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.
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.
Zack Von Rosenberg
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.
Trace Tam Sing
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).
Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.
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?
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.”
Big league camp, he’ll be the starter for Indianapolis.
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”