Morning Report: The New Draft Rules Make For a Boring Deadline

Remember when the last day of the draft signing deadline used to be interesting, or painful depending on your perspective, as you sat there waiting for it to end so the Pirates hopefully got the players they(and you) wanted? Times sure have changed under the new draft structure. Most picks in the top ten rounds were already signed before today and only a handful came down to the wire. A total of six picks from the top ten rounds didn’t sign, including one I really appreciated as a Louisville baseball fan. They will get their ace back in Kyle Funkhouser and the Dodgers will get the 36th overall pick next year. That means I get to cover Funkhouser for next year’s draft as well.

For the Pirates, the signing deadline was anti-dramatic. As the picks started to sign after the draft, I began to follow who was left unsigned and who said they were returning to school. Between them signing all but eight players, and others announcing they weren’t signing, that left the Pirates with two possible options on the final day, though that was only as far as we knew. Chris Falwell and Brenden Spillane were quiet about their plans, although as soon as the deadline hit, word came out that Spillane would return to school. So I’m not sure if they were pursuing him late and couldn’t sign him, but it’s possible. Let’s just hope if they were, that it doesn’t turn out like the player they made a late run at last year.

Paul DeJong had a great summer after the draft last year and that piqued the Pirates’ interest. They made a late run at him and were unable to work out a deal, but they were really handcuffed by the new system. By the final count, all they could have offered him at the end was $104,485 without losing a draft pick. It was a smart move for the draft-eligible sophomore to return to college because he ended up getting $200,000 as the Cardinals fourth round pick. That had to be a prearranged deal because the slot was $422,900 and he signed right away.

DeJong went to the Appalachian League after signing and destroyed the ball. In ten games, he put up a 1.551 OPS and drove in 15 runs. That got him promoted to Low-A Peoria, where he has calmed down against the tougher competition, hitting .273/.304/.432 in ten games. I’ll point out that he is at a level of the minors that very few Pirates’ picks see their first year. It’s one of those picks you would have loved to get in the system last year, but now you hate to see him do good because he could be up in St Louis one day playing against the Pirates. At least with Spillane, he was a high school player, so if he improves his stock, it won’t be until 2018 that he’s eligible for the draft.

One last note on another subject. The Pan Am games wrapped up for Colombia with them losing all six games. Harold Ramirez tried his best to get his team a victory on Friday, going 2-for-2 with a homer and two walks. He ended up going 7-for-21 in the tournament, with two homers and three walks, giving him a 1.084 OPS. Tito Polo finished the games going 3-for-17, with a homer and five strikeouts. He had a .575 OPS. For those interested, team USA made the finals and they will take on Cuba today. Puerto Rico and Canada will play in the other game and the winners will play for the gold on Sunday, while the two teams that lose today will compete for the bronze medal.

Pirates Game Graph

Source: FanGraphs

Playoff Push

The Pirates trail by 3.5 games in the division to the Cardinals. They have a 5.5 game lead for the top wild card spot.

Indianapolis is 5-5 in their last ten games. They have a two game lead in their division.

Altoona is 5-5 in their last ten games and they are 1.5 game behind first place with Bowie.

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 lost 4-1 to the Brewers on Friday night. Francisco Liriano will get the start for the Pirates in game two of the series. He has started against Milwaukee once this year, allowing three runs over eight innings on June 9th. The Brewers will send Jimmy Nelson to the hill. He has a 4.21 ERA in 109 innings. He has already faced the Pirates three times this year, twice throwing shutout ball.

In the minors, Steven Brault and Stephen Tarpley get the starts tonight, along with Angel Sanchez for Indianapolis. Brault has had a couple rough outings recently, including six runs over 1.2 innings last time out. Prior to that, he allowed three runs on ten hits, although reports from the game indicated that there were a lot of soft hits in that game. Tarpley had a couple shaky outings in the middle of June, but he’s been solid since. In his last five starts combined, he’s allowed six earned runs. Included in there was his no-hitter on July 7th. The GCL Pirates and Morgantown have doubleheaders today, while the DSL Pirates are on their All-Star break. You can view last night’s prospect watch here.

MLB: Pittsburgh (53-36) @ Brewers (39-52) 7:10 PM
Probable starter: Francisco Liriano (2.98 ERA, 39:125 BB/SO, 114.2 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (53-39) @ Toledo (40-52) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Angel Sanchez (3.26 ERA, 6:26 BB/SO, 30.1 IP)

AA: Altoona (49-43) @ Richmond (47-44) 6:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Steven Brault (4.74 ERA, 5:27 BB/SO, 24.2 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (46-46, 14-8 second half) @vs Lakeland (39-51) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Frank Duncan (4.79 ERA, 12:71 BB/SO, 88.1 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (52-39, 15-7 second half) vs Lexington (41-48) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Stephen Tarpley (2.38 ERA, 16:46 BB/SO, 53.0 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (11-15) @ Auburn (11-14) 5:05 PM DH (season preview)
Probable Starter: Cesilio Pimentel (4.58 ERA, 3:19 BB/SO, 19.2 IP) and Luis Paula (27.00 ERA, 0:2 BB/SO. 1.0 IP)

Rookie: Bristol (8-13) @ Danville (11-12) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: TBD

GCL: Pirates (13-8) vs Tigers (10-10) 10:00 AM DH (season preview)

DSL: Pirates (16-26) vs Rangers2 (21-20) 10:30 AM 7/20 (season preview)


Here is a video of Tony Sanchez hitting a double on Thursday. He added two more doubles on Friday, giving him a total of five hits the last two games.

Recent Transactions

7/17: Pirates sign Jake Thompson. Assigned to Indianapolis.

7/17: Pirates recall Jaff Decker.

7/17: Oderman Rocha assigned to Bradenton. Junior Lopez assigned to GCL Pirates.

7/16: Hunter Morris placed on Indianapolis disabled list. Jose Tabata placed on temporary inactive list.

7/15:  Pirates sign Ryan Nagle. Assigned to Morgantown.

7/15: Pirates sign Brandon Waddell and James Marvel. Waddell assigned to Morgantown.

7/15: Luis Paula sent to Morgantown.

7/13: Wilfredo Boscan sent to Indianapolis.

7/13: Seth McGarry assigned to Morgantown.

7/13: Omar Basulto assigned to GCL. Mike Wallace transferred from GCL to Bristol.

7/12: Wilfredo Boscan recalled. Steve Lombardozzi optioned to Indianapolis.

7/10: Pirates sign Ike Schlabach and assign him to GCL.

7/10: Pirates sign Tate Scioneaux and assign him to Morgantown.

7/10: Jesus Paredes promoted to Morgantown. Oderman Rocha sent to GCL.

7/9: Pirates sign Sherton Apostel.

7/9: Mike Wallace sent from Bristol to GCL.

7/7: Clay Holmes added to Bradenton roster. Harold Ramirez placed on temporary inactive list.

7/7: Trace Tam Sing added to West Virginia roster. Tito Polo placed on temporary inactive list.

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.


This Date in Pirates History

Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a big game from Ralph Kiner. We start with pitcher Windy McCall, who was a lefty reliever for the Pirates during the 1950 season. He pitched twice for the Bucs, allowing seven runs in 6.2 innings. He turns 90 today, which makes him the 11th oldest living former Pirates player.

Also born on this date, we have two groups of two players that match up well. First up are outfielder Johnny Hopp and pitcher Al Lyons. They were traded for each other, as Lyons played for the 1947 Pirates, while Hopp came over from the Braves and played three seasons with Pittsburgh. Also included in that trade was the great Pirates’ manager Danny Murtaugh, who was a player at the time.

Wilbur Fisher and Bill Haeffner go together well because they were born on the exact same day in 1894. Fisher only got to play one Major League game, pinch-hitting on June 13, 1916. Haeffner was the team’s third-string catcher in 1920, but got a chance for some regular playing time when the starter and backup both got hurt in the same game. He retired right in the middle of his playing career when the Pirates wouldn’t meet his salary demands prior to the 1921 season.

On this date in 1951, the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Brooklyn Dodgers by a 13-12 score. Ralph Kiner helped the last place Pirates squeak past the first place Dodgers by going deep three times. He hit a first inning grand slam, a two-run homer in the fourth and a solo homer in the eighth inning. The link above has a full recap of the game and the boxscore can be found here.




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So I’m reading this kevin creagh article on how bad the pirates farm is and all I see is him constantly harping on guys lack of power and I think to myself, here’s another guy stuck in the ped inflated power numbers era. Is this because folks don’t know how widespread the epidemic was, or because they just don’t care and want something to complain about?


Thanks john, at least your article was’nt boring.


I remember 2 memorable draft day deadlines. One is the Pedro Alvarez/Scott Boras deal. This did not turn out well. Pedro did not get to play that year. The other one is the Mark Appel non signing. Which we won’t know for sure how this will turn out. But I believe the Pirates ended up on top by not signing Appel. I prefer the no drama and not dealing with Boras. Now we can get the players drafted in the minors quicker.


That Pedro dedline didn’t turn out…they made us keep Pedro. Ha!


Ramirez…all he does is hit. .329 last two seasons. .388 obp, .433 SLG. When I see Ramirez’ body type and face he reminds me a little of Evan Chambers. Chambers was a different type of hitter but to me they look similar.


Interesting that a guy with 1 HR in 149 ABs on the season hit, what, two in the Pan Am tournament?


It is the tease of the small sample. Maybe they played in small parks. Whatever it is it never hurts to get in some meaningful games and tear it up.


That’s a lot of homers.


Does Sanchez have a new batting stand?


Johnny Hopp…I remember him well. Oh wait…I’m not THAT old!!!! 🙂

Great name tho.

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