Pirates Prospects Daily: Ben Cherington Getting Most Use Of Prospect Depth

Step one of a fresh build is to stockpile the minor leagues with as many prospects as possible, and start developing them into majors leaguers.

As they start stockpiling talent, attention is turned to how best to utilize the overflow that starts happen.

This offseason that was a big focus by Ben Cherington, making three key trades for prospects at positions of depth that has really helped the major league team.

Pitching is starting to look like a real strength of the system, with strong starts to the season all over. So, it’s less of a surprise that they dipped into that depth during the offseason to bring in more immediate help.

The Pirates traded Nick Garcia, Jack Hartmann and Ricky DeVito — all drafted by Cherington — and landed Connor Joe, Ji-Man Choi, and Mark Mathias.

All three have made an immediate impact for the team currently with the best record in the National League.

Joe, who was originally drafted by the Pirates under Neal Huntington, is playing far beyond an expected platoon player, hitting righties respectfully well, while doing his usually mashing against lefties.

Choi is hurt currently, but is a veteran presence from a Tampa Bay team that is no stranger to success. Mathias is a versatile fielder who picked up four hits in a game.

Not every prospect is going to play for the team that drafted/developed them, so it’s up to the general manager to optimize what he has to make the major league roster better.

Cherington saw an opportunity this year to surround his young players with some more experienced players, and did so without having to let go of any of their top prospects.

Andrew McCutchen and Carlos Santana may get most of the headlines, for just cause, but Joe has been just as much a playmaker for the Pirates and has come up big when the opportunity has presented itself.

If the picture wasn’t clear before, everything is starting to come together for Cherington right now, and it’s showing where it matters the most — the win column.

Prospect Notes

Quinn Priester was going toe-to-toe with another top pitching prospect, Gavin Williams, until the fifth inning where the wheels started to fall off. Known for having one of the best curveballs in the minors, Priester hasn’t thrown the pitch much, focusing on his other offerings, especially the slider.

With what we’ve seen from Johan Oviedo and Roansy Contreras in the majors, Priester could follow the same path with a focus on breaking stuff and have his fastball more of a secondary offering. 

— Weekly reminder that I had written that no one may benefit from making the jump from High-A to Double-A than Sean Sullivan. After being eased back in his first two starts, the righty tossed five shutout innings, striking out six. 

In three starts this year, he hasn’t allowed an earned run yet. A lot of draft outlets loved the Sullivan pick for the Pirates in 2021, and he’s starting to make steps towards fulfilling that hype. 

— Speaking of pitchers who haven’t allowed a run yet this season, Ryan Harbin pitched his fifth straight scoreless relief appearance on Thursday. He’s struck out eight over 7.1 innings, allowing just three hits. He also hit 97 mph in one of his earlier outings.

Daily Video Rundown

One of six strikeouts on the day for Sullivan across his five shutout innings.

A look at Jared Jones’ latest start. He didn’t walk anyone over five innings, but went on the injured list afterwards with lower back muscle spasms. 

Pirates Prospects Daily 

By Tim Williams 

Williams: These Pirates Aren’t Fading Away

Pirates Recap: Pirates Win Series Against Dodgers, Move to Ten Over .500

Prospect Watch: Sean Sullivan Throws Five Shutout Innings

**Dick Groat Passes Away at 92 Years Old

**Minor Moves: Nick Gonzales Placed on the Injured List

**Mike Burrows Has Tommy John Surgery; Endy Rodriguez Could Return Soon

Song of the Day 

Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.

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Gonzales and priester to the fish for cabrera or luzardo

b mcferren

Malone, Peguero and Solomon for Luzardo would be more fitting


According to WTOP in Washington, tonight’s game is postponed. Two games tomorrow.


Somewhat OT but dealing with acquisitions, now that the season has started the order of DFA claims is in reverse order of record, right? If so, it feels so strange to look at DFAs on MLBTR, think “that guy might help”, and then think “he’ll never get to us”. The latest example is a lefty reliever, Smeltzer, the Marlins just designated.


So far, our off-season acquisitions have worked about as well as possible. I like how this club has responded to adversity by reaching into its depth. Endy and Swaggs should be back and ready by June so we have that depth to look forward to as well. Seeing Players like Castro and Marcano flourishing really builds clubhouse character. Knowing that Cruz and Choi will be free additions when the weather heats up really jacks my enthusiasm. I don’t see any need to bring in outside help as in a sixth starter. Just keep doing what we are doing and this club will be just fine.

Last edited 1 month ago by Born4rf

Great start to the season and most of BC’s moves have worked out well, but Choi has been a bust so far.

b mcferren

I can count two games when a Choi homerun was the reason we won


It looked liked he was coming around before he got hurt.

b mcferren

I can count one game when Tucupita was the reason we won the game (that win when he made that fancy slide at the plate)

doe that mean Choi has a 1 with what yinz call a WAR?

modern analytics are stupid – nerds ruined baseball


Almost all stats are good to have out there. The problem is there are too many made-up formulas using stats that don’t give a true representation of what is attempted to be measured. Then you have people that don’t understand stats making poor baseball decisions. Even worse, you have people that don’t understand baseball, that are providing statistical information.


Do you follow, and do stats, for the Chinese Baseball League? Wondering with your username. Or are CBL your initials or have some other meaning? Not prying, just curious because during the lockdown, I watched a lot of CBL games and loved it.


Close. CBL is Computer Baseball League. 35 Years ago, I wrote a computer program in an old language called QBasic and we play actual games with our teams. Most of the current 17 owners in the league have been in it over 20 years for sure.

The stats name came from the fact that I taught at least one high school prob&stats class for 39 years and naturally love it.

b mcferren

Detroit LH starter Eduardo Rodriquez is the one we want to solve our depth issue. Just go to a six man rotation until someone gets hurt. He´s going to opt out of his contract at the end of the year because he is playing so well and that will make him more affordable in terms of prospect return. He has a long history of twinkle in the eye of Cherrington that you can google search to read. I would rate the chance of him as a pirate soon as probably. Peguero, Nick and Harrington gets it done, pending him agreeing to a contract extension ($5 mil more per year on the current length of hist contract)


Harrington? Dream on. They have big plans for him. Cleveland style draft command and get more velo out of him. They won’t trade him.


Rodriguez’ salary this year is $14 million, $18 next year and $16-$1 5 million, I think it might be a gamble for him to opt out.


Say no to this trade.

b mcferren

maybe the bigger question is which (in a list) of our hoard of prospects would you be willing to part with?


Priester, Peguero, Nick Gonzales and Burrows are not going to bring back what we want. Termarr Johnson, Endy Rodriguez, Bubba Chandler and Luis Ortiz would be my guess who teams would be wanting. I don’t really want to trade any of them.


Caleb Smith. 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣


We all hope that 2023 is a lot like 2013, but maybe in more ways than one. It was the 2012/13 offseason when almost every move BC made as GM of the Red Sox seemed to work out better than could have been hoped for and so far that seems to be the case for this past offseason: Cutch, Joe, Santana, Velasquez, Hedges (if you credit some of the starters’ success to him), Hernandez, Hill, …


DeVito drafted by. Raves


Should be Braves


I think it would be fun if it was the Altanta Raves… They could all come out wearing glow bracelets to EDM music.


Your note about Priester should be called to everyone’s attention. He probably isn’t allowed to use his curveball certain innings. Remember the minors his training for the majors. They want his change up and slider and fastball location to be perfect when he comes up. We know his curveball will play.


This could not be more incorrect.

We know that big, easily identified curveballs like Quinn’s do not play against big league hitters.

This is precisely why almost every minor league starter with similar traits – from Jameson Taillon to Mitch Keller to Roasny – converts to heavy slider usage in the show.

The modern slider has become the most dominant pitch in the history of the game because classic curveballs like Quinn’s no longer fool hitters.


do you even read what people write or type first?

Note the word SLIDER in my post. He’s working on his SLIDER.


We know his curveball will play.”

Do you even read what YOU write?


Every trade proposal I make includes Priester, and that’s knowing that our depth is tin!


Unless you are facing Pedro Cerrano and Jobu is not helping, then bats are afraid 😁🤣😁🤣


Yeah, I am starting to think that we can’t scout the stat line on QP and be concerned…he is working on some stuff and has shelved the pitch he know works in order to find a “different path”….smart, as there will be days in his MLB career that the curve might not be there and he will have to win with other stuff.


The Pirates are loaded in SP’s and position players. I was looking for a second lefty for the Pirates BP and there is not much left at AAA to help. Possibly a better direction would be to look at Nick Dombkowski and Tyler Samaniego at AA.

If the Pirates can ink Keller to 5 or 6 years, with Oviedo, Contreras, and Ortiz, Priester and Bido could be possible to fill out the Rotation next year, and there are about 3 VG SP possibilities currently at AA.

I think DeVito was a part of the Rich Rod trade.


I wouldn’t lump Bido quite yet. He’s not even on the 40 man. Impressive so far but a little early


We are Pirate fans and a lot of this stuff can have a very short shelf life. Sometimes “it” just comes to pitchers like Bido and they suddenly look unbeatable in almost every outing. And it can disappear just as quickly as it came!

Cash in now and possibly create a solid Starter or Reliever for the Pirates or for another team – in a very short period of time he has gone from a DFA that nobody would think twice about, to a legit prospect.


It’s an important point. Even 3 and 4 years into his time leading the Pirates very little from the BC’s drafts have contributed. That’s normal for baseball. It would be nice if there was an immediate impact from early picks but sometimes those players don’t exist. Baseball requires years of development even for 1st round picks.

Huntington’s players and pieces BC brought in are doing this right now and that doesn’t mean BC is not responsible. He is.


The Pirates are getting most of their prospect contributions from IFA’s such as Cruz, Castro, Bae, Marcano, Contreras, Oviedo, Moreta, Hernandez, and Ramirez. If you add in Carlos Santana, our Active Roster is 38% IFA’s. And in the near future we are looking at more young IFA’s such as Endy Rodriguez, Malcom Nunez, Luis Ortiz, and Osvaldo Bido. It is the nature of today’s game.

The Pirates have lagged well behind most of the other MLB teams – they are catching up.


Is Priester struggling because he is not being allowed to throw his best pitch? Does that make sense?

So, Tim might end up being right about Sullivan?

Those trades were for prospects that weren’t highly regarded (I know some LOVED DeVito) so I am optimistic that we won’t regret them.

Last edited 1 month ago by leefieux


Priester’s curveball was still his most-used secondary in his last two starts, and his average fastball didn’t break 92 mph.

Down a full mile per hour since the beginning of the season, and that was already a tick or two off last year.


Since his FB is losing velocity could his arm be hurt?


Don’t make me say it, buddy!


That was the first sign that Burrow showed.



That’s a sign of injury so often, you’d think they would shut a guy down and have him examined once his fast ball starts dropping off like that, if only as a precaution.


Things have changed around here. Lee + Optimistic in same sentence.

Idunno. I think I’m gonna start building an ark.


I never DID like you. Even my wife liked your son better. (Oh wait……..).

Last edited 1 month ago by leefieux
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