The Bradenton Marauders began the season with some of the top prospects in the system. They received some more prospects during the season from Greensboro. The Marauders got mixed results from their prospects, with a few breakout seasons and mediocre results from others. That led to an overall 73-62 record, which was the third best in the Florida State League. The FSL plays a split schedule with first and second half winners. Bradenton was three games back in the first half and ten games back (second place) in the second half.
Below you will find the season recap for the Marauders, complete with all of the noteworthy players on the team this year. We will post the top ten prospects list for the team tomorrow. Here are the previously released season recaps:
The top prospect for Bradenton going into the season was Oneil Cruz. Between two injuries and a mid-season promotion, he didn’t spend much time with the team. He just barely qualified for the top ten list tomorrow with his 145 plate appearances. Cruz hit .301/.345/.515 in 35 games with Bradenton, collecting seven homers and stealing seven bases. All 35 games were at shortstop, where he committed seven errors. He was promoted to Altoona on July 30th.
The second best prospect going into the season was outfielder Travis Swaggerty, who was drafted in the first round in 2018 and skipped over Low-A ball. He had an overall disappointing season, though he finished the year strong. Here’s where it’s important to note that the FSL is a pitcher-friendly league. Swaggerty hit .265/.347/.381 in 121 games. Those numbers don’t stand out, especially for a first round pick, but he finished 12th in the league in OPS and eighth in OBP. He had nine homers and 23 steals, which ranked him sixth in the league in swipes.
Outfielder Calvin Mitchell was one of the youngest players in the league and it showed at times. He had a nice power display with 15 homers, along with 21 doubles and two triples, but he also had a .304 OBP and struck out 142 times in 118 games. His .710 OPS was a 61 point drop from last year in West Virginia, though it was still above league average.
Those were the top three position prospects on Opening Day. During the season, the team added Lolo Sanchez, Mason Martin and Rodolfo Castro from Greensboro. None of the three could match their lower level numbers, but that wasn’t unexpected, as Greensboro slightly favors hitters. So not only were they jumping a level, but it was a much worse hitting environment. Martin put up the best numbers of the group, even though his strikeouts were very high. He hit .239/.333/.528 in 49 games, with 12 homers and 46 RBIs. Castro hit .243/.288/.391 in 57 games, with 19 extra-base hits. Sanchez posted a .570 OPS in 52 games, with 13 stolen bases. He had a total of 33 steals on the season. He had an .829 OPS with Greensboro.
The Pirates saw breakout performances from two players, who were promoted to Altoona around the All-Star break. Infielder Robbie Glendinning and outfielder Chris Sharpe each improved greatly on their 2018 performances. Glendinning left the FSL as the league leader in OPS by a wide margin. He hit .340/.393/.599 in 43 games, mostly playing shortstop while Oneil Cruz was out injured. Glendinning had 25 extra-base hits and six stolen bases. Sharpe was the second best hitter behind Glendinning before their promotions. He hit .292/.385/.451 in 64 games, with 24 extra-base hits and 15 stolen bases. It was an impressive performance, especially considering that Swaggerty, Mitchell and Sanchez were all higher rated outfielders on the team and Sharpe outhit all of them.
Catcher Deon Stafford was nearly an everyday player once he returned in late April from a spring injury. After putting up a .749 OPS in each of his first two seasons, his numbers slipped in the FSL. Stafford hit .229/.318/.342 in 79 games. Besides playing in the pitcher-friendly league, the FSL is brutal for catchers in those mid-summer games where it usually rains mid-day, then it gets extremely humid. So it’s a tough league for catchers to excel in, but he saw quite a drop in offense and had his share of trouble defensively as well.
Other position players of note include third baseman Dylan Busby, shortstop Adrian Valerio, outfielder Daniel Amaral and 1B/OF Lucas Tancas. Busby batted just .213 and struck out 158 times in 114 games, but he also led the league in homers and finished second in slugging, so he made his hits count. Tancas tied Busby for the team lead with a .769 OPS and finished in the top ten in average, slugging, on base and OPS. Amaral missed some time with injuries, finishing up with a .709 OPS and 15 steals in 69 games. Valerio spent about half of the season with Altoona, getting promoted there twice. He had a rough year at the plate, but still showed the strong defense and athleticism that got him signed.
On the pitching side, Cody Bolton and Max Kranick (pictured above) were the top prospects at the beginning of the season for Bradenton. Bolton absolutely dominated the level from the start. We weren’t expecting him to be promoted this season, partially due to the fact that he missed half of last year with a forearm injury, so he was going to be limited in his work. He went on to post a 1.61 ERA, a .176 BAA, an 0.86 WHIP and 69 strikeouts in 61.1 innings with Bradenton, before going to Altoona in late June. Kranick had his share of solid outings, mixed with a short down stretch in early May that skewed his overall stats. He posted a 3.79 ERA in 109.1 innings, with 78 strikeouts, a .246 BAA and a 1.19 WHIP. Kranick was shut down for the last month due to his workload. He was the FSL leader in innings at the time of his last start.
Sticking with starting pitchers, Aaron Shortridge had a strong season from start to finish, though he improved his pitches as the season went along (more on that tomorrow). Shortridge posted a 3.25 ERA in 135.2 innings, with a 1.14 WHIP, 104 strikeouts and a .252 BAA. He not only led the Marauders in innings, he led the entire FSL in that category.
Lefty Domingo Robles wasn’t with Bradenton long before he got promoted to Altoona. Robles pitched briefly with the Marauders in 2018, so he had a little extra experience over anyone else in the rotation. The 21-year-old had a 2.61 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP and a .203 BAA in ten High-A starts this season.
Brad Case replaced Robles and made 13 starts with the Marauders, posting a 4.29 ERA in 71.1 innings. He began the season with Greensboro, where he posted a 2.45 ERA in 11 starts and had an 0.77 WHIP, which led the league long after he was promoted.
Nicholas Economos had quite a season, even though it didn’t finish strong. He was picking up strikeouts at a crazy rate in Greensboro (50 in 32.2 innings) before being promoted to Bradenton. He pitched even better in High-A, albeit with a much lower strikeout rate, posting a 2.01 ERA in 11 outings. That led to a promotion to Altoona, which didn’t go well (8.83 ERA in four games), then back to Bradenton. His last start really skewed his numbers, allowing eight runs on 12 hits in 5.1 innings. That gave him a final 2.67 ERA, .199 BAA and a 1.02 WHIP with the Marauders.
Gavin Wallace began the year as a reliever and had a really tough start to the season. He was strong through a four-month stretch as he moved into the starting role, before hitting a rough patch at the end. Wallace finished with a 4.13 ERA in 109 innings, making 13 starts and 17 relief appearances.
Late in the year, Osvaldo Bido posted a 2.25 ERA in five starts. He didn’t put up enough innings to qualify for the Bradenton top ten tomorrow, but he ranked fourth on our Greensboro list.
The bullpen had some hard-throwers, who all received promotions to Altoona. Blake Cederlind, Nick Mears and Shea Murray at hit 99+ MPH this year. Cederlind, who hit 102 MPH this season, allowed one run over 7.2 innings and seven appearances, before being sent to Altoona. Mears and Murray both began the season in Greensboro as part of their three-city tour. Mears had a 3.60 ERA in Bradenton, which isn’t as good as the relief numbers you will see below, but he had 43 strikeouts, a .202 BAA and a 1.03 WHIP in 30 innings, so those tell a better story than the ERA. Murray battled with control issues early, then finished strong in Bradenton. He was tough to hit, with a .189 BAA and 54 strikeouts in 33.1 innings, but 26 walks and five hit batters helped lead to a 4.86 ERA.
Braeden Ogle and Luis Escobar were top pitching prospects who saw limited time in Bradenton. Escobar moved to relief this year and began the season with Bradenton, tossing 13.1 shutout innings before being promoted directly to Indianapolis. Ogle began the year with Greensboro and joined the Marauders in late June. He had a 3.18 ERA in 11.1 innings over seven appearances. Pirates gave him a month off from game action (he was still throwing on the side) to limit his innings after he missed most of 2018 with a shoulder injury.
Other relievers of note includes lefty Ike Schlabach, who will be playing winter ball in Puerto Rico this off-season. He posted a 2.50 ERA, a 1.09 WHIP and a .238 BAA in 50.1 innings. After receiving a mid-season promotion from Greensboro, John O’Reilly allowed one run in 19 innings with Bradenton and then finished the year in Altoona. Lefty Joe Jacques had a 2.41 ERA in 41 innings, with 39 strikeouts. He began with Greensboro and finished up in Altoona as well. Samuel Reyes pitched well for the Marauders, posting a 2.78 ERA, 50 strikeouts and a .229 BAA in 53.1 innings. He had an 0.52 ERA with Greensboro early in the season.
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.