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Saturday, December 3, 2022

Morning Report: Pirates Have a Talented Instructional League Outfield

The Fall Instructional League roster came out on Monday for one of the Pirates two teams. The other one will be out later this week and we will discuss them then. The first team starts play on Wednesday and the roster is loaded with talented players. It’s possible that the Pirates could use these players in the same lineup for a game if they wanted to:

C Reese McGuire

1B Josh Bell

2B Alen Hanson

SS JaCoby Jones

3B Wyatt Mathisen

LF Tito Polo/Michael de la Cruz

CF Austin Meadows

RF Willy Garcia

DH Stetson Allie

SP Tyler Glasnow

With 45 players on the roster of the team referred to as “Pirates 1”, there isn’t much of a chance that lineup will all be out at the same time, but the Instructional League allows you to see many of the best prospects in the same place. By Friday morning, we should have some video from the FIL up on the site from Thursday’s first home game and there will be reports throughout the 33 days the league lasts. What you won’t get much of unfortunately is stats. Back in the day, the league actually kept stats, had standings and they played a 50 game schedule. The two Pirates teams this year play a total of 26 games.

The two most interesting parts of the Pirates 1 roster are the top prospects in camp and the talented group of toolsy outfielders.  With Glasnow, Bell, Hanson, Meadows, McGuire and Luis Heredia, the one team has six of the top ten players on our prospect list. Some of these players won’t be there the entire time, with Bell, Glasnow, Adrian Sampson, Elias Diaz and three other players going to the Arizona Fall League, which starts up on October 7th.

The outfielders are Meadows, Willy Garcia, Tito Polo, Michael de la Cruz, Nick Buckner, Elvis Escobar and Edgar Figueroa. We know that Meadows is one of the best prospects in baseball and Garcia has big power and above average defense, plus the best outfield arm in the system. The other players also have some big tools. Michael de la Cruz didn’t have much of a season in the GCL, but he did have some injury issues that limited his playing time. De la Cruz is a possible five-tool player, with power being the only one in question before this year. He turned 18 in July, so he is still very young. He was the top prospect in the DSL for the Pirates from last year.

Tito Polo is another player in the mold of de la Cruz, very toolsy and he may be able to hit for average power in the future. He just turned 20 and at a listed 5’11”, 180 pounds, he is well built, so future power is possible. Unlike de la Cruz, Polo had a strong season in the GCL this year, finishing with a .291/.374/.475 slash line in 158 at-bats. That ranked him 12th in the league in OPS. This group has a lot of potential breakout players and Polo seems to be the one putting his tools to the best use right now.

We said coming into this year that Elvis Escobar was a possible breakout player this year and I’ll say it again now for next year. He played at West Virginia this season and struggled, but he wasn’t scheduled to play there. With Meadows, Harold Ramirez and Barrett Barnes all going down with injury, that opened up three outfield spots and Escobar took one of them. He went to Jamestown after their season began and did much better in the lead-off role. He will be 20 years old all of next season and if he can show some improvements with his plate patience, then you could see the same talent the Pirates saw when they gave him a $570,000 bonus to sign.

Both Nick Buckner and Edgar Figueroa played at Bristol this year as 19-year-old outfielders. I did an article comparing Tito Polo and Alexis Bastardo a few weeks ago. Both were in the Dominican League last year and the scouting reports were very similar between the two outfielders. They both had some success this year in the GCL. When I got the scouting reports for all the DSL players last year, Figueroa was called a poor man’s version of the other two players. He did a lot right, just doesn’t have the overall package of tools that the other two have. He struggled with Bristol at the plate, but he had just one error and picked up seven assists while playing 47 games in center field. You can give him some leeway at the plate this year because he did skip a level and he was young for the league.

Buckner is very interesting due to his young age and possible upside. He turned 19 near the end of the Bristol season, so he was very young for the league. Buckner had some huge games during the season, showing the potential at the plate that earned him an over-slot bonus when he was drafted last year. Part of his problem during his rookie season was an 8:41 BB/K ratio in 147 at-bats. His didn’t cut down on the strikeouts this year, but he drew 25 walks, so that is the improvement you like to see. Buckner also improved his OPS from .637 to .712 this year.

There is obviously a lot of talent in the FIL, as with almost every team in the league. There is even more talent on the way there, with many of the top DSL players making their way to the States for the first time. The Pirates can put out a real strong infield, throw Glasnow, Sampson and Heredia out there as starters and McGuire or Elias Diaz behind the plate. The outfield really has a lot of potential and everyone except Buckner offers strong defense. The seven outfielders offer a lot of upside and will be interesting to follow in the FIL and into next year.

Pirates Game Graph

The Pirates were off on Monday.

Playoff Push

Pittsburgh: The Pirates are 3.5 games behind St. Louis for the NL Central lead. They are 4.5 games ahead of  Atlanta and 1.5 ahead of Milwaukee for the second Wild Card spot. The Pirates are 2.5 games behind San Francisco for the first Wild Card spot.

Today’s Schedule

Today’s Starter and Notes:  The Pirates were off yesterday. It was their last off day this season. They start a three game series against the Red Sox tonight. Charlie Morton returns from the disabled list to make his first start since August 15th. This will be his 26th start of the season and his first start ever against the Red Sox. In his last start, Morton gave up five runs over three innings. Since then, he has made one start for Altoona and pitched in simulated games and side sessions. 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. We will post other season recaps soon.

MLB: Pittsburgh (79-70)  vs Red Sox (66-84) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Charlie Morton (3.84 ERA, 120:55 K/BB, 152.1 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)


With the minor league season over, it’s time to take a look back at some recent video from the GCL, which we will continue to do over the next few days. All videos are courtesy of the GCL Pirates fan page. Below is a video of 18-year-old lefty Jose Batista, who made two starts and 13 relief appearances this year. He threw 26.2 innings, posting a 2.70 ERA, with a 7:13 BB/K ratio and a 1.24 WHIP. In his rookie season in the DSL last year, Batista had a 2.24 ERA in 56.1 innings, while holding batters to a .237 average.

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

Seven former Pittsburgh Pirates players have been born on this date. Also born on this date is Michael Martinez, who played for the Pirates this season. The former players are:

Brandon Moss, outfielder from 2008-2010.

John Ericks, pitcher from 1995-1997. A 6’7″ righty, who was a first round draft pick by the St Louis Cardinals in 1988.

Mark Parent, catcher during the 1995 season. He played 13 years in the majors.

Scott Medvin, relief pitcher for the 1988-89 Pirates. One of three MLB players born on this date in 1961, the same birthday as Mark Parent. The Pirates acquired Medvin from the Giants in exchange for Rick Reuschel.

Chuck Brinkman, 1974 catcher. Played just four games for the Pirates. Those were the last four games of his career after spending six years with the White Sox

Con Dempsey, pitcher for the 1951 club, his only big league experience. He played just three games and lost twice.

Sam Moran, pitcher at the end of the 1895 season. His life ended less than two years after his debut due to kidney failure at the age of twenty-six. You can read more on Moran here(bio near the bottom).

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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.


Pirates Prospects has been independently owned and operated since 2009, entirely due to the support of our readers. The site is now completely free, funded entirely by user support. By supporting the site, you are supporting independent writers, one of the best Pittsburgh Pirates communities online, and our mission for the most complete Pirates coverage available.

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Yes, we will be getting as much video as we can starting tomorrow from FIL. 🙂

S Brooks

Harold Ramirez sighting?

R Edwards

Maybe I missed it when I read the article the first time, but is Barrett Barnes going to play here or anywhere this Winter? He has missed so much time due to injuries – he should have been in AA by now.


Any guess as to how many innings the instructs/AFL starting pitchers will tally?


I would guess that between AZFL and Instructs, they would like to get another 30-40 innings out of Glasnow.


Thanks, guys.

Leefoo Rug Bug

Not too shabby

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