One month doesn’t make a career. You don’t want to put too much stock in a good or bad month, especially in the minors. A player can make an adjustment and turn a bad start around, or he could see the bottom fall out on his game and struggle after a hot start.
The first month of the season gives us an idea of who is going to have a good year and who will struggle, but the rest of the season doesn’t always play out that way. That’s largely why you don’t see many promotions to higher levels during the first month. The ones you see are rare, and they only occur when a player is seeing absolutely no challenge from a level, with nothing he can work on.
You start to see early promotions during the second month of the season, with a lot of promotions coming in early-June, or the weeks leading up to that point. The first month results can provide a hint at who will get a promotion, but you need to look beyond stats. Things like age, experience, live reports, and other factors need to be considered, and are considered by the Pirates.
To get an idea of who might be promoted in the next month, I looked at the rosters and saw which player performances were backed up by our live reports, while also seeing which players fell into situations that usually led to an early promotion. The result is a look at players from each level who could be promoted in the next month, with the cutoff likely coming around the 2018 draft.
Here is a look throughout the system:
One of the players who deserves a promotion from Indianapolis is already in the majors. Nick Kingham is up for now as a starter, although that could change with Joe Musgrove returning soon, and with little need for a fifth starter over the next few weeks. Kingham has earned a shot in the majors with his play in Indianapolis, and hasn’t done much to lose that shot in his time up. It will be interesting to see if he stays up in the majors with someone else like Steven Brault going down instead if the Pirates opt to go with an extra hitter.
If they do go with an extra hitter over the next few weeks, then the other guy who deserves a promotion is Jose Osuna. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him moving up, possibly as early as this week. The problem for Osuna is that he’s blocked in the majors, ranking third on the depth charts at first base and third base, while not being an option for the corner outfield due to his lack of range. He continues to hit in Triple-A, but hasn’t done much in the majors yet to show that he should be given a more permanent position. If he gets called up for the next few weeks, he could have a chance to show he deserves to stick around.
I was surprised that JT Brubaker was left behind in Altoona this year, and his performance so far has shown that he doesn’t really have much to prove at the level. He has a 1.80 ERA in 35 innings, with a 35:8 K/BB ratio. With Alex McRae and Austin Coley struggling in the Indianapolis rotation, you have to wonder how long the Pirates will hold Brubaker back. If he’s still in Altoona a month from now, I’ll be surprised.
Of course, the big questions about future promotions will mostly be focused on Mitch Keller. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s up in Indianapolis by this time next month. He’s shown good numbers so far, and the Pirates have been aggressive with his promotions in the past, more than any other player in some cases. By this time next month, that Indianapolis rotation could very well include Keller and Brubaker.
I don’t see as many promotion candidates between the A-ball teams, mostly due to how the Pirates promote these guys. Promotions from A-ball usually come around mid-season. The promotions from West Virginia usually only come for older players, and a lot of the older players are struggling right now. The most likely guys for promotions would probably be out of the bullpen, looking at guys like Evan Piechota, Drew Fischer, or Matt Seelinger, to name a few candidates.
The promotions from Bradenton usually start with the players who are returning to the level. James Marvel and Cam Vieaux both were promoted to Bradenton during the 2017 season, and both returned to the level in 2018. They’re off to good starts in the rotation, and I could see them moving up a level when Keller and Brubaker eventually move up to Indianapolis.
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Milwaukee Brewers by a 9-0 score on Sunday afternoon. The Pirates have off today. They travel to Chicago to take on the White Sox for a quick two-game series. On Tuesday, they will send Ivan Nova to the mound for his eighth start. The White Sox will counter with right-handed pitcher Lucas Giolito, who has a 7.03 ERA in 32 innings over six starts, with 18 strikeouts and a 1.56 WHIP. He allowed three runs over 6.1 innings against the St Louis Cardinals in his last start.
The minor league schedule includes the second rehab start from Joe Musgrove, who went three innings for Bradenton in his first game. He moves up to Altoona today and is scheduled to throw four innings. He was originally scheduled for Sunday, but possible inclement weather pushed him back to today. West Virginia was rained out yesterday for the second day in a row, so they will play a doubleheader today with Gavin Wallace returning from the disabled list in one game and Travis MacGregor starting in the second game. Wallace last pitched on April 26th and left after three innings. MacGregor had eight strikeouts in each of his last two starts. Cam Vieaux goes for Bradenton and Austin Coley starts for Indianapolis. Vieaux had gone at least five innings in all five of his starts this year.
MLB: Pittsburgh (19-16) @ White Sox (9-23) 8:10 PM 5/8
Probable starter: Ivan Nova (4.01 ERA, 35:6 SO/BB, 42.2 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (14-13) @ Louisville (9-17) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Austin Coley (10.05 ERA, 7:8 SO/BB, 14.1 IP)
AA: Altoona (15-12) vs Bowie (13-15) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Joe Musgrove (0.00 ERA, 0:0 SO/BB, 0.0 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (17-13) @ Dunedin (11-18) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Cam Vieaux (3.71 ERA, 24:7 SO/BB, 26.2 IP)
Low-A: West Virginia (15-13) vs Hickory (9-17) 5:05 PM DH (season preview)
Probable starter: Gavin Wallace (4.95 ERA, 14:2 SO/BB, 20.0 IP) and Travis MacGregor (2.42 ERA, 36:6 SO/BB, 22.1 IP)
From Indianapolis on Saturday night. Austin Meadows made a spectacular catch. No worries after you watch it, he stayed in the game and even moved to left field later as part of a double switch.
Alive and well. *Breathes big sigh of relief* pic.twitter.com/0QLCD8seMh
— Indianapolis Indians (@indyindians) May 6, 2018
5/5: Braeden Ogle placed on West Virginia disabled list. Gavin Wallace activated from DL.
5/4: Pedro Vasquez promoted to Altoona. Sean Keselica assigned to Morgantown.
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.
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
Two former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, two trades of note and one historic play from 1925. The players born on May 7th are Mark Smith, outfielder for the 1997-98 Pirates, and Dave Barbee, who played left field for the team in 1932.
The first trade of note has a major player involved, Hall of Fame center fielder Lloyd Waner. He was dealt to the Boston Braves in 1941 for pitcher Nick Strincevich. Waner was on the downside on his career and eventually returned to the Pirates in 1944 for his last two seasons. Strincevich started off really slow in Pittsburgh, but by the time Waner returned, he was a different pitcher. Over the 1944-46 seasons, he won 40 games and pitched over 600 innings, making the deal a win for the Pirates. During that 1941 season, Waner went to the plate 234 times without striking out….yes you read that right.
Also traded on this date in 1962 was pitcher Wilmer “Vinegar Bend” Mizell, who was sent to the expansion New York Mets in exchange for first baseman Jim Marshall. Mizell had 90 career wins and Marshall was hitting .344 at the time of the deal, but by the end of the season, both saw their Major League careers end.
On this date in 1925, shortstop Glenn Wright turned the sixth unassisted triple play in Major League history. It came in the ninth inning of a 10-9 loss to the Cardinals at Forbes Field. Wright caught a liner, stepped on second base and then tagged the runner coming from first. The batter was Hall of Fame first baseman Jim Bottomley and the runner on first base was Hall of Fame second baseman Rogers Hornsby. The runner on second base was Jimmy Cooney, who happened to be the next player to turn an unassisted triple play, which he did two years later against the Pirates.