Morning Report: What Happened to That Great West Virginia Outfield?

At the beginning of Spring Training, it looked like the West Virginia Power outfield would consist of two first round picks and one of the only two international amateurs that the Pirates have given a seven-figure bonus. As it turned out, the trio of Austin Meadows, Barrett Barnes and Harold Ramirez never played a game together. They all suffered injuries that kept them out for more than half the season and only one is playing now. Between the three outfielders, all of whom are good enough to play center field, they have played 102 games this year.

Meadows is the highest rated prospect of the group, ranked fourth overall in our 2014 Prospect Guide. He missed the first three months of the season with a hamstring injury that lingered. Since returning on June 30th, Meadows has hit .304 with an .814 OPS. He was playing with Barnes on rehab in the GCL, though the two never played outfield together with West Virginia.

Ramirez was ranked tenth overall in our Prospect Guide. He was called the top prospect in the NYPL by Baseball America. Unfortunately, Ramirez injured his hamstring during the fourth game of the season. When he returned a month later, he didn’t miss a beat. Through 49 games, he hit .309 with a .766 OPS. Ramirez was on a hot streak when he got hurt for the second time, hitting in 23 straight games. It’s a streak that is still active. Ramirez has missed the last seven weeks due to a shin injury.

Two batters before Ramirez got hurt back in game four, Barrett Barnes also left with a hamstring injury. When he returned to action, he was promoted to Bradenton, which is where he probably would have been if he stayed healthy. Barnes didn’t last long in High-A, straining an oblique in his sixth game. He has been out since July 21st. Unless he returns, he will end up playing more games for the GCL Pirates(rehab) this year than he did for either West Virginia or Bradenton. Barnes was rated 18th overall in the Prospect Guide.

For Ramirez and Meadows, the injuries probably won’t set them back much. Both will retain their top prospect status, staying in the top ten. It’s possible one or both of them returns to West Virginia to start next year. It wouldn’t be a surprise if they move on to Bradenton though. Ramirez could make up time playing Winter Ball in Colombia, while Meadows seems to be finishing the season strong.

Barnes on the other hand has had significant injury history in each of the last two years, plus got hurt during his draft year. He has played a total of 101 games in his three years. He also turned 23 last month and he’s losing critical development time. Barnes has all the tools to be a top prospect, but if he can’t stay on the field, then those skills will start to fade due to rust. It’s likely that Barnes will return to Bradenton next year, so it’s possible that if all three can stay healthy, then the great West Virginia outfield will play together for the first time with Bradenton in 2015.

Playoff Push

Pittsburgh: The Pirates are 4.5 games behind St. Louis for the first Wild Card spot. They are 2 games behind San Francisco for the second spot. They are currently six games back from the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central.

Indianapolis: The Indians are six games back in the International League West, and eight games back in the Wild Card with 11 games left in the season.

Bradenton: The Marauders are in third place in the Florida State League South, one game behind first place Palm Beach, who they play tonight. They need to win the second half division to make the playoffs. The Marauders have 11 games left in their season, four against Palm Beach.

Today’s Schedule

Minor League Starter of the Day:  In Altoona, Joely Rodriguez is listed as the probable starter, which would mark his return to the starting rotation. His last start came back on July 12th and he had a 4.44 ERA through 18 starts. As a reliever, he had a 5.40 ERA in nine appearances. Bradenton will complete a game from July 6th against Palm Beach today, prior to playing their regularly scheduled game. In West Virginia, Buddy Borden will make his 25th start of the season. He leads West Virginia pitchers with 111 strikeouts, which ranks him third in the South Atlantic League. Borden has a 1.95 ERA in his last ten appearances(nine starts) combined. In those games, he has 58 strikeouts in 50.2 innings. The DSL season ends on Saturday.

MLB: Pittsburgh (65-62) @ Milwaukee (71-56) 8:10 PM
Probable starter:  Jeff Locke (3.73 ERA, 63:19 K/BB, 91.2 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (66-67) vs Toledo (66-67) 7:15 PM
Probable starterRafael Perez (1.59 ERA, 21:9 K/BB, 39.2 IP)

AA: Altoona (55-75) vs New Britain (65-65) 7:00 PM
Probable starterJoely Rodriguez (4.59 ERA, 64:38 K/BB, 117.2 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (70-58, 35-24 2nd half) @ Palm Beach (72-56) 5:05 PM DH
Probable starter:  TBD

Low-A: West Virginia (49-77, 29-29 2nd half) vs Kannapolis (58-69) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Buddy Borden (3.03 ERA. 111:48 K/BB, 119 IP)

Short-Season A: Jamestown (29-33) vs State College (39-26) 7:05 PM
Probable Starter: Alex McRae (4.61 ERA, 36:10 K/BB, 54.2 IP)

RK: Bristol (18-41) @ Burlington (26-33) 7:00 PM
Probable Starter: TBD

GCL: Pirates (18-36) vs Yankees1 (33-20) 12:00 PM
Probable Starter: TBD

DSL: Pirates (34-36) vs  Cubs (42-28) 10:30 AM

Highlights

Stetson Allie hit his 18th homer of the season on Wednesday. Last year, he hit 21 homers in 470 at-bats split between West Virginia and Bradenton. This year he has hit his 18 homers in 380 at-bats. Going into Thursday’s game, Allie had a .918 OPS in 17 August games.

Keon Broxton hit two homers on Tuesday and another on Wednesday. He has 14 homers this season, five off his career-high set in 2012. Broxton is really having an strong season, posting an .829 OPS through 115 games. Last year in his first season of AA, Broxton had a .655 OPS in 101 games. He has improved his strikeout rate slightly, while also drawing more walks. At age 24, he is still a decent age for AA, top end of what you like to see. While he isn’t a top prospect at this point, he is better off than where he was at the beginning of the season when the Pirates acquired him.

Recent Transactions

8/21: Stolmy Pimentel assigned to Altoona on rehab.

8/21: Yunelky Adames released.

8/21: Oderman Rocha and Nathan Sopena promoted to Jamestown.

8/21: Julio Vivas promoted to Bristol.

8/21: Andrew Dennis placed on disabled list.

8/21: Indianapolis places Nevin Ashley and Blake Davis on disabled list.

8/21: Wirfin Obispo clears waivers. Outrighted to Indianapolis.

8/20: Gerrit Cole activated from disabled list. Brent Morel assigned to Indianapolis.

8/20: Jacoby Jones placed on disabled list. Francisco Diaz activated from DL.

8/20: Felipe Gonzalez promoted to Bradenton. Jake Burnette promoted to West Virginia.

8/20: Matt Curry assigned to Altoona. Drew Maggi placed on disabled list.

8/19: Andrew McCutchen activated from disabled list. Michael Martinez sent to Indianapolis.

8/19: Josh Bell placed on disabled list. Ralph Henriquez activated from DL.

8/19: Adam Wilk placed on disabled list.

8/18: Matt Hague claimed off waivers by Toronto Blue Jays

8/18: Clint Barmes assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.

8/18: Pat Ludwig placed on disabled list.

8/17: Charlie Morton placed on disabled list. Brent Morel recalled

8/17: A.J. Morris assigned to Indianapolis.

8/15: Elias Diaz promoted to Indianapolis.

8/15: Stolmy Pimentel placed on 15-day disabled list. John Axford added to roster.

This Date in Pirates History

Among the former Pittsburgh Pirates players that were born on date is Ned Hanlon, the Hall of Fame manager that played for and managed the 1889 Alleghenys and 1891 Pirates. Hanlon earned his HOF spot by managing three straight first place Baltimore Orioles teams from 1894 until 1896, then winning the NL title with the Brooklyn Dodgers(then known as Superbas) in 1899 and 1900. Hanlon was also a pretty good ballplayer, hitting .260 with 930 runs scored over 13 seasons. There have been five other Pirates players born on this date, including a pitcher that appeared in games for the Pirates in three different decades. All of their bios can be found here. You can also find a full bio on Ned Hanlon here.

Also born on this date, pitching great Howie Camnitz. He spent eight seasons with the Pirates and won 116 games. He was a big part of the 1909 club that won the team’s first World Series title. Camnitz won 25 games that year and had the best winning percentage in the NL. Camnitz has two of the three lowest season ERA’s in franchise history. You can read his full bio here.

  • It has been fun watching Stetson Allie adjust on the fly. Go to his milb.com page and check out the swing changes since April. Kid is getting better.

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