Morning Report: Where Did the Offense Come From?

Yesterday I took a look at where all the minor league starting pitchers for the Pittsburgh Pirates came from. Today we take a look at where all the hitters came from on each team. Since we are using all of the batters, I won’t list them all like I did yesterday with the 20 starters. Instead, I’ll break down each team into three categories, either drafted players, international free agents, or players that came from another organization, whether it is a minor league free agent, someone that came over in a trade, a waiver claim or a rule 5 pick. I’ve also included players that were supposed to be with one of the teams, such as Harold Ramirez with Bradenton and Connor Joe with West Virginia.

Indianapolis has three played signed as international free agents, three draft picks and 11 players from outside the organization.

Altoona has eight draft picks, three international signings and three players from other organizations.

Bradenton has 11 draft picks and four international players.

West Virginia has 12 draft picks and four international free agents. They also have the only non-drafted free agent, infielder Trace Tam Sing.

Out of 63 players(including Tam Sing), there are a total of 14 international free agents that are spread fairly evenly throughout the organization. There are also 14 players from other organizations, all in the top two levels. Then there are 34 draft picks, with less at each level the higher you go up the ladder.

The amount of players from other organizations shouldn’t be surprising, because many draft picks and even more international free agents, don’t make it to AA. That means teams have to fill those spots with minor league veterans, so they have strong depth options available and they can field competitive teams at the top levels. That also explains why there are more draft picks at the lower levels, but the amount of international players might seem low, especially after yesterday’s article that pointed out only one international amateur signing among the 20 starters.

Just like with the pitchers yesterday, there are some very good international hitters still in Spring Training that will player for one of the three short-season teams. This year, Edison Lantigua, Adrian Valerio and Raul Siri all came over from the DSL. Those three were the top prospects for the DSL team last year. Also in that group is Luis Perez, who is a middle infielder that can hit for average and speedy outfielder Victor Fernandez. Last year’s group has two toolsy outfielders, Michael de la Cruz and Alexis Bastardo, catcher Yoel Gonzalez, first baseman Carlos Munoz, infielder Sam Kennelly and third baseman Julio de la Cruz. All six of them have potential to be good players. On the flip side, there are only six draft picks in Extended Spring Training and none of them are considered top prospects.

What the list shows is that it’s tough to develop players in your system, especially in a system that limits both draft and international spending. The Pirates have received good marks for their work in the draft for the most part, though you’d be hard-pressed to find someone that likes the 2009 draft class, and the 2012 class isn’t the best either. The Pirates have also received praise for finding bargains on the international side, which has been handcuffed by MLB’s bonus pool cap for the last three signing periods. With all that supposed success, nearly half of their players at the top two levels still came from other organizations.

Pirates Game Graph


Source: FanGraphs

Today’s Schedule

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates won 10-2 on Sunday to take two of three games from the Milwaukee Brewers. They now move to Pittsburgh for the home opener against the undefeated Tigers. Gerrit Cole will make the start, the first Pirates pitcher to make his second start this year. In his season debut, he allowed three runs over five innings against the Reds.

In the minors, John Sever gets the start for West Virginia. He pitched an inning of relief during the season opener on Thursday and struck out the side. Last year, Sever had 63 strikeouts and a 1.33 ERA in 40.2 innings with Bristol. He was a 20th round draft pick of the Pirates in 2014. Zack Dodson will get the start for Altoona. He is one of just three players left in the Pirates’ system from the 2009 draft. Tony Sanchez and Jeff Inman are the others. Charlie Leesman starts for Indianapolis. He was signed as a minor league free agent this off-season. Leesman had a 4.10 ERA in AAA last year and he made eight appearances with the Chicago White Sox in 2013. Justin Topa was supposed to make the start for Bradenton, but he was put on the disabled list on Sunday. Matt Benedict took his place on the roster and will start today. You can view last night’s prospect watch here.

MLB: Pittsburgh (2-4) vs Tigers (6-0) 1:35 PM
Probable starter: Gerrit Cole (5.40 ERA, 2:6 BB/SO, 5.0 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (2-2) vs Toledo (3-1) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Charlie Leesman (13.50 ERA, 2:0 BB/SO, 1.1 IP)

AA: Altoona (2-2) @ Richmond (2-2) 6:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Zack Dodson (NR)

High-A: Bradenton (1-3) @ Dunedin (2-2) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Matt Benedict (NR)

Low-A: West Virginia (3-1) vs Hagerstown (1-3) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: John Sever (0.00 ERA, 0:3 BB/SO, 1.0 IP)

Highlights

From Saturday, Jose Tabata drives a triple to the gap. In three games, he is 3-for-11, with a triple and a stolen base.

Recent Transactions

4/12: Chris Stewart assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.

4/12: Justin Topa placed on Bradenton disabled list. Matt Benedict assigned to Bradenton from Altoona

4/11: Pedro Florimon clears waivers. Assigned to Indianapolis.

4/11: Stolmy Pimentel claimed off waiver by the Texas Rangers.

4/9: Chris Stewart assigned to Altoona on rehab. Jaff Decker assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.

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

There have been six former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including a catcher for the 1909 World Series champions, one of his teammates for three seasons and someone who is now in the front office. If you check the link, you’ll see a recent player, who has really turned his career around since that article was written exactly three years ago.

We start with catcher Mike Simon, who spent five season with the Pirates, the first as a rookie during the 1909 season when the Pirates won their first World Series title. The most impressive thing about that season for Simon is the fact he caught just 50 innings all season and that is because starting catcher George Gibson caught 150 games. Simon actually had a third catcher behind him(Paddy O’Connor) and between them they batted 38 times all year. Simon spent five seasons with the Pirates, before jumping to the Federal League in 1914. Like most players that decided to jump to the new league, Simon was without a Major League job when the league folded after two years.

For Simon’s last three years in Pittsburgh, he caught pitcher Claude Hendrix, who was born exactly six years after Simon. In 1912, Hendrix, in his second year in the Majors, won 24 games and lost just nine times. He pitched almost as well the following season, posting a similar ERA and WHIP, but finished with a 14-15 record. Hendrix also made the jump to the Federal League and led the league with 29 wins and a 1.69 ERA. Unlike Simon, Hendrix was able to get a job in the NL after the FL folded. He finished his career playing his last five years(1916-20) with the Cubs. Despite putting up a decent ERA each year, he had a losing record in four of those seasons.

Also born on this date is Doug Strange, who played for the 1998 Pirates and has been in the front office for the team since 2002.

On this date in 1955, the Pirates lost their season opener by a 6-1 score to the Brooklyn Dodgers. Sitting on the bench that day, four days away from his big league debut, was Roberto Clemente. You can see the boxscore here, which is loaded with Hall of Famers on the wrong side.

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