Prospect Watch: Strong Starting Pitching and Dingerz Provide Some Highlights

The system got only one win tonight, but there were welcome outings from several pitchers and some equally welcome longballs from some of the top hitting prospects.  Shalin Polanco had the best night of all with four hits.  There was also a lot of rehabbing going on.


Prospect Watch: Indianapolis Puts Up 15 Runs on Sunday


Pirates 2023 Minor League Previews: Indianapolis Indians


Final Score:  Indianapolis (19-20) 9, Iowa 1
Indianapolis Starter
:  Quinn Priester
Pitching Line
:  7 IP, 5 H, ER, BB, 9 K
Box Score

Top Performers:

  • Nick Gonzales 2-5, 2B, HR (3), 3 RBI
  • Canaan Smith-Njigba 2-4, HR (2)
  • Endy Rodriguez 1-4, HR (4)
  • Cal Mitchell 1-3, BB
  • Rob Zastryzny IP, H, BB, K
  • Angel Perdomo IP, 2 K

Game Recap:

Indianapolis got a big start from Quinn Priester and dingers from the top three hitters in the order, helping it to a 9-1 drubbing of Iowa.

Priester went seven innings and allowed just a run on five hits and a walk.  He fanned nine.  After a rough start to the season that saw his ERA at 7.78 at the end of April, Priester has now allowed just three runs over 19 innings in three May starts.

Indy played longball to take an early lead, as the 1-3 hitters each hit solo shots.  Endy Rodriguez hit his fourth home run in the first, then in the third, Nick Gonzales and Canaan Smith-Njigba went back-to-back.  Gonzales has three on the year and Smith-Njigba two.  Gonzales also hit a double; his OPS stands at .846.  After a very bad start upon moving down to Indy, Smith-Njigba has his up to .790.  Unfortunately, these guys and Cal Mitchell are stuck where they are, as the Pirates obviously have no need for offense.

Rob Zastryzny made his first rehab appearance, throwing a scoreless eighth.  Angel Perdomo worked the ninth.  Vinny Capra had three RBIs.


Pirates 2023 Minor League Previews: Altoona Curve


Final Score:  Bowie 4, Altoona (15-17) 3
Altoona Starter
:  Jared Jones
Pitching Line
:  4 IP, 2 H, ER, BB, 7 K
Box Score

Top Performers:

  • Liover Peguero 3-4, 3 2B

Game Recap:

Jared Jones had a strong start in his second outing after returning from the IL, but Altoona lost to Bowie in walkoff fashion, 4-3.

Jones retired the first nine batters he faced before running into some trouble in the fourth.  He gave up a walk, single and double to start the inning, but got two strikeouts and a ground out to strand runners at second and third.  He left after that, having thrown 54 pitches, 39 for strikes.

Altoona unfortunately couldn’t get any offense, apart from one swing by the usual source.  Henry Davis connected for his ninth of the year with two aboard in the sixth, and that was it.  When Davis came up with a runner on third and two out in the eight and the game tied, Bowie just pitched around him.

The Curve currently are saddled with a bunch of older, non-prospects who aren’t hitting at all.  This is not a young team; the weighted average age of their hitters is 25, second-oldest in the Eastern League and well above the league average.  They could seemingly use some help from Greensboro, which has a lot of players putting up good numbers.

Anyway, Davis gave the Curve a 3-1 lead, but Matt Eckelman quickly gave the runs back.  Tahnaj Thomas and Oliver Garcia combined for two and a third scoreless innings, but Juan Minaya wild-pitched in the winning run with one out in the bottom of the ninth.

Apart from Davis’ blast, the Curve managed only six hits.  Half of those were doubles by Liover Peguero, boosting his OPS to .713.  Altoona went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position.


Pirates 2023 Minor League Previews: Greensboro Grasshoppers


Final Score:  Asheville 6, Greensboro (20-14) 4
Greensboro Starter
:  Braxton Ashcraft
Pitching Line
:  3 IP, H, 3 K
Box Score

Top Performers:

  • Tsung-Che Cheng 1-4, HR (5)
  • Tres Gonzalez 1-4, HR (2)
  • Jase Bowen 2-4, 2B
  • Wyatt Hendrie 2-3, 2B, HR (1), BB
  • Michell Miliano 3 IP, 2 BB, 3 K

Game Recap:

Greensboro used the longball to take an early 4-0 lead, but they couldn’t add on and the bullpen ultimately blew the game.

Tres Gonzalez hit a two-run shot in the first, his second for Greensboro and third of the year.  In the second, Wyatt Hendrie and Tsung-Che Cheng went back-to-back.  Hendrie’s was his first for the Hoppers and second of the year, while Cheng (the guy who supposedly has 20 power) got his fifth.  Cheng, who’s still only 21, is now batting 268/378/542 with only three fewer walks than strikeouts.  This was not a home game, by the way, so that’s not the explanation for the longballs, and Cheng is hitting much better, with much more power, on the road.

But that was all.  Hendrie later added a double, and Jase Bowen had a single and double, but Greensboro had only four chances with RISP and missed on all of them.

Braxton Ashcraft, still apparently on a limited pitch count, started and threw three scoreless innings.  He allowed just a hit and no walks.  Michell Miliano followed with three scoreless and hitless innings.

The Hoppers were still up, 4-1, in the seventh, but Jack Carey came on and continued his recent struggles.  He retired only one of the six hitters he faced (with a caught stealing fortunately thrown in) and was charged with two runs.  Cy Nielson got the last out of the inning, but Will Kobos had to rescue Nielson in the eighth, fanning the last two hitters to strand two runners.  In the ninth it was Kobos’ turn, as he walked the first two batters and then left after an injury delay.  Mitchell Miller replaced him and immediately allowed a three-run, walkoff home run.


Pirates 2023 Minor League Previews: Bradenton Marauders


Final Score:  Clearwater 12, Bradenton (20-14) 10
Bradenton Starter
:  Tyler Chatwood
Pitching Line
:  IP
Box Score

Top Performers:

  • Jesus Castillo 1-3, 2 BB
  • Termarr Johnson 2-4
  • Javier Rivas 1-4, 2B, BB
  • Geovanny Planchart 1-3, HR (1), SF, 4 RBI
  • Shalin Polanco 4-5, 2B, HR (5)
  • Owen Sharts 2 IP, 2 BB, K

Game Recap:

Injuries were a prominent presence, in two different ways, in Bradenton’s 12-10 loss to Clearwater.  The Marauders used four players — Tyler Chatwood, Carter Bins, Blake Cederlind and Owen Sharts — who were recently activated, but also had some players leave the game.

On the latter point, Bins, just off the injured list, left early in the game.  On a pitch that got away from him, immediately once the play was over he walked straight into the dugout, with some colorful language along the way, uttered in obvious frustration.  It’s likely he tweaked whatever had him on the IL in the first place.

Late in the game, Rodolfo Nolasco got beaned.  It looked and sounded like the pitch mostly got the helmet flap, but he was down for a bit.  He ultimately left looking okay-ish.

In addition, Termarr Johnson came out after the top of the eighth, with no obvious explanation except possibly that the Marauders were trailing by five at the time.

Chatwood started, his first appearance since being activated.  He threw a quick first inning.  Blake Cederlind, in his second outing, had a lot more trouble, mainly because he couldn’t throw strikes.  He lasted an inning plus two batters and was charged with six runs on four hits, two walks and a hit batsman.  The last two runners scored with Miguel Fulgencio on the mound.  He threw an inning without allowing any runs of his own.

Dominic Perachi, who probably would have started if not for the rehabbers, was next and simply got pummeled.  He also couldn’t throw strikes and allowed six runs over two innings, on five hits and four walks.  It would have been much worse, but Clearwater got two runners thrown out at third in Perachi’s first inning.

Sharts got the next two innings.  The Pirates drafted him in round 13 in 2021, shortly after he’d had Tommy John surgery.  He pitched in the FCL last year and walked 27 in 11 innings.  His control wasn’t good in this one — just 14 strikes on 28 pitches — but he threw just enough strikes to get through two scoreless innings without a hit.

Bradenton briefly got back in the game in the fourth.  Geovanny Planchart, who’d replaced Bins, and Shalin Polanco went back-to-back.  Planchart’s, a two-run shot, was his first home run in two years.  He got two more RBIs later.  Polanco’s home run was his fifth of the year.  In fact, it was his fifth in his last 12 games.  He also had a double and two singles in the game.  The big day vaulted his OPS from .631 to .723.

Cederlind’s and Perachi’s misadventures left the Marauders trailing, 12-3, after five innings.  Bradenton eventually made the final look more presentable by scoring seven in the eighth and ninth.  Jesus Castillo reached base three times and Johnson had two hits.  One was about as long a single as can possibly be managed.  With two on, he hit a towering drive that bounced off the top of the fence in right.  The runners had to hold up, so nobody scored and Johnson had to stop at first.

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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Super happy to see ’em start dropping for Liover.

Quinn threw just 33% fastballs last night. Seems like this is his path forward.


This has bothered me…is his name pronounced Leo-ver?


If your in Altoona he answers to Peggy


I think I’ve heard Li-over? Never ask a yunzer for pronunciation tips.


Thank you for spelling it ‘Yunzer’. That’s how it was pronounced in the 70s and 80s. Maybe an internet thing?


Amen! “yinzer” as it’s known today is a creation of transplants over like the last 20 years. Nobody talked about “yinzers” growin up, we were YUNZers!


So, what you’re saying is that REAL Pittsburghers are YUNZERS!!


With .Cruz out, it would’ve been so nice to have had Liover ready. But, he still needs time, as Supertramp once sang about Rudy.


Bucs caught a real bad break when Triolo went down before Cruz
The reason he was added in November was primarily to handcuff the left side of the infield so we didn’t have to watch Castro repeat

Shelty is crossing everyone up. He’s using reverse psychology
He decided part of Castro’s issue last year was he didn’t test him in high leverage situations. Now, late in games he’s using the worst infield glove in MLB for defensive purposes shifting arguably the worst OF glove to CF so he can weaken the team at 2 positions
I call that Self inflicted sabatoge, Why?
You know its actually OK to win, no try it seriously, its not going to bite you, it won’t hurt promise


Also has the yips, so SS isn’t an option.


Had a neighbor with a little yippee dog. We call ‘em drop kick dogs.


no Dariel Lopez is hurting. People forget about him.
With our ML team desperately needing LHH I bet Mitchell or CSN is up soon.


Good to see Planchart go deep. He is a puzzle. Guy is huge, probably 230 or so, and he has shown zero power. Before he got sent back to the FSL last year, he had zero extra base hits in Bradenton. When Cheng (who might weigh 160) shows more power than you, you need to work on your bat speed.


Polanco went 4-5 but is still only hitting .194? Ouch. Termarr up to .255.


He has clearly found his people (or vice versa).


Wow! Must’ve missed that.


WTM wrote: ‘ are stuck where they are, as the Pirates obviously have no need for offense.’

Unfortunately, none of these guys that are ‘stuck’ have shown they can hit major league pitching. It seemed everyone screamed for Josh ‘.1,000 OPS’ Palacios. Where did that get us.

Still holding out hope that in June, we can get Endy and Henry in the lineup on a regular basis and see what THEIR bats can do at the MLB level.


If our GM had any faith in the team, or cared one wit about trying to win this year, waiting until Super 2 passes wouldn’t even be a consideration. The 1-2 extra wins Endy and Davis could possibly give the team may make a big difference on where this season finishes. And it also may give the clubhouse a jolt that they so clearly need right now.


If they’re dependent on a couple of rookies to come out of this, they’re lost already. Panic moves of bringing up these guys at this point isn’t the answer.


I’ll take an extra year over 1-2 wins.


I agree. If either was ready to start the year up, then I may have had a different opinion then. Now, it is only 2-3 weeks until super 2 so might as well get the extra year


Shelton also likes to put the hot hand in a position to fail, give them one game then sit them(Palacios) or sit someone in the middle of a hot stretch(Delay and Joe).


Surely you jest. If a batter gets hot, Sheltie benches them. 😂😂


He just wants to give others a chance


Those young guys need their rest, too.


Is braxton related to the reds graham? Would love to see him rival his possible brothers success ans have then duel it out in the NL central for years to come


It isn’t noted onB Ref.

b mcferren

so Tank has been the catcher when Knuckleman has been pitching?

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