First Pitch: Prospect Rankings by Positions and Spring Training Notes

I had to step in last minute to post this article, so I didn’t really have any ideas for it. There were some minor notes that I was trying to figure how to work into a later article, so I’ll post them here.

MLB Pipeline has been posting their top ten prospects by position. The right-handed pitchers article was first up and Mitch Keller has been a regular on that list, but he didn’t make the top ten this year. Granted, the position is loaded, but it’s still a drop for him.

Left-handed pitchers was next and if you’ve been following this site, you know that there isn’t a top lefty prospect in the system right now. That could change down the line with Yojeiry Osoria, who signed for $600,000 on July 2nd and has a chance to be the best player the Pirates signed during the current international signing period. He’s their best bet right now to peak as a top ten lefty in baseball, but if he does, it won’t be in the next 2-3 years.

The catchers article was posted today by Pipeline and if you’re wondering if the Pirates have someone on the list, might I suggest our 2020 Prospect Guide. That article is still interesting because the Pirates were said to be after a catching prospect and these are the best out here.

** MLB released all of the Spring Training report dates yesterday. For the Pirates, catchers and pitchers report on February 10th and their first workout is two days later. Position players report on the 16th and the first full team workout is February 17th. Hard to believe that players will be down there in only 25 days (some will be down there sooner). To me at least, the off-season has flown by. Unfortunately for fans, that also means there isn’t much time to add to that initial reporting class to make the first few days a little more exciting. We wrote about the ST schedule back when it was released, though we didn’t have the road starting times back then. Pirates have a total of six night games, just one at home.

** Lefty Brian Moran was designated for assignment yesterday by the Miami Marlins. He was DFA’d to make room for former Pirates prospect Stephen Tarpley, another lefty arm. The main reason I mentioned that, besides a former prospect update, is that Moran is the brother of Colin Moran and provided one of the better highlights from last year, even if it went against the Pirates. While the Pirates could use a lefty arm or ten in their system, I don’t think they will pick up Brian Moran.


Stevie Wonder drum solo. I like the song they were playing at the beginning as well, though I’m not sure it was actually a song, and not just something to play until he gets to the drums


Simpsons sports quotes. What’s not to like here.


By John Dreker

Four former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, including the third baseman in the first National League in franchise history.

Ron Villone, pitcher for the 2002 Pirates. The Pirates are one of the twelve teams Villone pitched for in his 15-year Major League career. He signed with the Pirates as a free agent on February 16, 2002 after he went 6-10, 5.89 in 53 games (12 as a starter) in 2001 playing for both the Colorado Rockies and Houston Astros. For the Pirates, he began the year as a starter and had a 2-4, 6.81 record after seven games, then was switched to the bullpen for the rest of the season. He went a combined 4-6, 5.81 in 93 innings over 45 games. He was granted free agency after the season and signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks, who released him before he pitched a game. He was picked up by the Astros and continued playing pro ball until 2011. In his 15-year major league career he went 61-65, 4.73 in 717 games.

Alfredo Amezaga, shortstop for the 2005 Pirates. He played 584 major league games over nine seasons and three of those games came while he was with the Pirates. They acquired him as a waiver wire pickup on April 20, 2005 from the Colorado Rockies. Amezaga had played two games that season before being put on waivers. His stay in Pittsburgh was just as short. He played three games in 15 days, all off the bench, and he put in four innings at shortstop. Amezaga went 0-for-3 at the plate, drew a walk and stole a base. From 2006-08, he saw regular playing time with the Florida Marlins, getting into at least 125 games all three seasons, and he was active in pro ball until 2018.

Erskine Mayer, pitcher for the 1918-19 Pirates. He started his career with the Phillies in 1912 and went 76-61, 2.81 in seven seasons before they traded him to the Pirates for pitcher Elmer Jacobs on June 20, 1918. Mayer went 9-3, 2.26 in 14 starts and a relief appearance to finish the season. He was part of one of the best regular season games in Pirates history during that season. On August 1st, Mayer started against the Boston Braves and pitched 15.1 scoreless innings before being relieved by Wilbur Cooper, who then followed with 5.2 scoreless innings. Art Nehf was the hard luck loser in that game, pitching all 21 innings for the Braves. He allowed two runs in the 21st inning and the Braves had no answer in the bottom of the inning. In 1919, ,Mayer had a good record at 5-3 in 18 games (ten starts), but his ERA was just 4.48 in 88.1 innings. The Pirates put him on waivers, where he was taken by the Chicago White Sox, the team known as the Black Sox because they threw the 1919 World Series. That was his last season in pro ball. Mayer’s brother Sam played one season in the majors with the 1915 Washington Senators

Art Whitney, third baseman for the 1884-87 Alleghenys. Whitney played three years in the NL with three different teams from 1880-82. He spent all of 1883 and part of 1884 in the minors before joining the Alleghenys near the end of the year. In 23 games he hit .298 and played strong defense at third base, earning a full time job for the next season. He was the team’s shortstop for the 1885 season and he led all AA shortstops in fielding percentage with a .918 mark, 39 points above league average. He was strong enough defensively that he still played everyday despite a .233 average with no power or speed. Moved back to third base for 1886, he only hit .239, but again led his position in fielding percentage, this time 57 points above the league average. In the NL in 1887, he hit .260, which was the second highest average of his 11-year career. Even in the NL he was well above average in the field, winning his third straight fielding title at his position. He held out the beginning of the 1888 season over his contract and the Alleghenys traded him to the Giants for third baseman Elmer Cleveland on June 16,1888. Whitney played 368 games for Pittsburgh and hit .248 with no homers in his 1,541 plate appearances. His brother Frank also played in the majors spending one season with the 1876 Boston Red Stockings