Prospect Watch: Solid Starts from JP Massey and Kyle Nicolas

Three of the four Pittsburgh Pirates affiliates pulled off wins last night. Kyle Nicolas and JP Massey each had strong starts, while Bubba Chandler have a rough outing.


Prospect Watch: Solid Performances from Thomas Harrington, Osvaldo Bido and Aaron Shortridge


Pirates 2023 Minor League Previews: Indianapolis Indians


Final Score:  Indianapolis (17-20) 3, St. Paul 1
Indianapolis Starter
:  Kent Emanuel
Pitching Line
:  4 IP, 4 H, ER, BB, 4 K
Box Score

Top Performers:

  • Nick Gonzales 1-4, BB
  • Endy Rodriguez 1-2, BB, HBP, SB
  • Cal Mitchell 1-2, BB, SF, SB
  • Angel Perdomo 2 IP, 2 BB, 2 K
  • Colin Selby IP, 2 K

Game Recap:

Indianapolis got a good start from Kent Emanuel and five scoreless innings of relief, and beat St. Paul, 3-1.

Emanuel’s effort to re-establish himself has been pretty shaky, but in this game he threw three scoreless innings after giving up a solo home run in the first.  He allowed only four hits and a walk overall.

Indy tied it in the top of the second when Cal Mitchell singled, stole second and scored on a hit by Mark Mathias.  In the third, Nick Gonzales and Endy Rodriguez both walked, then came around on an infield hit, a throwing error and a sacrifice fly by Mitchell.

The Indy bullpen did the rest.  Cody Bolton and Eli Villalobos each threw a scoreless inning, and Angel Perdomo threw two.  It wasn’t without adventure, as Bolton gave up two hits and a walk, Villalobos gave up one hit and a walk, and Perdomo walked two.  Colin Selby worked a perfect ninth, fanning two.  Selby had a so-so month in April, but in five May innings he’s allowed no hits or runs, and two walks, with ten strikeouts.

The offense did little after the third.  Indy finished with seven singles and six walks.  Gonzales, Rodriguez and Mitchell each had a hit and a walk, and Rodriguez also got hit by a pitch.  After a dismal month of April, Mitchell has an 1.138 OPS in May.


Pirates 2023 Minor League Previews: Altoona Curve


Final Score:  Altoona (15-15) 5, Akron 4
Altoona Starter
:  Kyle Nicolas
Pitching Line
:  5 IP, 6 H, ER, 3 BB, 5 K
Box Score

Top Performers:

  • Henry Davis 1-4, BB
  • Lolo Sanchez 1-4, HR (3)
  • Andres Alvarez 2-4, 2B
  • Matt Fraizer 3-4, 3 2B

Game Recap:

Altoona pitchers had to deal with a lot of baserunners, but they stranded 13 of them and the Curve hung on to beat Akron, 5-4.  The win put them back at .500.

Kyle Nicolas, as he pretty much always does, struggled to throw strikes.  He walked three, hit one and threw only 49 of 81 pitches for strikes.  He also gave up six hits in his five innings, but it helped that they were all singles.  He got through five with only one run allowed.

The Curve meanwhile got nearly all of its offense from the bottom of the order.  Andres Alvarez and Matt Fraizer, batting eighth and ninth, started the fourth with doubles, then Liover Peguero singled to score Fraizer.  In the fifth, Alvarez singled in a run with two outs and Fraizer doubled him in.  Fraizer had three doubles in the game.

Nicolas left with a 4-1 lead.  Brad Case, in his first AA appearance of the year, replaced him and didn’t fare well.  Case retired only two of the six hitters he faced, allowing two runs.  Fortunately, Lolo Sanchez, who batted seventh, hit his third home run of the year in the seventh to add an insurance run.

Tahnaj Thomas got the last out in Case’s inning and gave up just one runner over two innings.  That cost him a run, though, when Oliver Garcia came on with two outs in the eighth and allowed a run-scoring single to make the score 5-4.  Tyler Samaniego pitched the ninth for the save, although he allowed a hit and a walk.


Pirates 2023 Minor League Previews: Greensboro Grasshoppers


Final Score:  Jersey Shore 9, Greensboro (20-12) 5
Greensboro Starter
:  Bubba Chandler
Pitching Line
:  2.2 IP, 6 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 3 K
Box Score

Top Performers:

  • Tsung-Che Cheng 1-4, 2B, BB
  • Jase Bowen 1-4, HR (7)
  • Sammy Siani 1-3, HR (4), BB

Game Recap:

Bubba Chandler had a bad start as Greensboro lost to Jersey Shore, 9-5.

Most of the Pirates top pitching prospects have struggled this year and Chandler’s struggles have been some of the worst.  This game was a low point.  Chandler started it by loading the bases with the first three batters on two walks and a hit batsman, then allowed a two-run single.  He got out of the inning with no more damage, but didn’t escape the third.  He gave up four more runs, all with two outs, ending with a three-run home run.  That also ended his night.  His ERA now stands at 6.67.

Michell Miliano and Mitchell Miller weren’t much better.  Miliano gave up three hits and three walks in an inning and a third.  Nobody scored while he was in the game, but Miller let two of Miliano’s runners score and one of his own.  Oliver Mateo managed a scoreless inning despite two walks, a hit batsman and a wild pitch.  Then he departed after walking the leadoff batter in the next inning.  Jaycob Deese finally ended the parade of baserunners by giving up just a hit batsman over two innings.

Most of the Hoppers’ offense came from a pair of two-run home runs.  Jase Bowen hit his seventh longball of the year in the first, briefly tying the game at 2-2.  Sammy Siani hit his fourth in the ninth to finish the scoring.  Not much happened in between.  Mike Jarvis singled in a run in the seventh.

Ernny Ordonez was the only Hopper with two hits.  Tsung-Che Cheng, Will Matthiessen and Siani each reached base twice.


Pirates 2023 Minor League Previews: Bradenton Marauders


Final Score:  Bradenton (19-13) 4, Lakeland 2
Bradenton Starter
:  J.P. Massey
Pitching Line
:  5 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 9 K
Box Score

Top Performers:

  • Shalin Polanco 1-3, HR (4), BB
  • Enmanuel Terrero 1-2, 2B, 2 BB
  • Alexander Mojica 1-3, HR (3), BB
  • Luis Peralta 3 IP, 2 H, 2 R, ER, BB, 6 K
  • Elijah Birdsong IP, 2 K

Game Recap:

Bradenton got an outstanding start from J.P. Massey and beat Lakeland, 4-2.

Massey threw five shutout innings, allowing just two hits and two walks.  He fanned nine.  He must have had his curve working, as the Statcast data shows he got eight misses on nine swings against the pitch.

The Marauders got an early 4-0 lead, mostly due to the longball.  In the second, Javier Rivas singled, then scored on a double by Enmanuel Terrero, who came home on Alexander Mojica’s third home run of the season.  Shalin Polanco added a solo shot in the third, his fourth homer.  The offense did little else.  Terrero reached three times, the other two on walks.  One came after he successfully challenged two straight third strike calls.

Luis Peralta replaced Massey and got off to a rough start.  A single, walk and error by Rivas loaded the bases with nobody out.  Peralta gave up two runs, but followed with two scoreless innings.  He struck out six.  Elijah Birdsong got the save with an 11-pitch ninth, including two strikeouts.  That gave Bradenton 17 for the day.

Termarr Johnson continued to struggle, going 0-for-4.

Having followed the Pirates fanatically since 1965, Wilbur Miller is one of the fast-dwindling number of fans who’ve actually seen good Pirate teams. He’s even seen Hall-of-Fame Pirates who didn’t get traded mid-career, if you can imagine such a thing. His first in-person game was a 5-4, 11-inning win at Forbes Field over Milwaukee (no, not that one). He’s been writing about the Pirates at various locations online for over 20 years. It has its frustrations, but it’s certainly more cathartic than writing legal stuff. Wilbur is retired and now lives in Bradenton with his wife and three temperamental cats.

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Massey showing some strong outings to back up his hype coming out of spring training


I attended the Indians game at St. Paul yesterday (Saturday) afternoon. My non-scout observations of note: Endy looks like a major leaguer. He carries himself as if he were in charge. He bucks up teammates. He controls the game from behind the plate. Just like every good fielding MLB catcher does. His hitting was average at best. Maybe just a bad day. Not bad, just average. Nunez played 3B. He has a body like – well not a typical athletic looking 3bman, more like Pablo Sandoval. Yet he made every play there, including one very slick fielding play to start a DP. Smith-Njigba is still struggling to hit within the zone. He also made a boneheaded base-running decision. I could tell he was going to be out at third when he rounded second base. I did not notice what the 3B coach was doing, so maybe he was following directions, but he was out by about 10 feet.. The team as a whole hit the ball hard several times, often for hard outs. So the lack of anything other than 7 singles was not really concerning. Just lots of bad luck in many ways. The pitching was decent. Several situations where there were 2 or even 3 base runners, where the pitchers executed beautifully to get Ks and ground balls leading to easy outs. On the other hand, there were lots of base runners, so that is often on the Ps too.

Also the “robo umps” were in operation. I thought the idea was that the robos called balls and strikes and gave the homeplate ump the answer quickly through an earpiece. I don’t think that was how it was working however. Instead, by my eye, what happened was that the ump called the pitches like usual, but a player (or manager I suspect) – either batter, catcher, maybe putcher – could call for a review. There is probably a limit to the number of times that can happen in a game, inning, at-bat? I have no idea. Anyway, review was requested about 4-5 times. In all but one, the review confirmed the call at the plate. Each review took about 20 seconds at most. The ump signaled for the review. The big scoreboard then showed what we often see on TV – a pitch arcing in and crossing the zone, either within the strike zone or not. It took so little time and resulted in the proper call each time (as noted there was one reversal that lead to a wrong call being corrected). I can see no reason why this should not work in the MLB. Watching the current Bucco series against the Os, we can see on TV several bad calls (not necessarily favoring one team, just bad calls – usually strike calls that are out of the zone). This would be fixed immediately, quickly, and fairly. I was hestitant to believe in lots of rule changes. DH, shift limits, tosses over to 1B (or any base), base size, etc. Same for robo umps. Yet, I see the merit for each and every one of them so far. I admit I was wrong. Bring on the robots and let’s have accurate ball/strike calls.


I much prefer this option of the robo ump as a review basis instead of calling every single pitch. Should be very streamlined and with little game interruption


Thanks for the report. As far as roboumps, 3 games per week are strictly roboump, and 3 are called by the plate ump, with 3 challenges allowed per team per game. All that could easily be adjusted. I also like the change, and it doesn’t seem to slow the game.


Classic Mateo outing; 3 walks, 1 HBP, and a wild pitch. He has the best stuff in the organization, but has no idea where the ball is going when it leaves his hand. Time to give up the dream he will find the key that unlocks better control.


Temarr and Polanco are hitting the ball hard. Both still quite young, just need to cut down on the swing and miss.

Last edited 18 days ago by melkel

I would rather see Bolton in our pen than the continual disappointment named Underwood.


Or Selby


Seriously, what the heck is wrong with Johnson. I’m getting more concerned with each passing game. I thought he was already quite advanced with the bat for someone his age, and here is in Low-A and can’t even hit.


It’s early and he is young. He is like a freshman in college. That’s my story and I am sticking to it.

OptimisticalLee yours.


I wonder if they are gonna demote him to the FCL once it starts.

b mcferren


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