Morning Report: The Short-Season Teams Begin Their Seasons Soon

With all the new draft picks soon to be in the system, they will be playing for one of the three lower level teams. The Pittsburgh Pirates rarely send a new draft pick into full-season ball, with very few exceptions since the new front office took over in 2008. One time they did, reminds us of what could happen with this new class of draft picks. In 2008, the Pirates drafted shortstop Jordy Mercer in the third round and shortstop Chase d’Arnaud in the fourth round. Mercer played briefly for State College before moving up to Hickory, while d’Arnaud stayed at State College.

If anyone would go to the West Virginia Power from this new group, it would probably be first round pick Kevin Newman. With the Pirates also drafting shortstop Kevin Kramer in the second round, one of them will either have to play second base, or play on a different team. At least with Cole Tucker at West Virginia, they have been good about giving him days off during his first full season so that would open some space for Newman. When they both play the same day, one could DH while the other starts at shortstop. We will soon see what the Pirates decide to do, and I wouldn’t rule out Tucker getting demoted once a short-season team starts playing. He hasn’t looked bad considering his age, but the play at the lower level might be better suited for him at this point.

Speaking of the short-season teams, all three will be playing soon. The team in Morgantown, named West Virginia just to cause confusion, begins their New York-Penn League season on Friday. Expect it to be filled with college players, either draft picks from this year or ones that were with a short-season team last year. We already heard after J.T. Brubaker and Bret Helton signed on Friday, that they were both assigned to the Morgantown(get used to it) roster.

The Bristol club get their Appalachian League schedule started in nine days. They will have some new drafts picks, which will likely be the junior college players, or some small college players. This team will also have some members of last year’s GCL club, plus a few of the advanced players from last year’s DSL team, who have been in Extended Spring Training the last couple months. Last year, Bristol was nearly devoid of any real prospects, to the point we had trouble putting together our top ten list in the season recap. Usually the trouble is leaving certain players off at the lower levels, but the trouble with Bristol last year was the uneasiness of calling some players on the list “prospects”. Things should be better this year, but it won’t take much for that to be true.

Finally, we have the GCL club. This team usually gets the high school players from the draft but we seem to have hit a roadblock with the normal plan this year. The Pirates didn’t draft many high school players and I doubt all of them sign. They did bring over a large group of players from the DSL last year, so the ones that don’t go to Bristol, will be in the GCL. You also might see some players repeat the level, plus there could be some non-drafted free agents that fill out the roster, though Bristol had five NDFA players last year. It’s a 35 man roster, so they will need to get players from somewhere. The GCL team begins their schedule next Monday.

One note about the GCL infield and it’s the left side, where the Pirates’ second pick in the draft, Ke’Bryan Hayes, will likely play alongside shortstop Adrian Valerio(pictured above). Hayes is a strong defensive player, while Valerio is an outstanding glove at shortstop, so they give the team a young, talented pair to watch. They could be a pair that moves up the system together, or they could get separated right away if the Pirates decide to challenge Hayes, but that’s something to think about some other day.

Pirates Game Graph

Source: FanGraphs

Playoff Push

Indianapolis is 8-2 in their last ten games and they have a six game lead in their division.

Altoona has a 3.5 game lead in their division.

West Virginia trails first place Hickory by five games with nine games left in the first half.

Bradenton has been eliminated from their first half playoff race.

Today’s Schedule

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates won 4-3 over the Phillies on Saturday afternoon in the second game of a three-game series. A.J. Burnett will be on the mound today, trying to complete the sweep. He faced the Phillies on May 12th and gave up one earned run over seven innings. The Pirates will have a tough game ahead of them though, as Cole Hamels pitches for the Phillies. He has a 3.19 ERA in 87.1 innings this year. He faced the Pirates on May 13th and held them to two runs over seven innings, while striking out nine batters.

In the minors, Tyler Eppler will be on the mound for Bradenton, making his season debut. Altoona starter Angel Sanchez is seventh in the Eastern League in ERA. West Virginia had their game postponed due to rain on Saturday. They will play a doubleheader today. First game starter Austin Coley has a 1.04 WHIP, fifth best in the SAL. Yeudy Garcia will start the second game. He is eighth in the SAL in ERA and 12th in WHIP(1.12). The DSL Pirates are off today. You can view last night’s prospect watch here.

MLB: Pittsburgh (34-27) vs Phillies (22-41) 4:05 PM
Probable starter: A.J. Burnett (2.11 ERA, 23:70 BB/SO, 76.2 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (40-24) vs Gwinnett (30-31) 1:35 PM  (season preview)
Probable starter: Wilfredo Boscan (4.56 ERA, 20:35 BB/SO, 49.1 IP)

AA: Altoona (35-24) vs New Hampshire (28-32) 6:00 PM  (season preview)
Probable starter: Angel Sanchez (2.58 ERA, 18:44 BB/SO, 69.2 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (28-34) vs Ft Myers (31-31) 1:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Tyler Eppler (NR)

Low-A: West Virginia (34-27) vs Augusta (29-31) 1:05 PM DH (season preview)
Probable starter: Austin Coley (3.56 ERA, 8:57 BB/SO, 60.2 IP) and Yeudy Garcia (2.47 ERA, 16:48 BB/SO, 51 IP)

DSL: Pirates (6-6) vs Brewers (3-9) 10:30 AM 6/15 (season preview)


Here’s a video of Alen Hanson hitting a two-run triple on Friday night. It was his seventh of the year, which ties him for the lead in the International League.

Recent Transactions

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

Two former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus seven trades of note.  Mark Lee pitched for the 1980-81 Pirates after they acquired him in a trade from the San Diego Padres. He pitched 16 games out of the bullpen with the Pirates and was traded away during Spring Training in 1982. Also born on this date, Randy Tomlin, who was a member of three playoff teams. He pitched from the Pirates from 1990 until 1994, making 94 starts and 12 relief appearances. He started one game during the 1991 playoffs and pitched twice in relief in the 1992 playoffs.

Seven trades of note on this date, all listed below. Details of each trade can be found in the link above.

1892: Pirates trade Hall of Fame pitcher Pud Galvin to the St Louis Browns for second baseman Cub Stricker.

1917: Third baseman Doug Baird sent to the Cardinals for pitcher Bob Steele.

1940: Catcher Ray Berres sent to the Boston Bees for catcher Al Lopez, who is a HOF manager.

1953: Infielder Pete Castiglione sent to the Cardinals for outfielder Hal Rice.

1954: Hal Rice(yes him again), traded to Cubs for outfielder Luis Marquez.

1982: Pitcher Eddie Solomon sent to White Sox for infielder Jim Morrison.

1983: Outfielder Marvell Wynne dealt to Mets for catcher Junior Ortiz.

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Steve Zielinski

Newman will be a Black Bear come Friday.

joe s

Your daily highlight is coming up blank for me. Is it my problem or have others said this as well. I used to get it but not anymore.

Steve Zielinski

I greatly hope the Pirates do not demote Tucker. He is performing well given his age. There is no reason to give him any reason to conclude that the Pirates are dissatisfied with his play. Nor a sound reason to suggest the organization prefers Newman.wait until Spring Training to sort out the log jam at SS.

Luke S

Demotion certainly doesnt mean dissatisfaction, particularly in a situation where he is still 19-20 and a guy slightly older than him is inserted into the organization. Tucker seems like the player with the attitude to understand whats going on and take any situation well. He’d still be getting to work on his game, and not really altering the timeline of arriving in the bigs.

Steve Zielinski

Actually, demotion does mean dissatisfaction. If Tucker were tearing up the Sally League, there would be no question raised about his being in that league. But, he is not hitting for power and his average is unimpressive when considered out of context. Given these points, a demotion entails dissatisfaction.

Of course, Cole might rise above the demotion. But the pirates would be better served by not forcing him to do so.

Luke S

I just disagree with you on a fundamental level. Stats arent paramount in the minors, so a kid moving up/down a level shouldnt be based on pure numbers but on whats best for his future and his improvement. He is younger than the guy they just drafted, so he can do fine and be “demoted” purely because they want him to get more playing time and not deal with “who do we play”.

Cole can do nothing wrong, and the team can be in love with his progress, and still be demoted. Thats not unsatisfied on either end, its the team putting guys where they need to to get each proper development.

Bill W

John, Morgantown will be referred to as WVA is the Power going to be referred as Charleston?

Travis P

Will be interesting to see how competitive Cole Tucker is if they’d really consider giving him the demotion from the Power. He’s a kid, so an adult can tell him he’s young for the level anyways, yada yada…but he’s still a kid. I think he’s done well considering his age and experience…and if you don’t consider that I think he’s still been average, which again speaks highly for his age and experience. I hope John is waaaaay off on that assumption.

Travis P

I said that as well about Tucker, he looks good if you add in the variables, and if you don’t he just looks average, at best…of course his age/experience is a huge variable that changes how we look at those numbers. You did make an assumption in saying it’s possible…doesn’t mean you were rooting for it or even think it will happen. But to make an assumption is taking something as truth (and as you said, it is a realistic option that it could happen.)
I didn’t disagree that it couldn’t happen, I would just prefer he stays In Charleston.


Why not give Newnan an aggressive placement to Bradenton? He is one of the most advanced college bats coming out of the draft and they could move Jocoby Jones around to different positions.

John W

What team will Gage HInsz and Keller be playing for? Thanks

Joe S

Both are going to Bristol

John W


Joe S

Along with Trey Supak


That could be a pretty good rotation with those 3 – although all very young and inexperienced

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