A lot of the positive reports we have received since the start of Extended Spring Training this year have been on the pitching side of things. That’s still somewhat true after checking in Saturday for an update, but a few positions players are starting to make some noise. One in particular is a top 50 prospect in the system, who we get questions about from time to time.

Outfielder Jack Herman was a 30th round pick last year, who signed right away for $50,000 and headed to the Gulf Coast League, where he tore the cover off the ball. Herman hit .340/.435/.489 in 37 games, showing a little power, solid defense and nice plate patience.

The Pirates gave him some off-season goals this year, which we noted in our prospect guide. They wanted him to add weight to help his power, while also working on his speed and agility. He did just that, hoping to remain a consistent hitter while driving the ball better, while also adding value on the bases and showing that he can stay in center field. So far the results have been mixed during Extended Spring Training.

The 19-year-old Herman has bulked up to 195 pounds (he’s 6’0″), after weighing 178 for most of last year in the GCL. Part of that lower weight was just from playing noon games in Florida in the middle of summer, making it difficult to maintain weight. Herman has been able to stay around 195 so far this year and he has seen recent results from the added strength.

” I have seen a huge difference,” Herman said. “I have a couple home runs in sim games and doubles against the walls. I feel like I was successful in that [adding power] in the off-season.”

The mixed results come from a nagging hamstring injury he has been dealing with since early April. That has caused him to miss some time last month and early this month. He’s just now fully healthy and still on a somewhat limited schedule, playing 5-6 innings every day, with today being the day he extends to nine innings again.

That injury has limited his chance to show off the speed and agility part of his off-season training. The Pirates have him playing center field full-time, after playing right field more than half of his time last year.

“I’ve been in center field all of extended when I have been playing,” Herman said. “Hoping to keep trying to earn that spot and show people I can stay in center.”

Herman hasn’t received his 2019 assignment yet. The Pirates usually send high school players to Bristol in their first full season, while sending the older players and higher draft picks to Morgantown. Wherever he goes this year, Herman said he’s getting excited about getting out to a team and making an impact.

Adding power and better defensive value to an already exciting hitter is going to make Herman a player to watch next month when the short-season leagues get their seasons started.

TODAY’S SCHEDULE

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates won 7-2 over the San Diego Padres on Saturday night. The Pirates will send out Joe Musgrove for the finale of the four-game series. He is coming off of seven shutout innings of one-hit ball against the Arizona Diamondbacks in his last start. His previous two starts combined saw him give up 13 runs over 5.2 innings. The Padres will counter with 24-year-old right-hander Cal Quantrill, who has a 3.60 ERA in ten innings, with eight strikeouts and a 1.60 WHIP. He will be making his third career big league start today.

The minor league schedule includes Cody Bolton trying to rebound from his first poor start of the season. On Tuesday he allowed five runs on seven hits in 2.2 innings. In his first six starts, he never allowed more than one run or four hits, and he went at least five innings each time. The top prospect in the system will also be on the mound, trying to build off of his last outing. Mitch Keller gave up two runs on three hits over six innings, while striking out eight batters. He leads all Pirates with 50 strikeouts. Altoona will send out Pedro Vasquez, who gave up a season high five runs and three walks in his last start. Greensboro goes with Steven Jennings, who gave up five runs over 5.2 innings in his last start, though all five runs came in the sixth inning. Prior to that blowup, he had allowed one earned run over his previous 15.1 innings. The Grasshoppers are playing a doubleheader today, with no starter listed for game two yet.

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 (23-20) @ Padres (23-23) 4:10 PM
Probable starter: Joe Musgrove (3.59 ERA, 40:16 SO/BB, 47.2 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (22-17) vs Norfolk (19-21) 1:35 PM  (season preview)
Probable starter: Mitch Keller (3.83 ERA, 50:19 SO/BB, 40.0 IP)

AA: Altoona (21-20) vs Harrisburg (29-12) 2:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Pedro Vasquez (3.52 ERA, 26:9 SO/BB, 38.1 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (23-18) @ Palm Beach (26-15) 1:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Cody Bolton (1.91 ERA, 39:7 SO/BB, 37.2 IP)

Low-A: Greensboro (26-14) vs Lakewood (14-26) 2:00 PM DH (season preview)
Probable starter: Steven Jennings (5.97 ERA, 36:15 SO/BB, 37.2 IP)

HIGHLIGHTS

From Indianapolis on Friday, Will Craig hits his 11th home run

You have to love the hustle here by JB Shuck, who turned a single into a double

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

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.

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.

THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY

Two former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a look at a very bad day for the city of Pittsburgh. The players born on this date include pitcher Ed Whitson and pitcher Bud Culloton. Both of them played for a Pirates team that won the World Series. Whitson played with the club from 1977 until he was traded away during the 1979 season, while Culloton played for the 1925 WS champs. You can read more about each of them in the link above.

On this date in 1890, the Pirates (then called the Alleghenys) lost 18-2, while the Pittsburgh Burghers lost 16-3 that same day. The Burghers were a member of the Player’s League, a Major League which existed for just the 1890 season. Many of the players from that team, were members of the Alleghenys team before and after 1890. The Alleghenys/Pirates were 8-10 before that game and went 15-103 the rest of the way. It was the worst season in franchise history.

On this date in 1981, Jim Bibby allowed a lead-off single to Atlanta’s Terry Harper, then retired the next 27 batters in a row. He out-pitched Hall of Famer Phil Niekro, who gave up five runs in the 5-0 Pittsburgh win. Bibby himself reached base more times than the Braves, collecting two doubles. Here’s the boxscore.

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