returned to the Pirates in another trade with the Giants in 1969. He pitched two more seasons in Pittsburgh and made two appearances during the 1970 playoffs.
Also born on this date, Howard “Howdy” Groskloss, infielder for the 1930-32 Pirates. He went right from college at Amherst to the big leagues, though the Pirates weren’t quick to use him that first season. He was far at the end of the bench, playing just two games that first year. He saw a decent amount of playing time in 1931, but was used strictly as a pinch-hitter for the first 153 games of the 1932 season, and even then only batted 16 times. Finally, in the last game of the year, the Pirates gave him the start and he went 0-for-4 with an error. That ended up being his last Major League game. Groskloss is one of just a few former Pirates to live to 100 years old. Prior to his passing in 2006, he was the oldest living former baseball player.
Other players born on April 10th include:
Mike Lincoln, 2001-03 pitcher
Al Reyes, 2002 pitcher
Roger Wolff, 1947 pitcher
On this date in 1962, the Pirates opened up their season with a 6-0 win over the Phillies. Bob Friend started and went the distance for the complete game shutout. Roberto Clemente drove in four runs. This was the 81st season in franchise history and the first time they opened the season on April 10th. You can view the boxscore here.