Every year after we do our mid-season update to the top 50, we take a look at the guys who didn’t make the list, but they could be in the top 50 by the time our 2019 Prospect Guide comes out. The Pirates are likely going to lose some top 50 prospects soon, so there will be new guys in the top 50 anyway. This article is based more on assuming the current top 50 stayed the same and these players actually jumped over others into the top 50.
First let me start with a disclaimer. If you have our mid-season prospect guide ebook, you likely saw the section where we put players in tiers. The seventh tier has ten names who aren’t in the top 50, but we felt like there wasn’t a big difference between them and some players ahead of them on the list. The book rankings are the combined rankings of three people, while this article includes three players who I personally feel could make the jump. Meaning I didn’t necessarily just look at that list.
I’ll start with Jesus Liranzo and it’s an interesting story behind him and the book. Two days after the book came out, I watched him pitch two innings then had a mini panic attack (okay, not really) when I realized we didn’t have him in the top 50. I put the list together of every prospect in the system so we could rank them and I thought I somehow forgot him. It turns out that he was the highest ranked player to miss tier seven in our guide.
I can understand that overall ranking because he’s had some control issues in Triple-A and a lot in the past. He dominated in Altoona this year, then moved up and had a few rough outings. If I did my own top 50, I’d have him in there at the back-end. He’s holding batters to a .165 BAA and he has more strikeouts than innings pitched in Triple-A. I also just watched him hit 99 MPH multiple times during his second inning of work before striking out Aaron Altherr (with 294 MLB games to his credit) with a 100 MPH fastball. Liranzo has been up to 101 MPH this season, but besides that, he also got swinging strikes in this last game with his slider and changeup. He doesn’t have a high effort delivery or a lot of moving parts, so improvements to the control aren’t out of the question.
Next up would be Conner Uselton and some people were surprised that he didn’t make our list. I mentioned to someone that he was #51, although he might have been #52. I wrote up two extra reports in case we needed them because of the two players to be named later in the deadline deals. I won’t give away Uselton’s whole report because we will release it when a spot opens up. I will say however that it’s based on a lot of things working against him so far.
You really don’t need to look further than his stats this season. He was also old for his draft class and his injury cost him some time. His scouting report is also a bit different on the defensive side and running this year than pre-draft. Add all of that up and he fell outside of our top 50. The flip side is that is we see the bat the Pirates thought they were getting, then he should just back on the list. The problem now is he hasn’t done anything this week and is running out of games with Bristol to improve. It’s still enough time, but it needs to happen soon.
The final player is Geoff Hartlieb, and like Uselton, he would be jumping back in to the top 50. He’s a big right-handed pitcher who brings heat, but some recent control issues kept him off of the list for now. He was still in the top 60, same tier as many guys on the list, so you can say he just missed. Losing guys as the PTBNL’s, possibly losing Christopher Bostick to waivers and Jordan Luplow graduating from the list would probably get him back on. However, this article assumes the players don’t leave and I still believe Hartlieb has the stuff to jump back on the list. Besides the fastball, the two things I really like are the 2.95 GO/AO ratio and 9.7 strikeouts per nine innings. A trip to the Arizona Fall League could help his case.
The Pirates are in fourth place in their division, trailing by seven games with 46 games left on the schedule. They trail the second wild card team by four games.
Indianapolis is in first place and they lead by four games with 24 games left in their schedule.
Altoona is in second place and trails by three games with 26 games left in their schedule. They lead the race for the second playoff spot by three games.
Bradenton is in sixth place and trails by 12.5 games with 23 games left in their schedule.
West Virginia is in sixth place and trail by 9.5 games with 25 games left in their schedule. They trail the second place team by 3.5 games and could make the playoffs if Lakewood wins the second half title and they finish second.
Morgantown is in sixth place and trail by 14 games with 23 games left in their schedule.
Bristol is in third place and trails by six games with 21 games left in their schedule. They trail the second place team, which also gets a playoff spot, by 2.5 games.
The GCL Pirates are in fourth place and trail by nine games with 14 games left in their schedule.
The DSL Pirates1 are in sixth place and trail by 12 games with 14 games left in their schedule.
The DSL Pirates2 have been eliminated from the playoff race.
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates won 10-5 over the San Francisco Giants on Thursday night. Clay Holmes will get the start today, coming off of his outing on August 5th (in Indianapolis) when he allowed two runs over four innings. The Giants will counter with left-hander Derek Holland, who has a 3.88 ERA in 118.1 innings, with 120 strikeouts and a 1.25 WHIP. In his last start, he gave up two runs over 5.1 innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The minor league schedule includes Brandon Waddell for Indianapolis. After being named as our Pitcher of the Month for July, Waddell allowed five runs over 4.1 innings in his first August start. James Marvel and Domingo Robles both debut with their new team. Marvel left Bradenton as the league leader with 134.1 innings pitched. Robles had a 2.97 ERA in 115 innings with West Virginia. Bristol doesn’t have a starter listed, but it should be Steven Jennings, since it’s his turn in the rotation.
MLB: Pittsburgh (60-56) @ Giants (57-59) 10:15 PM
Probable starter: Clay Holmes (3.65 ERA, 10:8 SO/BB, 12.1 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (65-51) vs Pawtucket (53-61) 7:15 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Brandon Waddell (4.82 ERA, 41:26 SO/BB, 56.0 IP)
AA: Altoona (61-51) vs Erie (54-61) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: James Marvel (0.00 ERA, 0:0 SO/BB, 0.0 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (50-59) vs Tampa (56-61) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Domingo Robles (0.00 ERA, 0:0 SO/BB, 0.0 IP)
Low-A: West Virginia (58-53) @ Rome (61-53) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD (0.00 ERA, 0:0 SO/BB, 0.0 IP)
Short-Season A: Morgantown (18-35) @ State College (24-29) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD (0.00 ERA, 0:0 SO/BB, 0.0 IP)
Rookie: Bristol (22-25) vs Greeneville (18-28) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Steven Jennings (4.91 ERA, 34:21 SO/BB, 44.0 IP)
GCL: Pirates (19-21) vs Phillies West 12:00 PM (season preview)
DSL: Pirates1 (27-31) vs Indians 10:30 AM (season preview)
DSL: Pirates2 (23-35) vs Giants 10:30 AM (season preview)
From Wednesday afternoon, a walk-off winner for Jason Martin and Indianapolis
8/8: Luis Nova and Denny Roman promoted to Bristol. Yerry De Los Santos promoted to GCL Pirates.
8/8: John Pomeroy promoted to West Virginia. Alec Rennard and Argenis Romano promoted to Morgantown.
8/8: Rodolfo Castro activated from West Virginia disabled list.
8/8: Josh Bell activated from disabled list. Jose Osuna optioned to Indianapolis.
8/7: Pirates claim Buddy Boshers off waivers. Christopher Bostick designated for assignment.
8/7: Jackson Williams placed on Indianapolis disabled list.
8/7: Jin-De Jhang activated from Altoona DL. Bralin Jackson placed on disabled list.
8/6: Pirates acquire Adeiny Hechavarria and cash considerations From the Tampa Bay Rays for Matt Seelinger.
8/6: Domingo Robles Promoted to Bradenton. James Marvel promoted to Altoona.
8/5: Dario Agrazal assigned to Altoona. Pedro Vasquez assigned to Bradenton.
8/5: Pirates recall Casey Sadler. Option Alex McRae to Indianapolis.
8/5: Zac Susi assigned to Bristol.
8/4: Pirates released Yair Babilonia and Garrett Brown.
8/4: Corey Dickerson activated from disabled list. Christopher Bostick optioned to Indianapolis.
8/4: Ben Bengtson and Deon Stafford activated from West Virginia disabled list. Raul Siri promoted to Bradenton. Jhoan Herrera assigned to Morgantown.
8/4: Austin Coley placed on disabled list.
8/3: AJ Schugel assigned to Bradenton on rehab.
8/3: Pirates option Steven Brault to Indianapolis. Recall Dovydas Neverauskas
8/2: Alfredo Reyes promoted to Indianapolis. Pedro Vasquez activated from Altoona disabled list.
8/2: Nick Kingham optioned to Indianapolis.
8/2: Leandro Pina placed on 60-day minor league DL.
8/1: Eric Wood activated from Indianapolis disabled list.
8/1: Bralin Jackson activated from the disabled list.
8/1: Pirates sign Mason Fishback. Assigned to GCL Pirates.
8/1: Pirates sign Carlos Jimenez, Andy Maldonado and Franrielis Mercedes.
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
Four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a trade of note. On this date in 1971, the Pirates made a deal to strengthen their bullpen, acquiring veteran Bob Miller from the Padres for outfielder Johnny Jeter and pitcher Ed Acosta. Miller had a 1.29 ERA in 16 appearances during the regular season for the Pirates, then threw 7.2 innings during the World Series. He remained with the Pirates through the 1972 season.
Players born on this date include:
Bob Porterfield, 1958-59 pitcher. He had a 3.27 ERA in 87.2 innings in 1958, then he was released early in the 1959 campaign.
Elmer Jacobs, 1916-18 pitcher. Won 220 games in the minors, but he finished with a 50-81 Major League record. Had a 2.81 ERA in 227.1 innings during the 1917 season.
Pat Kilhullen, catcher that played his only big league game on June 10,1914. Played the last two innings of a one-sided game and got robbed of a hit by Hall of Fame shortstop Rabbit Maranville in his only at-bat.
Truck Eagan, shortstop for the 1901 Pirates. Was a terrific power hitter, with 100+ homers in the minors during an era when very few Major League hitters reached that career mark. Played four games for Pirates.