In his fourth at-bat on Thursday night, Kevin Newman flew out to right field to end the eighth inning. It wasn’t anything exciting, but it was significant. For determining whether a position player has prospect status or not, we use just one cutoff for eligibility. If a player has between zero and 130 at-bats in the majors, he is still eligible for our prospect list. Once he records his 131st at-bat, he is no longer considered a prospect.
It’s similar to what MLB uses for Rookie of the Year eligibility, except they also use 45 non-September days in the majors. We don’t use that because we feel that if you’re not getting regular playing time, then you’re not getting a chance to show what you can do in the majors. That sometimes causes a player to remain a prospect a lot longer than he is eligible for the Rookie of the Year award, such as Jacob Stallings having just 77 at-bats in four partial seasons and well over a full year of big league service time. In most cases, the 45 day mark and 131 at-bats mark are reached close to each other.
In the case of Kevin Newman, he graduated from our prospect list on Thursday night in the eighth inning. His big league slash line at the time was .252/.288/.305 in 47 games, though he has a .350 average this year in 40 at-bats.
Newman was ranked as the seventh best prospect in the system in our 2019 Prospect Guide. With him graduating from the list, that makes Bryan Reynolds the seventh best prospect now, while JT Brubaker moves into the top ten, Braeden Ogle into the top 20 and Aaron Shortridge into the top 30. We didn’t figure out a #51 (we actually did when Aaron Slegers was still in the system), but my choice at the time would have been Indianapolis catcher Christian Kelley. The book has a small group of players listed in our tiered rankings, who just missed the top 50.
Losing Newman won’t really affect farm system rankings when they are updated. Possibly from Keith Law, since he was always higher on Newman than anyone else, but even then, it won’t be significant. If you’re losing a top ranked player from your farm system because he’s playing well in the majors, then it’s not really much of a loss. Farm system rankings don’t take that into account obviously. A top ranked player failing miserably in the minors is no different than the same player winning the MVP in the majors when you’re ranking how strong the farm system is at a given point.
The Pirates have a chance to really see their farm system rankings slip by the end of the year if players like Mitch Keller, Ke’Bryan Hayes and Cole Tucker all use up their prospect eligibility. The flip side is that you have young talent in the majors, but as a fan, you never want to see a dry spell in the minors, regardless of the reason.
The Pirates will get a chance to stock up some during the draft (every other team does too) and on the international side. We don’t begin the rank international players until they play in the US, but the group headed for the GCL has potential to strengthen the top 50 prospect list, with outfielders Juan Pie, Angel Basabe and Daniel Rivero being the big names to watch this season. When we do our mid-season updated rankings, all three of those players, as well as any others over from the DSL this year, will all be eligible for the top 50.
Newman had a good run in the system, starting high because he was a first round pick and remaining high due to his high floor, even if he doesn’t reach his ceiling. It took him just under four years from the day he signed to lose his prospect eligibility. That’s not a bad amount time, though a little higher than we thought back in 2016 when he tore through Bradenton, hitting .366 in 41 games.
The next player who graduates from the prospect list could very well be the one who is seeing more time at shortstop over Newman. Cole Tucker hasn’t hit well in the majors, though he was obviously rushed through Triple-A, but he is playing well defensively and he’s already up to 70 Major League at-bats. If he continues to play regularly, the farm system will take another top ten prospect hit around the time of the draft (June 3rd), with Bryan Reynolds possibly not far behind, as long as he isn’t sent down to get regular playing time when Lonnie Chisenhall and/or Corey Dickerson return. Next closest in the majors to losing prospect eligibility would be Clay Holmes, who was 20 innings away going into last night.
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates won 5-3 over the San Diego Padres on Friday night. The Pirates will send out Montana DuRapau to start tonight’s game, so it appears it will be a bullpen game. His highest pitch count this season is 38 back on April 28th and he hasn’t gone more than two innings in an appearance this year. The Padres will send out 22-year-old lefty Nick Margevicius, who has a 4.14 ERA in 41.1 innings, with 31 strikeouts and a 1.28 WHIP. He gave up five runs over five innings in Colorado in his last start. In his last home start, Margevicius allowed three runs over 5.2 innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The minor league schedule includes Brad Case, who is coming off of winning the South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week and being named as our Player of the Week. He was nearly perfect over seven innings in his last start, allowing just a bloop single in the seventh. After posting a 1.98 ERA in his first six starts, Altoona’s James Marvel has given up 14 runs over his last ten innings. Bradenton’s Domingo Robles has gone at least six innings in seven of his eight starts this season. He has given up three runs over his last three starts combined. Rookie Davis starts for Indianapolis. He went six innings for the first time this season in his last start, allowing two runs.
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 (22-20) @ Padres (23-22) 8:40 PM
Probable starter: Montana DuRapau (1.93 ERA, 5:0 SO/BB, 4.2 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (21-17) vs Norfolk (19-20) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Rookie Davis (6.30 ERA, 23:12 SO/BB, 30.0 IP)
AA: Altoona (20-20) vs Harrisburg (29-11) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: James Marvel (4.27 ERA, 33:10 SO/BB, 36.1 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (22-18) @ Palm Beach (26-14) 5:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Domingo Robles (2.57 ERA, 38:12 SO/BB, 39.0 IP)
Low-A: Greensboro (25-14) vs Lakewood (14-25) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Brad Case (1.90 ERA, 30:2 SO/BB, 42.2 IP)
From Indianapolis on Thursday, Ke’Bryan Hayes goes a long way, almost too far, to make this catch on a ball hit against the shift
— Indianapolis Indians (@indyindians) May 16, 2019
While this highlight from Kevin Kramer isn’t much, the information in the tweet says a lot about his recent play
— Indianapolis Indians (@indyindians) May 16, 2019
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
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
Four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including Pirates great Babe Adams, who won 194 games over his 18 season in Pittsburgh. During the 1909 season as a rookie, he went 12-3, 1.11 in 130 innings during the regular season and then won three games during the World Series. Adams won a career-high 22 games during the 1911 season and was the only player from the 1909 team who was still around during the 1925 season when the Pirates won their second WS title. You can read his full bio here.
Other former Pirates players born on this date:
Nelson Figueroa, 2003-04 pitcher. He had a 4.38 ERA in 63.2 innings with the Pirates, making six starts and 16 relief appearances.
Ken Hamlin, shortstop in 1957 and 1959. Played just four games over his two seasons with the Pirates, going 1-for-9 at the plate.
Bill Batsch, pinch-hitter on September 9, 1916. Walked in his only career plate appearance.
On this date in 1909, Honus Wagner hit a tenth inning two-run triple to help give the Pirates an 8-5 victory over Brooklyn. Hall of Famer Vic Willis started the game for the Pirates and reliever Sam Leever picked up the victory. That gave the Pirates a 1.5 game lead in the standings over the Cubs, the team that won the NL pennant each of the previous three seasons.