Morning Report: Checking in on the Pirates’ 2014 Draft

The Pirates’ 2014 draft was one of Neal Huntington’s better ones.  (It’d be better still if the Pirates had signed Paul DeJong.)  There’s a lot that remains up in the air, but this draft could produce 4-5 major leaguers.  The big question is how much upside it’ll provide. (Numbers are the draft round.)

1. Cole Tucker, SS:  Tucker plainly is the Pirates’ shortstop of the future.  His struggles at the plate shouldn’t be especially surprising or concerning; he played only 13 games in AAA.

1S. Connor Joe, OF:  The Pirates sent Joe to Atlanta for the second coming of Sean Rodriguez, then he went on to the Dodgers.  He got a few ABs in the majors as an unsuccessful Rule 5 pick with the Giants this year, then went back to the Dodgers.  He’s been hammering AAA pitching, but he’s nearly 27 now.

2. Mitch Keller, RHP:  The Pirates’ big remaining hope for a top-of-the-rotation starter.

2. Trey Supak, RHP:  Supak went to Milwaukee in the ill-advised trade for Jason Rogers.  He came into this season as the #11 prospect in a weak Brewers’ system and is pitching very well in AA.  He probably profiles as a back-of-the-rotation starter in the majors.

3. Jordan Luplow, OF:  The Pirates sent Luplow to Cleveland in the trade for Erik Gonzalez.  (There seems to be a pattern of bad minor trades involving this draft class, unless Tahnaj Thomas comes through.)  Luplow is currently hitting well for the Indians.

4. Taylor Gushue, C:  The Pirates traded Gushue to Washington for Chris Bostick.  He’s currently hitting well in AAA, although it’s questionable whether he remains a prospect.

5. Michael Suchy, OF:  Released.

6. Tyler Eppler, RHP:  Released so he could go to Japan.

7. Nelson Jorge, SS:  Released.

8. Austin Coley, RHP:  Coley reached Indianapolis last year but had a very rough time there.  He was slated to return to Altoona this year, but was hurt until this week.  He appears to be an upper level organizational guy now.

9. Kevin Krause, C:  Released.

10. Alex McRae, RHP:  McRae surprisingly got called up last year, but pitched very poorly with both the Pirates and Indianapolis.  He was outrighted to AAA and is pitching very poorly there again.

11. Gage Hinsz, RHP:  An above-slot prep signing, Hinsz has promise but has battled all sorts of health problems, including heart surgery that kept him out last year.  He was impressive in winter ball and was expected to open the season at Altoona, but went out with a forearm strain.

12. Tyler Filliben, SS:  Released.

13. Frank Duncan, RHP:  After a surprisingly strong 2016 season in AAA, the Pirates traded Duncan to Arizona for Phil Gosselin.  He’s struggled ever since and is now in AA with Colorado.

14. Chase Simpson, 3B:  Released.

15. Eric Dorsch, RHP:  Released.

16. Sam Street, RHP:  Released.

17. Michael Clemens, RHP:  Released.

18. Eric Lunde, 2B:  Released.

19. Carl Anderson, OF:  Released.

20. John Sever, LHP:  Retired.

21. Eric Thomas, OF:  Released.

22. Eric Karch, RHP:  Released.

25. Erik Forgione, SS:  Released.

26. Jerrick Suiter, OF:  Suiter got to Indianapolis last year, but didn’t hit and is back at Altoona now.  He’s moved to first base and is struggling this year.

27. Jess Amedee, RHP:  Released.

28. Nick Neumann, RHP:  Released.

30. David Andriese, OF:  Released.

31. Luis Paula, RHP:  Released.

32. Montana DuRapau, RHP:  His stuff has never excited anybody, but DuRapau has always gotten hitters out and he’s doing it now in the Pirates’ bullpen.  He’s even come back from a drug suspension that cost him much of last year.

36. Palmer Betts, RHP:  Released.

This draft has produced two players (Tucker and Keller) who, hopefully, will be Pirates’ mainstays until . . . well, until they can’t be retained at below-market salaries.  DuRapau is off to a good start with the Pirates and Luplow looks like he could be a solid outfielder for Cleveland.  Supak and Hinsz still have reasonable chances of being major league starters.

TODAY’S SCHEDULE

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates lost 5-0 to the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday night. Montana DuRapau will get another chance as the opener, likely followed by someone who can go more innings. Last time that was Steven Brault. DuRapau tossed two scoreless innings in his first big league start. The Rockies will counter with an actual starter, sending 27-year-old right-hander Jon Gray to the mound. He has a 4.73 ERA in 53.1 innings, with 59 strikeouts and a 1.37 WHIP. He has given up 13 runs over 16.1 innings in his last three starts combined, though that comes with 25 strikeouts.

The minor league schedule includes Max Kranick, who gets the start for Bradenton, looking to get back on track after a recent rough patch. Kranick had a 2.91 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP in April. So far in three May starts, he has a 9.95 ERA and a 2.29 WHIP. Altoona will send out Cam Vieaux, who is coming off of his best start last time out, with no earned runs over seven innings. Greensboro’s Alex Manasa tied his 2018 strikeout total in his last outing, despite throwing 34.2 fewer innings so far this season. Indianapolis will send out Alex McRae for the morning start time. He gave up four runs over five innings in his last start, walking a season high four batters. He faced Louisville (today’s opponent) three starts ago and allowed three runs over six innings.

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 (NOTE: There have been just three players released and two added since then, so the book is still 99% up to date). 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. Subscribers get 20% off the purchase of a book.

MLB: Pittsburgh (24-21) vs Rockies (21-25) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Montana DuRapau (1.35 ERA, 9:1 SO/BB, 6.2 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (23-18) @ Louisville (18-26) 11:00 AM (season preview)
Probable starter: Alex McRae (5.62 ERA, 36:16 SO/BB, 41.2 IP)

AA: Altoona (22-21) @ New Hampshire (20-22) 6:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Cam Vieaux (2.84 ERA, 27:16 SO/BB, 44.1 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (24-20) @ Ft Myers (26-18) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Max Kranick (5.50 ERA, 30:14 SO/BB, 34.1 IP)

Low-A: Greensboro (30-14) @ West Virginia (22-22) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Alex Manasa (3.55 ERA, 46:11 SO/BB, 45.2 IP)

HIGHLIGHTS

From Altoona on Sunday, since there were no highlights posted from Monday’s lone game. Here are two highlights from Jason Delay

and

Here’s a nice defensive play from Bligh Madris

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

5/21: Steven Baron placed on injured list. Richard Rodriguez added to Indianapolis roster.

5/21: Austin Coley added to Bradenton roster. Luis Nova assigned to Extended Spring Training

5/20: Nicholas Economos promoted to Bradenton.

5/18: Justin Harrer added to Greensboro roster. Jonah Davis assigned to Extended Spring Training

5/17: Trevor Williams placed on injured list. Clay Holmes recalled from Indianapolis

5/17: Geoff Hartlieb added to 40-man roster and recalled by Pirates. Jacob Stalling assigned to Indianapolis (cleared waivers) and Richard Rodriguez optioned to Indianapolis

5/17: Luis Nova added to Bradenton roster. Oddy Nunez placed on injured list

5/16: Tate Scioneaux placed on injured list.

5/15: Chris Archer activated from injured list. Clay Holmes optioned to Indianapolis.

5/15: Colin Selby assigned to Greensboro.

5/15: Matt Eckelman assigned to Altoona from Indianapolis.

5/14: Pirates release Erich Weiss.

5/13: Jung Ho Kang placed on injured list. Jake Elmore added to Pirates roster.

5/12: Tyler Lyons sent outright to Indianapolis

5/12: Zack Kone placed on Greensboro injured list.

5/12: Chris Stratton added to Pirates roster. Dovydas Neverauskas optioned to Indianapolis.

THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY

Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including closer Jose Mesa (2004-05) and reliever Julian Taveras (2003). Also born on this date, outfielder George Spriggs (1965-67), infielder Hoke Warner (1916-17, 1919) and 1908 pitcher Tom McCarthy. You can read mini bios for each player in the link above.

On this date in 1965, the Pirates sent shortstop Dick Schofield to the San Francisco Giants for Jose Pagan. The deal worked out well for Pittsburgh, as Schofield really struggled at the plate for the Giants and Pagan played with the Pirates until 1972, hitting .263 over 625 games, while playing games at seven positions.

On this date in 1923, the Pirates and Phillies hooked up for a four-player deal that brought Lee Meadows to the Pirates. He would win 87 games with the team, going 19-10 during both the 1925 and 1927 seasons when the Pirates went to the World Series. Among the return for the Phillies in the trade, second baseman Cotton Tierney, who hit .345 and drove in 86 runs for the 1922 Pirates. Pittsburgh also included $50,000 in the deal, which was a large sum for the time.

On this date in 1968, Willie Stargell hit three homers and drove in seven runs in a 13-6 victory over the Cubs at Wrigley Field. During the sixth inning, Stargell just missed his third homer of the game, when he got a double off the left field wall. Two innings later, he put another one over the fence to cap off his day. You can find the boxscore for this game here.

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