Morning Report: Checking in on the Pirates’ 2015 Draft

Yesterday I gave a quick progress report on the Pirates’ 2016 draft.  Today is 2015.  Numbers are the draft round.

1. Kevin Newman, SS.  It’s pretty clear at this point that the Pirates don’t see Newman as a starting shortstop.  Apart from Cole Tucker, they wouldn’t have acquired a fringy career utility player in Erik Gonzalez and immediately anointed him the starter at short if they had much hope for Newman.  Newman is, however, currently playing well for the Pirates as a utility player.

1. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B.  A supplemental first round pick, Hayes currently rates as the Pirates’ best position prospect or, according to some sources, their best prospect, period.  He profiles as a potential gold glove third baseman with a solid-or-better bat.  Hayes is currently hitting decently in AAA and probably needs to make some adjustments there before he’s ready to tackle the majors.  Considering the Pirates’ abysmal third base situation, he can’t get ready soon enough.

2. Kevin Kramer, SS.  The Pirates concluded quickly that Kramer was a second baseman and not a shortstop.  A switch to a more power-oriented approach helped him put up good enough numbers in the minors to bolster his prospect status, but he showed concerning swing-and-miss tendencies during a brief September trial with the Pirates last year.  After a slow start with Indianapolis, his OPS is up to .831.  He could still play a role in Pittsburgh if Adam Frazier doesn’t start hitting.

3. Casey Hughston, CF.  Released.

4. Jacob Taylor, RHP.  Released.

5. Brandon Waddell, LHP.  A finesse lefty as a starter, Waddell saw a jump in his velocity after he moved to the bullpen in AAA.  He’s struggled with control problems so far at Indianapolis, but could get a shot with the Pirates if he makes progress there.

6. J.T. Brubaker, RHP.  Brubaker took a big step forward in 2018 and rates as the Pirates’ best upper-level starting prospect after Mitch Keller.  He might even have gotten a callup, due to the Pirates’ recent injuries, but he’s out with a forearm strain.

7. Mitchell Tolman, 3B.  Tolman moved to second base and made it to Altoona, but he lost a chunk of last year to a drug suspension.  He’s now with Altoona but isn’t hitting much and looks like he may have topped out at AA.

8. Seth McGarry, RHP.  The Pirates sent McGarry to the Phillies for Joaquin Benoit.  He made it to AAA a couple weeks ago.

9. Bret Helton, RHP.  Released.

10. Logan Sendelbach, RHP.  Released.

11. Christian Kelley, C.  A good defensive catcher with limited hitting potential, Kelley is in AAA and could be a candidate to serve as the team’s “third catcher” once he gets more upper-level experience, which is a good outcome for an 11th round draft pick.

12. Ty Moore, OF.  Released.

13. Logan Ratledge, SS.  Released.

14. Chris Plitt, RHP.  Released.

15. Scooter Hightower, RHP.  Hightower is currently in the Altoona rotation, although he would have been in the bullpen but for some injuries.  He’s been just decent this year and has an extremely low strikeout rate.

16. Nick Hibbing, RHP.  Retired.

18. Stephan Meyer, RHP.  Retired.

19. Ike Schlabach, LHP.  The most unusual aspect of this draft was that the Pirates didn’t select any prep pitchers in the early rounds; Schlabach was the first.  He’s had a lot of ups and downs and now is in the Bradenton bullpen, pitching just OK.

20. Tanner Anderson, RHP.  Anderson actually reached Pittsburgh last year in an emergency situation.  The Pirates sent him to Oakland for a PTBNL that turned out to be low-level pitcher Wilkin Ramos.  Oakland moved Anderson to their AAA rotation this year and he’s been struggling.

21. Nicholas Economos, RHP.  The Pirates have brought Economos, a junior college draftee, along slowly.  He’s in the rotation at Greensboro and he’s had very good stats, including an extremely high strikeout rate.  The main question is whether his stuff will hold up at higher levels.

22. Nathan Trevillian, RHP.  Released.

24. John Bormann, C.  Bormann is a glove-first catcher who profiles as an upper-level organizational player, although he famously got one AB with the Pirates.

25. Logan Hill, OF.  Hill has shown significant power, but has battled contact issues.  He’s currently in his third stint with Altoona and is putting up just passable numbers.  He’ll be 26 in a few days.

26. Shane Kemp, RHP.  Released.

27. Ryan Nagle, OF.  Released.

28. Albert Baur, 1B.  Retired.

30. Mike Wallace, RHP.  Released.

33. Sean Keselica, LHP.  Keselica reached Altoona quickly as a reliever, but battled increasing control problems there for two years.  He moved up to Indianapolis this year and has walked nine in his first 4.2 IP.

35. Jordan George, 1B.  George reached Altoona, where he appeared likely to serve in a corner utility role, but the Pirates lost him in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft.

36. James Marvel, RHP.  A finesse righty, Marvel got off to a great start in Altoona’s rotation this year, but he’s been struggling lately.  It’s uncertain whether he has a major league ceiling.

39. Tate Scioneaux, RHP.  Scioneaux reached Altoona as a closer in 2017, but he returned there and struggled in 2018, and this year has had a very rough time, still in AA.

40. Daniel Zamora, LHP.  The Pirates sent Zamora to the Mets for Josh Smoker in a trade of lefty relievers.  Naturally, Smoker quickly bombed out with the Pirates while Zamora has gotten into 22 games with the Mets the last two years and pitched very well.

The 2015 draft has had a marginally lower attrition rate as the 2016 draft despite the fact that an additional year has gone by.  The 2016 group has lost 16 of 28 signees, released or retired, while 2015 has lost of 14 of 33.  More importantly, of course, the 2015 draft produced one player in Hayes who has a very good chance of being a long-term regular for the Pirates.  It’s also likely that Newman and Kramer will play some sort of meaningful role going forward.  As a group, the pitchers lack the upside of the 2016 prep pitchers (Travis MacGregor, Braeden Ogle and Max Kranick), but Brubaker arguably has a far better chance than any of those three to serve as a starter in the majors.  Otherwise, there are a few potential middle relievers or lefty specialists.


Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates lost 11-1 to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday afternoon. The Pirates now travel to San Diego for a four-game series. Trevor Williams gets the ball in the opener. He gave up one run over seven innings in his last start against the St Louis Cardinals on Friday. Williams has lasted at least six innings in each of his eight starts this season. The Padres will counter with 23-year-old lefty Eric Lauer, who has a 5.75 ERA in 40.2 innings, with 35 strikeouts and a 1.45 WHIP. In his last start against the Colorado Rockies, he gave up eight runs over three innings.

The minor league schedule includes the fourth start in Indianapolis for Dario Agrazal. His first two starts landed him the Pitcher of the Week for the International League, while his start last week was one run over eight innings. His mound opponent in this morning start time today is former Pirate, Drew Hutchison. Altoona’s Cam Vieaux has hit a bit of a rough patch after starting the season with a 2.20 ERA in five starts. In his last two games, he has given up seven runs over 8.2 innings. Despite more walks than strikeouts, Bradenton’s Oddy Nunez is holding batters to a .239 BAA. He threw three shutout innings in his last start before the game was halted due to rain. Greensboro’s Nicholas Economos is holding batters to a .180 BAA and he leads all starters for the Pirates with 12.7 strikeouts per nine 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 (21-19) @ Padres (22-20) 10:10 PM
Probable starter: Trevor Williams (3.40 ERA, 37:9 SO/BB, 50.1 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (20-16) vs Scranton/WB (18-16) 11:05 AM  (season preview)
Probable starter: Dario Agrazal (1.25 ERA, 20:2 SO/BB, 21.2 IP)

AA: Altoona (19-19) vs Harrisburg (28-10) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Cam Vieaux (3.38 ERA, 22:15 SO/BB, 37.1 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (22-16) vs Fort Myers (24-14) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Oddy Nunez (4.22 ERA, 19:21 SO/BB, 32.0 IP)

Low-A: Greensboro (24-13) vs Delmarva (28-8) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Nicholas Economos (2.60 ERA, 39:12 SO/BB, 27.2 IP)


From the Indianapolis game on Tuesday night, highlights from the top two prospects in the system. A strikeout by Mitch Keller is up first.

Here’s the 15th double of the season from Ke’Bryan Hayes, who leads his league and all Pirates in doubles


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.

5/11: Pirates acquire Chris Stratton from Angels for cash.

5/11: Pirates release Ronny Agustin

5/10: Patrick Kivlehan traded to Toronto Blue Jays

5/9: Tyler Lyons designated for assignment. Pirates recall Clay Holmes and Montana DuRapau (added to 40-man).

5/9: Matt Eckelman and Luis Escobar promoted to Indianapolis. Joel Cesar promoted to Altoona. Samuel Reyes and Logan Stoelke promoted to Bradenton. Cristofer Melendez and Will Gardner promoted to Greensboro.

5/8: Keone Kela placed on injured list

5/8: JB Shuck assigned to Indianapolis


Four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including two teammates born on the same day. Mitch Webster was an outfielder for the 1991 Pirates and his teammate that year was pitcher Bob Patterson. Both players were born on May 16,1959. Webster played just one season for the Pirates, while Patterson played six years in Pittsburgh, including all three playoff seasons from 1990 until 1992. He pitched 207 games for the Pirates, 21 as a starter, posting a 3.97 ERA in 331 innings.

Other players born on this date include two very good pitchers from the 1980’s. Rick Reuschel and Rick Rhoden both celebrate their birthday today. Rhoden played eight seasons in Pittsburgh and had a very small part during the 1979 World Series winning season. He went 79-73, 3.51 in 213 starts and two relief appearances during his time in Pittsburgh. Known as a very good hitting pitcher, he batted .251 for the Pirates and was occasionally used as a pinch-hitter.

Reuschel played three years for the Pirates and had a great season in 1985, despite the Pirates losing 104 games that year. He finished the year with a 14-8 record, thanks in part to a 2.27 ERA in 194 innings. Reuschel won 214 games over his 19 seasons in the Majors, while Rhoden had 151 victories.

The first time the Braves franchise and the Pirates franchise played each other was on this date in 1887. The Boston Beaneaters took that first game by a 6-2 score. Old Hoss Radbourn out-dueled Jim McCormick for the win. Between them, they won 574 Major League games. In the all-time series, the Pirates hold a 1,107-1,030 edge, with the two teams playing to a tie 16 times.