Morning Report: Tracking the Progress of the 2016 Draft Class

While doing the last two Morning Reports about previous draft classes for the Pittsburgh Pirates, I was able to look back on previous articles and use them as a comparison. This is the first one for the 2016 draft class, which will serve as the starting point for future updates on the draft class.

The Pittsburgh Pirates selected Will Craig with their first pick, which was 22nd overall in the draft. They then took their first of five high upside high school arms, though Nick Lodolo (taken 41st overall) ended up not signing. After the second round, most of the picks were a mix of college hitters and pitchers, some taken with the idea to save money for the higher upside high school picks.

The Pirates signed 28 players total from the 2016 draft. They are down to just 18 left, with numerous players retiring and one player (Matt Frawley) being traded. Here are the remaining players and their current progress. Players are listed in the order they were drafted and any stats used are from the end of play on Tuesday night.

Will Craig – Moved from third base to first base last year, now at Altoona where he is in better shape, showing some power, albeit it with a low average.

Travis MacGregor – Had a tough 2017, but all of the mechanical adjustments and conditioning work he has put in are looking like they could pay off. It’s early, but he’s off to a strong start at West Virginia.

Stephen Alemais – Around mid-June of last year, no one would have believed he would be hitting .310 in Altoona. He struggled at the plate early last year, got injured, used his down time to make an adjustment with his swing and approach at the plate and it’s paying off so far.

Braeden Ogle – Young lefty starter, who has topped out at 98 MPH. Currently in the WV rotation and pitching well after a rough first outing.

Blake Cederlind – Returned to WV for a second season in their bullpen. Strong velocity, but control issues and lack of solid secondary pitches have held him back.

Cam Vieaux – Joined Bradenton rotation mid-season last year. Back again this year with mixed result early.

Dylan Prohoroff – Injured currently. Was previously in the WV bullpen for a second season.

Max Kranick – Getting stretched out in Extended Spring Training (EST). Most recent outing was four shutout innings.

Arden Pabst –  Our first Player of the Week this year because of his strong hitting at Bradenton. Mostly known for his defense, but if the bat has taken a step forward, then so has his prospect status.

John Pomeroy – Elbow injury has limited the hard-thrower to just 13.2 innings. Currently in EST rehabbing his way back from surgery.

Kevin Mahala – Light-hitting infielder, is currently not on any active roster, but still in the system.

Adam Oller – Pitching in long relief for WV now. Pitched great for Morgantown last year and showed some progress with his pitches.

Matt Eckelman – Reliever for Bradenton with solid results early this season, after mixed results for WV last year.

Garrett Brown – Currently in EST waiting for an outfield spot to open up in A-ball.

Hunter Owen – Putting up decent results early for Bradenton. Older player (turns 25 in September) who has some flaws, but his bat could carry him.

Geoff Hartlieb – Hard-thrower in Altoona bullpen, looking dominating at times last year. Off to a mediocre start, though he has ten strikeouts in eight innings.

Jordan Jess – Lefty reliever for Bradenton. Older player at 25 years old, High-A results have been poor so far.

Austin Shields – A very minor arm injury last year totally derailed the big progress he made early in camp. Will pitch for a short-season team this year. Currently in EST.

So out 18 players, you have three players already in Altoona, five are in Bradenton, another five are with West Virginia (all pitchers) and the other five are in Extended Spring Training.

** Max Moroff finally lost his prospect status last night. He recorded his 131st at-bat in his 131st day in the majors. The top 50 prospect list has taken some hits since the beginning of March with the trade of Tristan Gray, Jordan Milbrath getting returned to the Indians, and Moroff, Dovydas Neverauskas and Kyle Crick all crossing the prospect status line. They are going to lose two more soon with Colin Moran and Edgar Santana closing in losing their status. Santana needs two more appearances and Moran needs 29 more at-bats.

We only figured out the first four outside of the top 50 back when we did the list, so the current #46-49 prospects would be Ike Schlabach, Jacob Stallings, Bligh Madris and Alex Manasa. It appears that based on our voting over the winter, #50 would now be Casey Sadler, while Pedro Vasquez and Jared Oliva would be next after Santana/Moran are done. The next update will be in July after the draft signings are done. That list will also include voting on players like GCL shortstop Ji-Hwan Bae, third baseman Sherten Apostel, outfielder Jean Eusebio, waiver pickup/40-man roster member Jesus Liranzo and all signed draft picks.


Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates lost game one of a doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers by a 13-10 score. In game two, the Pirates won 8-3. Pirates will send Ivan Nova to the mound this afternoon for his sixth start. He allowed one run over six innings in his last start, which was in Philadelphia. The Tigers will counter with 25-year-old righy Michael Fulmer, who will be making his fifth start. He has a 3.47 ERA in 23.1 innings, with 13 strikeouts and a 1.37 WHIP.

The minor league schedule includes starts in Bradenton by Cam Vieaux and Gavin Wallace in West Virginia. Vieaux threw five shutout innings in his last start. He has 15 strikeouts in 15 innings this season. Wallace has given up three runs in each of his three starts. He did not issue a walk in either of his last two outings. Both Indianapolis and Altoona have off today.

MLB: Pittsburgh (13-11) vs Tigers (10-12) 12:35 PM
Probable starter: Ivan Nova (4.20 ERA, 25:4 SO/BB, 30.0 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (9-8) @ Columbus (8-10) 7:15 PM 4/27 (season preview)
Probable starter: Austin Coley (10.80 ERA, 3:4 SO/BB, 6.2 IP)

AA: Altoona (9-8) @ Harrisburg (7-11) 7:00 PM 4/27 (season preview)
Probable starter: Brandon Waddell (2.04 ERA, 16:3 SO/BB, 17.2 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (11-9) @ Jupiter (16-4) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Cam Vieaux (4.20 ERA, 15:4 SO/BB, 15.0 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (10-10) vs Rome (12-7) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Gavin Wallace (4.76 ERA, 12:2 SO/BB, 17.0 IP)


From Indianapolis on Tuesday, Tyler Eppler throws six shutout innings and gets some help from Kevin Kramer on this play


4/25: Rafelin Lorenzo placed on West Virginia disabled list. Raul Hernandez added to roster

4/25: Released Julio Gonzalez from DSL Pirates

4/25: Jose Osuna recalled for Wednesday’s doubleheader.

4/21: Sergio Cubilete placed on disabled list. Hunter Stratton added to West Virginia roster.

4/20: Pablo Reyes promoted to Indianapolis. Brett McKinney assigned to Morgantown.

4/20: Kevin Krause released. Bralin Jackson and Jordan George added to Altoona roster.

4/20: AJ Schugel assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.

4/18: Dylan Prohoroff placed on West Virginia DL. Matt Seelinger added to WV roster.

4/17: Brent Gibbs retired.

4/16: Josh Harrison placed on DL. Dovydas Neverauskas optioned to Indianapolis. Enny Romero and Max Moroff added to Pirates.

4/16: Jesus Liranzo activated from Altoona disabled list.  Sam Street assigned to  Morgantown.


Three former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including pitcher Francisco Cordova, who pitched five seasons for the team from 1996 until 2000. He took part in the team’s last no-hitter back in 1997, throwing the first nine innings of the ten inning game. That boxscore can be found here. Cordova went 42-47, 3.96 in 166 games, 112 as a starter with the Pirates.

Also born on this date: Infielder Curt Wilkerson, who played with the 1991 club that made the playoffs. He was a backup infielder at three spots that season (2B/SS/3B) and played 85 games, though he had just a .188 batting average. He pinch-hit four times in the NLCS that year and ended up striking out three times. Outfielder Amos Otis, who played for the 1984 Pirates, the last team during his 17-year career. He was a five-time All-Star and won three Gold Glove awards. Otis batted just .165 in 40 games for the Pirates that 1984 season.

On this date in 1995, baseball returned from their last strike and the Pirates opened their season against the Expos with a 6-2 loss. Here is the Pirates lineup from that day:

Jacob Brumfield, cf
Carlos Garcia, 2b
Al Martin, lf
Jeff King, 3b
Jay Bell, ss
Orlando Merced, rf
Rich Aude, 1b
Mark Parent, c
Jon Lieber, p
That 1995 club, playing a slightly abbreviated schedule, finished with a 58-86 record. That record would give them the first overall draft pick the following June, a pick they would use on Kris Benson.