Morning Report: Opening Day in the Minors

Today is Opening Day for the minor league season and it marks the return of the Morning Report. Late last season, we started up the Morning Report in place of the daily Minor League Schedule article and the Prospect Highlights, combining the two into one article and adding a lot more. Today we will just go over what you can expect from the Morning Report each day.

Starting with the introduction(what you’re reading now), usually it will briefly cover a minor league topic. One of the more popular examples from last year was the article on pitcher Tyler Eppler, who will make the jump to Bradenton this season once he returns from a Spring Training injury(elbow tenderness). Another popular subject was the article on Stetson Allie and his rare combo of power and plate patience. You can expect topics similar to those all season.

You’ll also notice six sections below that will be featured daily. The Pirates Game Graph is from Fangraphs and shows how the previous day’s game played out, covering all the important plays. If there wasn’t a game the previous day, then that section will be missing.

Another section that won’t always be there is the Playoff Push. It’s there today just so you can see how the article is set up. As a Pirates fan, you’re hopeful that the Playoff Push is an important part of this article as the season wears on. It will also cover the minor league affiliates and their playoff pushes throughout the year.

After that is the schedule section. You get a brief rundown of who is starting that day, followed by the MLB and minor league schedule. Once another affiliate starts their season, they will be added to the schedule. By the end of June, you’ll have the schedule for all eight affiliates daily, along with the starting pitchers whenever available.

Next up is the Highlights section, which will occasionally include video highlights for the Pirates, but we try to get video from the minor league teams first. Usually, Indianapolis is pretty good with adding highlights and Altoona posts them almost as often. The lower minor leagues have not been reliable for highlights in the past, with Bradenton never posting them and West Virginia occasionally adding videos, but those come from a handful of opponents that mainly post their own videos, with 1-2 Power highlights mixed in each game. Whatever they post, we will be sure to add it. Also, we will briefly talk about the player featured in the highlights so you get a good sense of who you’re watching and how they are progressing in the minors.

Transactions are up next and that will cover any and all minor league and major league moves over the previous week or so. As you can see below, almost all of the moves have a link for an article from the site, so you can get more information.

Finally, we will have some daily Pirates History for you at the bottom. Usually we will link our “This Date in Pirates History” article that coincides with each date, as you can see below. That link will include more information that the Pirates History section below, so you can check that out each day, but we will also add some new information not found in the old links.

Pirates Game Graph

Source: FanGraphs

Playoff Push

This feature is just here for today, since it is way too early to be thinking about the playoffs. Later in the season, we will keep you informed of the playoff push with the Pirates and all of their affiliates. Expect it to return near the end of May for both Bradenton and West Virginia, who play split-seasons and could be looking to earn a playoff spot in September by winning their first half title.

Today’s Schedule

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates lost 5-4 to the Red last night in 11 innings. They wrap up the three game series in Cincinnati today with an early afternoon start. A.J. Burnett makes his much anticipated return to the Pirates after playing for the Phillies last season. Nick Kingham is the big name going today in the minors. He is ranked as the sixth best prospect in the Pirates system. He is also one of the more important prospects for the team, as he could be a member of the Major League rotation by mid-season if all goes well. Cody Dickson is ranked 14th among prospects in the system and gets the nod for Bradenton today. Jake Burnette is a forgotten player because he has been injured so often. He has thrown 56.2 innings over four seasons, so people tend to forget him despite the fact he got a $550,000 bonus to sign back in 2011. He is healthy now and showing increased velocity over what we saw in the past.

MLB: Pittsburgh (0-2)  vs Reds (2-0) 12:35 PM
Probable starter: A.J. Burnett (NR)

AAA: Indianapolis (0-0) vs Columbus (0-0) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Nick Kingham (NR)

AA: Altoona (0-0) @ Harrisburg (0-0) 6:30 PM
Probable starter: Angel Sanchez (NR)

High-A: Bradenton (0-0) @ St Lucie (0-0) 6:30 PM
Probable starter: Cody Dickson (NR)

Low-A: West Virginia (0-0) vs Savannah (0-0) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Jake Burnette (NR)


From the season opener, Andrew McCutchen’s two-run homer. Once the minor league teams start posting highlights, we will usually have two videos from the minors each day, based on availability.

Recent Transactions

4/7: Pirates release Matt Nevarez, Andrew Dennis and Dwight Childs.

4/5: Pirates recall Rob Scahill, designate Stolmy Pimentel and Pedro Florimon for assignment.

4/5: Pirates place Charlie Morton, Brandon Cumpton, Jaff Decker, Justin Sellers and Chris Stewart on the disabled list.

4/2: Pirates acquire first baseman Hunter Morris from the Milwaukee Brewers for a player to be named later.

4/1: Pirates release Danny Collins, Joan Montero, Will Kendall, Remy De Aza, Raul Fortunato, Taylor Lewis, Colter Moore and Cory Rhodes.

3/31: John Holdzkom and Rob Scahill optioned to AAA, Blake Wood assigned to minor league camp.

This Date in Pirates History

On this date in 1930, the Pittsburgh Pirates traded Hall of Fame pitcher Burleigh Grimes to the Boston Braves for pitcher Percy Jones and cash. This trade didn’t work out well for the Pirates, who failed to get a single win out of Jones, while Grimes won 33 games over the next two seasons.

The only former player born on this date, pitcher Claude Passeau, is one that got away from the Pirates. After using him for one game in 1935(his MLB debut), the Pirates traded him to the Phillies. Passeau ended up winning 162 games in his career.

Since it is Opening Day in the minors, how about the first time the Pirates ever played on April 9th. In the early years of baseball, the season began much later. It wasn’t until 1959, that the Pirates opened a season before April 11th. That year, they opened up on the road at Crosley Field, dropping a 4-1 decision to the Reds. You can see the boxscore here. Roberto Clemente drove in the only run for the Pirates.

Also on this date in 2001, the Pirates opened up PNC Park on a somber note, as Willie Stargell passed away that same day. The Pirates lost 8-2 to the Reds in front of 36,954 fans.

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.

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R Edwards

Was either Florimon or Pimentel claimed by another team? If not, will they both be Indy?

Bill Kline

Does this place Glasnow in line for April’sshone opener?

Steel City Scotty

I enjoyed reading over this detailed article. The layout and different features were well-organized, and I look forward to additional “Morning Reports” in the future.

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