Today is day three of the progress reports for the prospects at each level. Today we move down to Bradenton, which was lacking top 50 prospects at the beginning of the year, but had some potential players who could move into the top 50 by the time we do our July update.

The only top 50 prospects on this team to begin the season were Luis Escobar, Adrian Valerio, Eduardo Vera and Oddy Nunez. Vera was covered yesterday because he moved up to Altoona. That was after pitching strong for Bradenton, including a run of starts in which he went 6+ innings each time. Nunez has fallen off due to a lack of velocity and his control isn’t up to last year’s standards. He just came off of the disabled list as well, so things have not gone as planned for the 21-year-old lefty.

Luis Escobar has been very much what we have seen from him over the years. Dominating stuff when he’s on, but can get out of control at times and get into trouble quickly. The good part would be that he’s a level higher and still putting up solid numbers at a young age. The possible bad part about taking time to put things together is that this is his first option year, so he could run into trouble with that if he doesn’t make progress as he moves up. He might need to stick in the majors before he’s ready. That’s down the line though, so it’s a “back of the mind” thought.

Adrian Valerio is making slow progress. Not moving up the prospect list, but also not moving down. He’s not over-matched at the plate in a pitcher-friendly league and he’s using his speed well, plus playing his usual strong defense. He’s basically doing the minimum you want to see from him. That’s not exciting, but better than his stock dropping.

Bligh Madris isn’t having the breakout season we hoped for, but sometimes that’s a lot to ask when a player skips a level and goes to a pitcher-friendly league. His on base percentage is well off of last year, his strikeouts are up slightly, while the power is nearly the same. A lot of his value comes from his bat as a slow corner outfielder. He made our top 50 earlier this season when all of those players lost their prospect status, and could possibly remain on the list when we update in July.

Jared Oliva IS having the breakout season we hoped for, while making the jump to High-A ball in his first full season. He hit his seventh home run last night after showing a lot of weak contact last year, much of it on the ground. Unlike Madris, Oliva adds a lot of value with his speed and defense, so the added power and ability to get on base makes him a solid prospect to watch. If he can keep it up, then he will look like a steal in the seventh round.

Just like with yesterday for Altoona, the catcher position in Bradenton has an interesting combo. Jason Delay and Arden Pabst have been splitting the playing time fairly evenly. Both came into the year with reputations as advanced defensive catchers, who lacked the bat to be a future Major League starter. You can’t change that overall opinion based on just over two months in High-A ball, but both of them have shown more at the plate this year than we expected.

Tyler Gaffney hasn’t played enough for Altoona yet to include him in that team’s article from yesterday. He played well enough to earn a promotion after not playing at all for five seasons, so that’s obviously a good sign. Gaffney showed a nice approach at the plate, with some pop in his bat and speed on the bases and in the outfield.

James Marvel has had strong outings this season, he just needs to have them more consistently. He’s a pitch-to-contact sinkerball pitcher, who works low-to-mid-90s, and gets his share of ground balls. He doesn’t miss a lot of bats, but he doesn’t hurt himself often with walks  either. His stock hasn’t changed this year and still appears to have the upside of a middle reliever.

Relievers Angel German and Ronny Agustin both are intriguing, but only one is pitching well. German, who was acquired in the Tony Watson deal, has had a rough time throwing strikes. Agustin hasn’t thrown enough strikes either, but he’s throwing more than German and getting much better results. German is intriguing because he throws hard. Agustin has a plus curveball and hits low-90s with his fastball.

Cam Vieaux was just called up to Altoona after putting together a decent run for Bradenton. What really got him the push to the next level is the increase and velocity and strikeouts. Vieaux was hitting 93-94 MPH in his last start  with Bradenton. The strikeouts carried over to his Altoona debut, so we could very well see him break into the top 50 during the July update.

PLAYOFF PUSH

Bradenton was eliminated from playoff contention. Their first half wraps up this week.

West Virginia was eliminated from playoff contention. Their first half wraps up this week.

TODAY’S SCHEDULE

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates won 5-4 over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday. The Pirates have off today as they travel home to play the Cincinnati Reds. On Friday, they will send Chad Kuhl to the mound for his 14th start. He allowed three runs over five innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers in his last start. The Reds scheduled starter is right-hander Matt Harvey, who has a 5.97 ERA in 57.1 innings, with 44 strikeouts and a 1.40 WHIP. He gave up one run over six innings against the Pirates on May 22nd.

The minor league schedule includes Nick Kingham’s return to Indianapolis, where he had a 2.12 ERA in six starts. Taylor Hearn gets the morning start time for Altoona. He has allowed a total of six earned runs over his last six starts combined. Bradenton doesn’t have a starter listed, but they will likely send Luis Escobar to the mound. He was originally on the schedule for yesterday before Oddy Nunez returned from the disabled list. Hunter Stratton goes for West Virginia. The DSL Pirates1 aren’t playing two teams today, the Indians and Brewers actually share a DSL club.

MLB: Pittsburgh (33-35) vs Reds (24-43) 7:05 PM 6/15
Probable starter: Chad Kuhl (3.95 ERA, 69:27 SO/BB, 73.0 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (34-29) vs Toledo (39-25) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Nick Kingham (2.12 ERA, 30:10 SO/BB, 29.2 IP)

AA: Altoona (31-28) @ Binghamton (34-30) 10:35 AM (season preview)
Probable starter: Taylor Hearn (3.63 ERA, 61:23 SO/BB, 57.0 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (33-28) @ Florida (27-35) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Luis Escobar (3.77 ERA, 52:25 SO/BB, 59.2 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (34-28) @ Augusta (35-29) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Hunter Stratton (6.62 ERA, 36:16 SO/BB, 35.1 IP)

DSL: Pirates1 (4-6) vs Indians/Brewers 10:30 AM (season preview)

DSL: Pirates2 (2-8) vs Colorado 10:30 AM (season preview)

HIGHLIGHTS

From Altoona’s game on Tuesday night, Will Craig crushes a long home run. You don’t see the ball land, but the left fielder’s reaction, or lack there of, tells the whole story.

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

6/13: Pirates sign nine draft picks.

6/13: Oddy Nunez activated from the disabled list. Jess Amedee assigned to Bristol.

6/12: Jerrick Suiter placed on Indianapolis disabled list.

6/12: Pirates sign three draft picks.

6/12: Enny Romero assigned to Bradenton on rehab

6/11: Pirates sign seven draft picks.

6/11: Jung Ho Kang assigned to  Indianapolis on rehab.

6/10: Ivan Nova activated from the DL. Nick Kingham optioned to Indianapolis.

6/10: Jacob Stallings recalled from Indianapolis. Adam Frazier optioned to Indianapolis.

6/9: Jackson Williams added to Indianapolis roster.

6/8: Richard Rodriguez placed on disabled list. Pirates recall Dovydas Neverauskas.

6/8: Mason Martin assigned to Bristol. Jesse Medrano assigned to West Virginia.

6/6: Samuel Reyes added to West Virginia roster. Evan Piechota promoted to Bradenton.

6/6: Eric Wood placed on disabled list. Jerrick Suiter added to Indianapolis roster.

6/6: Cam Vieaux promoted to Altoona. Jake Brentz assigned to Bradenton.

6/6: Oddy Nunez  placed on disabled list.

6/5: Yoel Gonzalez released.

6/5: John Bormann added to West Virginia roster.

THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY

Two former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus seven trades of note.  Mark Lee pitched for the 1980-81 Pirates after they acquired him in a trade from the San Diego Padres. He pitched 16 games out of the bullpen with the Pirates and was traded away during Spring Training in 1982. Also born on this date, Randy Tomlin, who was a member of three playoff teams. He pitched from the Pirates from 1990 until 1994, making 94 starts and 12 relief appearances. He started one game during the 1991 playoffs and pitched twice in relief in the 1992 playoffs.

Seven trades of note on this date, all listed below. Details of each trade can be found in the link above.

1892: Pirates trade Hall of Fame pitcher Pud Galvin to the St Louis Browns for second baseman Cub Stricker. Three days later, without ever playing for the Pirates, Stricker was traded to the Baltimore Orioles for pitcher Adonis Terry.

1917: Third baseman Doug Baird sent to the Cardinals for pitcher Bob Steele.

1940: Catcher Ray Berres sent to the Boston Bees for catcher Al Lopez, who is a HOF manager.

1953: Infielder Pete Castiglione sent to the Cardinals for outfielder Hal Rice.

1954: Hal Rice (yes him again), traded to Cubs for outfielder Luis Marquez.

1982: Pitcher Eddie Solomon sent to White Sox for infielder Jim Morrison.

1983: Outfielder Marvell Wynne dealt to Mets for catcher Junior Ortiz.

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