Over the next three days, I’m going to look at the seasons of each affiliate and make my selections for the best hitter, best pitcher, biggest surprise and biggest disappointment for each team. Today is the DSL Pirates, which I’m going to look at as one team because numerous players saw action with both teams. Tomorrow will be the GCL, then Friday will be Bristol. I’ll get to the other five next week after they finish playing.
Let me start by saying that this isn’t based on any prospect status, just my thoughts on who did the best. If a top prospect happened to also be the best hitter or pitcher for the team, then that’s just by coincidence. We are going to have a season recap and top ten list for every affiliate, starting this weekend with the DSL. Those will deal more with the topic of prospects. So here are my four choices for the DSL Pirates.
Best Hitter: Infielder Yoyner Fajardo seems like the obvious choice here. He led the two teams in OPS, hitting .311/.402/.455 in 62 games. He played more games than anyone else, he played multiple infield and outfield positions all year and committed six errors all season. He also went 17-for-20 in steals.
Best Pitcher: This is a tough one because Denny Roman put up great stats, but he didn’t pitch half as much as a large amount of players who also had some success. I’m going with 18-year-old southpaw Braham Rosario here. His 1.84 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in 44 innings were the best on his team and the ERA was the best of anyone on either team. He ended up making his last start in the GCL.
Biggest Surprise: Has to be Oliver Mateo. His ERA is awful and his walk rate is tough to look at, but he had 49 strikeouts in 29.1 innings because he hits 100 MPH. We have received reports of players being able to hit certain numbers, but once they start pitching in games, those numbers don’t appear. Joel Cesar was reported to hit 100 MPH, but the highest we have heard is 97 in two seasons. Mateo hits 100 MPH in games. The added surprise is that he was just a quiet signing in January that was only mentioned on this site and we had no clue he threw that hard at the time.
Biggest Disappointment: I really wanted to say that it’s pitcher Fernando Fernando having his contract voided voided right before the season started started, but I think I can do better than that. The Pirates released outfielder 18-year-old Pedro Castillo after the season ended despite improvements to his hitting throughout the season. He was the second biggest signing during the 2016-17 international signing period and they gave up on him quickly. Mid-season he was hitting well and then he was on the bench. Usually that means lack of hustle, which wasn’t the case. They just played other outfielders ahead of him and cut him late. There seemed to be a push against all of the second year players, as many didn’t survive the season, but he was the best prospect in the group.
The Pirates are in fourth place in their division, trailing by 13.5 games with 30 games left on the schedule. They trail the second wild card team by 8.5 games.
Indianapolis is a game out of first place with six games left in their schedule. They do not own the tiebreaker. They are one ahead in the wild card race, with three teams within two games.
Altoona is tied for first place with six games left in their schedule. They clinched a playoff spot on Sunday.
Bradenton has been eliminated from the playoff race.
West Virginia is out of the division race with six games left in their schedule. They trail the second place team in the overall standings by one game and could make the playoffs if the finish second, because Lakewood won both half titles. The team they are chasing (Kannapolis) owns the tiebreaker, so West Virginia needs to finish ahead of them.
Morgantown has been eliminated from the playoff race.
Bristol has been eliminated from the playoff race.
The GCL Pirates season ended.
The DSL Pirates1 season ended.
The DSL Pirates2 season ended.
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates lost 4-2 to the St Louis Cardinals on Tuesday night. Trevor Williams will get the start, coming off of his outing on August 22nd when he gave up one run over six innings against the Atlanta Braves. The Cardinals will counter with right-hander Miles Mikolas, who has a 2.94 ERA in 162 innings, with 112 strikeouts and a 1.09 WHIP. He has faced the Pirates three times this season, allowing a total of seven earned runs over 19 innings, with one earned run over six innings in his last outing.
The minor league schedule includes an afternoon game for Indianapolis with Tyler Eppler on the mound. He allowed one run over six innings in his last start. That followed seven straight outings in which he gave up at least three runs. Dario Agrazal will go for Altoona. He gave up three runs over six innings in his last start. He has pitched six innings in all four starts since returning to Altoona from his shoulder strain. Bristol’s season wraps up today with Denny Roman on the mound. He was suspended by the league after his last game for throwing at a batter, but he returns today from that suspension to pitch the finale. The GCL/DSL seasons are over.
MLB: Pittsburgh (64-68) @ Cardinals (74-58) 8:15 PM
Probable starter: Trevor Williams (3.44 ERA, 90:45 SO/BB, 136.0 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (70-64) vs Toledo (69-64) 1:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Tyler Eppler (3.70 ERA, 107:36 SO/BB, 141.0 IP)
AA: Altoona (74-58) vs Trenton (74-60) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Dario Agrazal (2.74 ERA, 46:12 SO/BB, 75.2 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (55-70) @ Fort Myers (65-67) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD (0.00 ERA, 0:0 SO/BB, 0.0 IP)
Low-A: West Virginia (68-59) vs Hagerstown (51-76) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Sergio Cubilete (5.63 ERA, 71:37 SO/BB, 78.1 IP)
Short-Season A: Morgantown (28-42) @ State College (34-36) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD (0.00 ERA, 0:0 SO/BB, 0.0 IP)
Rookie: Bristol (31-36) vs Danville (32-35) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Denny Roman (8.18 ERA, 12:4 SO/BB, 11.0 IP)
GCL: Pirates (27-25) (season preview)
DSL: Pirates1 (32-40) (season preview)
DSL: Pirates2 (27-45) (season preview)
From Morgantown on Sunday, Daniel Amaral with a walk-off hit, which also shows off the speed of Fabricio Macias. On a side note, notice Macias gets hit with the throw from center field, something I’m surprised doesn’t happen more often on plays at the plate.
8/27: Cam Alldred and Nicholas Economos promoted from Morgantown to West Virginia
8/26: Pirates signed Luis Tejeda (his agreement was announced on July 2nd, officially signed August 26th).
8/26: Brad Case promoted to Morgantown.
8/26: Pirates suspend Luis Escobar and Yeudy Garcia. Blake Weiman and Elvis Escobar promoted to West Virginia.
8/26: Max Kranick placed on disabled list.
8/25: Pirates recall Nick Kingham. Clay Holmes optioned to Indianapolis. AJ Schugel sent outright to Indianapolis.
8/25: Dylan Busby placed on West Virginia disabled list. Ryan Valdes promoted from Morgantown.
8/25: Pirates release Pedro Castillo, Ronaldo Paulino, Ruben Gonzalez, Ivan Rosario and Matthew Mercedes.
8/24: Pirates sign Nick Mears.
8/24: Pirates activate Sean Rodriguez from disabled list.
8/24: Montana DuRapau placed on disabled list.
8/23: Michael Feliz optioned to Indianapolis.
8/23: Casey Sadler placed on Indianapolis disabled list. Montana DuRapau activated from DL.
8/21: Pirates recall Clay Holmes. Jordan Luplow optioned to Indianapolis.
8/21: Casey Sadler sent outright to Indianapolis.
8/20: Mariano Dotel, Braham Rosario and Jose Maldonado promoted from DSL to GCL Pirates. Yerry De Los Santos and Lizardy Dicent promoted from the GCL to Bristol.
8/20: Travis MacGregor placed on disabled list. Logan Stoelke promoted to West Virginia.
8/20: Pirates recall Steven Brault. Option Buddy Boshers to Indianapolis.
8/19: Bligh Madris activated from Bradenton disabled list. Justin Harrer returned to GCL Pirates
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a trade of note. On this date in 1987, the Pirates traded away long-time second baseman Johnny Ray, to the California Angels for two minor league players. Ray was acquired near the end of the 1981 season for Phil Garner and he had no Major League experience at the time, but the Pirates put him right in the starting job. That’s where he stayed there until this second deal 30 years ago today. He finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting in 1982, and he hit .286 over 931 games with the Pirates.
Former Players born on this date include:
Billy Cox, shortstop in 1941, then again during the 1946-47 seasons. Missed four full years due to military service during WWII. He hit .290 over 121 games in his first year back.
Joe Schultz Jr., catcher from 1939 until 1941. His dad was the farm director for the Pirates and also played for the team during the 1916 season. He also had a cousin named Hans Lobert, who played for the 1903 Pirates and another cousin named Frank Lobert, who spent a season in the big leagues.
Pep Young, infielder from 1933 until 1940. His .264 in 697 games with Pittsburgh. Spent most of his time at second base, but also saw time at shortstop and third base.
Roy Wood, 1913 left fielder. Joined the team in mid-June, playing just 14 games the rest of the season.
Ensign Cottrell, pitcher on June 21,1911. Played just one game for Pirates, coming in late during a blowout loss. He played for five teams in the majors, yet he only played 12 games as a pro. He is the first player to play for a World Series winning team in both leagues, 1913 A’s and 1914 Braves.
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.