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Sunday, December 4, 2022

First Pitch: The Pirates Have Chances to Add to Their Farm System This Month

The MLB Draft starts this Sunday, and takes place over three days. The Pirates have the fourth overall pick, looking to follow up on their highly regarded draft from last year.

The trade deadline is on August 2nd, less than a month away. The Pirates are far from a contender, and still in the mode of adding talent for a contending run that has no discernable beginning. It’s difficult to say whether they will do much at the deadline to aid their long-term build.

This week on First Pitch, we’re looking at those two opportunities this month to add talent to the Pirates’ system.

FUQUAY VINYL PLAYLIST

First Pitch continues below…

TRADES WON’T BRING MUCH WITHOUT REYNOLDS

Bryan Reynolds is currently day-to-day after experiencing discomfort in his right side, which led to him being replaced in Sunday’s game.

Reynolds is the biggest potential trade piece for the Pirates at the deadline. An injury would make it unlikely that he is moved. But, what are the chances that Reynolds gets moved if he’s healthy?

My thought is that the Pirates face a difficult decision either way with Reynolds. They could trade him now, where he’s the best player on a bad team. The problem with a trade now is that Reynolds hasn’t been consistent throughout his career, and hasn’t been consistent this year. Pirates fans would see a 5+ WAR being traded, but it’s doubtful the Pirates would actually get 5+ WAR value in return. They could trade him in the offseason, though his value will be lowered with the 2022 playoff run off the table.

The other route is keeping Reynolds and trying to win with him. The Pirates would need an extension to get him for longer than two seasons — while also trying to build around him and contend immediately. That would require extending Reynolds into his early 30s, which comes with risks of decline.

The biggest potential boost to the system the Pirates can receive is a Reynolds trade.

They could deal All-Star reliever David Bednar. That might not be a bad move, since they definitely have used Bednar a great deal the last two years. It’s always difficult to establish what a reliever could get on the trade market. Bednar is an All-Star with high-leverage experience and four years of control remaining beyond 2022. He is the sleeper if the Pirates want to try and land a big return, though they probably would be boosting the system at the lowest levels with higher upside guys. For this to work, it would also make a lot of Pirates fans mad in the short-term.

The most likely to be moved is Jose Quintana. He will have a market, due to his performance this year. He won’t get much of a return, likely in the range of last year’s Tyler Anderson deal. This will add some depth, but in this system, it won’t be noticed.

The Pirates have some guys like Ben Gamel and Chris Stratton who could have value in a way similar to Quintana. Gamel is a free agent at the end of the year, and Stratton has one more year of arbitration remaining. It would make sense to move either, giving innings to younger players over the final two months. It would also make sense to keep both to provide veteran guidance for those players, since the system doesn’t really need the depth they’d bring back in a trade.

BIGGER POTENTIAL FROM THE DRAFT

The Pirates have the sixth worst record in baseball. The 2022 draft is not going to be the last time they are picking inside the top ten.

On Sunday, the Pirates will pick fourth overall, with the fourth biggest bonus pool valued at over $13 million. They had a higher bonus pool last year, picking first overall, and used that money to land a talented group of prep players. They could take a similar approach this year.

John Dreker is our draft expert, and had a breakdown yesterday of who the Pirates could expect in the first round.

What stuck out to me is that there are two or three players who would be difficult to pass on if they fall to the Pirates. The Pirates pick fourth, so the odds are that one of those players will fall.

Beyond Druw Jones, Jackson Holliday, and maybe Elijah Green, the alternate route looks to be similar to last year. The 2021 draft didn’t have a standout pick, and the Pirates used that to their advantage to stock up on talent.

The 2022 draft will likely put them with a choice of a standout pick or the comprehensive strategy they took last year. They could land a top ten talent in this draft at a lower price, and use the savings once again to land multiple first-round talents in the middle rounds.

There is no trading in the MLB draft, so teams need to get creative in order to maximize value and get multiple first round talents. As the odds of any one baseball player making it are slim, a blanket approach makes sense.

This will be the biggest chance for the Pirates to impact the top ten of their system this month, outside of a Reynolds trade.

SYSTEM THOUGHTS

**It seems unlikely that Matt Gorski is going to be back for any significant time this year. The outfielder went down with a quad injury at the end of June, and has been placed on the 60-day IL. Prior to the injury, he combined for a .294/.376/.664 line between High-A Greensboro and Double-A Altoona. The Greensboro results elevated his power, but the overall results otherwise stayed consistent. Gorski had a .294 average at each level. He had a .377 OBP in Greensboro, down slightly to .374 in Altoona. The slugging was .754 in the hitter-friendly Greensboro, but a solid .560 in the more neutral Eastern League. Gorski’s time in Altoona was limited to 124 plate appearances, which isn’t enough to say that these numbers are legit, but is enough to say that they are promising. He will be in his age-25 season next year, and could factor into the future outfield or first base mix in Pittsburgh. I could see Gorski returning to Altoona at the start of 2023, but getting a shot in the majors by this time next year if his offense repeats what we saw this year.

**Henry Davis returned to the injured list in Altoona with a left wrist injury. Davis previously missed time with a non-displaced fracture in the same wrist. It’s apparently still bothering him. Davis has a .177/.320/.355 line in 75 plate appearances so far in Altoona. The injury has most likely impacted his bat, while also preventing the bat from developing at a higher level. More importantly, it is preventing Davis from getting in-game work with the pitching staff in Altoona. His defensive development is far more important if the Pirates want to keep him behind the plate long-term.

**The best hitters in the Pirates system since June 1st, ranked by OPS, minimum 100 PA:

  1. Rodolfo Nolasco, OF, Bradenton – 1.001 OPS, 123 PA
  2. Travis Swaggerty, OF, Indianapolis – .870 OPS, 102 PA
  3. Endy Rodriguez, C, Greensboro – .862 OPS, 130 PA
  4. Dariel Lopez, INF, Greensboro – .852 OPS, 135 PA
  5. Aaron Shackelford, 1B, Altoona – .810 OPS, 116 PA

**Bubba Chandler really shouldn’t be playing in the FCL anymore, based on the numbers. Chandler has thrown 15.1 shutout innings, allowing three hits, walking ten, and striking out 27. The walk rate is high, and probably would be an issue in Single-A. In his last outing, Chandler threw four no-hit innings, allowing one walk and striking out seven. At most, I could see him going one more outing, trying to get to five innings for the first time, and trying to maintain the lower walk rate again. His previous three starts saw an average of a walk per inning. Offensively, Chandler has a 1.098 OPS n 36 plate appearances, thanks to three home runs.

**The best pitchers in the Pirates system since June 1st, ranked by ERA, qualified by 0.5 IP per team game:

  1. Andres Silvera, RHP, DSL Gold – 0.87 ERA, 24:3 K/BB, 20.2 IP
  2. Tahnaj Thomas, RHP, Altoona – 1.93 ERA, 20:4 K/BB, 18.2 IP
  3. Bryse Wilson, RHP, Indianapolis – 2.49 ERA, 21:4 K/BB, 25.1 IP
  4. Cody Bolton, RHP, Indianapolis – 2.79 ERA, 16:12 K/BB, 19.1 IP
  5. Carmen Mlodzinski, RHP, Altoona – 2.81 ERA, 29:9 K/BB, 25.2 IP

PIRATES LINKS

**Jason Mackey at the Post-Gazette has an article on how Jack Suwinski benefits from journaling.

**Alex Stumpf: Roansy Contreras shows growth before going into break

**Justice delos Santos: These are the Pirates’ biggest takeaways at halfway point

WEEKLY PIRATES QUIZ

This hasn’t needed an update since 2019. Do you think anyone joins the list this season?

+ posts

Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.

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Anthony

This would most likely happen in the off-season. What Would the Rays Do; they would trade the Jack Suwinski’s of the world to restock their prospect pool.

Cobra

Reminders about new CBA:
*Lottery for ‘23 Draft with goal of preventing tanking this year and beyond. Every non-playoff team has chance to draw first 6 picks including 1st overall pick, but it is weighted in favor of teams with bad records. If season ended today, we would have a 7.5% chance at 1st overall pick. https://www.tankathon.com/mlb

*We will know by 7/25 whether there will be an international draft. I assume this would benefit a franchise like ours. https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/34213473/sources-mlbpa-counters-mlb-international-draft-proposal-sides-far-apart

*If there’s agreement on an Int’l draft, qualifying offers are likely gone. What’s interesting is that the Pirates (and sometimes fans) are always in a rush to trade our “impending” FA’s and , in my view, have overlooked getting a supplemental 1st rounder for a star FA who walks. In other words, we traded 2 years of Gerrit Cole (65 starts) AND a comp first round pick for Musgrove (58 total starts for us) & crap. My point is whether or not QO’s remain should factor at least slightly into what type of return you would want for Reynolds. Let’s not be in a rush to trade a guy like this

Last edited 4 months ago by Cobra
ArkyWags

The international draft would help an organization like the Pirates. Because they’re too goddamn cowardly to spend on the big boys down in Latin America.

AdministrativeSky236

I dont think so, because as i understood it before, they discussed a rotation of divisions for draft order. I could absolutely be wrong, but this is a deep thought in my brain somewhere lol

buccobrach2

I wouldn’t trade bednar ever. The guy loves Pittsburgh and believe he will always give 100% and should always give us a hometown discount. He’d have to get injured or start pitching lousy for him for him ever to not be on this team. That’s just my opinion. I would actually get his brother thru trade and have them both throwing cheese for the bucs at some point.

Catch_22

Personally, I’d be pretty pissed if we traded Q for a Quad A catcher.

TNBucs

We may have missed an opportunity with Anderson–I wonder if we had kept him whether we might have been able to extend him.

Quintana is struggling lately, possibly due to his inning count already exceeding last year’s, but I’d still be interested in keeping him while reducing his workload and trying to extend him to next year. It’s true of course that we could deal him and still sign him in the offseason, but history suggests that’s less likely. (Plus, if we keep him we can manage his health to improve the chances that he’ll be productive next year.)

hoffmark83

They can get the Quad A catchers from the waiver wire. All you’re going to get for Quintanna is a single A middle relief pitcher.

CTBucco

How would we feel if Gamel or Gamel+Stratton was traded for a Comp A pick? Quintana?

Wilbur Miller

But there are still some we don’t have!

capirate

I see the Braves traded three players for the Royals’ Competitive Balance pick (#35). I wouldn’t mind the Pirates trading for another pick if they could find a decent match.

CTBucco

Waters was a top 3 prospect for ATL at some point. He hasn’t stood out at AA or AAA yet, but he’s close to ML-ready. And one of the other two is doing very well so far pitching in A-ball. Seems like a high price for a comp A pick. I’d probably make that trade if offered.

kellea01

I didn’t know that Competitive Balance picks could be traded. I’m surprised that I’ve never read that on PP before.

roberto

Thanks for the update. I’m a Royals fan, so I appreciate it. The rest of my life is going well, so you don’t need to call 911 because I root for the Bucs and the Royals.

roberto

I’m also a KU fan. Just deal with it.

PirateRican21

I kid

roberto

Gotcha. But build your mental strength. If you follow a good, well run team, they will lose in the playoffs repeatedly.

RAS TN

The only adding to the Farm System should come from the draft from now on…they have already subtracted to add NO more subtraction of quality MLB players…

MShaeffer4444

I mean Quintana absolutely needs to go. I don’t think anyone can argue with that.

ArkyWags

Why? I don’t understand why having a pitcher pitch well is a bad thing? There isn’t anyone knocking on the door, begging to take his place.

RAS TN

I do…The Pirates do not need any more A or AA players, develop what you have, and then go with that and see where they land…

Right now we do not know just how good or bad the talent in the minor leagues really is, let’s find out…

Last edited 4 months ago by RAS TN
SBRO

Actually I think they’re a little thin at both GBO and Bradenton. GBO hitters lead the league in most K’s and are 11th of 12 in walks. The pitching is 9th in batters struck out and 11th (2nd fewest) walks. After the Altoona crew (or whatever part of it) hits the major leagues, there’s not a whole lot to get excited about until you get to the ’21 draftees.

roberto

I’m going to disagree a bit, though not with your statistical analysis. There is some serious talent at GBO. If two make MLB, that’s a win. If one becomes an excellent player, break out the champagne!

SBRO

Fair enough, but if you have the opportunity to convert a free agent to be – who is almost certainly not going to sign a long-term contract at Bob Nutting’s budget – into more of that talent, you do it, right?

roberto

Thanks for clarifying. I think that most analysts (including the P2 team) think that the Bucs have excellent MiLB talent. How that plays in the bigs???

roberto

I’m not sure what you are affirming. Could you clarify?

roberto

He’s a good pitcher. Why does he need to go? Do the Bucs have too many good pitchers?

MShaeffer4444

So they can win three more games this year and bring their record to 69-93? So they can win a few more games next year and win a grand total of 76? I mean come on, do you honestly see this guy being on the team when it gets good? Seriously?

RAS TN

Exactly, he does not need to go, he needs to be signed for 1 more year, his experience is invaluable to all the prospects…

AdministrativeSky236

We arent going anywhere this year, so any possible future help that he would bring makes sense

roberto

I agree with your premise, but would like some thoughts about options. One might be a three-year contract for Quintana. The Bucs do not need minor league depth.

MShaeffer4444

No. No. No. No. Wow. No. A three year contract for Quintana sounds like a horrific idea. No. No.

RAS TN

One year at a time for Quintana…

SBRO

Quintana has a say in this too, and after this season he’s going to have several multi-year offers. There would be zero reason for him to take a 1-year deal from the Pirates.

RAS TN

So be it, my point is you just do not walk away from him or trade him now for some fantasy player…

NMR

Might take an option, but I don’t know that the league is gonna be lining up for Jose Quintana’s age 34/35/36 seasons…

SBRO

I present to you Alex Cobb, also 33, recent performance and injury issues, pitched an effective half season in Anaheim and turned that into 2/$20M from SF last offseason.

He’s getting 2 guaranteed years, I have zero doubt of that.

SouthernBuc

Didn’t now where to put this but I just don’t see a reason why a Gamel or in this thread a Quintana would re-up at this point unless it is a big overpay and why would the Pirates do that. Both will be free agents which means they will most likely sign for the most money. If that is the Pirates fine…. but why hang on to them now and get nothing for them? That lower level prospect most likely will never make the Pirates but maybe they become the next Josh Harrison or a player that is the final piece of trade that gets you that major league contributor. . You can’t add too much talent to the system and keeping them just to win a few more games this year makes no sense.

SBRO

Nothing would stop Gamel from re-upping; he’s a prototypical 4th outfielder, his best season was something like a 1.2 WAR. He’ll be 31 next year. Probably can be had for a $2M contract or less and that fits within the Pirate budget. No one’s paying a premium for him, no one’s signing him to a multi-year deal. The only question is where does he fit with a team that has a surplus of left handed hitting outfielders and wants to contend. I think Swaggerty is worth clearing the deck for (not to mention the other guys), and the right handed hitting version of Gamel will be available just as cheap in the offseason, so I would just go ahead and trade him and let him find work elsewhere in the offseason. He’ll be employed.

roberto

It’s time to change the conversation. The Bucs have the deepest minor league talent pool in MLB. (OK, except for the Yankees.) How do you turn this into a championship team? Please share your ideas.

docdon385

Reality check. Unless the Pirates are willing to add at least some impact FAs to the mix there is no way they’re going to produce a winning team. Prospect development can only get you so far and the continued use of the high risk/high reward notion without also mentioning the other side that comes with being high risk cannot be ignored.

Trading prospects for established impact players could help but a lot of people would scream to high heaven if any of their favorite current group of prospects were traded. My answer would be, prospect development, signing at least some impact FAs and trading prospects for established major league players when the time comes for doing so. That formula could produce a winning team at least in the short term.

Anthony Murphy

I think some FA are going to be needed but the Atlanta Braves added numerous players through trade during their run. Would be an easier (cheaper) system to make a trade then having to outbid other teams for an ‘impact’ free agent

roberto

D’accord. I actually think trades are the way to go. But, when last I checked, no teams had called about GM openings.

roberto

Meaning, what do I know.

skliesen

Easy answer is player development. Harder answer is acquiring more high risk/high reward players via draft and trade. Main reason I favor Lesko this draft. And unlikeliest answer is signing impact FA’s.

roberto

No push-back from me.

MShaeffer4444

I don’t see Reynolds getting traded unless they get a king’s ransom, which they won’t. I could see Newman getting dealt to a contender if they lose a middle infielder to injury and just need someone who won’t embarrass them defensively for the next few months.

I would listen to calls for Vogelbach and maybe Chavis. Obviously Quintana needs to be dealt.

Catch_22

I thought the Pirates have control of Reynolds for 3 seasons beyond this year.

jaygray007

so 23, 24, and 25, right?

Catch_22

Correct. That’s 3 years beyond this season

One thing to keep in mind, he’s a Super Two and will get expensive for the Pirates, which could entice a trade.

They would have to get blown away. Eury Perez and a a lot more

Last edited 4 months ago by Catch_22
ArkyWags

Except they’re not going to compete in 23.

roberto

Really a reply to Catch 22, but I wanted to keep the order clean. There is no team in baseball better able to take on salary than the Bucs.

Catch_22

Not only that, the Pirates have proven in the past that they won’t trade players if they’re winning. Martin, Burnett and Liriano all played through the final contract years.

1979andCounting

That was under a different GM. There is no proven track record when a new GM comes in. Other than the owner still holds a very tight wallet, until proven otherwise. Hayes signing was a start. But we don’t know how BC will handle final year contracts if we’re winning.

SouthernBuc

I liked the top 5 lists since June 1 and greedily would like to see at least top 10. Some (Lopez, Nolasco) did not surprise me as I have seen their names mentioned a lot or in nerdly looking at daily boxscores they have been regularly jumping out some. I was pleasantly surprised to see just how Swags and Thomas have done. I would not have guessed they were that good… both good signs for the Pirates. Bolten seems to be boringly consistently solid most of the year. I am ok with them just nursing him through the rest of the year on innings since he was out so long. But his year long performance makes me wonder what there plans will be for next year. Will he be given a shot at the major league rotation?

roberto

FYI FanGraphs touted Lopez and Nolasco before the season started. The Bucs will get looted in the Rule V draft. Prepare yourself.

skliesen

When an organization has 20 prospects in the 40+ and above range, they must lose some eventually. Hopefully BC is savvy enough to deal some away before losing them in Rule 5 draft.

Catch_22

BC needs to do a reverse Holmes trade. Find an undervalued/underdeveloped arm and flip a couple guys that you’re going to remove from the 40.

roberto

I think he’s a smarter man than I am. Since I agree with you, I am guessing he’s had similar thoughts. But who knows.

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