Morning Report: Looking Back at Baseball America’s Best Tools From 2013

Later this morning, Baseball America will put out their list of the players with the best tools in High-A and Low-A ball. I mentioned in the write-up about Tyler Glasnow on Wednesday that he wasn’t the top pitching prospect in the FSL last year. What I didn’t do is go further back for previous years, which I saved for today. I wanted to look back at the list from 2013 to see which Pirates’ players made the list. It’s important to note that the voting is being done by managers and coaches, so it’s different sets of eyes each year as opposed to the few people at BA giving their opinion.

I’ll start with the one that stings a little and that’s the best defensive second baseman in the SAL in 2013, Dilson Herrera. I saw him a lot that year and really liked his defense(as well as everything else), so it seems legit to me. It would be interesting to see where Herrera would be with the Pirates. He was behind Alen Hanson as far as levels, so would he still be behind him since they’re now the same position? It’s possible, since Herrera is still only 21 and there is no way he would have been in the majors already if he stayed in the system. I’m not sure if he could play another position and the Mets tried him briefly at shortstop and moved him back.

Glasnow was his teammate that year and was named the best pitching prospect and he had the best fastball. He had control issues much worse than now, but his numbers were outstanding. He was basically walking guys or striking them out, doing a lot more of the latter. I saw him a few times that year and it seemed like a good choice back then and he hasn’t disappointed.

For Bradenton, they had Elias Diaz as the best defensive catcher and Willy Garcia as the best outfield arm. Garcia didn’t get that recognition this year, but his arm is as good as ever. Diaz didn’t win in 2014 with Altoona, but like Glasnow skipping a year, he was honored this year. Based just on those skills, you could say these were solid picks and both of them are in Indianapolis now. For Garcia, he is a better prospect than he was at this point last year. His two biggest issues were walks and strikeouts. While the walks haven’t improved, the strikeouts have improved greatly(by his standards). He had 54 more at-bats last year than he has now, and 51 more strikeouts, so unless he goes on some crazy strikeout streak to end the season, there is going to be a drastic improvement this year.

With Altoona in 2013, none of their players were named. The best prospects were Gregory Polanco and Jameson Taillon. With Polanco, he only had 243 at-bats, and 26 of his games were after the best tools were announced. Since they didn’t collect the data that same day they published it, that could just mean that a lot of coaches didn’t get a chance to see him at that point. Or they just though someone else was better(Nick Castellanos was the best hitting prospect). Taillon was there all year up until that point, but the winner for best pitching prospect and fastball was Noah Syndergaard and it’s hard to argue with his results. Taillon didn’t have Tommy John surgery at that point, so it’s another case of wondering if it played out different. He would have to be really special at this point to be better than Syndergaard though.

Finally, Indianapolis had this guy named Gerrit Cole as the best pitching prospect. Whatever happened to him? They also had Vic Black as the best reliever. Offhand I have no clue who else was in the running, but I was never really high on Black. He’s 27 and struggling in AAA now, dealing with some injury issues this year. That was one of the reasons I didn’t like him as a prospect. His strange delivery with a lot of moving parts and effort made it likely he would be injured and have control issues. It didn’t help that the first time I saw him, he was a starter and couldn’t get out of the first inning.

It would be good if the best pitching prospect this year(Glasnow), turned out like the one from just two years ago. Or a hitter from low-A that didn’t get named, turns into the best hitting prospect in AA in 2017 just like Josh Bell. It should be interesting to see who among the players with Bradenton and West Virginia this year, are named the best in their category.

Pirates Game Graph

Source: FanGraphs

Playoff Push

The Pirates trail by seven games in the division to the Cardinals. They have a 1.5 game lead for the top wild card spot.

Indianapolis is 7-3 in their last ten games. They have a 3.5 game lead in the division.

Altoona is 5-5 in their last ten games and they are in third place, 4.5 games back of Bowie.

Bradenton is 7-3 in their last ten games. They trail Palm Beach by three games in the standings.

West Virginia is 7-3 in their last ten games and they have a five game lead in the division.

Morgantown is 3-7 in their last ten games. They are 2.5 games back in the wild card chase.

The Bristol Pirates are 6-4 in their last ten games. They are 2.5 games back in the division.

GCL Pirates are 4-6 in their last ten games. They are three games back in the standings.

The DSL Pirates have been eliminated from the postseason.

Today’s Schedule

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates lost 4-2 to the Cardinals on Wednesday night. Francisco Liriano will be on the mound tonight, going up against Lance Lynn. Liriano faced the Cardinals on July 12th and gave up two earned runs over 6.1 innings. Lynn has a 2.76 ERA in 127.1 innings and he surrendered five runs on nine hits over four innings the last time he faced the Pirates back on July 10th.

In the minors, there are lots of TBD’s for tomorrow, but it looks like All-Star Dario Agrazal Jr could start for Morgantown and last year’s second round pick Mitch Keller, could start for Bristol. If they do, it will be the third start for Keller. Agrazal has allowed two earned runs or less in nine of his ten starts. They only one in which he gave up more, was three earned back on August 2nd. Luis Heredia gets the start for Bradenton, his first as a 21-year-old. In his last two starts combined, he has allowed 15 hits in six innings. West Virginia has off today. You can view last night’s prospect watch here.

MLB: Pittsburgh (65-46) vs Cardinals (73-40) 7:15 PM
Probable starter: Francisco Liriano (3.13 ERA, 44:144 BB/SO, 129.1 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (69-49) vs Toledo (48-69) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD

AA: Altoona (62-55) vs Binghamton (63-52) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Matt Benedict (5.57 ERA, 13:29 BB/SO, 74.1 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (61-54, 29-16 second half) vs Charlotte (61-52) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Luis Heredia (5.72 ERA, 25:39 BB/SO, 67.2 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (69-46, 32-14 second half) @ Hickory (69-43) 7:00 PM 8/14 (season preview)
Probable starter: Austin Coley (3.97 ERA, 20:92 BB/SO, 115.2 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (25-27) vs Aberdeen (25-26) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: TBD

Rookie: Bristol (22-23) vs Elizabethton (25-24) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: TBD

GCL: Pirates (25-17) vs  Phillies (28-14) 12:00 PM (season preview)

DSL: Pirates (24-39) vs Braves (32-31) 10:30 AM (season preview)


Yesterday’s video was defense from Jose Osuna. He is better known for his hitting, like shown in this video.

Recent Transactions

8/11: Rob Scahill sent to Altoona on rehab.

8/11: Wilfredo Boscan sent outright to Indianapolis. Jeff Inman placed on disabled list.

8/11: Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.

8/9: Adam Miller promoted to Indianapolis.

8/9: Cole Tucker placed on disabled list. Erik Forgione sent to Morgantown.

8/8: Kevin Newman and Edgar Santana promoted to West Virginia.

8/8: Junior Sosa placed on disabled list. Isaac Sanchez activated from Bradenton disabled list.

8/7: Vance Worley sent outright to Indianapolis.

8/7: Deolis Guerra returned to Pirates from Indians and placed on disabled list. Wilfredo Boscan designated for assignment.

8/6: Rob Scahill assigned to GCL on rehab.

8/5: Indians claim Deolis Guerra off waivers.

8/5: Isaac Sanchez assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab. Stephan Meyer assigned to GCL from Morgantown.

8/4: Dovydas Neverauskas promoted to Bradenton. Robert Stock sent to GCL.

8/4: Jake Burnette activated from disabled list.

8/4: Jonathan Schwind activated from Altoona disabled list. Adam Miller assigned to Altoona.

8/3: Michael Morse added to active roster. Jaff Decker optioned to Indianapolis.

8/2: Shane Kemp sent from Bristol to GCL.

8/2: Josh Smith activated from Altoona disabled list.

8/1: J.A. Happ added to active roster. Bobby LaFromboise sent to Indianapolis.

8/1: Josh Bell and Jeremy Bleich promoted to Indianapolis.

8/1: John Holdzkom placed on disabled list. Hunter Morris sent to Altoona.

7/31: Pirates trade Adrian Sampson to Mariners for J.A. Happ.

7/31: Pirates trade Jose Tabata to Dodgers for Michael Morse and cash.

7/31: A.J. Burnett placed on disabled list. Bobby LaFromboise recalled from Indianapolis.

7/31: Deolis Guerra designated for assignment.

7/31: Dan Gamache promoted to Indianapolis. Erich Weiss promoted to Altoona. Trace Tam Sing promoted to Bradenton.


This Date in Pirates History

Eight former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a day in 1926 that changed the franchise. Since this day is so big, I’m just going to list the players and remind you that the link at the beginning of this section has a bio for all eight players.

Jonah Bayliss, 2006-07 pitcher

Tom Prince, catcher from 1987 until 1993

Jeff Ballard, 1993-94 pitcher

Mudcat Grant, 1970-71 pitcher. He turns 80 today.

Vinegar Bend Mizell, 1960-62 pitcher…two great nicknames in a row and three players from playoff teams.

Sid Gordon, 1954-55 3B/OF

George Susce, 1939 catcher

Steve Swetonic, pitcher from 1929 until 1933

On this date in 1926, the Pittsburgh Pirates released pitcher Babe Adams and outfielder Carson Bigbee, while also putting Hall of Fame outfielder Max Carey on waivers. Not only did they put Carey on waivers, they also suspended him until another team picked him up so he wouldn’t get paid. They were getting rid of one of the best outfielders in team history, one of the best pitchers in team history(and the only player from both the 1909 and 1925 WS winners), plus Bigbee, who spent his entire 11 year career in Pittsburgh. This was such a big deal, that it became front page news in Pittsburgh for four days straight.

The Pirates had brought in old manager Fred Clarke to be a bench coach and the players claimed that they were getting conflicting signals from Clarke and Bill McKechnie, to the point they questioned who was in charge. When players started getting fines due to these mix ups, they held a players meeting to vote on whether to get rid of Clarke. The vote came back 18-6 in favor of keeping him and Adams, Bigbee and Carey were three of the votes against, along with three rookies, all of whom were supposedly swayed by the veterans. So instead of getting rid of Clarke, they cut the three veterans. It was an extremely unpopular move for the fans, especially when the Pirates dropped out of first place and finished the season by going 23-24 after August 13th. It was known as the ABC Affair, for the first letter of each last name.

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In 3 years from now I envision Osuna as a very important bench piece, one that platoons with Bell at first, play the outfield from time to time and brings a little fear as a pinch hitter, Gaby Sanchez plus.

Steve Zielinski

Hmmm, the ABC Affair > Aram trade for awfulness.


Well, Babe was 44 at the time, and no one picked him up. Max was 36, and accumulated about 1.7 WAR in his remaining 1100+ ML PA’s. And Carson Bigbee was 31, hadn’t been a regular since 1923 (when he followed up a streak of 11.6 WAR in 4 years with a 0.4 WAR stinker. He had seen only 72 PA’s in the season to that point, and nobody picked him up either.

So aside from losing some big “names”, it was really not much of an event.

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