Morning Report: A Look at the Progress from the Top Ten 2018 GCL Pirates Prospects

Today we look back at the top ten prospects list for the 2018 GCL Pirates. We did things a little different last year for our top ten lists. Any players who were in our mid-season updated top 50, kept their spots from that list. Then we rated the rest of the players to fill out the top ten. That’s important to keep in mind as you look at the list below. First, here is the list:

  1. Braxton Ashcraft
  2. Ji-Hwan Bae
  3. Michael Burrows
  4. Jean Eusebio
  5. Jack Herman
  6. Santiago Florez
  7. Samuel Inoa
  8. Pat Dorrian
  9. Noe Toribio
  10. Brad Case

Ashcraft was the easy choice for number one back because the Pirates just handed him a huge over-slot deal in the second round and we got an early look at the young 6’5″ right-hander. While we didn’t see the 95 MPH we read about in the scouting reports, we did see him hitting 92-93 MPH often in two looks before we did our mid-season update. Ji-Hwan Bae wasn’t far behind as the top international signing for the Pirates, receiving a $1,250,000 bonus in March. He also looked as advertised, showing nice defense at shortstop, plus speed on the bases and a line drive stroke at the plate with a high contact rate.

Burrows was an 11th round pick who received a $500,000 bonus to sign and we saw right away why the Pirates gave him that deal. He was clearly more polished than Ashcraft, with the biggest difference between the two being the bigger frame on the second round pick, which gave him a lot more projection. Jean Eusebio was the top signing during the 2016-17 international signing period and played all of the 2018 season at 17 years old. Those four were rated as top 50 prospects in our mid-season guide.

By the time our 2019 guide was finished, the #5 and #6 players on that list had moved ahead of Eusebio. There was reason to be cautious on Jack Herman back then. He was a 30th round draft pick, who received a low bonus and the sample size was very small at that point. We liked what we saw, but it was clearly too soon to have him among the top 50 prospects.

Santiago Florez was a late bloomer last year, adding to his velocity right before the season started, while also showing better control than in his rookie season with the 2017 DSL Pirates. He may have made the top 50 if we waited a week longer to rank players because he threw 11 shutout innings in the week after our voting was done. We heard about the improvements, but it wasn’t translating to the boxscore until that point.

While Eusebio hasn’t performed as hoped yet, he’s still an 18-year-old in the Appalachian League, so there’s plenty of time to see what he can do. As for the other five players on the list, they have all improved their stock this season. Ashcraft and Burrows got a push to Morgantown, when in the past they would have been at Bristol this year. Burrows looks fantastic so far, while Ashcraft has shown glimpses of why the Pirates are so high on him. His stats aren’t great early, but it’s important to remember that he’s basically a college freshman playing against college juniors and seniors in the New York-Penn League.

Herman got a promotion to Greensboro after missing some time in Extended Spring Training with a hamstring injury. He’s showing early power so far, but there still remains reason to be a little cautious with his 23:7 SO/BB ratio in 67 plate appearances. Just like when we didn’t rank him in the mid-season update last year, it’s a small sample size, so give it time. Florez tossed five shutout innings in his debut with Bristol last week, while hitting 95 MPH in his final inning. There’s a lot to like with the 6’6″, 19-year-old right-hander. Bae is playing well at Greensboro, getting on base, showing off his speed and playing solid defense, so he’s right where you would hope he would be at this point.

The bottom four on that list had two college players and two young international players. We rated Pat Dorrian and Brad Case more on their tools than results against younger players. Dorrian was traded to the Orioles just two days ago, while Case has made it all the way to Bradenton already. If we re-ranked the list, they would both move ahead of the two international players for now due to results on the field at a higher level. Noe Toribio has some upside and so does Samuel Inoa, but Inoa can’t stay healthy and Toribio hasn’t translated his raw talent to stats yet. The rankings for the top ten would change if I did them again right now, but the same ten players would still be on the list, and it would look like this:

  1. Burrows, 2. Ashcraft, 3. Bae, 4. Herman, 5. Florez, 6. Eusebio, 7. Case, 8. Dorrian, 9. Toribio, 10. Inoa

Burrows and Ashcraft are basically 1a/1b, while the top five might all be top 30 prospects right now. I say “might” out of caution that I’m just going by feel and not actually doing a top 30 of my own right now.

TODAY’S SCHEDULE

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates won 10-0 over the Houston Astros on Thursday afternoon. The Pirates now head to Milwaukee for three games, where they will send out Chris Archer for the opener. He gave up one run over five innings in his last start six days ago against the San Diego Padres. Archer faced the Brewers on May 31st and allowed four runs over seven innings. The Brewers will counter with veteran right-hander Jhoulys Chacin, who has a 5.88 ERA in 67.1 innings, with 56 strikeouts and a 1.51 WHIP. He has failed to make it through five innings in each of his last three starts, dating back to May 31st when he lost to Archer. In those games, Chacin has given up 14 runs over 12 innings.

The minor league schedule includes Altoona’s Pedro Vasquez, who is having a phenomenal month of June. He has an 0.36 ERA in 25 innings, with a 23:3 SO/BB ratio and an 0.68 WHIP. Nicholas Economos gets the start for Bradenton. He tossed six shutout innings against Tampa in his last start, a team that he has allowed just two runs to in 20 innings this season. He has a 4.66 ERA against every other team he’s faced since joining Bradenton.

Colin Selby makes his third start against Lakewood today. In the first game, he allowed three runs over 6.1 innings and picked up a career high ten strikeouts. In his second game, he tossed 4.1 shutout innings. Dante Mendoza makes his second start for Bristol. He tossed four shutout innings in his debut and picked up six strikeouts. There’s no starter yet listed for Indianapolis, but Erik Gonzalez will be joining them on rehab today. He has been out since April 20th due to a left clavicle fracture. Morgantown has no starter listed, but it should be the third start from Michael Burrows, who was our Player of the Week on Monday.

MLB: Pittsburgh (38-41) @ Brewers (43-38) 8:10 PM
Probable starter: Chris Archer (5.56 ERA, 74:36 SO/BB, 69.2 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (41-36) @ Gwinnett (43-34) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD

AA: Altoona (40-35) vs Binghamton (38-36) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Pedro Vasquez (2.24 ERA, 54:12 SO/BB, 68.1 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (40-36) @ Ft Myers (42-34) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Nicholas Economos (2.75 ERA, 33:16 SO/BB, 39.1 IP)

Low-A: Greensboro (48-29) @ Lakewood (31-47) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Colin Selby (3.70 ERA, 44:14 SO/BB, 41.1 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (7-6) vs Williamsport (2-11) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD

Rookie: Bristol (3-6) vs Princeton (4-5) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Dante Mendoza (0.00 ERA, 6:3 SO/BB, 4.0 IP)

GCL: Pirates (1-2) vs Orioles (3-0) 12:00 PM (season preview)

DSL: Pirates1 (10-13) vs Cubs1 (7-15) 10:30 AM  (season preview)

DSL: Pirates2 (20-3) vs Tigers2 (8-15) 10:30 AM  (season preview)

HIGHLIGHTS

From Indianapolis, Kevin Kramer makes a nice barehanded play

Cam Vieaux picks up a strikeout

Veteran Trayvon Robinson goes yard

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

6/27: Pirates sign Gift Ngoepe.

6/27: Zack Kone and Jonah Davis added to Greensboro roster.

6/27: Dario Agrazal optioned to Indianapolis. Pirates recall Dovydas Neverauskas

6/27: Aaron Shortridge placed on Bradenton injured list.

6/25: Pirates send Pat Dorrian to Baltimore Orioles to complete Yefry Ramirez trade.

6/25: Pirates recall Dario Agrazal. Option Jason Martin to Indianapolis.

6/25: Cody Bolton promoted to Altoona. Blake Cederlind placed on the temporary inactive list.

6/25: Daniel Amaral activated from Bradenton injured list.

6/24: Oneil Cruz assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab.

6/24: Yandy Vega and Hai-Cheng Gong assigned to GCL Pirates.

6/23: Jordan Lyles assigned to Indianapolis on rehab. Trayvon Robinson activated from Indianapolis injured list.

6/22: Gregory Polanco placed on injured list. Jason Martin recalled from Indianapolis.

6/22: Braeden Ogle promoted to Bradenton. Cody Smith promoted to Greensboro.

6/22: Jesus Liranzo assigned to Altoona.

6/21: Tate Scioneaux and Vicente Campos released.

6/20: Hunter Owen promoted to Indianapolis.

6/20: Lolo Sanchez and Rodolfo Castro promoted to Bradenton. Scooter Hightower assigned to Bradenton.

6/20: Chris Sharpe promoted to Altoona. Kyle Mottice promoted to Greensboro.

6/19: Pirates sign Jase Bowen and Ryan Harbin

6/19: Trevor Williams activated from injured list. Mitch Keller optioned to Indianapolis.

6/19: Hai-Cheng Gong and Yandy Vega assigned to Bristol. Emilson Rosado, Norkis Marcos, Nick Garland and Yoyner Fajardo assigned to GCL Pirates.

6/19: Daniel Amaral and Ryan Valdes placed on Bradenton injured list.

6/19: Jake Elmore placed on Indianapolis injured list.

6/18: Blake Weiman promoted to Indianapolis. Brandon Waddell sent to Altoona.

6/18: JT Brubaker and Brandon Maurer assigned to Morgantown on rehab.

6/18: Chris Stratton activated from injured list. Yefry Ramirez optioned to Indianapolis.

6/17: Pirates sign Matt Eardensohn.

6/17: Pirates sign Kaleb Foster.

6/17: Pirates sign four draft picks.

6/17: Raul Siri added to Bradenton roster.

THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY

Four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a trade of note and the last game at Forbes Field. The players born on this date include 1997-98 shortstop Kevin Polcovich, catcher Orlando McFarlane (1962,1964), pitcher Mike Lynch (1904-07) and 1894 shortstop Frank Scheibeck, who played his first MLB game in 1887 and his last in 1906, but he only got into 390 games total. McFarlane was signed out of Cuba by the Pirates and was lost to the Tigers in the 1965 Rule 5 draft. Lynch was signed out of college, where he was undefeated at Brown University.

On this date in 1979, the Pirates and Giants made a six-player deal that brought Bill Madlock to Pittsburgh. After the trade, he hit .328 with 44 RBIs and 21 stolen bases in 81 games, helping the Pirates to the playoffs. In the World Series, Madlock hit .350 and drove in three runs.

On this date in 1970, the Pirates played the last two games at Forbes Field. The park opened in 1909 and saw the Pirates win three World Series titles. On the last day of the stadium, the Pirates swept the Cubs in a doubleheader in front of a sold out stadium. Al Oliver hit the final home run in the park and later scored the final run. Here is the boxscore from the last game.

On this date in 1914, Honus Wagner collects his 3,000th hit. His hit total has changed multiple times over the years, so his single off of Cincinnati’s Pete Schneider hasn’t always been recognized as his 3,000th hit, but it is the new accepted date. You can view the boxscore here.

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