Morning Report: West Virginia is Looking Like a Possible Playoff Team

The West Virginia Power currently have a 22-14 record on the season. They lost one game from their first half schedule due to a rain out, so there are 33 games left in the first half. The South Atlantic League plays half schedules, where the first half champion in each division meets the second half champ. If one team wins both halves, then the second best record gets the second playoff spot. That means that a team could go 0-70 in the second half, but as long as they win the first half, then they have home field in the playoffs.

I tell you all of that information to let you know that the Power have a chance to make the playoffs next month and they are doing it with an extremely young team that has plenty of talent. They are also doing it while going through some early season pitching injuries.

The average age in the South Atlantic League in 21 years old. The Power have the following players who aren’t legal to drink yet:

Mason Martin – turns 19 in two weeks

Rodolfo Castro – turns 19 next week

Lolo Sanchez – 19 years 1 month

Calvin Mitchell – 19 years, 2 months

Oneil Cruz – 19 years, 7 months

Domingo Robles – 20 yrs, 1 month

Travis MacGregor – 20 yrs, 7 months

Braeden Ogle – 20 yrs, 10 months

That group makes up five of their starting position players and 60% of their five-man rotation, once Ogle returns from the disabled list.

We really only track minor league records here for possible playoff spots. It’s very rare that a team full of prospects is also one of the best teams in the league because prospects are usually young for the level and they will move up a level during the season if they are succeeding. So records in the minors are largely ignored unless it has to do with the playoffs.

If the goal was to win a Low-A title, then a team could try much harder than the Pirates did with this young group. That’s not the goal, but if a team full of prospects makes the playoffs, then you’ve added some extra games to the development time and added some pressure to those games. If they’re in a tight playoff race, then those late season games become much bigger to the players too. Make no mistake, the players want to win their league title at every level.

That type of experience could be great for a young group of players, as well as some younger players who should join the team mid-season like pitching prospects Shane Baz and Max Kranick.

Soon we will add the Playoff Push section to this article every morning, so you can follow the playoff run of the Power and the Bradenton Marauders, another team that plays in a split-season league. It will be right below this top section and include daily updates on the playoff chase. After the first half ends, then the Playoff Push section disappears until August, when all ten affiliates and the Pirates will be tracked.


Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates won 3-2 over the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday afternoon. The Pirates will now play four games at home against the San Diego Padres. They will send Chad Kuhl to the mound for his ninth start today. He gave up three runs over six innings against the San Francisco Giants in his last start. The Padres scheduled starter is left-hander Eric Lauer, who gave up six runs over 2.1 innings against the St Louis Cardinals in his last start. He has an 8.27 ERA in 16.1 innings over four starts this season, with 15 strikeouts and a 2.14 WHIP.

The minor league schedule includes Luis Escobar trying to get on track for Bradenton. In his last two starts combined, he’s allowed nine runs over 8.2 innings. He’s had three starts this season in which he failed to get through five innings. Taylor Hearn tries to build off of an outing in which he gave up one hit and one run over five innings. In his previous three starts combined, he surrendered 16 runs over 15.1 innings. He was originally scheduled to go yesterday, but Altoona was rained out. Indianapolis starter Clay Holmes has allowed 12 runs and issued 11 walks in his last 14.1 innings, covering three starts. West Virginia starter Domingo Robles allowed just two runs over six innings in his previous start, but he also tied a career high with four walks.

MLB: Pittsburgh (25-17) vs Padres (17-27) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Chad Kuhl (4.17 ERA, 42:16 SO/BB, 45.1 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (19-17) @ Norfolk (20-16) 12:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Clay Holmes (5.33 ERA, 26:16 SO/BB, 25.1 IP)

AA: Altoona (19-16) vs Portland (13-24) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Taylor Hearn (5.17 ERA, 32:12 SO/BB, 31.1 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (20-18) vs Daytona (24-14) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Luis Escobar (4.63 ERA, 28:12 SO/BB, 35.0 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (22-14) vs Lexington (18-18) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Domingo Robles (3.82 ERA, 30:9 SO/BB, 33.0 IP)


From West Virginia’s game on Monday, Rodolfo Castro hits his fourth homer.

This one is almost as good as the fan catch in the Castro video. Logan Hill, who is not known for his defense, makes a diving catch.


5/14: Jin-De Jhang assigned to Altoona. Jackson Williams assigned to Morgantown.

5/14: Josh Harrison assigned to Altoona on rehab.

5/12: Joe Musgrove assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.

5/10: JT Brubaker promoted to Indianapolis. Nick Kingham assigned to Altoona

5/10: Sergio Cubilete activated from disabled list. Jacob Taylor placed on West Virginia disabled list.

5/9: Brett McKinney placed on the Indianapolis disabled list

5/8: Pirates recall Jose Osuna

5/7: Nick Kingham optioned to Indianapolis

5/7: Sam Street released

5/7: Wyatt Mathisen promoted to Indianapolis. Logan Ratledge assigned to Altoona.

5/7: Joe Musgrove assigned to Altoona.

5/5: Braeden Ogle placed on West Virginia disabled list. Gavin Wallace activated from DL.


Ten former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, and two trades of note. Here is the long list of players born on this date, starting from the earliest days of the franchise (bios can be found in the two links above):

Henry Oberbeck- 1883 first baseman. He went 2-for-9 in two games for Alleghenys, handling all 25 chances in the field cleanly, which was an impressive feat in the pre-glove era.

Billy Reid- 1884 left fielder. Hit .243 during his 19 games in Pittsburgh.

Frank Mountain- 1885-86 pitcher/first baseman. Went 1-6 for Alleghenys after winning 23 games during the 1884 season. Hit .145 in limited time, though he did draw 13 walks.

Fred Woodcock- 1892 pitcher. Was the first starting pitcher to make his MLB debut on his birthday, something that didn’t happen again until 1955. Star college player at Brown and Dartmouth.

Elmer Steele- 1910-11 pitcher. Had a 2.60 ERA in 166 innings in 1911 before being sold to Brooklyn in September.

Hal Carlson- 1917-23 pitcher. Won 14 games for the 1920 Pirates. Missed time due to serving in WWI.

Harry Riconda- 1929 shortstop. Was part of the underwhelming return the Pirates got for star shortstop Glenn Wright. Batted just 15 times over two months before being sent to the minors.

Ozzie Virgil- 1965 catcher. Played 39 games for Pirates before being dealt to Giants for Matty Alou.

Pascual Perez-1980-81 pitcher. Played sparingly for Pirates before being traded to the Braves for pitcher Larry McWilliams in 1982

Jose Guillen- 1997-99 outfielder. Went from High-A ball to majors in one season. Hit 14 homers in each of his first two seasons with Pirates.

On this date in 1956 the Pittsburgh Pirates traded outfielder Bobby Del Greco and pitcher Dick Littlefield to the Cardinals for center fielder Bill Virdon. The trade worked out well for the Pirates, as the two players they gave up did very little in St Louis. Virdon played ten seasons in Pittsburgh, plus later managed the team and still helps the team to this day during Spring Training.

Five years prior to that deal, the Pirates and Cardinals made another trade. The Pirates dealt shortstop Stan Rojek to the Cardinals in exchange for outfielder Erv Dusak and first baseman Rocky Nelson. This trade didn’t work out well for the Pirates, though Nelson had a second stint with the Pirates and hit a big homer during the 1960 World Series.