We do extended reports for the top 50 prospects in the system each year in our annual Prospect Guide. The top of that list is slightly different than the top 30 prospects we provide updates on every night in our Prospect Watch articles. The Prospect Watch article eliminates the players who are spending extended time in the majors or are injured for the season. With all of the injuries to the Pirates, there are some players on the Prospect Watch list who are in the majors right now who could probably be removed, but I’ve been hesitant because there’s no guarantee that they will stay and removing/adding players is a bit time consuming once the entire list is done.
With that in mind, I figured that I would give a quick update on all 30 top prospects from the list in our book. The stats here are through action completed on Wednesday night.
- Mitch Keller – Keller did not pitch well in his first two outings. His results were better in game three, but that was more due to being able to work out of two bases loaded situations. His fourth start was easily the best, both in results and pure stuff. He was throwing harder, throwing better strikes and the curve was at its best. Even got two strikeouts on his changeup.
- Ke’Bryan Hayes – Has been great in the field like usual and the hitting is coming along. He’s batting .246/.350/.391 through 17 games. Not great, but be patient, he will be worth the wait.
- Cole Tucker – Long-term injury to Erik Gonzalez and a short-term injury to Kevin Newman has opened up a spot for Tucker in the majors to play regularly. He could be up for good, but it’s still too early to say for sure.
- Oneil Cruz – Some “lower body discomfort” kept him out of action for about ten games total. Cruz is hitting .265/.324/.382 in nine games. His defense looks much smoother, though his throws can be an adventure and he has a cannon for an arm that he doesn’t mind showing off. In looks I’ve got this year, he has swung through a lot of breaking balls.
- Travis Swaggerty – Off to a slow start with a .627 OPS in 18 games, but he has shown all of the tools that got him drafted tenth overall. He’s made a recent adjustment to his batting stance. Worth being patient with him.
- Kevin Kramer – He’s really struggling to hit in Triple-A this year. One of the worst starts in the system. Spent five days in the majors without getting into a game.
- Kevin Newman – If he didn’t get hurt two weeks ago, he probably wouldn’t be considered a prospect anymore. He has 102 MLB at-bats, 29 short of losing that prospect status. Pirates now have him playing outfield in Indianapolis, so his rehab stint might be a little longer than expected.
- Bryan Reynolds – A fast start in Triple-A and a ridiculous amount of injuries in Pittsburgh, gave him a chance at getting some big league time…then he hurt his quad and he’s day-to-day.
- Will Craig – Got off to an amazing start, hitting six homers early. Has been equally as bad since then, leading to average results overall.
- Jason Martin – Martin didn’t hit well in Triple-A last year, but stop me if you’ve heard this before, injuries in Pittsburgh opened up a spot for him. He has put up decent results, with some big hits mixed in. Probably could use more Triple-A time.
- JT Brubaker – Brubaker would have been the top starter option if the Pirates needed someone early. Some very minor elbow stiffness has set him back just enough right now that he wouldn’t be an immediate option. Should see Pittsburgh this season, possibly before September.
- Calvin Mitchell – Mitchell was off to a fast start and has come back down to earth a little recently. Still looks like a potential big bat in the future for the Pirates. He’s just streaky.
- Cody Bolton – Bolton’s second start was the most impressive stuff I’ve seen this season, slightly ahead of Mitch Keller’s last outing. Bolton showed excellent velocity, a slider/cutter combo that got a lot of swinging strikes and his changeup was effective. The velocity has been a tick lower in the two starts I’ve seen since then and he hasn’t been as sharp with the off-speed pitches or control, but there is a lot to like here. He will move up the prospect charts by mid-season if this continues.
- Tahnaj Thomas – Thomas was dealing with a shoulder issue, but is back on the mound in Extended Spring Training (EST) and building up his innings. He should end up at Bristol.
- Braxton Ashcraft – There have been a lot of great reports on the pitching side in EST so far this year and Ashcraft is one of the names mentioned most often. He should end up at Bristol.
- Lolo Sanchez – Off to a very fast start while repeating Low-A, looking like the breakout prospect we thought we could see last year. He should move up to Bradenton, though they have four regular outfielders, with none of them ready to move up, so he might be stuck a little while.
- Nick Burdi – We thought he could lose his prospect status sometime around mid-June at the rate he was going (needed 18 more appearances), but it seems safe to say that it will remain intact after his recent injury.
- Pablo Reyes – Struggling in the majors, which has kept him from getting the at-bats required to no longer qualify as a prospect. He’s hitting .107/.194/.107 in 28 at-bats.
- Clay Holmes – His move to relief will hurt his prospect status. His early stats are skewed by four runs in his first inning. He’s given up one run in 8.2 innings since.
- Travis MacGregor – At Pirate City recovering from Tommy John surgery. At last check, everything has been going well, with no setbacks.
- Braeden Ogle – After two starts, he has been moved to relief. Ogle wasn’t holding his velocity well, though he was also throwing 95-97 MPH. With all of his missed time last year, he is going to fly by his inning total, even in relief. So it’s not a bad move to limit him this year.
- Stephen Alemais – Was out of action early in the season, and appeared to get hurt on Wednesday. So there’s not much to talk about here until he gets more playing time.
- Michael Burrows – Same exact report as #15 Braxton Ashcraft
- Jared Oliva – A concussion in the first inning on Opening Day has limited him to just nine games. Too early to make any type of assessment.
- Ji-Hwan Bae – Pirates pushed him to Greensboro just ahead of his 30-game suspension, which allows him to serve the suspension now instead of when the short-season leagues start and there’s no more EST.
- Max Kranick – Has looked terrific this season, hitting 97 MPH for the first time in each of his last two starts, while improving his slider and changeup. Just like his Bradenton teammate Cody Bolton, there is a lot of potential here.
- Luis Escobar – Looks strong in the relief role, which should help get him to the majors. He used up his second minor league option this year and it would have been tough to stick with the Pirates as a starter before running out of options.
- Osvaldo Bido – Bido has dominated in four starts with an 0.40 ERA, a .132 BAA and an 0.71 WHIP. He made the list this high purely due to his pitches, but now he’s mixing above average stuff with great results.
- Eduardo Vera – Vera was supposed to begin at Altoona, but he ended up in Indianapolis for his first start. He has pitched decent so far, but his velocity is down about 2-3 MPH early, so his prospect status hasn’t improved with the jump.
- Gage Hinsz – Been out since Opening Day with a right forearm strain.
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates lost 5-0 to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday afternoon. The Pirates now travel to Los Angeles to take on the Dodgers in a three-game series. The Pirates will send out Chris Archer, who allowed three runs over five innings in his last start. In his last road start on April 13th, he gave up one run over seven innings against the Washington Nationals. The Dodgers will counter with 32-year-old southpaw Hyun-Jin Ryu, who has a 3.10 ERA in 21 innings, with an 0.98 WHIP and 23 strikeouts. He gave up two runs over 5.2 innings in his last start and in his previous outing, Ryu lasted just 1.2 innings.
The minor league schedule includes James Marvel, making his first start since being named as the Eastern League Pitcher of the Week and our Player of the Week. He allowed one run over 11 innings last week. Rookie Davis goes for Indianapolis with their unusual start time in Charlotte. Davis has given up one run in each of his last two starts. Bradenton will send out Aaron Shortridge for his fifth start. He has thrown shutout ball twice this season and given up just three runs total in his other two outings. Greensboro will have Steven Jennings on the mound for his fifth start. He’s coming off of his best start of the season, two runs over five innings of work.
The full 2019 Pirates Prospects Prospect Guide is now available, up to date as of April 3rd, with every player in the minor league system. Includes full reports on the top 50 prospects, reports on over 150 other players, as well as looks back at the recent drafts and international signing classes.
MLB: Pittsburgh (12-11) @ Dodgers (16-11) 10:10 PM
Probable starter: Chris Archer (2.74 ERA, 26:9 SO/BB, 23.0 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (10-9) @ Charlotte (14-7) 7:04 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Rookie Davis (4.50 ERA, 12:8 SO/BB, 14.0 IP)
AA: Altoona (9-10) vs Richmond (7-10) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: James Marvel (1.99 ERA, 20:2 SO/BB, 22.2 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (13-8) @ Daytona (12-9) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Aaron Shortridge (1.17 ERA, 16:2 SO/BB, 23.0 IP)
Low-A: Greensboro (12-8) @ Hagerstown (9-12) 6:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Steven Jennings (6.75 ERA, 17:7 SO/BB, 18.2 IP)
From Altoona, Bligh Madris doubled twice on Wednesday afternoon and we have them both
– @Bligh_Guy doubles in a pair and scores on a wild pitch
– @jerricksuiter singles in the fourth run of the opening inning
We're up 4-0 after a half inning pic.twitter.com/EvQ2mLdqfT
— Altoona Curve (@AltoonaCurve) April 24, 2019
— Altoona Curve (@AltoonaCurve) April 24, 2019
4/23: Nick Burdi placed on injured list. Pirates recall Steven Brault.
4/23: Brandon Maurer placed on injured list. Montana DuRapau added to Indianapolis roster
4/23: Kevin Newman sent to Indianapolis on rehab. Nick Franklin assigned to Indianapolis
4/23: Oneil Cruz assigned to Bradenton.
4/22: Blake Weiman added to Altoona roster. Angel German assigned to Extended Spring Training
4/22: Joel Cesar added to Bradenton roster. Gavin Wallace assigned to Extended Spring Training
4/22: Jose Osuna assigned to Bradenton on rehab
4/22: Gregory Polanco activated from injured list. Steven Brault optioned to Indianapolis
4/21: Elias Diaz activated from injured list. Jacob Stallings placed on injured list.
4/20: Alfredo Reyes promoted to Indianapolis. Ryan Peurifoy assigned to Altoona
4/19: Lonnie Chisenhall assigned to Indianapolis on rehab
4/19: John Bormann activated from injured list. Joel Cesar assigned to Extended Spring Training
4/18: Ji-Hwan Bae moved to suspended list.
4/18: Montana DuRapau and Dean Lockery assigned to Extended Spring Training.
4/17: Nick Franklin assigned to Bradenton. Oneil Cruz assigned to Extended Spring Training
4/17: Alfredo Reyes assigned to Altoona. Robbie Glendinning sent to Bradenton.
4/16: Pirates activate Kyle Crick from injured list. Option Kevin Kramer to Indianapolis
4/16: Pirates activate Dovydas Neverauskas from injured list and option him to Indianapolis
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
Three former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including pitcher Francisco Cordova, who pitched five seasons for the team from 1996 until 2000. He took part in the team’s last no-hitter back in 1997, throwing the first nine innings of the ten inning game. That boxscore can be found here. Cordova went 42-47, 3.96 in 166 games, 112 as a starter with the Pirates.
Also born on this date: Infielder Curt Wilkerson, who played with the 1991 club that made the playoffs. He was a backup infielder at three spots that season (2B/SS/3B) and played 85 games, though he had just a .188 batting average. He pinch-hit four times in the NLCS that year and ended up striking out three times. Outfielder Amos Otis, who played for the 1984 Pirates, the last team during his 17-year career. He was a five-time All-Star and won three Gold Glove awards. Otis batted just .165 in 40 games for the Pirates that 1984 season.
On this date in 1995, baseball returned from their last strike and the Pirates opened their season against the Expos with a 6-2 loss. Here is the Pirates lineup from that day: