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Morning Report: The Minor League Pitchers Continue to Pitch Inside


If you worried about the Pittsburgh Pirates changing their pitching methods in the minors, it hasn’t happened this year. They like their pitchers to work inside and the trend that we have visited multiple times in the past, has continued. The Pirates minor league pitchers are once again hitting batters at a high rate.

This is a story that I wrote about in 2013 at the end of the year. That was revisiting the topic I first took note of in 2011. It also came up last year when Tony LaRussa complained about Diamondback hitters getting hit. Chances are I’ll revisit the subject again at the end of this year, just as a reminder that the Pirates have a philosophy about pitching inside, which is something you don’t see enough of in the minor leagues.

Too many young pitchers work away, away, away and let the batters get comfortable leaning over the plate. The object for the Pirates pitchers isn’t to hit batters, rather it is to get their pitchers comfortable with working inside, while also making the batters uncomfortable at the same time.

Three of the Pirates four affiliates lead their league in hit batters. The lone exception is Altoona and they trail by one to a team that has played 19 more innings this year. The four affiliates have combined to hit 51 batters this year, which leads all 30 organizations. It’s truly a group effort from the Pirates too, as Altoona reliever Josh Smith leads all Pirates pitchers with four, so the rest are spread out through the organization.

That leads us to the Major League club, which has only hit seven batters this year, tied for 17th most in baseball among the 30 teams. Last year they led the Majors and it wasn’t even close. The Pirates hit 88 batters, which was 19 more than the three teams tied for second place. Some of this year’s difference may have to do with Charlie Morton being injured, since his 19 HBP led the National League. Morton could be back soon after a strong rehab start on Saturday, so things could soon change. I expect the Pirates to be much closer to the top of the HBP list by the end of the season.

Pirates Game Graph

Source: FanGraphs

Today’s Schedule

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates lost 2-1 to the St Louis Cardinals on Saturday afternoon, which was the same score as Friday night. That dropped them to .500 on the season and they now trail the Cardinals by 5.5 games in the standings. Vance Worley takes the mound today, looking to turn his season around. He has a 4.50 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP through his first four starts and 24 innings. The Cardinals are going with Michael Wacha, who has a 2.42 ERA and has won all four of his starts.

In the minors, Casey Sadler will make his fourth start for Indianapolis. His results have actually got worse each time out, though he has still pitched well overall. Jason Creasy gave up four earned runs in his last outing, which is the worst outing from an Altoona starting pitcher this year. Steven Brault is coming off his best outing, five shutout innings on Monday. West Virginia is going up against Tyler Kolek, who was the second overall draft pick last year. You can view last night’s prospect watch here.

MLB: Pittsburgh (12-12) @ Cardinals (17-6) 2:15 PM
Probable starter: Vance Worley (4.50 ERA, 9:18 BB/SO, 24.0 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (14-10) vs Lehigh Valley (6-18) 1:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Casey Sadler (2.84 ERA, 5:11 BB/SO, 19.0 IP)

AA: Altoona (14-6) vs Erie (6-15) 1:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Jason Creasy (2.14 ERA, 6:12 BB/SO, 21.0 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (11-12) vs St Lucie (12-11) 1:00 PM(season preview)
Probable starter: Steven Brault (5.40 ERA, 6:13 BB/SO, 15.0 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (13-9) @ Greensboro (11-10) 4:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Alex McRae (6.35 ERA, 3:11 BB/SO, 17.0 IP)


From Friday night, Tyler Glasnow picked up his fifth strikeout during his six inning shutout performance. He finished with seven strikeouts.

From that same game, Josh Bell provides the offense with this hit. He drove in both runs in the 2-0 win.

Recent Transactions

5/1: Jerrick Suiter placed on disabled list. Austin Coley added to WV Power roster.

5/1: Pirates sign pitcher Robert Stock.

4/29: Jaff Decker placed on disabled list. Wilkin Castillo added to Indianapolis roster.

4/27: Jeremy Bleich promoted to Altoona

4/26: John Sever added to WV Power roster. Austin Coley transferred to WV Black Bears roster.

4/25: Jonathan Schwind placed on disabled list.

4/25: Justin Sellers transferred from Bradenton to Indianapolis on rehab.

4/25: Jeremy Bleich added to Bradenton roster.

4/22: Francisco Diaz assigned to WV Black Bears roster. Kawika Emsley-Pai added to WV Power roster.

4/21: John Sever assigned to WV Black Bears roster. Jose Regalado added to West Virginia Power roster.

4/20: Justin Sellers assigned to Bradenton on rehab.

4/19: Wilkin Castillo assigned to West Virginia Black Bears

4/19: Pat Ludwig retires.


This Date in Pirates History

Two former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus one trade of note that would seem backwards based on today’s standards. On this date in 1947, the Pirates traded outfielder Al Gionfriddo to the Brooklyn Dodgers for five players. The odd part of the deal is the fact the Pirates paid out at least $100,000(possibly $125k) to the Dodgers as part of the deal. By the 1949 season, only one of the players was left in a Pirates uniform, pitcher Kirby Higbe. One of the players made his name in baseball as a manager years later, infielder Gene Mauch.

Five years after that deal, the Pirates traded pitcher Bill Werle to the St Louis Cardinals for veteran pitcher Red Munger. The trade didn’t do much for one of the worst teams in franchise history, as that 1952 club finished with a 42-112 record.

The two players born on this date are first baseman Ivan Cruz(1999-2000) and catcher Chris Cannizzaro(1968).

On this date in 1882, second baseman George Strief hit the first home run in franchise history. It was the first of five homers he hit during his five-year career. It came off pitcher Will White, who would win 40 games that season and he allowed just three homers all year. White is the brother of Deacon White, who played for Pittsburgh in 1889 and was elected to the Hall of Fame two years ago.

John Dreker
John Dreker
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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