Morning Report: Bradenton’s Prospect List is Strong at the Top

We continue with the third day of season recaps and top ten lists for each affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Yesterday we took a look at the Altoona Curve and the long-term help that the 2014 squad could provide the Pirates down the line. On Wednesday, it was the Indianapolis prospect recap. Today, we take a look at the Bradenton Marauders top ten prospect list and what impact these players could eventually have in the majors.

The Marauders had two of the best players in the system in Tyler Glasnow and Josh Bell. They were named the top pitcher and hitter in the organization this year. Their upside has been discussed numerous times and both of them got closer to turning their potential into reality this year. If all goes well, Bell will be the first baseman of the future, hitting in the middle of the order. Glasnow has the ability to be an ace. They are two key prospects for the Pirates’ future, which could be as soon as the 2016 season. Josh Bell 6

Among players that had enough plate appearances to qualify for the Florida State League statistical leaders, Jose Osuna had the highest slugging percentage. Josh Bell ended up winning the title despite falling 15 plate appearances short. When an 0-for-15 was added to his stats, Bell still had the highest total, so he was declared the winner. That doesn’t take away from the great second half of the season that Osuna had. While Bell finished with a .502 slugging percentage, Osuna had a .603 mark in his last 40 games. He was playing his second year at Bradenton, but he was also 21 all season, so even this year his age was strong for the level.

Osuna put up a strong season with West Virginia in 2012 and should see plenty of time for Altoona next year. He is now behind Josh Bell and Stetson Allie for the first base spot, so that is quite a hurdle for Osuna. He can play outfield in a pinch and has a terrific arm, but his likely ending spot is first base when/if he makes the majors. He doesn’t strike out a lot for someone with as much power potential as he has, though he could use some more walks. He was the clear #3 choice for prospects on this team, but he isn’t close to the same level as Bell and Glasnow.

This Bradenton team doesn’t have as much upside as Altoona. There are a lot of players that you think could make the majors, but after Osuna, the ceiling is back of the rotation starters and bench players. That should all change next year for the Marauders depending on how many of the prospects from West Virginia graduate. The 4/5 spots on the prospect list for Bradenton were two of those potential back-end starters, Chad Kuhl and Jason Creasy. You really could have went either way ranking these players. Both flash good enough stuff that would allow them to start in the majors and they have  strong control, especially Creasy. The results were good, but nothing that gives you hope they will exceed expectations.

Skipping to two other pitchers in the top ten, you have Shane Carle and John Kuchno. They rank slightly behind Creasy and Kuhl, but their upside is the same at this point. These two players are just further reaching that upside. Kuchno offers a great ground ball rate and he had some great starts this year, plus he has put up some strong inning totals the last two years. His problem is occasional control issues and a very poor strikeout rate. I got to see Carle this year and I really liked what I saw. He looked better than what was expected based on previous results and his scouting report. He worked fast, pounded the strike zone and was very efficient with his pitch count. Out of these four, he might have the worst stuff(not saying it’s bad), but he seems like the best pitcher, as opposed to others getting by with better stuff.

Basically between these four pitchers, you have a strong chance at getting at least one future starter and one reliever and that’s not bad. That leaves four other players on offense that you might get one or two bench players from. Catcher Jin-De Jhang was ranked sixth and while he didn’t put up the best stats, he did skip over West Virginia, which was probably where he should have been this season. Jhang makes excellent contact, striking out just 36 times in 293 plate appearances. He turned 21 in mid-May, so his age is strong for High-A ball. He hit well in each of his first two years and he threw out 32% of base runners this year, so there is still some potential. He profiles as a future backup.

The other three players are infielders Eric Wood, Adam Frazier and Max Moroff. Frazier had a horrible season this year, but a couple people who saw him a lot, said he looked better than the stats suggest. He still had just one strong month and four terrible months at the plate, plus committed a ton of errors. Frazier had the upside of a light-hitting middle infielder to begin with, so this season did nothing to make you think he could be a starter in the majors. He will never hit for power and he drew just 36 walks, plus his stolen base total was low for someone with his speed.

Wood showed strong improvements this year over last season. I got to see him play seven times last year and I saw someone who had some potential, but he was nothing special. The good part about him getting better as he moved up is the fact he played the season at age 21, which is strong for High-A. The improvements weren’t just on offense. Last year he made 28 errors in 77 games at third base. This season, he made 27 errors, but he had 107 more chances in the field. What he did is what you like to see from prospects, improvements on both sides of the ball while moving up a level and at a young age for that level.

Moroff was the opposite of Wood, putting up a poor season at the plate and he also moved from an important defensive position(shortstop) to second base. What you can say good about him is that he’s athletic, has shown plate patience(too much most of the time) and he too was young for the level. If he repeats the level next year and puts up strong stats, then he’s back on the prospect track. He would have been the #11 prospect if the list went that far.

This Bradenton squad has two of the best prospects in the system and a lot of potential depth for the Pirates. You have five players on offense and four pitchers in the rotation that should provide the Pirates with at least a few players. There were even some bullpen arms in Ryan Hafner, Jhondaniel Medina, Thomas Harlan and Bryton Trepagnier that could give you another depth arm. After Glasnow and Bell, it’s not that best group, but those are two pretty strong pieces to start with from one affiliate.

Pirates Game Graph


Source: FanGraphs

Playoff Push

Pittsburgh: The Pirates are 2.5 games behind St. Louis for the NL Central lead. They are six games ahead of  Atlanta and 3.5 ahead of Milwaukee for the second Wild Card spot. The Pirates are two games behind San Francisco for the first Wild Card spot.

Today’s Schedule

Today’s Starter and Notes:  The Pirates beat the Red Sox by a 3-2 score on Thursday. They are starting a crucial three-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers tonight. Jeff Locke will take the mound for his 20th start. In his last outing, Locke went 5.1 innings, allowing three runs on six hits and three walks. He has faced Milwaukee twice this year, allowing two runs over six innings on August 22nd, and one run over seven innings on June 8th. You can read the DSL season recap here complete with scouting reports for each player and the top ten players to watch list can be found here. The Indianapolis season recap and top ten. The Altoona season recap and top ten. Bradenton recap and top ten.

MLB: Pittsburgh (82-70)  vs Brewers (79-74) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Jeff Locke (3.66 ERA, 83:35 K/BB, 120.1 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (73-71)

AA: Altoona (61-81)

High-A: Bradenton (78-61)

Low-A: West Virginia (54-81)

Short-Season A: Jamestown (35-40)

RK: Bristol (22-46)

GCL: Pirates (20-40)

DSL: Pirates (34-36)

Highlights

With the minor league season over, it’s time to take a look  at some recent video from the Fall Instructional League. Yesterday, we posted a brief recap from Thursday’s action, along with some videos. Below is another video from Thursday’s action. This one is the second at-bat of the game from JaCoby Jones. The base runner is Elvis Escobar, who reached on a single.

Recent Transactions

9/16: Pirates activate Charlie Morton from disabled list.

9/8: Pirates release Ernesto Frieri.

9/7: Michael Martinez and Chris McGuiness clear waivers and were outrighted to Indianapolis.

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.

This Date in Pirates History

Four former Pittsburgh Pirates players have been born on this date, including a man that put on a hitting clinic late in the 1925 season. Starting with the most recent first:

Robinzon Diaz, catcher for the 2008-09 Pirates. Came over from the Toronto Blue Jays in the deal for Jose Bautista. Diaz hit .289 over 43 games.

Ray Sadler, left fielder for the 2005 club. His big league career started on May 8th and ended three days later. Sadler went 2-for-8 with a homer.

Stuffy McInnis had a 19-year career in the majors, spending parts of two seasons with the Pirates. The veteran first baseman joined the team during the middle of 1925 season and hit .368 the rest of the way, then batted .286 in the World Series. McInnis had a terrific career, hitting .307 over 2128 games. He won four World Series titles, two with the Philadelphia A’s, and one each with the Pirates and the Boston Red Sox.

Ed “Mouse” Glenn, left fielder for the 1886 Pittsburgh Alleghenys. He hit .191 with 26 RBIs and 19 stolen bases in 71 games.

  • Love the video section, John.

    Jacoby Jones is the type of kid a scout loves before he even sees a swing. Absolutely perfect baseball body.

    It’s also good, I suppose, to see that the organization does have him working through swing changes. Big leg kick is noticeably gone…however, it looks like more hand movement is getting back into his swing. That hitch just has to go, as it doesn’t look like he has the hit tool to compensate.

    Still think he eventually finds a role on a big league roster.

  • how do sinkerballers, Carle, Kuhl, Kuchno and Creasy compare with Jared Hughes who struggled as a starter in the minors?

    • Hughes was always a guy you expected something from, huge kid, high draft pick out of college and he was a strong HS pitcher, but it took awhile for him to put it together. He was hitting 97 in HS and was listed as a possible first round pick, so you’re talking about a stud on the mound at an early age. None of those other guys fell into that category at any point.As far as his pitching, his 2.21 GO/AO ratio in the minors is terrific, so in that sense he was like Kuchno, except he picked up more strikeouts. The other three have better control, but don’t have the arm/size Hughes does. In a sense, Hughes is a disappointment if you go back to where he was in 2003, but since so many top HS arms go nowhere, you really can’t be disappointed that he’s just a middle reliever with minimum success.

  • I have a question??? What is the rule if the Pirates and Giants finished tied for the 1 slot for the Wild Card???

    • Head-to-head record then determines the home field team, in this case, the Pirates went 4-2 vs Giants, so they would host the wildcard game

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