Injuries have played a big role in the minor leagues this year. A lot of top prospects have missed time, and that includes Jameson Taillon, the top pitching prospect, going down with Tommy John surgery. In the last week, the injuries have started to hit the Major League team as well.
Wandy Rodriguez was the first to go down, although the move was convenient for the Pirates, since Rodriguez was struggling and had lost some velocity on his fastball. That allowed them to bring up Brandon Cumpton, who pitched well in his first start. After that start, I wrote that Cumpton should stay in the rotation. Prior to the start, Ryan Palencer wrote about Cumpton’s strong start this year, and talked with scouts about his upside.
Later in the week, Russell Martin and Jason Grilli were placed on the DL. They were replaced by Jared Hughes and Tony Sanchez. Hughes also was the initial replacement for Rodriguez, and the Pirates hit a snafu on Friday when they tried to recall Hughes (detailed in the previous link). He was able to be recalled when Martin went on the DL, but went back down today in favor of Casey Sadler, who was called up to provide depth for a depleted bullpen.
Grilli was also struggling, having blown two saves before his trip to the DL. It’s hard to say whether the injury was the reason for the two blown saves last weekend. Martin has been dealing with a nagging hamstring injury, and aggravated it this week. His time off will give Tony Sanchez a trial to show whether he can be a Major League starting catcher.
The Pirates also saw Francisco Liriano leave his start on Saturday, although it was only due to a nosebleed, and isn’t something that should hold him out for the long-term.
The biggest hit here is the loss of Martin, as Rodriguez and Grilli were struggling at the time of their injuries.
**Is Bryan Morris a Future Closer For the Pirates? Nate Barnes looks at the progression of Morris throughout his career, including the many changes he went through to get to where he is today. The Pirates see him as a future late inning reliever.
**In Gregory Polanco related news, I calculated How Much Super Two Would Cost if a Player is Extended.
**Travis Ishikawa Outrighted to Triple-A; Elects Free Agency. Ishikawa later signed a minor league deal with the Giants. Because he elected free agency, the Pirates got a break on his $1 M salary.
**Russell Martin and Travis Snider Suspended
The injuries haven’t stopped in the minors. There were three more notable players who went down this week. Kyle McPherson suffered a setback, and is now out until the 2015 season. McPherson was returning from Tommy John surgery, and was expected back in the second half of the 2014 season. In the link I talked about McPherson’s future, which is uncertain due to all of the injuries the last two years.
Reese McGuire was placed on the West Virginia DL with a groin contusion. He’s just the latest top prospect in West Virginia to go down this year. That list also includes Austin Meadows, Harold Ramirez, Barrett Barnes, and Luis Heredia.
Finally, Zack Dodson was placed on the Altoona DL. Dodson is the only prep pitcher from the 2009 class who has a shot of reaching the majors with the Pirates, and was pitching out of the Altoona rotation. This setback doesn’t help.
Here are some injury updates on Luis Heredia, Jameson Taillon, and Austin Meadows.
**I looked at How Ike Davis Impacts the First Base Prospects in the System.
**Prospect Links: Polanco the Next Big Thing, McGuire Scouting Report
**Minor Moves: Bradenton Bullpen Gets A Makeover
**Top Performers: Brandon Cumpton Heating Up as Wandy Rodriguez Shuts Down
**Top Performers: Elias Diaz Showing Off a Bat to Pair With His Strong Defense
**Here are the minor league recaps from this week, highlighting all of the notable prospect performances each day.
- Three Hits For Andrew Lambo in Walk-Off Win
- Tyler Glasnow Strikes Out Six in Five Shutout Innings in Debut
- Homers From Gregory Polanco, Tony Sanchez and Stetson Allie
- Stetson Allie Crushes Two More Home Runs
- The Unreal Numbers From the Bradenton Marauders Rotation
- Three Hits and a Homer Each For Gregory Polanco and Stetson Allie
- Josh Bell Has a Big Day at the Plate
**And here are the Prospect Highlights from this last week, looking at clips of some of the best plays from the top prospects over the last week.
- Gregory Polanco With An Outfield Assist
- Home Runs From Tony Sanchez and Stetson Allie
- Watch Stetson Allie’s Two Home Runs
- Polanco and Allie Homer, Triple From Alen Hanson
- Fine Defensive Play By Alen Hanson, Big Night For Altoona Bats
- Walk-Off In Indianapolis, Gift Ngoepe Showing Improvements
Early this week, Neal Huntington broke down the Pirates plan of attack for the upcoming draft, which is now less than six weeks away. The scouts are busy getting looks at many players, concentrating on the players that look like first round talent, but only giving courtesy looks to the elite players in the draft class. There are players like prep pitchers Brady Aiken and Tyler Kolek that the Pirates don’t realistically have a shot at, but as Huntington points out, they did at least get a look at them in case something were to happen that causes them to fall. The odds of picking a major league star fall fast the further you pick from the top, but the Pirates seem well prepared to make sure they pick the best player available on June 5th and each round after.
**Draft Prospect Watch: Sean Newcomb is Back on Track Big college lefty Sean Newcomb hit a rough spot early in April, but he seems to be back on track and primed to go somewhere in the 15-20 range in the draft.
**Draft Prospect Watch: Injuries Hit Two Big College Arms East Carolina’s Jeff Hoffman missed his start this week due to arm soreness and TCU’s Brandon Finnegan left his start in the third inning. Finnegan likely won’t miss his start next weekend, but Hoffman could. We will see what that does to their draft stock
**Draft Prospect Watch: Derek Fisher Homers In Second Game Back Virginia’s Derek Fisher returned from a broken hamate and looked good at the plate, which could push him back into the first round.
Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.
Given all of the Pirates pitching depth going into this season, who would have thought that Casey Sadler would be called up this early in the season? Not that Sadler isn’t a good young prospect, but I don’t think anyone would have predicted he would be needed this season – let alone in the first month.
Although there is way too much of the season to play to push any panic buttons, this team is currently in dire straits – given the lack of hitting, the very spotty starting pitching to date, and now the injuries. If Taillon would not have gone down with TJ, he would likely be in the rotation now.
Biggest disappointments to date? IMHO, it is Marte and Morton. Both these guys need to turn things around soon. Alvarez has been bad, but he has always been a very slow starter. In fact, this season he started strong for the first time in the first two weeks – but had faded badly the past two weeks. If I am the Pirates, i would be very leery about extending him – unless it is incentive laden. Too many Ks and too many games where he is a total non-factor.
I realize it may sacrifice a year of control (although, that only matters if we don’t extend him), but I think the Pirates need to bring Polanco up now. This team needs a spark. I would also bring up d’Arnaud. I would release Barmes and Snider. When Martin comes back, release Stewart as well – he is worthless. Having him hitting with the game on the line the other night, was very discouraging. He adds precious little value, since he cannot be used, with a straight face, as a pinch hitter.
Ike Davis? I know, its only been two weeks – but, does anyone still feel optimism about Davis being a factor in the lineup – seriously? Its more of the same with him. I just hope we didn’t give away a top prospect for him. Now, assuming he continues to hit as he is now – a HR once every 2 weeks and an average hovering around .200 – what are our options with him? Does he have any options left that he could be sent down?
no options, thats why they traded him.