Welcome back to our weekly Pirates minor league roundup, where we recap the top performances and noteworthy happenings within the Pirates organization. As always, every Monday we bring you the highlights from the past week, focusing on standout batters and pitchers making strides in the Pirates’ minor league system.
This week, we look at Tsung-Che Cheng’s remarkable week at the plate in Greensboro and Osvaldo Bido’s solid pitching efforts with Indianapolis, along with other key contributors throughout the various levels.
BATTER OF THE WEEK: Tsung-Che Cheng
Cheng put up the best OPS in the system this past week, and Greensboro wasn’t even at home. They were playing in a more pitcher-friendly park against Jersey Shore. He hit .364/.440/.818 in 25 plate appearances, with two triples, two homers and three walks. Despite a small stature, Cheng has driven the ball well since his amateur days. While you shouldn’t expect big power numbers, it’s good to see him connecting twice while on the road this season.
BATTING AROUND THE SYSTEM
Miguel Andujar – Andujar put up a .391/.462/.696 slash line in 26 plate appearances last week, with four doubles, a homer, three walks and two strikeouts. He should do well at Triple-A with his big league experience, but he needed it to make a push to get back to the majors.
Nick Gonzales – This was a good week for Gonzales until he hurt his left shoulder on a swing during Sunday’s game. He put up a 1.053 OPS in 24 plate appearances, with two doubles and two triples. We will see just how serious the injury is when Indy returns to action on Tuesday night.
Matt Fraizer – It was a very good week for Altoona hitters, including a huge game mid-week where everyone contributed on offense. Fraizer hit .360/.429/.720 in 28 plate appearances. He was shifted to the top of the lineup at the end of the week. He also made a highlight reel throw to nail a runner at the plate during a weekend game.
Domingo Leyba – The veteran middle infielder saw extra action after Altoona dealt with some injuries this week. He capitalized on the chance, posting a 1.145 OPS in 23 plate appearances. He has two partial seasons of big league experience, so he’s probably not staying with Altoona all season.
Mason Martin – Martin reached the minimum plate appearances in his four games. He got here because of a huge game mid-week in which he homered twice and reached base five times. He had a 1.183 OPS last week.
Lolo Sanchez – Sanchez re-signed with the Pirates as a minor league free agent this off-season. He’s back at Altoona again, where he batted .389/.500/.556 in 22 plate appearances. Altoona has a very experienced team this year, which isn’t necessarily good for prospects, but should lead to high offense and help for their pitchers.
Jase Bowen – Bowen reached the minimum plate appearances (20) and struck out nine times, but he still put up a 1.017 OPS thanks to two homers and a double.
Jesus Castillo – Last year’s FCL batting champ is already making an early run at the Florida State League title. After a rough winter in Australia against much older/more experienced competition, Castillo hit .409/.548/.455 last week in 31 plate appearances. He led the system with eight walks.
Enmanuel Terrero – Terrero got off to as bad of a start as anyone in the system through his first few games, then had a career day over the weekend in which he drove in six runs. He followed that up with three more hits, leading him to a .421/.500/.737 slash line in 24 plate appearances. He put up solid stats in the FCL last year. He was a highly regarded prospect when he signed at 16 years old out of the Dominican.
PITCHER OF THE WEEK: Osvaldo Bido
Bido is making an early run at the majors. He had a nice scoreless debut this season, followed by two games this past week in which he allowed one run over nine innings, with 12 strikeouts. He has trouble with high pitch counts and occasional losses of control, which doesn’t translate well to the majors. He’s similar to what we saw from Mitch Keller before he came up to the Pirates, where the results and competition level hide the issues. Bido profiles as a middle reliever, though he has the pitch-mix of a starter, so leaving him in this role makes sense for now.
PITCHING THROUGH THE SYSTEM
Hunter Stratton, Indianapolis – Stratton didn’t allow any earned runs in his five innings for Indianapolis, though it wasn’t smooth sailing. He gave up one unearned run on five hits and four walks. The upside is that he struck out eight batters. He had a 5.71 ERA, a 1.48 WHIP and 82 strikeouts in 63 innings for Indianapolis last year.
Daniel Zamora, Indianapolis – Zamora was an early cut this spring, despite being a lefty with big league experience out of the bullpen. He had a very nice week last week in three games, throwing 3.2 shutout innings on three hits, no walks and seven strikeouts.
Travis MacGregor, Altoona – MacGregor re-signed late in the off-season with the Pirates, after reaching minor league free agency. He pitched well at Altoona last year, then some rough games in Indianapolis led to poor overall Triple-A numbers. He has looked good so far this year, including one unearned run over 3.1 innings, with two hits, no walks and five strikeouts during this past week.
Noe Toribio, Altoona – Take away the free agent angle, and Toribio has a story very similar to Travis MacGregor. Both earned a trip to Indianapolis last year by pitching well, then had a rough time in Triple-A, made worse by a few implosions. Toribio is back at Altoona, where he had a strong two-appearance week, tossing 4.2 shutout frames on two hits, no walks and eight strikeouts.
Grant Ford, Greensboro – Ford returns to Greensboro this year, where he allowed one run over four innings in his two appearances, finishing with two hits, two walks and four strikeouts. The 2019 fifth round pick spent almost all of 2021 at Greensboro, as well as part of his 2022 season.
Michell Miliano, Greensboro – Miliano was acquired in the Adam Frazier deal and hasn’t performed well until now. This week was particularly strong, with 4.2 shutout innings on three hits, no walks and ten strikeouts.
Cy Nielson, Greensboro – Nielson is a 2022 draft pick, who is already in High-A ball. He had a very nice week for Greensboro in three appearances, throwing 4.2 shutout innings on no hits, one walk and seven strikeouts. Unlike most of last year’s draft picks, he got into a decent amount of games last year after signing, which has seemed to pay off.
Eddy Yean, Greensboro – Yean has not impressed since coming to the Pirates as a highly regarded prospect in the Josh Bell deal. He did well in a closer role this past week, tossing 3.1 shutout frames over three appearances, with three hits, one walk and two strikeouts.
Braxton Ashcraft, Bradenton – Ashcraft is impressing during his return from Tommy John surgery that cost him part of 2021 and all of last year. Don’t expect him to stay at Bradenton, but it’s the perfect level for his rehab work as he continues to build up. He has dominated in two starts so far, including six strikeouts over 3.1 scoreless innings this past week.
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.
Cheng 5’7” 173
N Gonzales 5’9” 190
J Castillo 5’10” 163
Endy 5’9” 170
Termarr 5’7” 190
E Terrero 5’9” 197
You can add Bae to that list and add that a second common theme is above average production. Altuve’s success in MLB broke the mold a bit and gave these guys more opportunities and leeway. Glad to see the Bucs taking advantage.
I think Freud had something to say about a man’s fixation with size.
Looks like enough of these guys are on the right track that we can hope for dominoe effect promotions in may or June that will ultimately result in replacements for Crowe, DeJong, Underwood and Zastrynsky.
Cheng will always be triple Z to me.
As someone whose last name starts with a Z, I approve of this post.
Unrelated but I cant wait for the DSL to start. Very much so missing any day time baseball to track on a monday afternooon when I am supposed to be doing something silly like working
Cheng is one of my favorite prospects in the system to track as he doesnt have prototypical size but man he seems to get nothing but positive results
On both sides of the ball to boot. Really hard not to root for a guy like that.
hoping Mlodzinski does well enough to be a bullpen addition in the 2nd half. He needs to be added to the 40 man after the season so a late season callup would be fine.