Indianapolis and Altoona put up double-digits in runs, but the Curve’s bullpen almost blew a huge lead. Greensboro played Shelton ball, bunting its way out of scoring chances. Termarr Johnson showed increasing signs of life with the bat.
Prospect Watch: Solid Pitching Around the System; Altoona Breaks Out the Bats
TRIPLE-A: INDIANAPOLIS INDIANS
INDIANAPOLIS VS IOWA
Final Score: Indianapolis (20-21) 10, Iowa 5
Indianapolis Starter: Kent Emanuel
Pitching Line: 5 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 K
- Nick Gonzales 1-4, BB
- Endy Rodriguez 2-5, 2B, 3B
- Cal Mitchell 1-4, BB
- Malcom Nunez 3-4, 2B, 3 RBI
- Eli Villalobos 2 IP, 2 K
- Carmen Mlodzinski IP, H, 2 K
Indianapolis got offense throughout the lineup and beat Iowa, 10-5.
The Indians had ten hits and nine walks. The only players who didn’t get hits were Mark Mathias and Aaron Shackelford, and they drew three walks between them. They broke the game open with a six-run fifth inning that featured two-run singles by Malcom Nunez and Chavez Young.
Nunez, who’s been struggling all year, led the offense with a double, two singles and three RBIs. Endy Rodriguez had a double and a triple.
Kent Emanuel started and went five, giving up six hits and three runs. He didn’t walk anybody. Eli Villalobos threw two scoreless innings and Carmen Mlodzinski one. Colin Selby, who’d been on a roll in May, had a control meltdown in the ninth. He threw only eight of 23 pitches for strikes while giving up a hit, two walks and a hit batsman. He retired only one batter and was charged with two runs. Cam Alldred got the last two outs.
DOUBLE-A: ALTOONA CURVE
ALTOONA @ BOWIE
Final Score: Altoona (17-17) 13, Bowie 11
Altoona Starter: Aaron Shortridge
Pitching Line: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
- Liover Peguero 3-6, 2B, 3 RBI, SB
- Henry Davis 1-4
- Matt Gorski 2-5
- Mason Martin 1-4, HR (6), 3 K, 4 RBI
- Claudio Finol 3-4, HR (1), BB, SB, 4 runs
- Connor Scott 3-5
Altoona took a 13-2 lead, then barely staggered to a 13-11 win over a bad Bowie team. The Curve are now back at .500.
Altoona appeared headed for a blowout win when they got four in the third and five in the fourth. The big lead was capped off by a 452-foot grand slam by Mason Martin, his sixth home run of the year. Prior to the longball, Martin was 3-for-33 in the month of May.
The 8-9-1 hitters provided most of the rest of the offense. Claudio Finol got three hits, including his first home run of the year, and scored four times. Connor Scott, who came in with a dismal .388 OPS, also had three hits. So did Liover Peguero, who drove in three. His included a double, giving him eight of those in his last six games. After a very bad April, Peguero is hitting 292/361/508 in May, with ten extra base hits in 15 games. He also stole a base, giving him 11 in 13 tries. Henry Davis went 1-for-4, then left for a pinch hitter with the Curve up by ten.
Aaron Shortridge continued turning things around, giving up two runs over six innings on just five hits and two walks. After that, things slid rapidly downhill. The worst of it came in a seven-run eighth. Tyler Samaniego, who’s having a very disappointing season, failed to retire any of the five batters he faced. He left with two on and Braeden Ogle let them score along with two of his own, all on a grand slam. He at least managed to get three outs. Oliver Garcia let another run score in the ninth and had the tying runs on base before finally picking up a shaky save.
HIGH-A: GREENSBORO GRASSHOPPERS
GREENSBORO @ ASHEVILLE
Final Score: Asheville 2, Greensboro (20-16) 1
Greensboro Starter: Anthony Solometo
Pitching Line: 7 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 6 K
- Tsung-Che Cheng 2-4
- Jackson Glenn 2-5
- Tres Gonzalez 1-3, BB
- Sammy Siani 1-2, 2 BB
- Maikol Escotto 2-4
Greensboro outhit Asheville, 10-3, but undermined itself with Sheltonesque offensive strategery and managed to lose, 2-1.
The Hoppers got off to an ominous start after their first two hitters in the game reached base. Tres Gonzalez, batting .333 at the time, bunted the runners over for Mike Jarvis, who was batting .208. Jarvis whiffed and Hudson Head grounded out to end the threat.
Later the Hoppers, trailing by two, got the leadoff man on and Tsung-Che Cheng, who was leading the team in both OPS and SLG, bunted the non-potential-tying run to second. And that’s where the runner stayed.
The empty-headed buntmania helped waste a strong start from Anthony Solometo, who went seven innings. He gave up just three hits and, importantly, walked nobody while striking out six. Unfortunately, two of the hits were back-to-back doubles, with the second runner scoring on a grounder and wild pitch.
The Hoppers’ only run scored after an error and two singles. Cheng, Maikol Escotto and Jackson Glenn each had two hits, but Greensboro went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
LOW-A: BRADENTON MARAUDERS
BRADENTON @ CLEARWATER
Final Score: Clearwater 10, Bradenton (20-16) 3
Bradenton Starter: Alessandro Ercolani
Pitching Line: 3 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 6 K
- Jesus Castillo 1-3, 2 BB
- Termarr Johnson 2-3, HR (1), 2 BB
- Javier Rivas 2-5
Bradenton got pummeled by the FSL’s best team, losing 10-3 to Clearwater.
Starter Alessandro Ercolani never really had it. He gave up two in the first and three in the third, and that ended his night. He struggled to throw strikes, getting 41 in 72 pitches. Yoldin De La Paz and Ryan Harbin followed with two innings each, De La Paz allowing one run and Harbin none.
Elijah Birdsong got victimized by the Marauders’ defense, which had four errors on the day. Two came in the eighth, costing Birdsong four unearned runs.
The offensive highlight was Termarr Johnson’s first home run of the year. He had two hits and two walks on the day, and got his OPS up to .779, although he also committed his sixth error in just 15 games in the field. Jesus Castillo reached three times on a single and two walks. Javier Rivas had two singles. Jack Brannigan returned to action and went 0-for-4. Nick Cimillo had a triple; his OPS now stands at 1.017. The Marauders fanned 16 times and went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
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.
Is there some reason why the Pirates don’t make the logical move with Davis and work him at 1B—–He should be playing triple A now—Has the agility to play the position—-Why RF—-1B is a giant black hole in the organization.
A Peguero resurgence as he reaches maturity was expected and hoped for from this side of the divide. He was a rare talent four summers ago and I still think he was a brilliant pickup by Neal Huntington. Let’s hope he stays hot and becomes the Future All Star I thought I was watching four years ago, here in Missoula. Don’t forget, this is a 22 year old who made his MLB debut last year at 21. He’s coming and he may be back in Pittsburgh before O’Neill Cruz.
In what possible scenario is Peguero in the majors before August 1st? None.
Will Cruz be healthy by Aug. 1?
Loved the Pioneer League until MLB decided to screw the mountain west.
Me too 🙁 No better place to watch a ballgame than beside the Clark Fork River on a perfect July/August evening
Hey another Montana dude?
Hiding in the mountains, waiting for bird season
I want them to give it to 6/1 with Castro/Owings at SS then I’d give Peggy a shot to hold down the job in Pittsburgh.
I don’t see what there is to figure out with Owings. He’s had nearly 2500 ML PAs and has a wRC+ of 68, and that’s buoyed by his first few years, when he wasn’t as awful as he’s been the last six or so. And everyone in MLB except Ben Cherington and Derek Shelton figured out 5-6 years ago that he’s not a SS. There’s nothing left to learn.
Such a weird choice for backup/emergency SS.
At SS? The position he’s no longer playing?
GMBC traded Marte for him and Malone. Definitely happy to see him starting to heat up a bit
You’re right. I don’t know why I thought Huntington traded Marte.
The Athletic has a piece on 27 prospects you don’t know but should. Cheng is in there. Says he could hit 12-15 HRs, which is a far cry from “20 power.” Also seems to think he could stay at SS.
Could you share : )
That’s most of it. He’s gotten stronger and has the range for SS. And he’s an on-base machine, but we knew that.
Law have anything interesting to say about Solomento?
Saw he has a scouting notes article on him and Siani, no longer subscribe though.
Law saw by far his worst outing ever. Couldn’t throw a strike. Said he still has two plus pitches (FB 91-95) and starter potential. Thought he needed to change his landing spot bc he’s cutting himself short, maybe affecting his control. Said he confirmed his observations w scouts who’d seen more typical outings. Basically positive, 20-yr-old pitcher from cold weather prep background, needs tweaking.
That’s great, thank you sir.
Interesting update to the top 100 by Longenhagen, including a paragraph about Johnson. One takeaway for me is how many of the HS hitters are struggling with K issues…
This trio has huge tools and huge risk associated with strikeouts. Johnson is coming off a hamstring strain and struggling to get traction in the Florida State League, where he’s striking out 40% of the time even though the pitching isn’t very good. The oppo, slasher approach he showed against outer-edge pitches while he was in high school isn’t there right now, and he isn’t showing the same plate coverage he was last year. It’s possible Johnson has intentionally become more pull-oriented (I get it, it’s where his biggest power is), and it’s also possible he’s been rusty because of the time off due to the hamstring strain. Either way, I can’t have a guy striking out at a nearly 40% clip in the Florida State League ranked 20th overall. His FV grade hasn’t changed, he’s just slid behind players who are performing and/or are more proximate to the big leagues.
“Either way, I can’t have a guy striking out at a nearly 40% clip in the Florida State League ranked 20th overall.”
Like, why not? If he’s the 20th-best prospect he’s the 20th-best prospect. His statistical performance in a miniscule sample has literally nothing to do with how good of a prospect he is. Maybe I’m making too much out of the specific wording here, but it sounds like Longenhagen just thinks it looks bad to have a poor performer ranked so high, but “scouting the box score” is a terrible way to judge prospects anyway, and small sample sizes are a terrible basis for any decision.
I think it’s an acknowledgement of a poor initial ranking.
The trend over the past 3-4 years or so is to stuff kids super high up prospect boards based on very little intel.
If you rank a kid 20th in all of baseball off little more than his high school scouting report and he shows up at the lowest level of full-season ball striking out almost half the time, your scouting report was wrong and so was your ranking.
In the old days of the late 2010s you’d temper your ranking until a kid actually performed in pro ball and wouldn’t have ever ranked him so highly in the first place.
“If you rank a kid 20th in all of baseball off little more than his high school scouting report and he shows up at the lowest level of full-season ball striking out almost half the time, your scouting report was wrong and so was your ranking.”
No, this is the whole problem. Striking out half the time, if it’s in a small sample, does not demonstrate anything at all. Literally nothing. No one should be changing any evaluation or ranking on the basis of a small sample of performance.
Now, maybe Termarr’s initial ranking was wrong, or maybe his current one is. Hell, maybe both are. I’m completely agnostic about that. But Longenhagen isn’t saying, “My initial ranking was wrong because I was mistaken about this player’s fundamental level of talent.” He is saying, “I can’t have a player who is [performing poorly in a small sample size] ranked [where I initially ranked him].” That is a terrible decision-making process.
Your mistake is trying to apply big league sample size logic to amateur/low level scouting and being insufferably pedantic about a comment with pretty obvious intent in order to try sounding smarter than somebody who runs circles around your knowledge.
“My initial ranking was wrong because I was mistaken about this player’s fundamental level of talent.”
This is *exactly* what he’s saying – at least at present, not future, which again has not changed – and he simply used the obvious performance evidence to back it up.
You’re just weirdly fixated on your misunderstanding of scouting parlance he’s using.
Okay, my mistake. Sorry to have disturbed you.
Small sample size, to be sure, but it is definitely something to keep an eye on to see if he can, at least cut it in half. Otherwise, we have another Nicky G on our hands.
We need to find out why TJ is striking out so much. Is it because he is having trouble with the curve, or is he trying to do to much and is pull happy? Hopefully the latter.
Yesterday, he went 2-3, but his one out was still a strikeout. He really needs to cut back on that and make more productive outs.
I personally don’t even care what he does until 2026. Allow him to play and the coaches to coach, and he’ll develop at the rate he’s meant to. We dont have a need for a 2b for like 5 years at this point
Fangraphs needs to get Longenhagen some help. He’s been struggling to produce the requisite content for years now (e.g., only 13/30 team lists published as of mid-May, he produced literally zero updates to his draft rankings for all of last year’s college season), and especially in the last year the quality of the content has taken a nose-dive. He’s always been somewhat reactionary (e.g., he tends to overreact to small samples of MLB performance when a prospect first arrives [Luis Ortiz is an example of this from last offseason]), but I don’t think the less-overworked Longenhagen of two years ago would be going around sliding players up and down lists and making comments about “huge risk associated with strikeouts” based on ~60 PA of performance. That’s just not reasonable. Eighteen year olds in low A with very little track record in pro ball need to be judged almost exclusively on their tools (personally, I’d say that’s true of all minor leaguers, but it’s definitely true of these young, inexperienced guys), and for any player at any level (including MLB veterans) there can be any number of reasons for a 60-PA slump wherein they look terrible. It’s just bad process to be reevaluating based on small sample sizes.
I agree that Longenhagen needs help. I don’t think he’s hosted his “weekly” Friday chat for months now and it was always one of the things from Fangraphs that I most looked forward to. Plus, with it taking so long to complete the team lists, it will end up comparing apples and oranges–some team lists will be based on 2022 performances while others will have significant input from 2023 performances.
But it’s got to be tough for FG as so many of their best prospect writers get hired by MLB teams or leave for, presumably, more money from ESPN.
That 18 year olds should be judged exclusively on tools yet also ranked against older prospects who have equivalent tools and track records of success that actually backs them up is the most overtly ridiculous scouting critique I’ve ever heard.
Longenhagen didn’t change his future value, just adjusted his position amongst his future value peers on account of the fact they’re performing wildly better with equivalent tools.
How is that not the most rational manner of dealing with this entire business?
Your first paragraph is a strawman. I said that prospects should be judged on tools, but I made no claim that they should be ranked at all, let alone in any specific ways or relative to any other type of players. Longenhagen is the one who has chosen to do this, not me.
As to your last paragraph, it’s not rational because it suggests that 60 PA can and should be the basis for re-evaluation of a player vis-a-vis other players, and Longenhagen makes it clear that this is indeed what he is doing. A small sample should never be the basis for a decision, ever.
Wait a minute, now you’re the “rankings don’t matter” guy when the ranking – not the grade, which hasn’t changed – is what you got butthurt about to begin with?
And maybe you don’t really follow prospect stuff much, but a 60 PA sample against full season competition is the largest relevant size of an 18 year old’s career.
Sorry I got so butthurt. My apologies.
He’s correct. Termarr’s been trying to pull everything. He’s been pulling off and missing hittable pitches and getting rung up on pitches over the outer part of the plate because he’s looking for something to pull. It’s the same approach that’s undermined Siani.
Termarr has seemed better the last few games, so maybe he’s coming out of it.
Isn’t it the coaches job literally to keep them from doing that? Its pretty damn basic.
His homer last night went oppo.
Last year, the longest drives I saw him hit were always to LF.
WTM: Loved the outing by O Solo Mio, but why was he kept in there for 92 pitches? Is he going to jump from A+ to MLB? If they are looking for players to jump 3 levels, it could be SS Tsung-Che Cheng.
OK, we need a SS – nice article on MLB about needs of contenders. SD is struggling with Nola behind the plate – can’t hit and his dfensive metrics are terrible. Hedges leads Nola in just about every category of importance. Biggest is a +0.2 fWAR while Nola is a -0.6 fWAR. SD picks up the remainder of the 2023 Hedges Contract (probably around $3 mil). The Pirates could get a lower Top 30 Pitching Prospect (Jagger Haynes #27 ), and they throw in SS Jose Iglesias who is on a Minor League contract at their AAA Affiliate in El Paso.
Where do this magic 100 pitch limit come from? Pitchers are babied to death and still their arms fall off. Maybe they need to BUILD up their arms not baby them?
Jose Iglesias has seemingly been available for years and is better than many shortstops already in the majors. He must be available and we continue to use the Owings of the world. Iglesias hits ok and fields well.
I love this idea for a deal. I think I am higher on the value that hedges brings (which admittedly has still been disappointing) than some others. I think the real question here is how much could he help endy or hank develop on eventual promotion? I dunno how much that benefit would be but i certainly think a combo of haynes and iglesias could be a boost for the club both this year and long term
I considered that, but how long past the trading deadline will Hedges be here? And I also noted that Keller’s last 2 starts were with Hedges behind the plate. That said, Iglesias is a .970 type SS for many years in MLB, and the communication he could provide for our MI’s now and in the future would be priceless.
Haynes is a wild card just 20 and getting over TJ Surgery – a real unknown, but someone I think the Pad’s will let go to solidify the Catching position.
There are very few minor leaguers who are ready for promotion. Cheng is one of them, When Endy hits AAA like Cheng is hitting in A+. I give the green light
Cheng ain’t ready!! He needs to work on his bunting!! Sheesh!!
Claudio Finol? 🤓🤓🤓
There is probably no way they would call Peguero up is there? SS just such a black hole right now since Cruz injury. I wasn’t positive how well Peguero was playing defensively as well.
Not doing very well defensively. I think they kept him back in Altoona to give him more time to improve off of the .935 fielding % at SS in 2022. So far in 2023 he has 7 errors in 20 games, .915 fielding % at SS, and only a .927 at 2B.
The best defensive and offensive SS in our system right now is Tsung-Che Cheng who fielded .972 at Bradenton in 2022 (only 10 E’s in 84 games), and is fielding .966 at GBO so far in 2023 (2 E’s in 18 games) while hitting for a .929 OPS.
I hope Cheng gets promoted next month, he really seems to have the “it” factor in his game from the few times I saw him play.
This kid has done nothing but perform the last few years including the WBC. Would not be surprised to have him storm onto prospect radars this year
high-A hitters his age or younger currently performing better than him:
Four of them are Top 100 prospects. Pretty good company!
I remembered some line from Longenhagen that spoke to the potential for breakout, “He has become meaningfully stronger over the last year and has more of a balanced, low-ball swing now, as opposed to the slash-and-dash style of contact in his pro debut. There isn’t suddenly big power here or anything like that, but it’s the start of a physical step that was likely necessary for Cheng to take to play major league ball.”
Here’s to hoping those strength gains are growing.
Seems right on point to me.
This power is mostly coming on the road. It’s not the home park.
What always stuck out for me was there’ve been two guys at Bradenton who always looked they knew what they were doing at the plate: Cheng and Endy.
I looked up all the draft picks from last draft and how they’re doing and NOBODY is performing well. Elijah Greene is struggling. Andrew Jones’ son is struggling. Rocker and Leiter are having injury problems. Ironically, the guy who everybody made fun of when he was drafted, Jackson Holliday, is hitting out of his shoes. Not a lot of power but his BA and OBP are through the roof.
It’s early. They’re all talented.
Wasn’t Leiter drafted the year before? Jones is coming off an injury. Also Holliday was not made fun of as a pick. Dude was legit.
Who was questioning Jackson Holliday, son of borderline Hall of Famer, and great prospect?
I don’t think many questioned him, more of a performance jump his senior year. Went from a potential first rounder to a number 1 overall.
Holliday was pretty much accepted as a strong first pick by the time of the draft, and hes slugging almost .700 so I would say his power output is just fine. Kid looks like hes going to be a star
I thought he looked like my twelve year old nephew. So. I guess I just 1980 scouted it. That is why I am not a scout.
Hopefully (but also it does seem like) Termarr’s slow start was just because they got him back from injury without much rehab so he just had to get his reps in during live games.