A rumor came out on Thursday evening that the Pirates could end up being sellers at the trade deadline. That’s not a huge surprise, as the Pirates are below .500, and it’s pretty standard in the rumor mill for under .500 teams to be subjected to selling rumors. Whether the news is based in any solid plans remains to be seen.
If the Pirates do end up selling, it would lead to a youth movement, with a lot of prospects ready to jump up from the Triple-A level. To get an idea of who could arrive, let’s take a look at which young prospects benefit from each player who could possibly be traded.
Jordy Mercer – If Mercer goes, the main person who benefits would be Kevin Newman. The Pirates could transition to Newman as their starting shortstop and get him ready to take over for the 2019 season. The Pirates also have Kevin Kramer and Cole Tucker as shortstop options, but with the way Newman has been playing, he will get the first shot.
Sean Rodriguez/David Freese – I thought that David Freese moving on would mean the Pirates would switch to Jose Osuna. That was before Jung Ho Kang’s return. I’m sure Kang will take over on the bench if the Pirates move on from one of these two (and it’s possible that they could move on from Rodriguez before the deadline). If both are moved, then Osuna could enter the mix for more playing time, or Adam Frazier could return. Max Moroff is also a candidate, although I think Frazier, then Osuna would have the priority.
Josh Harrison – This is where things get difficult. If the Pirates move on from Harrison, then someone like Kevin Kramer should take his place as the starter of the future. However, the Pirates have gone with guys like Frazier and Rodriguez to replace him in the past. They could also find more playing time for Kang here if he adjusts well to the majors, which isn’t a guarantee right now, since he’s slow adjusting to Triple-A. If Mercer and Harrison go, then Newman and Kramer should be the guys to step up and take their spots. I think that will happen with Mercer and Newman, but I’m not entirely sure that the Pirates will do that with Kramer and Harrison.
Francisco Cervelli – This one is obvious. If Cervelli goes, then Elias Diaz becomes the starter and Jacob Stallings becomes the backup catcher.
Corey Dickerson – The Pirates currently have four outfielders getting starts, and lately it has been Gregory Polanco getting the least amount of starts (5 in the last 8 games), with Austin Meadows and Corey Dickerson getting six starts each in the last eight games, and Starling Marte leading the group with seven starts. That’s how it should be. However, if Dickerson moves, that would lead to Polanco becoming a regular starter again, which I’m sure isn’t going to be a crowd pleasing move. Long-term, an outfield spot would be open for someone like Jason Martin or Bryan Reynolds, although that would be a move for the middle of the 2019 season. This is the only situation where the Pirates don’t have a young prospect who could step in and take over (outside of Diaz, who isn’t a prospect, but looks like an interesting guy to step into the starting catcher role). If you think Polanco is better than what he’s showing, then that’s not a big deal.
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates won 3-2 over the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night. They will send Ivan Nova to the mound for his 13th start. He allowed one run over 5.2 innings against the Chicago Cubs in his last start. The Reds scheduled starter is right-hander Luis Castillo, who has a 5.79 ERA in 73 innings, with 74 strikeouts and a 1.42 WHIP. He has faced the Pirates twice this year, allowing six runs over 11 innings.
The minor league schedule includes Domingo Robles getting the start for West Virginia. The 20-year-old lefty has allowed one run over his last ten innings. Osvaldo Bido gets the start for Morgantown. He was in the DSL last year, but made the jump to Morgantown due to improved control and a hard fastball. Alex McRae goes for Indianapolis and Pedro Vasquez gets the start for Altoona.
Bradenton is on their All-Star break until Monday. Matt Eckelman and Alfredo Reyes were selected for the game, along with Eduardo Vera, who is now with Altoona. He was replaced by Scooter Hightower, while Arden Pabst was added as a backup.
MLB: Pittsburgh (34-35) vs Reds (25-44) 4:05 PM
Probable starter: Ivan Nova (4.68 ERA, 55:12 SO/BB, 67.1 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (35-30) @ Columbus (33-32) 7:15 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Alex McRae (4.99 ERA, 56:29 SO/BB, 61.1 IP)
AA: Altoona (33-28) vs New Hampshire (39-27) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Pedro Vasquez (5.73 ERA, 23:12 SO/BB, 33.0 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (33-29) vs Clearwater (31-34) 6:30 PM 6/18 (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD (0.00 ERA, 0:0 SO/BB, 0.0 IP)
Low-A: West Virginia (36-28) vs Delmarva (34-31) 6:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Domingo Robles (3.18 ERA, 52:14 SO/BB, 62.1 IP)
Short-Season A: Morgantown (0-1) @ Mahoning Valley (1-0) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Osvaldo Bido (0.00 ERA, 0:0 SO/BB, 0.0 IP)
DSL: Pirates1 (6-6) vs Dodgers Guerrero 10:30 AM (season preview)
DSL: Pirates2 (3-9) vs Tigers2 10:30 AM (season preview)
From Wednesday and Thursday, homers #8 and #9 by Will Craig
6/15: Jung Ho Kang assigned to Indianapolis.
6/15: Pirates sign Travis Swaggerty
6/14: Pirates release Luis Cadet and Jess Amedee.
6/14: Pirates sign Antonio Gonzalez.
6/13: Pirates sign Enrique Santana, Bladimir Susana and Domingo Gonzalez.
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.
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
Seven former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including one who is among the best at his position in franchise history. Starting with the oldest players first, they are 1885 shortstop Marr Phillips and 1912 pinch-runner Ralph Capron, who has an interesting story. He was a college football and baseball star, who was known for his tremendous speed. His career with the Pirates lasted one game and just barely at that. After replacing Alex McCarthy as a pinch-runner at first base with two outs in the ninth, Capron remained glued to first base while the last out was made. He went to the minors right after that and returned with the Phillies the next year, pinch-running once and getting one at-bat in his only other Major League game. In 1920, he played pro football.
Other players born on this date include 1917-19 first baseman Fritz Mollwitz and 1942-46 infielder Pete Coscarart, who was part of the return from the Dodgers in the unpopular Arky Vaughan trade. Also, 1954-56 pitcher Max Surkont, 2008 infielder Chris Gomez and first baseman Kevin Young, who played for the Pirates from 1992-95 and then again from 1997 until 2003. Young ranks 11th in team history in homers, 17th in doubles and 18th in RBIs. He is currently a coach for the Pirates. You can read more on Young and all of the other players in the link above.
On this date in 1969, the Pirates and Cubs squared off in a back-and-forth affair that ended with a 9-8 victory for the Bucs and Steve Blass picking up his first career save. This game included seven Hall of Fame players, and an eighth HOF’er if you include Cubs’ manager Leo Durocher. Chicago had Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Ron Santo in the middle of their lineup, while the Pirates had Willie Stargell, Roberto Clemente, Bill Mazeroski and starting pitcher Jim Bunning.
The Cubs took an early 2-0 lead, only to see the Pirates score six runs to take the lead. The Cubs chipped away to take a 7-6 lead late. That led to a three-run eighth from the Pirates and the eventual 9-8 win. Al Oliver hit a two-run homer in the eighth. You can view the boxscore here.