Yesterday we took a look back at the top ten prospects from the 2018 Dominican Summer League Pirates. That list showed that not much has changed with that group over the last ten months. The top three prospects are still clearly the top three now. Only one player who wasn’t on the list would be on now and I admitted that if I had his updated scouting report about two weeks earlier, I would have had a 10a/10b for the final spot, so all ten players would have still been on the list.

Today we look at the 2017 top ten list, which has had more time for things to change. One important thing to note with this team is the budget. The 2016-17 international signing period bonus pool was based off of the 2015 MLB records. The Pirates had the second best record in baseball, which automatically gave them the second lowest bonus pool on the international side at just over $2M. They decided to go all in on Jean Eusebio ($550,000), who took up nearly 30% of the entire bonus pool. For comparison sake, their bonus pool that starts on July 2nd this year is more than 3x the amount they were able to spend back then. So that led to a weaker overall group of prospects on the 2017 DSL squad, which was just one affiliate that season.

Here’s the top ten list from 2017:

1. Jean Eusebio

2. Sherten Apostel

3. Francisco Acuna

4. Samuel Inoa

5. Noe Toribio

6. Samuel Reyes

7. Oliver Garcia

8. Santiago Florez

9. Pedro Castillo

10. Luis Arrieta

I mentioned shortly after I made the list that Apostel would probably look like the top prospect from the list for 2-3 years, but the younger Eusebio (pictured above) got the top spot because he has more tools. He’s a solid center fielder with speed, a strong arm and plate patience, who uses the whole field. Apostel still looks like the top prospect (he’s in Low-A with the Rangers), but we are still waiting for the 18-year-old Eusebio to put things together. We didn’t get great reports out of Extended Spring Training and it’s much too early to look at his stats with Bristol, where the season just started on Tuesday. An updated list would clearly have Apostel in the top spot, but two other pitchers wouldn’t be far behind him.

The #8 player on the above list, plus one of our five honorable mentions that year, would now be 2/3 on the list. Santiago Florez and Osvaldo Bido both rated lower due to poor control, but they both got mentioned due to their potential. Florez had size at 6’6″ and he was already touching 92 MPH, with a frame to add more, and youth on his side at 17 years old. Bido was already 21 at the time, but he hit 96 MPH as a starter, so he got a mention despite not throwing enough strikes to be effective.

Cut to two years later and they are two of the top international pitching prospects in the system. Florez started hitting 96 MPH right around this time last year, while also throwing more strikes and showing improvements on his off-speed pitches. Bido, out of nowhere, started throwing a lot of strikes, without losing any velocity. Plus, he was using four pitches. He is now in Greensboro putting together a fine season. Despite his age, he still has some filling out to do. When he signed with the Pirates, he threw hard, but he was extremely skinny and didn’t have much muscle tone. So he’s still very much a work in progress, despite having success at Low-A. I would give the higher spot right now to Bido, but Florez might have even more upside.

So the new #1-4 would be 1. Apostel 2. Bido 3. Florez 4. Eusebio

They would be followed by Samuel Reyes, who would move up a spot from his #6 ranking back then. He’s a reliever, so there is some limit to his upside, but he has nice mid-90s velocity, solid control and an outstanding curveball. He also throws a changeup that gets solid results.

The #4 prospect back then was Samuel Inoa, who would probably rank higher now if he could stay healthy. He had three injuries in 2017, another three (at least) in 2018 and he hasn’t been behind the plate much recently, which is where the injuries were mostly occurring, though one came from a hit-by-pitch that caught him in the face.

Francisco Acuna has some potential tag as Inoa. He’s a solid middle infielder with above average speed and a great eye at the plate. He ran into a little off the field trouble last year during spring and was sent back to the Dominican. Things have been fine since then and he’s now at Bristol. Acuna gets some great experience during the winter playing against older competition in the Colombian winter league.

Oliver Garcia, Luis Arrieta and Noe Toribio were all young pitchers considered to have upside, though only Garcia was showing results back then. Toribio hit 97 MPH after the Pirates signed him, but once he started pitching in games, he was sitting 91-92 MPH with a nice curve. He has made the most progress from this group, getting a starting assignment in Morgantown (though JT Brubaker took his spot with a rehab start). Garcia has taken a step back, going from a starter at Bristol last year to the Bristol bullpen this season. Arrieta is also in the Bristol bullpen after poor results as a starter for the GCL Pirates last year. If you had to bet on one at this point, it’s clearly Toribio.

The #5-9 from the 2017 DSL team now would be: 5. Reyes 6. Toribio 7. ??? 8. Inoa 9. Acuna

The last player on the old list is a mystery still to me. Pedro Castillo was released last year after showing nice improvements in the DSL. I got reports that said good things throughout the year. I talked to him 2-3 times and he was always saying the right things about working hard to improve certain areas. He was only 18 years old when he was released and they gave him a $170,000 bonus, which was a decent amount during that small bonus pool year. There were no discipline issues with him either. Obviously he wouldn’t be on the top ten prospect list now, but I don’t have the slightest clue why they dropped him.

I mentioned Castillo wouldn’t be top ten, but if I redid the list now, I could only do a top 12 because only 12 players remain active from back then and Apostel obviously isn’t with the Pirates anymore. I already mentioned Oliver Garcia and Luis Arrieta and they would be ranked 11/12 now, however you want to put them. The other two remaining players are pitchers Francis Del Orbe and Yerry De Los Santos.

I left “???” in the seventh spot above for De Los Santos, who is pitching in relief for Greensboro and showing mid-90s velocity with an excellent slider. He wasn’t on the list back then because he struggled when he pitched and couldn’t stay healthy. His improvements were made this spring down at Pirate City and it’s a big step forward from previous reports. Del Orbe is repeating Morgantown as a reliever. Usually not a good sign, but he is still clearly ahead of Garcia/Arrieta right now, which would make him the current #10.

TODAY’S SCHEDULE

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates won 2-1 over the San Diego Padres on Friday night. The Pirates will now send out Chris Archer for his 13th start. He allowed four runs on seven hits and three walks in five innings against the Miami Marlins during his last start. That followed seven runs over six innings in his previous outing. The Padres will counter with 23-year-old Chris Paddack, who is also making his 13th start. He has a 3.15 ERA in 65.2 innings, with 72 strikeouts and an 0.93 WHIP. He had a 1.93 ERA on May 20th, but his last three starts combined have resulted in 13 runs over 14.1 innings.

The minor league schedule includes Michael Burrows making his second start for Morgantown. The 2018 11th round draft pick has yet to allow an earned run in his pro career in a total of 19 innings. Osvaldo Bido goes for Greensboro. He has an 0.95 ERA and an 0.63 WHIP in three June starts. Altoona’s Pedro Vasquez has allowed one run on 11 hits and three walks in his last 25 innings, spanning his last four starts. Bristol is sending out 20-year-old, 6’7″ right-hander Adrian Florencio, who is making his pro debut. He throws 92-93 MPH on a downward plane, mixing it with a sharp slider and an improving changeup. Despite his age, he still has room to fill out and possibly add more velocity/stamina.

Nicholas Economos starts for Bradenton. After picking up 50 strikeouts in 32.2 innings with Greensboro, Economos has 28 strikeouts in 33.1 innings in Bradenton. However, his WHIP is practically the same (1.13 in Greensboro vs 1.17) and so is his BAA (.200 vs .198). Alex McRae makes his second start with Indianapolis since returning from the Pirates. He gave up three runs over six innings against Pawtucket (today’s opponent) in his first game back.

MLB: Pittsburgh (34-40) vs Padres (38-38) 4:05 PM
Probable starter: Chris Archer (5.85 ERA, 69:33 SO/BB, 64.2 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (38-33) @ Pawtucket (30-42) 6:15 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Alex McRae (5.10 ERA, 48:17 SO/BB, 54.2 IP)

AA: Altoona (36-33) @ Hartford (38-32) 6:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Pedro Vasquez (2.78 ERA, 17:6 SO/BB, 22.2 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (39-32) vs Tampa (29-41) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Nicholas Economos (3.24 ERA, 28:15 SO/BB, 33.1 IP)

Low-A: Greensboro (44-27) VS Delmarva (50-21) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Osvaldo Bido (3.06 ERA, 69:18 SO/BB, 79.1 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (4-4) vs State College (6-2) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Michael Burrows (0.00 ERA, 5:3 SO/BB, 5.0 IP)

Rookie: Bristol (1-3) vs Greeneville (1-3) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Adrian Florencio (NR)

DSL: Pirates1 (6-12) vs Indians/Brewers (6-12) 10:30 AM (season preview)

DSL: Pirates2 (15-3) vs Mariners (7-11) 10:30 AM (season preview)

HIGHLIGHTS

From Altoona, an RBI double and an RBI single from Hunter Owen and Robbie Glendinning respectively

Glendinning singled earlier in the game to make it 1-0 Curve

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

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.

6/16: Pirates recall Yefry Ramirez. Option Dario Agrazal to Indianapolis.

6/16: Rookie Davis sent to Indianapolis on rehab.

6/15: Pirates sign Darnell Sweeney.

6/15: Pirates add Dario Agrazal to 40-man roster and active roster. Dovydas Neverauskas optioned to Indianapolis. Keone Kela moved to 60-day injured list.

6/14: Pirates sign Sammy Siani and Ernny Ordonez

6/13: Pirates sign eight more draft picks.

6/13: Robbie Glendinning promoted to Altoona. Logan Hill promoted to Indianapolis

6/13: Indianapolis placed Ke’Bryan Hayes and Pablo Reyes on the injured list.

6/13: Pirates trade Nick Kingham to Toronto Blue Jays for cash considerations.

6/12: Pirates sign eight draft picks.

6/12: Pirates recall Mitch Keller. Montana DuRapau optioned to Indianapolis.

6/11: Pirates sign six draft picks.

THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY

Three former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus one high-scoring game of note from 90 years ago. The players born on this date include 1999 outfielder Brant Brown, pitcher Dave Tomlin (1983 and 1985) and pitcher Gus Thompson of the 1903 National League champs. The Pirates played in the first modern-day World Series that year and Thompson got a chance to pitch the final two innings during a game five blowout. The team was short-handed due to injuries, leaving Thompson as one of the few healthy available pitchers. The two teams agreed to only use players on the roster before September 1st and Thompson made his debut on August 31st. He had a 3.56 ERA in 43 innings with the Pirates.

On this date in 1925, the Pirates defeated the St Louis Cardinals in St Louis by a 24-6 score. It fell three runs short of the team high for runs set back in 1894. The Pirates had two big innings, leaving the score lopsided in their favor. They started off with eight runs in the first, then put a ten spot on the board in the eighth inning. The Pirates hit six homers in the game and George Grantham drove in six runs. You can view the boxscore here.

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