Minor League Notes: Travis MacGregor is Progressing Well from Tommy John Surgery

After receiving updates on Chad Kuhl and Edgar Santana on Thursday, we checked in on 21-year-old right-hander Travis MacGregor. All three had Tommy John surgery around the same time last year, which gave MacGregor a chance to talk to the two Major League players about the rehab process while they were at Pirate City for Spring Training.

Kuhl and Santana are currently throwing from 80 feet on flat ground. MacGregor is just slightly behind them, throwing at 75 feet for the last week. It makes sense that the younger player would be on a slightly slower return schedule. MacGregor said that everything has been going well and there haven’t been any setbacks. After having a breakout season (when healthy) with West Virginia in 2018, he will miss the entire 2019 season. It’s unknown at this time if he will do any fall or winter pitching.

While checking in on MacGregor, I learned that lefty Nik Turley had Tommy John surgery as well. That explains why he was re-signed over the off-season, but didn’t receive an invite to big league camp. Turley was suspended for 80 games to begin the 2018 season, then was placed on the 60-day disabled list when he was eligible to return. He was injured while throwing at Pirate City during his suspension. At the time (late June), it was announced as a left elbow strain, but that eventually turned into Tommy John surgery. His return time is unknown at this point.

Catcher Justin Morris retired yesterday. He was a non-drafted free agent signing last July, who played nine GCL games. The Pirates signed catcher Nick Garland recently, who also went undrafted last year, though he signed with an indy ball team. Morris was competing for a spot with Greensboro this spring, but was likely slated for Extended Spring Training and a short-season team.

Eduardo Vera pitched three shutout innings against the Yankees Triple-A squad on Thursday. He allowed three hits, a walk and struck out two batters. Vera has allowed just one run this spring between simulated games, MLB and minor league appearances.

We received Vera’s pitching line from that game because his local papers cover everything he does. From other notes I saw, I know the Pirates lost that Triple-A game 5-4 and they were trailing 5-4 after seven innings. I also know that Vera followed starter Mitch Keller, but all I know about his line is that he went three innings and gave up a home run (meaning he allowed somewhere between 1-5 runs). If I get any more info on Keller, I’ll add an update.

Here’s some great video courtesy of Ike Shlabach’s father. He got his son’s entire bullpen. It’s seven videos total (not that long though, it’s edited well) and if you watch the coach to the side, you can see him giving the catcher directions. You can skip to the next video with the arrow on the right side.


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.

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