First Pitch: The Minor League Rosters Are Starting to Take Shape

Every year I get an early look at who will be on each full-season roster by seeing where players are playing during Spring Training. The Pirates divide the entire minor league camp up into work groups, usually broken up into the four big-league squad teams, along with one or two groups for the extended Spring Training guys (and most of those guys aren’t in camp yet).

The first list of work groups has been posted, giving the initial idea of where guys will play. The upper levels are up in the air, and only listed as one group. My guess is that most of these guys will either go to Altoona, or will get traded or released. The guys who will be cut from MLB camp will make up the Indianapolis roster. As for the lower levels, those are pretty set, and with a lot of the key roster spots I have confirmed that certain players will be playing where they are projected to play in camp. Here is a look at each group, with some thoughts.

Upper Levels

Position Players

Jacob Stallings

Kawika Emsley-Pai

Dylan Childs

Josh Bell

Kelson Brown

Raul Fortunato

Adam Frazier

Dan Gamache

Justin Howard

Taylor Lewis

Max Moroff

Edward Salcedo

Jon Schwind

Junior Sosa

Jordan Steranka

Andy Vasquez

Eric Wood

Pitchers

Nate Baker

Yhonathan Barrios

Ryan Beckman

Matt Benedict

Jason Creasy

Zack Dodson

Ryan Hafner

Tom Harlan

Jeff Inman

John Kuchno

Chad Kuhl

Pat Ludwig

Jhondaniel Medina

Adam Miller

Joan Montero

A.J. Morris

Matt Nevarez

Tyler Sample

Josh Smith

Chris Volstad

Orlando Castro

Like I said, most of these guys will be going to Altoona, although there is certainly room for some of them to end up with Indianapolis. It’s also possible that some of these guys could stay back in extended Spring Training until a spot opens up, or get traded or released to give them an opportunity elsewhere. The key prospects at this level will be Josh Bell and Tyler Glasnow, when he eventually gets cut from big league camp.

Bradenton

Position Players

Reese McGuire

Jin-De Jhang

Francisco Diaz

Barrett Barnes

Chris Diaz

Michael Fransoso

Wes Freeman

JaCoby Jones

Justin Maffei

Wyatt Mathisen

Austin Meadows

Jose Osuna

Ashley Ponce

Harold Ramirez

Jeff Roy

Erich Weiss

Pitchers

Steven Brault

Cody Dickson

Frank Duncan

Tyler Eppler

Felipe Gonzalez

Luis Heredia

Henry Hirsch

Clay Holmes

Will Kendall

Brett McKinney

Jerry Mulderig

Andy Otamendi

Chris Peacock

Clario Perez

Isaac Sanchez

Sam Street

Justin Topa

Zack Von Rosenberg

Rinku Singh

I’m really looking forward to this team. I posted the projected lineup and pitching staff on Tuesday, and every spot features someone who has a real chance to make the majors. This is going to be the best team in the system this year. The one position I haven’t confirmed has been first base, with Jose Osuna listed at the start of the year. There is obviously no room at first base for him in Altoona. I thought he might move up anyway, with Edwin Espinal projected to move up. But as you can see in the next list, Espinal is working with the guys who will be going to West Virginia. Right now it looks like Osuna will return to Bradenton for at least the start of another season.

West Virginia

Position Players

Taylor Gushue

Kevin Krause

Danny Arribas

Chris Harvey

Andrew Dennis

Elvis Escobar

Edwin Espinal

Tyler Filliben

Erik Forgione

Connor Joe

Erik Lunde

Jordan Luplow

Tito Polo

Pablo Reyes

Chase Simpson

Michael Suchy

Trace Tam Sing

Cole Tucker

Carl Anderson

Pitchers

Omar Basulto

Colten Brewer

Jake Burnette

Austin Coley

Eric Dorsch

Montana DuRapau

Yeudy Garcia

Junior Lopez

Alex McRae

Marek Minarik

Nick Neumann

Dovydas Neverauskas

Miguel Rosario

Jon Sandfort

John Sever

Stephen Tarpley

Jared Lakind

Eric Karch

There will be two themes in West Virginia. On the position player side, it will be a game of “Who’s on third?” As I reported last week, Connor Joe has been taking grounders at third base. Jordan Luplow and Jerrick Suiter — both drafted as outfielders in the 2014 draft — are joining him as potential options at the position. I talked to Luplow today, who said that he played the position in high school, and was moved there by Gary Green and Larry Broadway after they found out this information. The move is simply a trial to see how he handles the position. It looks like the Pirates will go with the best option out of the Chase Simpson/Joe/Luplow/Suiter group, unless they add another candidate.

On the pitching side, there aren’t many top pitchers. Stephen Tarpley is the best of the bunch, and there are some interesting names (I’ve always been higher on Jon Sandfort than most, although he was disappointing last year). The pitching staff looks primed for a lot of piggyback situations, with about nine guys who could be starting pitching candidates.

**Pirates Are Giving Cole Tucker An Aggressive Promotion To West Virginia. I took a look at the Tucker promotion, and talked with the 2014 first round pick about what he has been working on this off-season.

**Pirates Release The Maggi Brothers. There were about 150 players competing for 100 spots on the full-season squads coming into this year. I’d expect plenty of other moves like this in the next few weeks.

**We have less than 100 paperback books of the 2015 Prospect Guide remaining from the final shipment. I don’t anticipate ordering another shipment this year. That means once the current batch is gone, the paperback version will be sold out. You can order your copy of the book on the products page of the site.

**Every day I upload content on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and the video features on YouTube. Be sure that you’re subscribed to all of those sites to follow everything we upload throughout Spring Training (there is different content for each social media site).

First Pitch

  • John Sickels is mildly enthusiastic about Chase Simpson. Anything you can say about him?

    • He’s kind of a wild card. He didn’t play all that much in college. In fact, he hit better in his NYPL debut last year than he did in college, which you don’t see a lot. The scouting report on him when drafted was that he had raw power but it hadn’t shown up much in games yet, but it showed up pretty well when he was with Jamestown, so maybe he’s figuring it out. Being a switch hitter with some power by itself makes him interesting.

  • Hey guys, an off-top question, as I’m watching some regular season games from last year:

    When a pitcher makes an pickoff-attempt and the ball is on the base in time, I’m sure there has to be a tag-out, so could the runner start a rundown, if he’s not tagged out?

    Further: can a runner try to advance to the next base at any time or only after the pitcher begins the throwing motion?
    Somehow I never thought too hard about those rules..

    • Yes, for pickoff attempts the runner has to be tagged.
      .
      As far as when a runner can advance, I’m pretty sure the runner can advance at any time as long as there isn’t what would be considered a time out which would be if the batter is outside the batters box or the umpire is throwing a new ball to the pitcher or there is a mound visit from the catcher/pitching coach/head coach. You’re really not going to see a runner try to steal though until right as the pitcher is in the process of throwing to home plate because any other time would be an easy pickoff/rundown as one of the fielders would yell that the runner is stealing and the pitcher would just throw the ball to the appropriate fielder.

  • Maybe I’m missing something, but where is Elias Diaz at?

    • Big league camp, he’ll be the starter for Indianapolis.

    • Steel City Scotty
      March 12, 2015 10:33 am

      I don’t believe players in the big league camp for spring training are accounted for on these lists. As Tim says in the introductory paragraph, “The upper levels are up in the air, and only listed as one group. My guess is that most of these guys will either go to Altoona, or will get traded or released. The guys who will be cut from MLB camp will make up the Indianapolis roster.”

  • No real excitement in any of this. Neverauskas had 26 Starts at Lo A last year, but the control problems and high ERA (5.60) probably earned him the “no advance” ticket. DuRapau proved to be an overachiever at Short-Season, and Tarpley is being promoted after pitching at the Short-Season Level within the B’more org. Make or break for Jake Burnette in 2015 – has he been throwing? And, last but certainly not least, ‘No gift of the Maggi”

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