GREENSBORO, NC – Thursday’s action in the Pittsburgh Pirates system featured another great start this month from Aaron Shortridge. I’m in Greensboro this week, and had reports from the game, including Termarr Johnson leaving the game, and my first look at 2022 6th rounder Derek Diamond.
Player of the Day
AARON SHORTRIDGE, RHP, ALTOONA
After throwing a complete game in his last start, Aaron Shortridge returned to the mound to allow two runs in six innings, with no walks and five strikeouts. The right-hander has shown more consistency this month. He’s got a 1.71 ERA in 21 innings, with a 21:1 K/BB ratio across three starts.
Ten More to Follow
DEREK DIAMOND, RHP, GREENSBORO
I don’t really judge results at this level, in this bandbox. Derek Diamond, last year’s 6th round pick out of Ole Miss, gave up six runs in 5.2 innings. The damage was largely a result of three home runs which scored five on the day.
Diamond’s fastball was 90-92, touching 93. The few 93’s I saw were wild, and direct responses to some of the home runs. He threw two 93 MPH fastballs for a 2-0 count before a catcher visit after a homer in the second. He followed a homer in the fifth inning with a 93 MPH fastball that got away from him up and in.
After the initial attempt to power those first pitches, he settled down and relied on his offspeed. In the second inning, after the two run homer, he got back into the count with two straight low-80s sliders. One was thrown for a strike, and the other was fouled off. The opposing hitter fouled off a 92 MPH fastball, an 83 MPH slider, and a 77 MPH curveball, before flying out to the left-center field track for the out on an 84 MPH slider. His very next pitch to the next batter was an 83 MPH slider for the same result.
After throwing up and in wild in the sixth, Diamond battled again. He evened the count with an 84 MPH slider, getting a low and away swing. He followed with a swinging strike on a 77 MPH fastball low and away. After missing with a curve and a slider, the opposing hitter fouled off another slider, before swinging and missing on an 85 slider down in the zone.
It wasn’t an easy outing for Diamond, who has fly ball tendencies in a park where you don’t want to have fly ball tendencies. He can throw both breaking pitches for strikes, and I like the curveball as a better swing and miss pitch. He got at least three on that pitch, from what I saw, working in the upper 70s. Correction to the Tweet below, one of the strikeouts I counted was the slider low in for the strikeout in the fifth, though Diamond set it up with a swinging strike on a curve in the same at-bat. He’s got a good frame and should remain in the rotation with his pitch mix.
This curveball from Derek Diamond was effective tonight. He threw the mid-70s pitch for strikes and got three swinging strikeouts on low chases. pic.twitter.com/bBhuzjWcsM
— Tim Williams (@TimWilliamsP2) August 18, 2023
JASE BOWEN, CF, GREENSBORO
Bowen has impressed as a player who can add value all over the field. His range in center field are hard to evaluate in this park, but the moves he makes are advanced, showing an aptitude for the position. He’s got speed, with 22 steals on the year, and a fearless attitude on the bases that he can back up. His bat has some power. He delivered early yesterday with a high “Baltimore chop” two RBI double that got past the third baseman. Bowen immediately stole third base on the next pitch. Late in the game, with Greensboro trailing and the bases loaded, Bowen ripped the first pitch he saw with two outs for a line drive to give the Grasshoppers the lead.
TERMARR JOHNSON, 2B, GREENSBORO
Johnson had an up and down day. He started with a really good hit on an RBI single to right field. The pitch was a slider, and Johnson adjusted with a half swing, casually throwing the bat out to meet the ball, while letting the pitch action do the work. It was probably one of the best examples I’ve seen of pure hitting. He did what was needed for the hit, instead of trying to create the hit. Late in the game, Johnson was hit with a pitch in a bad looking scene. It looked like he was hit in the left fingers, his top hand, as they were on the bat. The sound was solid, and he went down in pain for a few minutes. The trainers rushed out, and Johnson left the game in much less visible pain than when it first happened. He was attended to in the dugout, and teammates went up to him throughout the next inning. No update on his status.
CY NIELSON, LHP, GREENSBORO
I saw Nielson pitch the other day with a five run lead, and he showed control issues with his 90-91 MPH fastball. The lefty was pounding the zone on Thursday night, throwing 1.2 shutout innings, with a hit and two strikeouts. After the Bowen RBI single, Nielson picked up the win. It was a much better performance for the 2022 8th rounder, in a higher leverage situation.
JACK BRANNIGAN, 3B/TRES GONZALEZ, LF, GREENSBORO
I want to highlight these two hitters as a phenomenon of this level. Brannigan has a .326 average and a 1.078 OPS at the plate. Gonzalez has a .285 average and an .814 OPS. Assuming attrition at the higher levels, you’d think that Gonzalez would be at risk of maintaining his numbers, while Brannigan’s would be safe with normal decline.
Brannigan will decline. His approach at the plate is less controlled, and more aggressive. He’s shown some chase ability which will reduce his numbers in Altoona. He still hits the ball hard enough and makes enough contact that he’ll be a legit prospect to follow, with good overall offense. Just not this. His ability to move on the left side of the infield might make him more valuable overall than Gonzalez. He displayed that yesterday at third base, with good range and a strong throw on a short sacrifice bunt down the line.
Gonzalez, on the other hand, isn’t an exciting hitter at this level, but shows good patience and swing decisions. He walked twice on Thursday, including once where he watched two 96 MPH fastballs miss the zone. I mentioned yesterday that he’s got the ability to identify pitches early and adjust late. The approach from Gonzalez at the plate should translate well to the higher levels, without much decline in numbers.
OWEN KELLINGTON, RHP, BRADENTON
Kellington went four shutout innings for the Marauders last night, allowing three hits, two walks, and striking out five. The over-slot prep pitcher from the 4th round of the 2021 draft has a 3.90 ERA in 67 innings this year. He’s shown control issues, with 44 walks, but has an impressive 81 strikeouts.
KALAE HARRISON, 2B, BRADENTON
Harrison was drafted in the 18th round this year, and hit his first professional home run on Wednesday. The second baseman from NC State has a .286 average and an .875 OPS in 14 at-bats.
RODOLFO NOLASCO, DH, BRADENTON
Nolasco hit his 16th home run of the season in game one. In game two, he added his 18th double of the season. The power hitting outfielder is batting .234/.397/.553 with four homers in 47 at-bats.
JALEN WOODS, LHP, BRADENTON
Woods, drafted by the Pirates in the seventh round this year, has thrown five shutout innings in his pro debut, across three appearances. Last night he pitched two innings as the second pitcher in the game, allowing no runs, no hits, no walks, and striking out three.
Thursday’s Home Runs
- Andres Alvarez, DH, Altoona (7)
- Wyatt Hendrie, C, Greensboro (4)
- Nick Cimillo, 1B, Greensboro (2)
- Rodolfo Nolasco, DH, Bradenton (16)
- Kalae Harrison, 2B, Bradenton (1)
Thursday’s Minor League Results
INDIANAPOLIS (54-61) AT St. Paul
Score: St. Paul 4, Indianapolis 1
Indianapolis Starter: Cam Alldred, LHP (5.30)
–Line: 4.1 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 HR
Player of the Game: Canaan Smith-Njigba, RF (1-for-4, 2B, RBI)
- Cody Bolton, RHP (1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K)
- Kyle Nicolas, RHP (1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K)
- Wil Crowe, RHP (1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K)
ALTOONA (52-56) AT Bowie
Score: Altoona 6, Bowie 3
Altoona Starter: Aaron Shortridge, RHP (4.68)
–Line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 0 HR
Player of the Game: Matt Fraizer, CF (2-for-4, 2B, 3B, 2 RBI)
- Jackson Glenn, 3B (2-for-3, 2 BB)
- Andres Alvarez, DH (1-for-4, HR )
GREENSBORO (58-50) VS Bowling Green
Score: Greensboro 10, Bowling Green 8
Greensboro Starter: Derek Diamond, RHP (4.76)
–Line: 5.2 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 3 HR
Player of the Game: Jase Bowen, CF (2-for-5, 2B, 4 RBI, SB )
- Cy Nielson, LHP (1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K)
- Wyatt Hendrie, C (2-for-3, BB, HR )
- Nick Cimillo, 1B (1-for-5, HR , 2 RBI)
- Tres Gonzales, LF (1-for-3, 2 BB)
BRADENTON (63-46) VS Lakeland
Game One Score: Bradenton 4, Lakeland 3
Bradenton Starter: Owen Kellington, RHP (3.90)
–Line: 4.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 0 HR
Player of the Game: Kalae Harrison, 2B (3-for-3, HR )
- Rodolfo Nolasco, DH (1-for-2, BB, HR , 2 RBI)
- Mitch Jebb, SS (1-for-1, 3 BB)
Game Two Score: Lakeland 6, Bradenton 2
Bradenton Starter: Dominic Perachi, LHP (4.52)
–Line: 3.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 0 HR
Player of the Game: Deivis Nadal, CF (2-for-4, 2 RBI, 2B)
- Jaden Woods, LHP (2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K)
- Rodolfo Nolasco, LF (1-for-3, 2B, BB)
FCL PIRATES (29-22) VS FCL Rays
Score: Rays 5, Pirates 0
FCL Pirates Starter: Luigi Hernandez, RHP (5.63)
–Line: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 0 HR
Player of the Game: Esmerlyn Valdez, LF (2-for-4)
- Joaquin Tejada, RHP (2.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K, 2 HB)
DSL PIRATES BLACK (17-32) VS DSL Tigers 1
Score: Tigers 4, Pirates 2
Pirates Black Starter: Keuri Almonte, LHP (3.04)
–Line: 5.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 0 HR
Player of the Game: Almonte
DSL PIRATES GOLD (39-12) VS DSL Yankees
Score: Pirates 10, Yankees 0
Pirates Gold Starter: Carlos Castillo, RHP (1.70)
–Line: 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 0 HR
Player of the Game: Juan Machado, LF (0-for-1, 3 BB, 3 R, SB )
Tim is the owner, producer, editor, and lead writer of PiratesProspects.com. He has been running Pirates Prospects since 2009, becoming the first new media reporter and outlet covering the Pirates at the MLB level in 2011 and 2012. His work can also be found in Baseball America, where he has been a contributor since 2014 and the Pirates' correspondent since 2019.