Morning Report: Injuries Have Been a Big Part of This Minor League Season

I’ve heard a lot of people recently mention that the Pittsburgh Pirates have been relatively injury-free this season, noting that Charlie Morton and now Josh Harrison are the only significant players that have missed time. Covering the minors too, I guess my own view became skewed, because it seems like it has been a big year for injuries and some of them have affected the big league club even though they occurred in the minors.

The Indianapolis pitching staff has been decimated by injuries this year. You can’t be sure how things would have worked out if he stayed healthy, but most people expected Nick Kingham(pictured above) to be Major League ready right around this time. He certainly looked like it in a few starts, but there were some inconsistencies still, so you could say that if he stayed healthy, there was a possibility that he would be in Pittsburgh now, but not a certainty.

Assuming Kingham was there still, at the start of Spring Training, my guess for the Indianapolis rotation on July 7th would have been Jameson Taillon, Brandon Cumpton, Casey Sadler, Adrian Sampson and Kingham. That’s a really impressive AAA rotation, but when only 20% of it is healthy, then it surely looks like there have been some injury concerns for the Pirates this year.

The Pirates have had other guys on the disabled list this season besides Morton and Harrison, but it is correct to say they weren’t significant. Chris Stewart was the best and he returned shortly after the season started. Rob Scahill is on the list currently, though most people don’t consider a middle reliever to be a key player and I agree. Corey Hart wasn’t playing well when he went on, so he is easy to dismiss as well. Jaff Decker, Justin Sellers(who just began his third rehab assignment) and Andrew Lambo all spent time on the Major League DL too. No one is saying those injuries hurt the team, but they also don’t help either.

Going back to Indianapolis, you have John Holdzkom, who has had two stints on the DL. It’s possible he could have helped out by now. They were also without Alen Hanson for a couple weeks and Jaff Decker also spent time on the minor league DL. Charlie Leesman has missed significant time this season, as well as missed time by multiple other relievers on the team. Since I keep track of the transactions below, I tend to notice all these DL moves more than others and there have been a lot on Indianapolis this season.

When you go lower in the minors, you start adding up all the other prospects that have missed time. Tyler Glasnow, Clay Holmes, Stephen Tarpley, Tyler Eppler and Mitch Keller, and those are just top rated pitching prospects. Gage Hinsz hasn’t pitched yet, which we assume is an injury, although we haven’t got confirmation yet, so it could be something minor since he is with Bristol.

You also have Adam Frazier, Connor Joe’s slow recovery, Jordan Luplow’s multiple minor injuries, Barrett Barnes missing more time and Harold Ramirez, who had a combination of an injury and not being in shape, which caused him to miss about 40 games. Kevin Krause had Tommy John surgery, which isn’t as bad for position players, but he still missed this entire season after looking like a promising hitter last year after being drafted in the ninth round. Edison Lantigua, who ranked as a top prospect from the DSL last year, made his return to action on Monday after missing some Extended Spring Training time and the first two weeks of the GCL season.

You could throw in about 20 other injuries that caused some missed time, or players to miss the year, but they aren’t top prospects, so you don’t tend to miss players like Carl Anderson, Justin Topa, Rinku Singh, Wes Freeman, Adrian Grullon, Francis Rodriguez, Eduardo Vera or Jandy Vasquez. I also cover the DSL team and at the start of the year, they had about ten injuries, some minor and some major, including three pitchers that likely won’t see any action this year.

While I do agree that the Pirates have seemed lucky at the top level with injuries this year, it’s hard to look at the Indianapolis staff and not wonder how all those big arms being down will affect the Pirates the rest of the year. As I said with the other lower injuries, many of which I left off, they probably skew my thinking, because it sure seems like the system as a group has dealt with a substantial number of injuries this year, both minor and major.

Pirates Game Graph

Source: FanGraphs

Playoff Push

The Pirates trail by six games in the division to the Cardinals. They have a 3.5 game lead for the top wild card spot.

Indianapolis is 7-3 in their last ten games. They have a seven game lead in their division.

Altoona is 2-8 in their last ten games and they are now tied for second place, trailing by 3.5 games in their division.

Bradenton and West Virginia did not win their first half title. Their second half records are included below in the schedule.

Today’s Schedule

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates defeated the Padres 2-1 on Monday night. Francisco Liriano will take the mound today, coming off seven shutout innings against the Tigers his last time out. Liriano faced the Padres on May 29th and threw six shutout innings, striking out 11 batters. His opponent tonight on the mound will be Tyson Ross, who has a 3.63 ERA in 101.2 innings. He gave up three runs over six innings to the Pirates back on May 30th.

In the minors, Stephen Tarpley will make his ninth start of the season. In six of his starts, he has either allowed zero or one earned run. One game he gave up two runs and in the other, Tarpley allowed five runs on ten hits over 5.2 innings. He is keeping runs off the board, but his 1.48 WHIP is still higher than you want to see. Tyler Eppler will make his fifth start of the season. His last outing was his best, giving up one earned run on two hits over five innings. He has gone longer in each outing, since starting with three innings back on June 14th. Bristol has a doubleheader today. Morgantown is off today. You can view last night’s prospect watch here.

MLB: Pittsburgh (48-34) vs Padres (39-46) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Francisco Liriano (2.99 ERA, 34:113 BB/SO, 102.1 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (51-34) @ Louisville (41-44) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Wilfredo Boscan (3.89 ERA, 30:48 BB/SO, 71.2 IP)

AA: Altoona (44-39) @ Erie (33-49) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Matt Benedict (5.12 ERA, 12:17 BB/SO, 45.2 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (41-41, 9-3 second half) vs Palm Beach (40-42) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Tyler Eppler (5.40 ERA, 6:10 BB/SO, 16.2 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (46-35, 9-3 second half) vs Delmarva (40-40) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Stephen Tarpley (2.57 ERA, 14:37 BB/SO, 42.0 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (7-10) @ Lowell (12-6) 7:05 PM 7/8 (season preview)
Probable Starter: TBD

Rookie: Bristol (4-7) vs Johnson City (5-6) 6:00 PM DH (season preview)
Probable Starter:  TBD

GCL: Pirates (9-3) vs Yankees1 (5-7) 12:00 PM (season preview)

DSL: Pirates (13-19) vs Cubs (17-15) 10:30 AM (season preview)


Here we have video of Adam Frazier hitting an RBI single while wearing a ridiculous looking jersey(Mr Rogers’ Day). Frazier has looked a lot better than that jersey, hitting .382/.437/.500 in 45 games with Altoona.

Recent Transactions

7/6: Josh Harrison placed on disabled list. Travis Ishikawa added to active roster.

7/6: Justin Seller assigned to GCL on rehab.

7/5: Pirates claim Travis Ishikawa on waivers.

7/4: Pirates sign five international players.

7/3: Pirates sign Kevin Sanchez and Samuel Inoa.

7/3: Pirates trade Clayton Richard to Chicago Cubs for cash considerations.

7/2: Chris Volstad sent outright to Indianapolis.

7/2: Pirates sign Larry Alcime Jr and Kyle Simmons.

7/1: Alen Hanson activated from disabled list. John Holdzkom and Hunter Morris placed on disabled list.

7/1: Paul Brands assigned to GCL Pirates from DSL.

6/30: Corey Hart sent on rehab to Indianapolis.

6/30: Jose Tabata outrighted to Indianapolis.

6/29: Jeff Inman and Gift Ngoepe promoted to Indianapolis.

6/29: Pirates sign Daniel Zamora.

6/28: Jose Tabata designated for assignment. Gorkys Hernandez added to Pirates roster.

6/28: Chris Volstad designated for assignment. Steve Lombardozzi added to Pirates roster.

6/28: Clario Perez promoted to Altoona. Wes Freeman activated from disabled list.

6/28: Kawika Emsley-Pai retired.

6/28: Hunter Morris activated from Indianapolis disabled list.

6/27: Junior Lopez promoted to Bradenton. Dovydas Neverauskas activated from West Virginia disabled list.

6/26: Tyler Glasnow assigned to Altoona.

6/26: Deolis Guerra added to Pirates roster. Rob Scahill placed on disabled list.

6/26: Wilkin Castillo activated from Indianapolis disabled list.

6/25: Robert Stock added to Bradenton roster. Jordan Steranka placed on disabled list.

6/24: Casey Sadler placed on disabled list. Brad Lincoln and Josh Wall added to Indianapolis roster.

6/24: Corey Hart placed on disabled list. Chris Volstad added to Pirates roster.

6/23: Pirates sign Shane Kemp. Assigned to Bristol.

This Date in Pirates History

Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date and combined, they played less than 30 games with the Pirates. Starting with the most recent player first, we have Jerry Dybzinski, shortstop for the 1985 Pirates. Before him was Chuck Goggin, who was dealt to the Pirates for Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning. Goggin was a utility fielder for the 1972-73 Pirates.

Next up are Red Nonnenkamp and Art Merewether, who share something in common besides a birthday and playing for the Pirates. Both of them played exactly one game for the Pirates and it came as a pinch-hitter. Nonnenkamp struck out in his only at-bat on September 6,1933 and Merewether grounded out to Hall of Fame shortstop Dave Bancroft in his only at-bat. Unlike Nonnenkamp, Merewether never played another Major League game.

Finally we have Hall of Fame second baseman Billy Herman, who was a player-manager during the 1947 season. He didn’t write his name into the lineup often, starting just 13 times. He led the Pirates to a 61-92 record before stepping day prior to the last game of the season. Herman went into the HOF in 1975, part of the same class with his teammate in 1947, Ralph Kiner.

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Micaela M

Does any one know if Orlando Castro is still in the organization, if so what level?


Also a good example of when DL time doesn’t tell the whole story.

Andrew McCutchen may have been on the active roster all season, but he very clearly wasn’t healthy for at least the first month.

Zach H

Did Branden Waddell sign yet? I haven’t seen anything on him. Wasn’t he expected to sign basically as soon as the CWS was over?

Zach H

Ok, thank you. Are they waiting for him to sign to go after anyone else over-slot then? Or do you think they’re done?

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