Morning Report: A Look at the Top Prospects from the 2017 Altoona Curve

From Tuesday through Friday last week, we looked at the progress of the top prospects from the 2017 DSL Pirates, GCL Pirates, Bristol Pirates and Morgantown. Then on Tuesday we looked at the 2017 West Virginia Power. Yesterday we moved up to Bradenton, which was loaded with prospects last year. Today is obviously Altoona, and tomorrow will be Indianapolis to round out the fun. First I’ll list the top ten prospects from the 2017 Altoona Curve, then comment below.

  1. Cole Tucker
  2. Kevin Newman
  3. Kevin Kramer
  4. Jordan Luplow
  5. Brandon Waddell
  6. JT Brubaker
  7. Pablo Reyes
  8. Yeudy Garcia
  9. Jerrick Suiter
  10. Edwin Espinal

We covered Tucker yesterday, noting that he was hitting into some bad luck early, but has raised his average over the last three weeks, while stealing bases and playing strong defense.

Kevin Newman also raised his average after a slow start and he’s stealing more bases, while playing solid defense. He’s probably going to be in Pittsburgh sometime soon because I don’t think we can expect him to be more ready than he is now, unless they want to get him more time at second base first. Newman should hit for a decent average in the majors, steal some bases and play some average defense at shortstop. He has never drawn many walks and the power isn’t there, so what you see should be what you get.

Kevin Kramer is having an outstanding month of June, which is getting some calls for him to be up in Pittsburgh. I don’t see him just there yet because I think he could be better. He could also use more upper level experience, plus if they are going to use him all around the infield in the majors, then he needs more time on defense. His 22:78 BB/SO ratio in 70 games isn’t strong and I think he could do more on the bases. That being said, I’m always in the camp of bringing guys to the majors when they could help AND play regularly, even if they still have learning to do. That second part about playing regularly is most important. Remember Max Moroff putting on a show at the plate in Indianapolis last year and then riding the bench in Pittsburgh? They should probably avoid that type of handling with Kramer.

Jordan Luplow has been quite streaky this year, which has probably kept him from getting a call to Pittsburgh so far. I had him as a solid fourth outfielder, as long as your team has a backup center fielder, and he’s still in that same spot ten months later.

I don’t know what the Pirates are doing with Brandon Waddell. He was pitching great in Altoona, had a couple of bad starts when he arrived in Indianapolis, and then went to the bullpen. If they are turning him into a potential lefty reliever, then that certainly hurts his prospect value, but could get him to the majors sooner.

JT Brubaker also pitched great for Altoona this year and got a call to Indianapolis. He has hit some bumps there, but he has the pitches to be an MLB starter, so he’s getting more time to adjust to Triple-A. We probably won’t see him this year, but he should a depth option early next year.

There was a clear drop-off on that list after Brubaker and it was something that we corrected in the book by moving Tanner Anderson up to seventh and pushing everyone else back. Anderson has pitched well in Triple-A so far (wrote this before his call to the show). In fact, he allowed more earned runs in the season opener, than he has in 34 innings since, so one bad game really skewed his ERA.

Pablo Reyes is a very interesting case and sort of a correction of what I believe was a mistake last year. Reyes is a free agent at the end of the season and the Pirates are giving him plenty of chances to prove his worth. Last year, the #10 prospect on this list was in the same spot. Edwin Espinal hit great at Altoona, but they waited until the end of the year to send him to Indianapolis. When he became a free agent, he was one of the first players to sign and now he’s doing well in Triple-A for the Tigers after missing some time last month. There was no one at Indianapolis blocking him at first base, so he should have been there by June last year.

Yeudy Garcia was throwing harder last year, back up to his 2015 standards, albeit in relief. He was having some success as well. This year has been bad and it’s tough to consider him a prospect at all, at this point. Jerrick Suiter got pushed into a reserve role for some reason and it’s tough to explain after the season he had last year. He’s been healthy all year, but only played 27 games. He’s basically the 26th man and he could be headed for another phantom DL trip at any time.


Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates won 5-3 over the New York Mets on Wednesday. The Pirates have off today as they travel to San Diego for a weekend series. On Friday, they will send Joe Musgrove to the mound for his seventh start. He allowed five runs over four innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks in his last start. The scheduled Padres starter is left-hander Eric Lauer, who has a 5.05 ERA in 57 innings, with 50 strikeouts and a 1.75 WHIP. He gave up one run over six innings against the San Francisco Giants in his last outing.

The minor league schedule includes Max Kranick starting for West Virginia. His last start was four shutout innings, shortened due to a rain delay. He tossed five shutout innings in his prior start. JT Brubaker goes for Indianapolis. His last start was his worst of the season, allowing six earned runs. His previous high was three runs. Pirates fourth round pick Aaron Shortridge will make his third start as a pro. He allowed one run over 3.1 innings last time out. Adam Oller goes for Bradenton, Pedro Vasquez for Altoona and Bristol doesn’t have a starter listed. Travis MacGregor will make a rehab start with the GCL Pirates. He should be extending himself to four innings today.

MLB: Pittsburgh (38-42) @ San Diego Padres (36-47) 10:10 PM 6/29
Probable starter: Joe Musgrove (4.59 ERA, 31:9 SO/BB, 33.1 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (43-33) @ Columbus (38-38) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: JT Brubaker (4.11 ERA, 33:25 SO/BB, 46.0 IP)

AA: Altoona (40-33) vs Harrisburg (40-38) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Pedro Vasquez (5.73 ERA, 32:13 SO/BB, 44.0 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (37-34) @ Palm Beach (42-28) 12:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Adam Oller (6.31 ERA, 21:7 SO/BB, 25.2 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (42-30) vs Hickory (33-42) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Max Kranick (3.99 ERA, 17:9 SO/BB, 29.1 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (5-7) vs Mahoning Valley (9-2) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Aaron Shortridge (2.84 ERA, 7:1 SO/BB, 6.1 IP)

Rookie: Bristol (5-3) @ Princeton (4-4) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD (0.00 ERA, 0:0 SO/BB, 0.0 IP)

GCL: Pirates (3-5) vs Phillies East 12:00 PM (season preview)

DSL: Pirates1 (10-12) vs Rangers1 10:30 AM (season preview)

DSL: Pirates2 (10-12) vs Tigers2 10:30 AM  (season preview)


From Altoona on Tuesday, Jordan George gets the RBI, which would end up being the only run, on a double. Notice Bryan Reynolds scoring from first base without a throw on the hit.


6/28: Mitch Keller and Jason Martin promoted to Indianapolis. Alfredo Reyes promoted to Bradenton.

6/27: Sean Rodriguez placed on disabled list. Tanner Anderson called up to Pirates.

6/27: Jung Ho Kang and Christopher Bostick placed on disabled list. Eric Wood activated from Indianapolis DL.

6/27: Raul Siri promoted to West Virginia.

6/27: Pirates sign John O’Reilly.

6/26: Pirates sign Allen Montgomery.

6/26: Jason Delay placed on disabled list.

6/26: Ryan Haug assigned to GCL Pirates. Will Reed assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab.

6/25: Jackson Williams added to Indianapolis roster. Arden Pabst assigned to Bradenton.

6/25: Eric Wood assigned to Morgantown on rehab.

6/25: Pirates release Johnny Hellweg.

6/24: Pirates place Michael Feliz on disabled list. Clay Holmes recalled from Indianapolis

6/24: Jerrick Suiter activated from Indianapolis disabled list.

6/24: Pirates released Kyle Simmons and Cristopher Perez.

6/23: Corey Dickerson reinstated from Family Medical Emergency Leave list. Adam Frazier optioned to Indianapolis.

6/23: Evan Piechota placed on disabled list. Ryan Haug promoted to Bradenton.

6/22: Pirates sign Braxton Ashcraft and Connor Kaiser.

6/22: Francisco Cervelli placed on disabled list. Jacob Stallings recalled from Indianapolis.

6/22: Arden Pabst promoted to Indianapolis. Blake Cederlind promoted to Bradenton.

6/22: Travis MacGregor assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab.

6/22: Fernando Villegas activated from Morgantown restricted list. Assigned to GCL Pirates.

6/21: Fabricio Macias activated from West Virginia restricted list. Assigned to Morgantown.

6/21: Pirates sign Kyle Mottice and Steven Kraft.

6/21: Tyler Eppler activated from temporary inactive list.

6/21: Cody Smith assigned to Morgantown from GCL Pirates

6/20: Corey Dickerson placed on Family Medical Emergency Leave list. Adam Frazier recalled.

6/20: Jackson Williams placed on Indianapolis disabled list.

6/20: Pirates sign three draft picks

6/20: Pirates sign Matt Morrow and Pat Dorrian

6/20: Enny Romero assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.


Four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a trade of note and the last game at Forbes Field. The players born on this date include 1997-98 shortstop Kevin Polcovich, catcher Orlando McFarlane (1962,1964), pitcher Mike Lynch (1904-07) and 1894 shortstop Frank Scheibeck, who played his first MLB game in 1887 and his last in 1906, but he only got into 390 games total. McFarlane was signed out of Cuba by the Pirates and was lost to the Tigers in the 1965 Rule 5 draft. Lynch was signed out of college, where he was undefeated at Brown University.

On this date in 1979, the Pirates and Giants made a six-player deal that brought Bill Madlock to Pittsburgh. After the trade, he hit .328 with 44 RBIs and 21 stolen bases in 81 games, helping the Pirates to the playoffs. In the World Series, Madlock hit .350 and drove in three runs.

On this date in 1970, the Pirates played the last two games at Forbes Field. The park opened in 1909 and saw the Pirates win three World Series titles. On the last day of the stadium, the Pirates swept the Cubs in a doubleheader in front of a sold out stadium. Al Oliver hit the final home run in the park and later scored the final run. Here is the boxscore from the last game.

On this date in 1914, Honus Wagner collects his 3,000th hit. His hit total has changed multiple times over the years, so his single off of Cincinnati’s Pete Schneider hasn’t always been recognized as his 3,000th hit, but it is the new accepted date. You can view the boxscore here.