Morning Report: Checking on the Pitchers from the Pirates’ 2017 International Signing Class

A lot of the process with pitchers at the lower levels is a matter of waiting to see which ones (if any) see their stuff suddenly step up, or waiting to see whether any of the ones who already have good stuff find the strike zone.  We’re not very far in the waiting process with this group and nobody has stepped forward in any decisive way.  There are a handful who have shown some ability and two who’ve shown triple digit velocity.

Bryan Torres, RHP (16, NI, $180K):  Torres got the top bonus of any pitcher in this class.  He had a 2.61 ERA, mostly as a starter, in the DSL last year, mainly on the strength of good command.  His stuff isn’t that strong and he’s struggling this year in the GCL, with an ERA of 8.31.  The Pirates are employing him mostly in relief, which also says a lot.

Yeison Santos, LHP (16, DR, $110K):  There were only three pitchers in this class for whom we know the bonuses, Santos being one.  He spending his second year in the DSL now, pitching strictly in relief.  He actually pitched a bit better last year.  He has good walk and strikeout rates.

Luis Peralta, LHP (16, DR, $110K):  The third pitcher we know of with a six-figure bonus, Peralta is also back in the DSL for a second season.  He mostly been starting and has made progress over last year, from a 5.63 ERA and 1.54 WHIP to 2.20 and 1.19.  He’s only 5’11”, so there’s not going to be a lot of projection.

Jose Maldonado, RHP (18, DR, unknown):  Maldonado was a little old when he signed and pitched only briefly last year in the DSL, but the Pirates put him in the rotation at Bristol.  He throws 91-95 with a good curve, but so far has had trouble with the strike zone.  He’s striking out a batter an inning, though, and is still just 20, so given his experience level he’s probably holding his own OK.

Mario Garcia, RHP (18, MX, unknown):  Garcia pitched very well in the DSL last year, but the Pirates sent him back there at the start of this season, then moved him up to the GCL.  Control has been a problem; he’s walked nearly a batter an inning and has the same number of walks as strikeouts.  Garcia is 20 now, so he’s not a great age for the GCL.

Arlinthon De Dios, RHP (17, DR, unknown):  De Dios wasn’t a high-, or even medium-profile signing, but the Pirates have him in the rotation in the GCL.  He throws in the low-90s with a good slider, and has shown good command.  He’s gotten hit a little more than you’d like to see (.281 opponents’ average), but he throws strikes and has an OK strikeout rate.

Yoelvis Reyes, LHP (17, DR, unknown):  The Pirates used Reyes as a starter last year in the DSL, then moved him to the Bristol bullpen this year, which is a pretty good level for a 19-year-old.  He’s a finesse pitcher who hasn’t walked many this year, but he’s had some gopher ball problems.

Luis Nova, RHP (19, DR, unknown):  Nova was a little on the old side when he signed.  He can throw as hard as 94, but is probably more of a finesse pitcher.  He pitched in relief at three different levels in his first year, with variable results.  The Pirates evidently were impressed by his progress, because he was slated to pitch in one of the short season rotations this year.  When a slot opened up in Greensboro in June, though, they sent him there.  He’s done OK there, with a HR rate that’s just a bit high, maybe due to the ballpark.  He’s shown very good control and a fair strikeout rate.

Braham Rosario, LHP (17, DR, unknown):  Rosario pitched well in the DSL last year and got a late season promotion to the GCL.  Surprisingly, the Pirates sent him back to the DSL this year, where he’s stayed in the rotation.  He has a 1.24 WHIP and is striking out a batter an inning.

Francisco Hodge, LHP (17, DR, unknown):  Hodge has pretty good size (6’3″) for a lefty and pitched very well as a starter in the DSL last year.  The Pirates sent him back there this year anyway and he’s mostly pitched in relief.  He hasn’t pitched as well as last year, mainly due to control problems.

Oliver Mateo, RHP (20, DR, unknown):  Mateo is a classic case of a guy who signed late after a velocity spike.  A big one — he sits at 95-99 and has reached 102.  He either struck out or walked just about everybody last year in the DSL, WAY over one per inning of each.  The Pirates thought he could handle Bristol this year, but a broken finger ended his season after one outing.  He’s been strictly a reliever so far.

Valentin Linarez, RHP (17, DR, unknown):  Linarez is a big guy (6’5″, 226).  He pitched decently last year in the DSL, despite control problems.  He’s back there this year, pitching as a starter and showing much better control.  He has a 2.78 ERA and 1.15 WHIP.

Estalin Ortiz, LHP (19, DR, unknown):  A 6’4″ lefty, Ortiz has gotten his velocity up to the mid-90s, which theoretically makes him very intriguing.  He didn’t have a great season last year in the DSL and he’s had a very rough time this year in the GCL, with an ERA in double figures and over a walk per inning.  He’ll be 21 in November, so the command needs to start coming around.

Lizardy Dicent, RHP (21, DR, unknown):  Dicent was old when he signed, but last year was throwing in the mid-90s.  This year, though, he’s topped out at 90.  He’s at Bristol now but hasn’t pitched much after being hurt at the start of the season.

Willy Basil, RHP (20, DR, unknown):  Basil has good size and throws in the mid-90s.  He had a good strikeout rate, pitching as a starter, last year in the DSL.  He’s pitching in relief this year in the GCL, striking out well over a batter an inning but having trouble throwing strikes.  He’s already 22.

Emmanuel De Los Santos, RHP (17, DR, unknown):  De Los Santos has good size at 6’4″ and had a very good strikeout rate as a starter last year in the DSL, with poor control.  He’s shown better control in four starts in the GCL this year and still fanned a batter an inning, but hasn’t pitched in nearly a month.

Starlyn Reynoso, LHP (20, DR, unknown):  A 6’0″ lefty, Reynoso pitched in a swing role last year in the DSL and walked about as many as he struck out.  The Pirates brought him to the GCL this year as a reliever.  He’s walked more than he’s struck out and has an ERA of 8.44.  He’s 22 now. He has hit 97 MPH, but has recently dialed it down to help throw more strikes.

Miguel Diaz, RHP (17, VZ, unknown):  Diaz is a 6’0″ righty who had a 22:19 BB:K ratio last year in the DSL in 21.1 IP.  He’s back there this year and has a 16:32 BB:K ratio in 26.2 IP.  He’s been almost exclusively a reliever.  He won’t turn 18 for another week and a half.

Jesus Valles, RHP (20, VZ, unknown):  Valles is a finesse righty whose fastball reaches the low-90s.  He pitched fairly well in the DSL last year and the Pirates moved him up to Morgantown this year to pitch in the rotation.  He’s been hit a little hard (.283 opponents’ average) and was recently moved to the bullpen.

Denny Roman, LHP (19, MX, unknown):  Roman is a 5’9″ lefty whose fastball can get up to 94, but he’s mainly a breaking ball pitcher.  He had playstation walk and strikeout rates last year in the DSL, prompting the Pirates to move him up to Bristol late in the season.  He’s been in the Morgantown bullpen this year and isn’t walking anybody, but he’s getting hit pretty hard (.298 opponents’ average).

Xavier Concepcion, RHP (20, DR, unknown):  Concepcion (pictured above) is a lot like Oliver Mateo — he signed late and throws very hard, with even higher average velocity than Mateo.  Like Mateo, he has control problems and appears to be strictly a reliever.  The Pirates decided to try him at Morgantown and he has good and bad days.  Some days he mows down everybody and others he can’t throw strikes and doesn’t last an inning.

Domingo Gonzalez, RHP (18, DR, unknown):  Gonzalez throws 92-93 with a good curve and solid command.  He pitched very well in the DSL last year.  The Pirates sent him back there to start this season and he was unhittable.  They brought him up to the GCL a little while after its season started and put him in the rotation.  He’s striking out a batter an inning with a 1.10 WHIP there.  At 6’0″, though, he may not offer a lot of projection.

Enrique Santana, RHP (20, DR, unknown):  Santana had a rough year last year in the DSL (10.32 ERA), but the Pirates moved him up to Bristol this year to pitch in relief.  He’s striking out far over a batter an inning, probably due to a good change, but he has a 1.60 WHIP.  That’s still a lot of progress over the previous season.  He’s only 5’11”, though, and will be 22 in a month.

Antonio Gonzalez, RHP (18, VZ, unknown):  Gonzalez signed last year but didn’t pitch until this year.  He’s pitching in relief in the DSL and striking out over a batter an inning, albeit with control problems.


Indianapolis has 25 games left. They trail by eight games in the division and 7.5 games in the wild card.

Altoona has 24 games left. They trail by 12 in the division.

Bradenton has 24 games left. They trail by 6.5 games in the division.

Greensboro has 25 games left. They trail by three in the division and 1.5 for the second best record, which could possibly get them a playoff spot.

Morgantown has 24 games left. They trail by two games in the division and one game in the wild card spot.

Bristol has 19 games left. They trail by three in the division and they’re two out of the second playoff spot.

GCL Pirates have 20 games left. They trail by 10.5 in the division.

DSL Pirates1 have been eliminated from the playoffs.

DSL Pirates2 have clinched a playoff spot


Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates had off yesterday, as they traveled to St Louis for a weekend series. They will send out Chris Archer in the series opener. He gave up one run over six innings in his last start against the New York Mets. Archer faced the Cardinals on July 23rd and he gave up four runs over six innings. He also went up against St Louis six days earlier and served up three runs over six frames. If you go way back to April 1st, he threw five shutout innings against them in his season opener. The Cardinals will counter with 24-year-old right-hander Dakota Hudson, who has a 3.99 ERA in 117.1 innings, with 93 strikeouts and a high 1.58 WHIP. He faced the Pirates back on July 23rd (versus Archer) and allowed three runs over 6.1 innings. Hudson also allowed three runs over six frames against the Pirates on May 12th and he picked up the save against them way back on April 3rd. He has a 3.54 ERA at home.

The minor league schedule includes Tahnaj Thomas going for Bristol and Michael Burrows slated for Morgantown. Thomas allowed one run over five innings in his last start. He struck out nine batters, which is a new career high, and the third time that he set a personal game high for strikeouts this season. Burrows allowed just two base runners over four innings in his last start, though both runners scored. He has given up a total of four runs in his last four starts combined. Brandon Waddell gets his third start since rejoining Indianapolis. He has served up 11 runs in 11.2 innings since returning from a stint with Altoona.

Brad Case gets the start for Bradenton. He has pitched just once in the last 16 days (three runs over six innings) due to multiple rain outs and the fact that he warmed up for a game that was delayed/called before he hit the mound. Altoona has Domingo Robles on the mound. He faced this same Reading team in his last start, allowing four runs over five innings. Robles had a 6.03 ERA in six July starts. Greenboro’s Will Kobos makes his third start since being promoted from Morgantown. He threw four no-hit innings in his last appearance.

MLB: Pittsburgh (48-66) @ Cardinals (58-55) 8:15 PM
Probable starter: Chris Archer (5.35 ERA, 122:53 SO/BB, 107.2 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (57-58) @ Durham (65-51) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Brandon Waddell (8.64 ERA, 49:29 SO/BB, 41.2 IP)

AA: Altoona (58-58) vs Reading (69-47) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Domingo Robles (5.22 ERA, 50:16 SO/BB, 69.0 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (62-51) vs Dunedin (65-47) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Brad Case (3.88 ERA, 34:16 SO/BB, 51.0 IP)

Low-A: Greensboro (68-46) vs Asheville (55-61) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Will Kobos (4.00 ERA, 8:4 SO/BB, 9.0 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (28-23) vs Williamsport (20-33) 7:05 PM  (season preview)
Probable starter: Michael Burrows (3.54 ERA, 28:13 SO/BB, 28.0 IP)

Rookie: Bristol (23-25) vs Kingsport (23-26) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Tahnaj Thomas (3.68 ERA, 42:7 SO/BB, 29.1 IP)

GCL: Pirates (12-24) vs Orioles (22-13) 12:00 PM (season preview)

DSL: Pirates1 (27-31) vs Rays2 (36-20) 10:30 AM (season preview)

DSL: Pirates2 (47-11) vs Mariners (26-32) 10:30 AM (season preview)


From Altoona on Wednesday, Jerrick Suiter with the extra innings walk-off winner in game one of a doubleheader

Oneil Cruz singles to tie the game and send it to extras

Arden Pabst with the two-run double to tie the game up in the fifth


8/8 Robbie Glendinning placed on Altoona injured list. Bralin Jackson activated from Altoona injured list.

8/8: Max Kranick placed on Bradenton injured list.

8/7: Pirates sign Luis Joseph.

8/7: Eric Wood activated from temporary inactive list.

8/6: Steven Brault activated from injured list. Richard Rodriguez activated from paternity list. Dario Agrazal and Yefry Ramirez optioned to Indianapolis.

8/6: Tom Koehler assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab

8/6: Pirates release Joseivin Medina

8/5: Pirates sign Omar Alonzo and Juan Fuentes.

8/5: Yoyner Fajardo promoted to Bristol. Fernando Villegas promoted to Morgantown.

8/5: Clay Holmes assigned to Altoona on rehab.

8/4: Blake Weiman placed on Indianapolis injured list.

8/4: Pirates release Jung Ho Kang

8/3: Pirates claim Yacksel Rios.

8/3: Richard Rodriguez placed on paternity list. Pirates recall Parker Markel.

8/2: Pirates Designate Jung-Ho Kang for assignment. Recall Pablo Reyes. Activate Erik Gonzalez from injured list.

8/2: Nick Mears activated from Bradenton injured list. Ryan Valdes placed on Bradenton injured list.

8/1: Blake Weiman activated from Indianapolis injured list.

8/1: Austin Coley placed on Altoona injured list.

7/31: Pirates trade Corey Dickerson to Phillies for a player to be named later and international bonus slot money.

7/30: Oneil Cruz promoted to Altoona. Jerrick Suiter activated from injured list. Bralin Jackson placed on injured list. Gift Ngoepe released.

7/30: Pirates recall Geoff Hartlieb and Yefry Ramirez. Montana DuRapau and Alex McRae optioned to Indianapolis.

7/30: Elvis Escobar assigned to Morgantown on rehab.

7/30: Daniel Amaral activated from Bradenton injured list.

7/29: Jordan Lyles traded to Milwaukee Brewers for Cody Ponce. Montana DuRapau recalled from Indianapolis.


Three former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a transaction of note involving a Hall of Fame manager. On this date in 1919, the Pirates sent outfielder Casey Stengel to the Philadelphia Phillies for utility fielder Possum Whitted. Stengel refuses to report to Philadelphia after the deal, demanding a raise before he showed up. He ended up getting one the next season, but the Phillies dealt him away prior to the 1921 season. In 35 games for the Pirates in 1919, Whitted had a .389 average. He was a starter for the next two seasons, before the Pirates sold him to Brooklyn after the 1922 season.

The players born on this date include:

Matt Morris, 2007-08 pitcher. Sorry, it’s his birthday

Pat Mahomes, relief pitcher for 2003 Pirates. Had a 4.84 ERA in 22.1 innings over nine appearances in his only season in Pittsburgh.

Roman Mejias, member of the 1960 World Series champs. Mejias was signed by the Pirates out of Cuba in 1953 and he hit .216 in 71 games as a rookie for the 1955 Pirates. After spending the next season in the minors, he then played another five years off and on for the Pirates. During the 1960 season, Mejias spent most of the year in the minors, only getting three Major League appearances off the bench in May. After playing four games during the 1961 season, the Pirates lost him to Houston in the expansion draft.