Last year with the Jamestown Jammers season recap, we posted a top ten list for prospects, but in reality, only three of the players were top 30 prospects. It was a team filled with 2014 draft picks, 19 total to be exact. They had seven players that were taken in the top ten rounds. Connor Joe was also supposed to be there, but his back injury kept him out of action. With the Morgantown season starting on Friday, we take a look at how some of those 2014 Jamestown players are doing now.
The 2014 club used 45 players, though four of them were only there briefly on rehab. Of the other 41 players, six are no longer in the system. For the 35 that are still around, four are with Bradenton, ten are with West Virginia and 21 are in Extended Spring Training. Some of those players are injured, including Kevin Krause, Jared Lakind, Eric Karch and Carl Anderson. The downside to all the new draft picks entering the system is that there will be players released soon because you only have so many spots for your three short-season teams when you add in the players left from last year, the draft picks this year and the players over from the Dominican Summer League team.
The top ten prospects back in September last year(in order) were Jordan Luplow, Taylor Gushue, Tyler Eppler, Kevin Krause, Elvis Escobar, Michael Suchy, Alex McRae, Austin Coley, Frank Duncan and Chase Simpson. That list has held up pretty well to this point, with Coley the one moving up the most(maybe a couple spots) and the best player not on it is Montana DuRapau, who is doing well in Bradenton, but he is still a reliever. For the most part, it has been a disappointing group in the sense that no one has been a breakout prospect.
Jordan Luplow(pictured above) has had a tough time avoiding minor injuries, missing 5-10 days three different times this year. His average is low, but he has 20 extra-base hits and a nice 23:33 BB/SO ratio in 177 at-bats. He’s doing that as one of the younger players on West Virginia and while learning a new position, moving from outfield to third base.
Taylor Gushue is three months younger than Luplow and at a position where the bat tends to develop slower. His offense has been very bad, hitting .211/.271/.295 in 166 at-bats, but the age/position still gives you some hope he can turn things around.
Tyler Eppler has made one start this year and that was just a couple days ago. He has been out with elbow soreness that shut him down in Spring Training. The reports from that first game were positive, with Eppler flashing an above-average fastball. The results from the first two innings were very good, then things fell apart in the third and he reached his single inning pitch count limit. You really can’t say too much about him yet, since it’s tough to judge anything on one start.
Kevin Krause had Tommy John surgery and hasn’t played this season. He was scheduled to start at West Virginia.
Elvis Escobar is an interesting case for figuring out prospects. Scouting reports from early in the year weren’t good. He’s quick, but somehow he is 4-for-15 in stolen base attempts. On the other hand, he was the youngest player on Jamestown last year and was sent down from West Virginia when the Jammers’ season started. He is also hitting and playing well enough this year that he got selected to the All-Star game last week. Just like Gushue and Luplow, he has flaws, but he also has youth on his side.
Michael Suchy is a big kid with raw tools. He turned 22 in April, so that is top end for what you want to see in this league. He’s holding his own with a .753 OPS and there is still plenty of room for him to grow as he gets more experience.
Alex McRae and Austin Coley probably should have been flipped on last year’s list, but Coley got hurt and pitched very poorly, while McRae plugged along and looked average. The Pirates obviously liked Coley better, taking him two rounds higher in the draft and he looks better this year. He has an excellent 9:61 BB/SO rate in 66.2 innings, but has hit some bumps recently, which has brought his numbers down a little. McRae is basically pitching like last year, just plugging along, looking average most of the time. I saw him in person a few weeks ago and he looked great, but that seems to be just me catching him on his best day.
Frank Duncan and Chase Simpson were the older players on Jamestown. Duncan just got pushed out of the Bradenton rotation with the return of Eppler, but he likely won’t lose many innings in a long relief role. He’s shown excellent control, a nice ground ball rate and picked up his share of strikeouts, but he has also allowed a ton of hits. Simpson started off great this year with West Virginia, but has really dropped off and strikes out a lot. He is already 23, so it’s tough to see any possible upside. He has good power, but that’s about it and as someone playing first base and DH now, you really need to show a lot.
We already know Morgantown is going to have a better prospect this year than the team saw last year. First round pick Kevin Newman has been assigned to the team and will at least begin his career there, though it wouldn’t be surprising to see him move up at some point. The Pirates like to take it slow with drafted players during their first year, just let them get acclimated to pro ball and then move them to an appropriate level the next season. Newman isn’t your typical draft pick though, so he could see the same move players like Tony Sanchez and Jordy Mercer saw in their first year, moving up after a week.
Second round pick Kevin Kramer should be with the team, and there could be some interesting pitchers there as well. Sixth round pick J.T. Brubaker and ninth rounder Bret Helton have already been assigned to the team. The actual roster will be announced tomorrow, though it will change as draft picks are signed and join the team. We will have a preview of the initial roster soon. As mentioned above, Jamestown used 45 players last year on a short-season team, so you can expect to see a lot of players in a short time with Morgantown.
Pirates Game Graph
Indianapolis is 8-2 in their last ten games and they have a 6.5 game lead in their division. All four teams in their division lost on Monday.
Altoona has a 3.5 game lead in their division.
West Virginia has been eliminated from their first half playoff race.
Bradenton has been eliminated from their first half playoff race.
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates won 11-0 over the White Sox on Monday night, moving them to nine games over the .500 mark. Charlie Morton will make his fifth start of the season, looking to win his fifth straight game. In his last outing, he threw 7.1 innings without an earned run against the Brewers. The White Sox will go with Jose Quintana, who has a 4.00 ERA in 74.1 innings
In the minors, Jason Creasy gets the start for Altoona. In his last outing, he gave up four earned runs, tying his season high. He has walked 24 batters this year, two more than last year when he threw 79 more innings. Jayson Aquino makes his seventh start for Bradenton tonight. In three of his starts, he has allowed one earned run over 20 innings. In the other three games, he’s allowed 15 earned runs over 16 innings. You can view last night’s prospect watch here.
MLB: Pittsburgh (36-27) vs White Sox (28-34) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Charlie Morton (2.05 ERA, 7:12 BB/SO, 26.1 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (41-25) vs Durham (39-27) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Chris Volstad (3.52 ERA, 22:43 BB/SO, 69.0 IP)
AA: Altoona (37-24) @ Akron (31-30) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Jason Creasy (2.97 ERA, 24:33 BB/SO, 69.2 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (30-34) vs Tampa (30-34) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Jayson Aquino (4.00 ERA, 9:22 BB/SO, 36.0 IP)
Low-A: West Virginia (35-29) @ Charleston (31-33) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Alex McRae (4.26 ERA, 12:40 BB/SO, 57.0 IP)
DSL: Pirates (7-7) vs Cubs (10-4) 10:30 AM (season preview)
Two recent videos from Altoona, first a homer from Jose Osuna.
Next, we have an RBI triple from Josh Bell.
6/15: Pirates sign Kevin Newman. Assigned to West Virginia
6/14: Angel Sanchez promoted to Indianapolis.
6/14: Tyler Eppler added to Bradenton roster. Ryan Hafner released.
6/13: Brad Lincoln and Wilkin Castillo placed on Indianapolis disabled list. Radhames Liz activated from reserve roster.
6/12: Pirates sign J.T. Brubaker, Seth McGarry and Bret Helton.
6/11: Pirates acquire John Bowker from the San Francisco Giants.
6/10: Yhonathan Barrios promoted to Indianapolis.
6/9: John Holzkom activated from Indianapolis disabled list
6/9: Brett McKinney promoted to Altoona. Ryan Hafner added to Bradenton roster.
6/7: Pirates release Tyler Sample.
6/5: Justin Sellers assigned to Bradenton on rehab.
6/5: Charlie Leesman placed on Indianapolis disabled list.
6/5: Francisco Diaz activated from WV Power disabled list.
6/5: Kawika Emsley-Pai promoted to Bradenton roster. Jin-De Jhang assigned to Extended Spring Training.
6/3: Pirates outright Radhames Liz to Indianapolis.
This Date in Pirates History
Seven former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including one who is among the best at his position in franchise history. Starting with the oldest player first, they are 1885 shortstop Marr Phillips and 1912 pinch-runner Ralph Capron, who has an interesting story. He was a college football and baseball star, who was known for his tremendous speed. His career with the Pirates lasted one game and after replacing Alex McCarthy at first base with two outs in the ninth, Capron remained glued to first base while the last out was made. He went to the minors right after that and returned with the Phillies the next year, pinch-running once and getting one at-bat in his only other Major League game. In 1920, he played pro football.
Other players born on this date include 1917-19 first baseman Fritz Mollwitz, 1942-46 infielder Pete Coscarart, who was part of the return from the Dodgers in the unpopular Arky Vaughan trade. Also, 1954-56 pitcher Max Surkont, 2008 infielder Chris Gomez and first baseman Kevin Young, who played for the Pirates from 1992-95 and then again from 1997 until 2003. Young ranks tenth in team history in homers, 16th in doubles and 17th in RBIs. He is currently a coach for the Pirates. You can read more on Young and all of the other players in the link above.