Morning Report: Three Up, Three Down for the Bradenton Marauders

In yesterday’s Morning Report, we took a look at the Greensboro Grasshoppers, highlighting what has gone right for them over the first two months and which areas haven’t gone as planned. Today we move up to the Bradenton Marauders.

The idea here is to first look at players who are exceeding expectations, then follow it with players who aren’t living up to expectations going into the season. The “down” players could be due to injury, performance or just not getting regular playing time. In the past when we did this, including yesterday’s article, that could also include pitchers working out of the bullpen instead of the starting rotation.

THREE UP

  1. Cody Bolton’s performance so far is the biggest highlight for Bradenton. We had him rated #13 going into the season, even with some doubt about his injury recovery from last year, so it’s obviously not a total surprise to us that he’s pitching well. The main reason he is listed as #1 here, besides the strong stats, is that he looks even better than last year. Bolton has got his fastball up to 98 MPH this season and improved his second best pitch, while still maintaining success with his slider and changeup. He added a cutter (basically just a harder version of his slider) and uses it often with strong results.
  2. Robbie Glendinning (pictured above) could be on both lists here because he was sent down after hitting well in a small sample size at Altoona earlier in the year, so that was a bit disappointing. He has been terrific so far for Bradenton, hitting for average and power, while showing off athleticism at shortstop. We got a glimpse of his potential in our winter coverage this last off-season, but now he’s showing that he could be more than a strong organizational player.
  3. The bullpen as a group deserves the third spot, including Blake Cederlind, Luis Escobar and Joel Cesar, who were all promoted after strong starts to their season. They still have Shea Murray, Hunter Stratton, Nick Mears and Samuel Reyes (he started on Wednesday, so he might not be in the bullpen long). Mears and Murray have both hit 99 MPH recently, while showing a strong breaking ball as their out pitch. Stratton has pitched well in long relief and shown mid-90s velocity, while Reyes has been one of the best pitchers in all of baseball this season, displaying a three-pitch mix that is tough for the opposition.

THREE DOWN

  1. The clear winner (maybe loser?) for the top down spot is Oneil Cruz, who missed time in April, then he has been out with a foot fracture for over a month. He could return within a few weeks. Before he went down, he was having a lot of trouble with off-speed pitches, though 11 games is a small sample size to make any real assessment.
  2.  Travis Swaggerty is off to a very mediocre start, with some flaws to his game. Swaggerty is a toolsy player, who has taken a nice step in the right direction recently with more patience at the plate. He still has a .685 OPS, with only nine extra-base hits. We have seen some bad routes in the outfield, which is covered up some by his plus speed. He also swings through a lot of fastballs in the strike zone. He’s not over-matched at the level, but that’s not what you want to see from your first round pick.
  3. Michael Gretler posted a .426 OPS before being sent down to Greensboro. Gretler was drafted as a college senior last year, with the Pirates taking him two years in a row before he signed. He played well at Morgantown, then got a lot of attention in the off-season from the Pirates. Besides going to Pirate City for the Fall Instructional League, he also attended the winter strength and conditioning camp, another camp for hitting instruction, and a camp for catchers. That type of time investment means that they think highly of a player because those camps are small in number. He’s now down in Greensboro, where he has a .605 OPS. You have to imagine that he will turn things around soon, but this is a very slow start for an advanced player.

PLAYOFF PUSH

Altoona is in fourth place in their division, 9.5 games back with 19 games remaining in the first half.

Bradenton is in second place in their division, one game back with 17 games remaining in the first half.

Greensboro is in second place in their division, six games back with 18 games remaining in the schedule.

TODAY’S SCHEDULE

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates lost 11-5 to the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday night. The Pirates are sending out Chris Archer, who allowed four runs on six hits and six walks in his last start against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He has a 4.50 ERA at home in five starts this season and an 8.56 ERA in three May starts. The Brewers will counter with 31-year-old right-hander Jhoulys Chacin, who has a 4.88 ERA in 55.1 innings, with 42 strikeouts and a 1.37 WHIP. He gave up four runs on seven hits and three walks over five innings in his last start, which was against the Philadelphia Phillies. Chacin had a 5.90 ERA in six road starts.

The minor league schedule includes Indianapolis sending out Luis Escobar, who has apparently moved into the starting rotation. While he still isn’t fully stretched out yet, Escobar has given up one earned run on two hits over seven innings in his two starts. He is holding batters to a .145 BAA in 22.2 innings this season. Greensboro’s Osvaldo Bido is coming off of his worst start of the season, allowing seven runs in four innings. However, he’s facing a Lakewood team that he gave up one run over six innings against in his previous start.

Bradenton’s Aaron Shortridge is coming off of one run on three hits and no walks in seven innings during his last start. His opponent that day (Tampa) will also be tonight’s opponent. Altoona is likely sending out Sean Brady, who has a 4.81 ERA in four starts since being signed as a free agent. He had a 9.64 ERA with Eastern League rival Akron before he was released. Austin Coley was scheduled to start game two of a doubleheader last night, which was postponed, so he could end up with the start today.

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MLB: Pittsburgh (27-28) vs Brewers (32-25) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Chris Archer (5.75 ERA, 40:24 SO/BB, 40.2 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (30-20) vs Gwinnett (31-22) 7:15 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Luis Escobar (2.89 ERA, 12:4 SO/BB, 9.1 IP)

AA: Altoona (23-27) vs New Hampshire (23-28) 6:00 PM  (season preview)
Probable starter: Sean Brady (4.81 ERA, 15:4 SO/BB, 24.1 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (31-21) vs Tampa (21-31) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Aaron Shortridge (3.27 ERA, 42:7 SO/BB, 55.0 IP)

Low-A: Greensboro (35-17) vs Lakewood (17-35) 7:00 PM  (season preview)
Probable starter: Osvaldo Bido (3.42 ERA, 45:12 SO/BB, 55.1 IP)

HIGHLIGHTS

From Indianapolis on Wednesday, Ke’Bryan Hayes showing off some defense while basically playing shortstop

Two rehab highlights. A double by Corey Dickerson, followed by an RBI single from Jung Ho Kang, which turned out to be the game winning hit.

and

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

5/30: Connor Kaiser activated from Greenboro injured list.

5/29: Joe Jacques promoted to Bradenton.

5/29: Jake Elmore sent outright to Indianapolis.

5/28: Mitch Keller optioned to Indianapolis.

5/28: Alfredo Reyes promoted to Indianapolis. Domingo Robles promoted to Altoona.

5/27: Pirates acquire Yefry Ramirez from Baltimore Orioles for cash or PTBNL.

5/27: Pirates recall Mitch Keller. Montana DuRapau optioned to Indianapolis.

5/27: Cam Vieaux promoted to Indianapolis. Steven Baron activated from injured list.

5/27: Ryan Valdes and Austin Coley promoted to Altoona.

5/27: Alex McRae added to 40-man roster and recalled. Doydas Neverauskas optioned to Indianapolis.

5/27: Pirates recall Richard Rodriguez to serve as 26th man for doubleheader.

5/26: Francisco Cervelli placed on 7-day injured list. Jake Elmore designated for assignment. Jacob Stallings and Jose Osuna added to Pirates.

5/25: Pirates add Rookie Davis and Dovydas Neverauskas. Chris Stratton placed on injured list. Michael Feliz optioned to Indianapolis. Lonnie Chisenhall moved to 60-day IL.

5/25: Pedro Vasquez promoted to Indianapolis. Ryan Peurifoy added to Altoona roster.

5/25: Ike Schlabach placed on injured list.

5/22:  Ji-Hwan Bae removed from restricted list. Raul Siri assigned to Extended Spring Training.

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

THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY

Two former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a memorable Memorial Day from 104 years ago. The players born on this date were 2003 center fielder Kenny Lofton and 1983-86 outfielder Joe Orsulak. Lofton didn’t sign with the Pirates until March in 2003. He did pretty well in his time, but didn’t last long. In July, he was part of the highly unpopular Aramis Ramirez deal, going to the Chicago Cubs.

Orsulak was a sixth round draft pick of the Pirates in 1980 and worked his way up the system, making his debut three years later. He batted .300 during the 1985 season, but by 1987, he was in the minors and then dealt away before the 1988 season. The Pirates got nothing in return for him, just two minor league players who never made the Majors. Orsulak went on to play another ten years before retiring.

On this date in 1915, the Pirates beat the Chicago Cubs twice by matching 1-0 scores. It was Decoration Day, which is now called Memorial Day. The Pirates were at Forbes Field and the first game started at 10:30 in the morning. By 12:06, it was over and Wilbur Cooper, the team’s all-time winningest pitcher, had a complete game shutout. The crowd was shuffled out and at 3:00, they started the second game, which took all of 91 minutes to complete. Al Mamaux got the win, one of 21 that season, with eight of them being shutouts. You can find the boxscores here: game one game two

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