Yesterday’s Morning Report was a look at the first month for the West Virginia Power. Today we move up a level to the Bradenton Marauders.
There weren’t a lot of expectations with this team on the prospect side, but it’s an older group with a solid pitching staff, so they are competing for first place and should be a strong team all season. They came into the year with shortstop Adrian Valerio and pitchers Luis Escobar, Oddy Nunez and Eduardo Vera as the main players to watch. So far, the pitching side has been as advertised, but Valerio is off to a slow start at the plate.
The Florida State League is a very pitcher-friendly league once the winds die down around this time of year. If you’ve seen Spring Training games from the same park, it’s hard to believe that batters don’t excel in this league, but as it gets hotter in the summer, offense drops. So there weren’t high expectations for Valerio, who is fairly young for the league and more known for his excellent defense. So far he’s hitting .207/.223/.337 through 23 games. I don’t need to tell you that even for a young player in the FSL, those are very low numbers.
Escobar, Vera and Nunez have all been up to their standards set last year in West Virginia, except that all three are on a lower strikeout pace than in 2017. It’s nothing alarming with any of them, as it’s still early in the year and they are throwing strikes and getting the desired results. It’s something to watch as the year goes along, especially for Nunez, who isn’t throwing quite as hard as last year.
The thought with Bradenton this year is that we could see some possible breakout prospects, either among 2017 draft picks getting a push over Low-A ball, or other players getting a chance to play everyday. It’s important to remember that it’s still very early in the season and breakout years don’t always start on day one of the season.
None of the four 2017 draft picks have shown signs of breaking out yet, but catcher Arden Pabst is putting up strong numbers early at the plate, hitting .357/.413/.405 in 12 games, with more walks than strikeouts. He has been a glove-only player his first two seasons, so this is a nice start to the season.
Tyler Gaffney has been a pleasant surprise with his ability to get on base despite sitting out the last five seasons. He’s been consistent since day one of the season, looking like he never took a break from the sport. Infielder Alfredo Reyes and first baseman Albert Baur have both made the most of their playing time with .800+ OPS.
The pitching side has one disappointment worth noting. Angel German, who was picked up in the Tony Watson trade, is showing the velocity that made him intriguing, but he’s not pitching well so far. In nine innings, he has a 13.00 ERA and a 2.33 WHIP. Besides the velocity being fine, the one upside is 13 strikeouts, but he needs to start throwing more strikes.
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates lost 12-4 on Tuesday night to the Washington Nationals. The Pirates will send Ivan Nova to the mound tonight for his seventh start. He pitched eight shutout innings against the Detroit Tigers in his last start. In Nova’s previous outing, he gave up one run over six innings versus the Phillies. The Nationals will counter with right-handed pitcher Steven Strasburg, who has a 3.63 ERA in 39.2 innings over six starts, with 43 strikeouts and a 1.03 WHIP. He allowed five runs over 6.1 innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks in his last start.
The minor league schedule includes morning games for both Indianapolis and Altoona. Austin Coley gets the start for Indianapolis while Brandon Waddell makes his fifth start. Despite making three starts and one relief appearance, Coley has pitched just 9.1 innings so far this season. Waddell has an 0.83 WHIP and a .160 BAA. Hunter Stratton makes his first start for West Virginia tonight. He has pitched twice in relief, allowing six runs over 3.2 innings. Cam Vieaux will get his fifth start for Bradenton. He has allowed two runs over his last 11 innings.
MLB: Pittsburgh (17-13) @ Washington (14-16) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Ivan Nova (3.32 ERA, 30:4 SO/BB, 38.0 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (12-10) @ Toledo (15-8) 10:35 AM (season preview)
Probable starter: Austin Coley (10.61 ERA, 7:3 SO/BB, 9.1 IP)
AA: Altoona (12-10) @ Richmond (14-10) 10:35 AM (season preview)
Probable starter: Brandon Waddell (1.88 ERA, 21:7 SO/BB, 24.0 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (14-11) vs Dunedin (9-15) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Cam Vieaux (3.86 ERA, 19:6 SO/BB, 21.0 IP)
Low-A: West Virginia (14-11) vs Augusta (17-7) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Hunter Stratton (14.73 ERA, 5:4 SO/BB, 3.2 IP)
From Altoona’s game on Monday, here are two highlights in GIF form. First is a double from Will Craig (he added two more doubles on Tuesday) that brought home two runs…
Two bags & two runs home for @WCraigers22
He leads the Curve with 15 RBIs this season pic.twitter.com/18DDlomwZP
— Altoona Curve (@AltoonaCurve) May 1, 2018
Next is Jesus Liranzo with the final pitch in the 3-1 win.
— Altoona Curve (@AltoonaCurve) May 1, 2018
5/1: Joe Musgrove assigned to Bradenton on rehab.
4/29: Pirates recall Nick Kingham. Enny Romero placed on disabled list.
4/29: Brett McKinney added to Indianapolis roster.
4/27: Bo Schultz promoted to Indianapolis. Adam Oller promoted to Bradenton.
4/27: Gavin Wallace placed on disabled list. Beau Sulser and Drew Fischer added to West Virginia.
4/26: Todd Cunningham traded to Chicago White Sox for a player to be named later.
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. Demoted after game.
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
Three former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, all of them pitchers and they lasted a total of 13 games between them. Jose Ascanio pitched ten games, split between 2009 and 2011. Clay Carroll pitched two games for the 1978 Pirates and Freddy Sale pitched for Pittsburgh on June 30,1924. With the Pirates losing 7-3 to the Cardinals that day, Sale came on for the eight inning and gave up two singles to the first two hitters. Two batters later, he got an out and a double play without allowing a run and his big league career was over.
Clay Carroll was in his 15th and final season in the majors when he joined the Pirates. His career in the big leagues began back when the Braves were still in Milwaukee. The Pirates knew him well, as he faced them plenty of times over the years, including three times in the NLCS while with the Reds (1970, 72 and 75). In 731 career games, he had 96 wins and 143 saves.
The Pittsburgh Pirates played their first game in franchise history 136 years ago today. That day, the Alleghenys defeated the Cincinnati Red Stockings on the first day of baseball in the American Association. It was a league that lasted ten years total and for the first five, Pittsburgh was a member, before moving to the National League for the 1887 season. The first batter in team history was Ed Swartwood, who led the league in runs and doubles in 1882 and became the first Pirates/Alleghenys player to lead the league in average (.357) the next season.