Morning Report: Checking in on the Pirates’ 2017 Draft — The Pitchers

I covered the hitters from this draft yesterday, so it only seems fair to check on the progress of the pitchers.  As they most often do, the Pirates went for a few high-ceiling prep pitchers and a larger number of lower-risk, lower-reward college pitchers, with a few junior college pitchers mixed in.  (Numbers are draft round.  Stats are through the end of play May 7.)

1. Shane Baz, RHP:  Baz, of course, went to Tampa Bay in the trade for Chris Archer.  He’s still in extended spring training this year.  That doesn’t seem like a good sign for a 12th-overall 1st round draft pick in his second full season.

2. Steven Jennings, RHP:  Scouts like Jennings for his athleticism, but he struggled last year with Bristol, seeing his velocity drop at times to the mid-80s.  This year he’s at Greensboro and struggling again; opponents are batting .318 against him with good power.

6. Cody Bolton, RHP:  Possibly the big find in this draft, Bolton surprised by skipping Bristol — the usual stop for prep pitchers in their first full seasons — and going to low A.  He pitched well, although his season was shortened by elbow problems.  This year he’s dominating in the Florida State League.  He has an ERA of 0.77 and opponents are posting a pitiful .395 OPS against him.

8. Blake Weiman, LHP:  Weiman is limited to relief and isn’t overpowering, but he succeeds with excellent command.  He had a strong season last year split between the two class A teams.  This year he got a late start due to a minor ailment, but he hasn’t allowed an earned run in his first five outings.  He stands a good chance of being the first player from this draft to reach Pittsburgh.

10. Beau Sulser, RHP:  Sulser is a bit of a puzzle.  He was drafted out of Dartmouth, which isn’t exactly a baseball hotbed, and is already 25.  He doesn’t have great stuff, but he put up outstanding numbers across the board in relief in low class A last year.  Although the Pirates didn’t see fit to promote him to Bradenton during the season, this year they skipped him over Bradenton and sent him to Altoona.  He continues to be effective, with a 0.53 ERA and 0.65 WHIP.

11. Alex Manasa, RHP:  The Pirates drafted Manasa out of junior college and he had limited experience, but they’ve pushed him as a starter and he’s improved a good deal this year with Greensboro over his numbers last year in short season ball.  He currently has a 3.21 ERA and 1.22 WHIP.

15. Gavin Wallace, RHP:  Wallace got to Bradenton last year and served as a swing man, but he got extremely hard.  This year he’s back there in a mopup role and he’s struggling even more, with a 9.20 ERA.

16. Hunter Stratton, RHP:  The Pirates took Stratton out of junior college and he struggled a bit in relief last year in low class A.  This year, with Bradenton, he’s taken a step forward, with a 1.50 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and 9.0 K/9.  His control is much better and he’s only 22, so he could be a darkhorse to move up as a reliever.

18. Shea Murray, RHP:  The Pirates took a flier on Murray out of Ohio State.  He’s a tall pitcher who’s hit 100 mph, but he was mainly an outfielder in college and so arrived with limited experience.  He also was injured and unable to pitch the year he was drafted, and was torpedoed last year by control problems.  He was just promoted to Bradenton, though, and has pitched well this year.

19. Jacob Webb, RHP:  The last prep pitcher taken by the Pirates in this draft, Webb has pitched only 20 innings the last two years because of health problems.  He’s currently in extended spring training.

20. Will Reed, RHP:  Released.

25. Eddie Muhl, RHP:  Released.

28. Matt Seelinger, RHP:  Sent to the Rays for Adeiny Echavarria, Seelinger is currently in the FSL and has an ERA in double digits.

32. Hector Quinones, RHP:  Retired last year when he didn’t get the assignment he wanted.

33. Ryan Valdes, RHP:  Quickly settled in as an organizational reliever.  Currently has a 2.70 ERA for Bradenton, but the same number of walks as strikeouts.

34. Mason Ward, LHP:  Released

35. Drew Fischer, RHP:  Pitching as a reliever, Fischer was just OK last year in low class A.  This year he’s pitching better with Bradenton through 9.1 IP, but his K rate has dropped sharply. He’s currently out with a right elbow strain.

Even with Baz gone and Jennings struggling, the Pirates could get two very useful pieces out of this draft with Bolton and Weiman.  Sulser, Manasa, Stratton and Murray also are at least a little interesting.

TODAY’S SCHEDULE

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates lost 9-6 to the Texas Rangers on Wednesday afternoon. They now travel to St Louis for a four-game series against the Cardinals. Joe Musgrove gets the ball tonight. He is coming off of his worst outing of the season, five earned runs over 2.2 innings against the Oakland A’s on Friday. The Cardinals will counter with right-hander Michael Wacha, who has a 5.17 ERA in 31.1 innings, with 33 strikeouts and a 1.63 WHIP. He gave up four runs on six hits and four walks in five innings against the Chicago Cubs on Saturday.

The minor league schedule includes two morning start times and a day off for Altoona. Osvaldo Bido gets the AM start for Greensboro. He ranks third in the South Atlantic League in innings (35.2), fourth in ERA (1.26) and tied for seventh in WHIP (0.81). Bradenton has the only night game today. They will go with Oddy Nunez, who lasted just three innings in his latest start. Indianapolis is sending out Alex McRae, who has given up three runs or more in five of his six starts.

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 (17-16) @ Cardinals (21-16) 7:45 PM
Probable starter: Joe Musgrove (2.63 ERA, 32:9 SO/BB, 37.2 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (15-16) @ Scranton/WB (17-12) 10:35 AM (season preview)
Probable starter: Alex McRae (6.60 ERA, 27:10 SO/BB, 30.0 IP)

AA: Altoona (16-16) vs Erie (15-12) 6:00 PM 5/10 (season preview)
Probable starter: Cam Vieaux (2.67 ERA, 21:12 SO/BB, 33.2 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (20-12) vs Palm Beach (18-13) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Oddy Nunez (4.46 ERA, 19:19 SO/BB, 29.0 IP)

Low-A: Greensboro (20-10) @ Delmarva (24-4) 10:35 AM (season preview)
Probable starter: Osvaldo Bido (1.26 ERA, 27:9 SO/BB, 35.2 IP)

HIGHLIGHTS

From Altoona, Jason Delay has been one of the hottest hitters in the system lately

Logan Hill with a two-run single

Matt Eckelman gets a weak swing to end the game and pick up his fifth save

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

5/8: Keone Kela placed on injured list

5/8: JB Shuck assigned to Indianapolis

5/6: Pirates sign Sean Brady and assign him to Altoona.

5/6: Jacob Brentz promoted to Indianapolis. Erich Weiss assigned to Extended Spring Training

5/4: Jameson Taillon placed on injured list. Kevin Newman activated from injured list.

5/4: Pablo Reyes optioned to Indianapolis. Tyler Lyons added to Pirates.

5/4: JB Shuck designated for assignment. Pirates recall Dovydas Neverauskas.

5/4: Sean Keselica promoted to Indianapolis. Alfredo Reyes assigned to Altoona.

5/4: Blake Cederlind promoted to Altoona. Ryan Peurifoy assigned to Extended Spring Training

5/4: Nick Mears and Shea Murray promoted to Bradenton. Yerry De Los Santos and John O’Reilly added to Greensboro roster.

5/4: Drew Fischer placed on 7-day injured list.

5/3: Randolph Gassaway added to Bradenton roster. Michael Gretler assigned to Greensboro.

5/1: Connor Kaiser placed on injured list. Kyle Mottice added to Greensboro roster.

4/30: Starling Marte activated from injured list. Jason Martin optioned to Indianapolis.

4/30: Chase Lambert promoted to Bradenton. Raul Siri added to Greensboro roster. John Bormann assigned to Extended Spring Training.

4/30: Pirates release Ben Bengtson

THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY

Three former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, and a game from 1937 that seemed like the Pirates were playing the Pirates. Players born on this date include 1952 first baseman Tony Bartirome, who was signed the previous year by Pie Traynor. His playing career wasn’t that memorable, but older fans might recognize the name because he was the trainer for the Pirates for 19 seasons, include two World Series (1971 and 1979) seasons. So you could say that Traynor signed the trainer.

Also born on this date, Culley Rickard, who played for the Pirates from 1941-42 and then again in 1947. In between, he served three years in the military during WWII. He had his arm broken by a line drive during the 1942 season, with the incident happening when he was throwing batting practice.

Finally, catcher Dan Sullivan, who caught one game on Opening Day of the 1886 season when the Pirates (then called Alleghenys) played their only Opening Day doubleheader. He went 0-for-4 with two errors and it ended up being the last game of his five-year career.

On this date in 1937, the Pirates faced a Braves team that used six players that had either already played for the Pirates, or would later in their career. The team was also managed by Bill McKechnie, who played for and managed the Pirates. The Braves (who were also called the Bees back then) used former/future Pirates Deb Garms, Vince DiMaggio, Al Lopez, Elbie Fletcher, Tommy Thevenow and Guy Bush in the game. Pittsburgh won and moved to 11-3 on the season. You can view the boxscore here.

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