Yesterday we focused on the excellent control shown by all 14 college pitchers that the Pittsburgh Pirates drafted. On the offensive side, it looks like they focused on some hitters that could take walks. Jamestown had four batters in the top 21 in the league in walks, while the only college hitter from the 2014 draft on Bristol(Jerrick Suiter) finished second in the league in walks.
Jamestown had catcher Taylor Gushue and outfielder Jordan Luplow tied for the team lead with 27 walks. Right behind them, outfielder Michael Suchy and third baseman Chase Simpson had 26 walks. In fact, the league had 13 players with either 26 or 27 walks and three batters finished with 28 walks, so those four Jamestown players were actually near the top of the league leaders.
On the flip side, the hitters they drafted also showed some strong contact skills when they swung the bat. The highest Jamestown batters in strikeouts was tied for 25th most in the league. Michael Suchy struck out 53 times to lead the team. He was the only Jammers hitter that finished in the top 50 in the NYPL in strikeouts. Suchy was considered a raw player, he also played football, so it’s no surprise that he led the team in strikeouts.
As a side note, the only college draft pick that didn’t play at all this year, might have the best plate patience. Connor Joe, who was taken 39th overall in the draft, came with a scouting report that praised his plate patience. This year at San Diego, Joe had 32 walks and 24 strikeouts. Before he could play a game this season, he strained his back and spent his summer in Bradenton at Pirates City rehabbing his injury.
Getting back to Jerrick Suiter, he is an interesting case in that he’s the only draft pick that went to Bristol. The Pirates sent catcher Chris Harvey there after he signed as a non-drafted free agent, so he could also qualify as a draft pick since he had a year of college eligibility left. Suiter’s .403 OBP was only surpassed in the Pirates organization by three DSL players and Chris Dickerson, who was traded back in early July. Harvey didn’t get nearly as many plate appearances as Suiter, but his OBP was just eight points behind Suiter’s mark.
The focus on better plate patience seems to be a new one, at least compared to last year. Even first round pick Cole Tucker showed strong plate patience, finishing seventh in the GCL in walks. Last year’s class does have some strong cases for players with good contact skills, but then again there were three college picks that finished among the top eight in the organization in strikeouts, JaCoby Jones with 132, Jeff Roy with 118 and Erich Weiss with 117 strikeouts. You also have HS players with poor ratios in short-season ball, namely Nick Buckner with a 72:25 K/BB ratio and Trae Arbet with a 69:11 ratio.
Just two 2013 draft picks finished in the top 15 in the organization in walks this year, Weiss and Justin Maffei. Only Mike Fransoso finished in the top 20 in walks last year in the NYPL. So it doesn’t seem like the focus last year was on players that got on base and as a group, they didn’t do a great job of it last year or this year. You could even add in 12th draft pick Beau Wallace, who did such a poor job of getting on base in the lower levels last year that he was released less than a year after he signed.
As mentioned yesterday with command pitchers, showing one particular skill doesn’t make you successful, but it’s a good starting point. Except for seventh round pick Nelson Jorge, who looked lost at the plate in the GCL, the Pirates seemed to focus on players that either drew walks or made decent contact. Whether that approach works out or not, won’t be known for a few years, but it’s a plate approach that would help a number of players who were already in the organization before this year, reach their full potential.
Pirates Game Graph
Pittsburgh: The Pirates are four games behind St. Louis for the NL Central lead and two games behind Milwaukee for the second Wild Card spot. They are 4.5 games behind San Francisco for the first spot.
Bradenton: The Marauders lost game one of their best-of-three series against Fort Myers on Tuesday night. Game two is tonight in Fort Myers.
Minor League Starter of the Day: The minor league regular season is over. Bradenton was the only affiliate to make the playoffs, which started last night. The game recap can be read here. Tonight, Shane Carle will take the mound for the Marauders. He made one start against Ft Myers on August 19th, giving up three runs(two earned) on eight hits and a walk, with five strikeouts. The DSL season ended last Saturday. You can read the season recap here complete with scouting reports for each player and the top ten players to watch list can be found here. We will post other season recaps soon.
MLB: Pittsburgh (71-67) @ Cardinals (75-63) 1:45 PM
Probable starter: Edinson Volquez (3.45 ERA, 109:58 K/BB, 159.1 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (73-71)
AA: Altoona (61-81)
High-A: Bradenton (0-1) @ Fort Myers (1-0) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Shane Carle (3.60 ERA, 36:13 K/BB, 55 IP)
Low-A: West Virginia (54-81)
Short-Season A: Jamestown (35-40)
RK: Bristol (22-46)
GCL: Pirates (20-40)
DSL: Pirates (34-36)
With the minor league season over, it’s time to take a look back at some recent video from the GCL, which we will do over the next few days. All videos are courtesy of the GCL Pirates fan page. Below is a video of Nick Hutchings throwing a bullpen prior to one of his last starts. The 18-year-old, 6’2″ righty from Australia, made 12 starts for the GCL Pirates. He had a 4.53 ERA in 47.2 innings, with a 24:13 K/BB ratio, a .275 BAA, a 1.34 GO/AO ratio and a 1.36 WHIP. Hutchings finished his season with his best start, one run on four hits over five innings. He also showed improved velocity in that outing, hitting 91 and holding his velocity later than he was early in the season.
9/2: Pirates recall Gregory Polanco, Jeff Locke, John Holdzkom, Casey Sadler and Bobby LaFromboise.
9/2: Chase d’Arnaud added to 40-man roster and promoted to Pittsburgh. Michael Martinez designated for assignment.
9/1: Pirates recall Gerrit Cole and Tony Sanchez. Stolmy Pimentel activated from the disabled list
9/1: Pirates designate Chris McGuiness for assignment. John Holdzkom added to 40-man roster.
8/30: Brent Morel promoted to Pittsburgh. Jeff Locke sent to Indianapolis.
8/30: Blake Davis activated from disabled list.
8/29: Stolmy Pimentel assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.
8/29: Tommy Field sent outright to Indianapolis.
8/29: Andrew Lambo promoted to Pirates. Gerrit Cole sent to Bristol.
8/28: Jayson Nix claimed by Kansas City Royals.
8/28: JaCoby Jones activated from disabled list. Adam Landecker placed on disabled list.
8/28: Brett McKinney promoted to Bradenton. John Kuchno placed on disabled list.
8/28: Charlie Morton sent to Altoona on rehab.
This Date in Pirates History
Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players have been born on this date, including the best hitter on the worst team in franchise history. There were some bad teams during the recent 20-year losing streak and some very bad teams in the early 50’s, but no team in franchise history comes close to the 1890 squad. That year, the Pirates(then known as Alleghenys) finished the season with a 23-113 record. Their catcher that year was Harry Decker, who was born on this date in 1864. He led that team with a .274 average, adding in 52 runs scored for a team that had a lot of trouble scoring runs, but more trouble keeping runs off the board.
Also born on this date is 1914 first baseman Ed Konetchy, who was part of the unpopular December 1913 trade that sent Dots Miller to the St Louis Cardinals.
Finally, along with the five bios of players born on this date, we have a game recap from the 1978 season, which can be read here. The Pirates were in the midst of an incredible streak and Dale Berra made sure that streak stayed alive with some late game magic.
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.