Morning Report: Lower Level Injury Updates, and Jeff Locke’s Dubious Team Record

If you missed the Tommy John surgery article from yesterday, it showed that the Pirates have been hit harder with the injury than any other team in baseball, at least the documented cases since last spring. While doing my due diligence for the article, I had to check up on the whereabouts of some of the lesser known players in the system, just to make sure the numbers were correct. I was able to get updates on four pitchers that were in Extended Spring Training, but did not pitch yet this season, so here are those updates.

The first one was Eduardo Vera, and while I knew he had Tommy John surgery already, we didn’t know when it happened. He had the surgery in June, which basically knocks him out for almost all of next year depending on how quickly he returns. As you probably know from reading this site for Jameson Taillon and Clay Holmes updates, the Pirates are fairly slow with their returns from TJS, while other teams have had pitchers back in 12 months. We get to follow the return of Nick Kingham and Brandon Cumpton next year, so expect those occasional updates. Don’t expect many Vera updates.

Nick Hutchings, the 19-year-old pitcher from Australia, is expected to make his return on Monday in the GCL and he’s scheduled to throw three innings. He injured his shoulder during the Fall Instructional League last year, which explains why he didn’t pitch winter ball in Australia over the off-season. Chances are very good that he won’t play winter ball this year either.

Francis Rodriguez, who was a starter in the DSL last year, had surgery on his ACL and just began to rehab. He has started running and throwing from 60 feet. That means he won’t get into any action before the GCL season ends later this month. The 22-year-old righty had a 2.91 ERA over 52.2 innings last year in 12 starts.

The final one is pitcher Horelbin Ramos, who very quietly had a phenomenal season out of the bullpen in the GCL last year. The 21-year-old lefty allowed one earned run in 22.1 innings and he had a .135 BAA. Without getting into all the details, he is on the Restricted List because he decided during Extended Spring Training that baseball wasn’t for him and he is pursuing another career, which is more like a non-baseball job. So he is still technically with the Pirates if he wants to come back to baseball.

There is one other name you may have noticed, but only if you follow the lower levels close. Pitcher Vince Deyzel, who was signed out of South Africa in February, was on the GCL roster on Opening Day. He was then moved to Bristol recently, but it was just a paper move due to roster limitations. There were no plans for him to pitch this year. He still has to go back and finish school before joining the Pirates full-time next year. That same thing happened with Sam Kennelly when he signed as a 16-year-old out of Australia.

Deyzel did come to Bradenton this year to workout at Pirate City for five weeks. Since he signed a contract this year, he had to be on a roster, so that’s why you may have seen his name, but he has no stats. When he was moved to the Bristol roster, he was actually already back home. You might be saying, isn’t this five pitchers, why did he say four? Well, I already knew all this about Deyzel, so I didn’t have to ask, but I figured I better add him just to avoid the question from the one person that noticed him on the roster.

One more note and it does involve pitchers, just Major League ones. Down in the history section, I mentioned that Ross Ohlendorf is somewhere celebrating a birthday today. I was going to add the note that he held the Pirates’ record for most starts without a complete game with 64. Before writing that, I remembered that I figured that “record” out in 2012 and I better double-check on Jeff Locke. Well, it turns out that Locke now holds that record and he’s on his way to putting it out of reach. He surpassed Ohlendorf earlier this year and he’s now up to 82 starts without a complete game. Of course, he could complete just one game and not have the record anymore.

What is crazy(and a sign of the times) is that Gerrit Cole made his 63rd start without a complete game last night and I have a feeling(and you have hope) that he will be around longer than Locke. For now, Jeff Locke holds the franchise record, 134 seasons into the team’s existence. I’m sure Ed “Cannonball” Morris must be shaking his head in disbelief. Look him up on this site, it’s a good reference.

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 8-2 in their last ten games. They have a 2.5 game lead in the division.

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

Bradenton is 6-4 in their last ten games. They trail Palm Beach by two games in the standings.

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

Morgantown is 4-6 in their last ten games. They trail by six games in the division and they are tied for first in the wild card chase.

The Bristol Pirates are 6-4 in their last ten games. They are 3.5 games back in the division.

GCL Pirates are 8-2 in their last ten games. They are one game back in the standings.

The DSL Pirates have been eliminated from the postseason.

Today’s Schedule

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates won 5-4 over the Dodgers on Friday night in ten innings. Francisco Liriano will be on the mound for the Pirates tonight. In his last start, he allowed a season-high ten hits in 5.2 innings against the Twins. Mat Latos will get the start for the Dodgers. He is pitching his second game for Los Angeles after coming over in a trade from the Marlins. Latos gave up one run over six innings in his last start.

In the minors, Radhames Liz looks to bounce back from a start that wasn’t bad overall with two earned runs over six innings, but he did have control issues during the outing. He has been phenomenal since being sent to AAA, establishing himself as a possible fill-in if the Pirates need a spot start. Steven Brault put up the same numbers as Liz last time out, also walking four batters in an outing in which he gave up two earned runs over six innings. No starter listed for Bristol, but it is Mitch Keller’s scheduled day to pitch. If he goes, it will be his second start and he should be up to four innings in this game, after going three in his first start. You can view last night’s prospect watch here.

MLB: Pittsburgh (63-44) vs Dodgers (62-47) 4:05 PM
Probable starter: Francisco Liriano (2.92 ERA, 42:140 BB/SO, 126.1 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (66-48) @ Norfolk (65-47) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Radhames Liz (1.25 ERA, 19:57 BB/SO, 50.1 IP)

AA: Altoona (60-53) vs Richmond (57-54) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Steven Brault (3.21 ERA, 12:52 BB/SO, 47.2 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (57-53, 25-15 second half) @ Charlotte (61-47) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Cody Dickson (4.25 ERA, 42:76 BB/SO, 106.0 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (65-45, 28-13 second half) @ Asheville (56-54) 6:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Austin Coley (3.83 ERA, 18:90 BB/SO, 112.2 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (24-23) vs State College (22-24) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: TBD

Rookie: Bristol (19-22) @ Greeneville (23-19) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: TBD

GCL: Pirates (23-13) vs  Yankees1 (13-21) 10:00 AM DH (season preview)

DSL: Pirates (22-37) vs Red Sox2(40-19) 10:30 AM (season preview)


Here is video of Erich Weiss beating out an infield single. Since joining Altoona, he is 5-for-19, with two walks and he’s driven in runs in three straight games.

Recent Transactions

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.

7/30: Pirates trade JaCoby Jones to Detroit Tigers for Joakim Soria

7/30: Vance Worley designated for assignment.

7/30: Justin Seller traded to Chicago White Sox for a player to be named later, or cash.

7/30: Pirates sent Gorkys Hernandez outright to Indianapolis

7/30: Logan Ratledge promoted to Morgantown. Erik Forgione promoted to West Virginia

7/30: Pirates acquire Joe Blanton for cash considerations.

7/29: Pirates trade Jayson Aquino to Indians for cash considerations.

7/28: Gift Ngoepe placed on disabled list.

7/28: Pirates release Ulises Montilla.

7/28: Brent Morel refuses outright assignment to Indianapolis.

7/28: Miguel Ferreras retired. Mervin Del Rosario promoted to Bristol.

7/27: JaCoby Jones promoted to Altoona. Josh Smith placed on disabled list.

7/27: Steve Lombardozzi sent outright to Indianapolis. Andy Vasquez placed on disabled list.

7/27: Jordan Steranka activated from Bradenton disabled list. Isaac Sanchez placed on disabled list.

7/27: Junior Sosa added to Bradenton roster.

7/27: John Holdzkom activated from Indianapolis disabled list.

7/26: Jonathan Schwind assigned to Bristol on rehab.

7/25: Pirates designate Brent Morel for assignment.

7/25: Justin Sellers sent outright to Indianapolis

7/25: Adam Miller assigned to GCL on rehab

This Date in Pirates History

Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus two transactions of note. We start with the trade and it’s one that helped the Pirates short-term, but really hurt long-term. On this date in 1990, the Pirates dealt Moises Alou, Willie Greene and Scott Ruskin to the Montreal Expos for pitcher Zane Smith. Pittsburgh got six wins the rest of the way from Smith and he stuck around for another four seasons, but Alou went on to become a great player, making six All-Star teams. He was considered to be a good trade piece because he was close to Major League ready, but the Pirates had no spot in the outfield for him.

On this date in 1934, the Pirates signed pitcher Burleigh Grimes, who was 40 years old at the time and nearing the end of his Hall of Fame career. This was his third and final tour with the Pirates and it didn’t go well, with a 7.24 ERA in 27.1 innings over eight appearances.

Players born on this date include:

Ross Ohlendorf, pitcher from 2008 until 2011. Will forever be remembered as the pitcher who won his arbitration case after a 1-11 season. For the record, he won just one game the next season as well.

Brett Gideon, pitcher during the 1987 season. He was traded to the Expos in a deal that worked out much better than the Moises Alou deal. The Pirates got Neal Heaton back and he spent three seasons in Pittsburgh, while Gideon pitched 5.2 innings for the Expos.

Mark Ross, pitched for Pirates in 1987 and 1990. Threw 12.2 innings over nine games for the 1990 NL East champs.

Clise Dudley, pitcher for the Pirates on September 15, 1933. He recorded one out, but not before allowing five earned runs, leaving him with the highest ERA(135.00) in team history. Other pitchers have failed to record an out, while giving up runs, but they get an “inf.” next to their name for infinite. I think I’d rather have that than a 135.00 ERA.

Billy Gumbert, pitcher for the franchise in 1890 and 1892. He did something you will never see again from a Major League pitcher. He also played for Louisville for one game in 1893, so it wasn’t just a coincidence from the team he was on. Gumbert was from Pittsburgh and only pitched home games, never traveling on the road. His only game for Louisville was as a fill-in when they were playing the Pirates and needed a pitcher on short notice. The official reason from the local papers at the time, was that he had business ventures he couldn’t be away from for any amount of time.

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I’m pretty sure Cole will start getting some complete games soon. Hopefully his first one comes in the playoffs, and preferably against the Cards.


Cole throws too many pitches to be in position for a CG. Unless he gets more efficient, I’m not seeing one in his future.

Looking back, he had one legitimate opportunity in his career, back in April 2014. Left after 8IP and 91 pitches in a 1-1 game where he was also 2-3 at the plate. Cole lost his shutout in the top 8th on a solo HR. He was not lifted for a PH. Bucs scored in bottom 8th, but Grilli blew the save.

Cole has only pitched into the 9th once (leaving after 8.1 and 111 pitches) and has only finished eight six times in 3 seasons, all at more than 100 pitches except the game mentioned in 1st para above.


I think cole will get more efficient. He has definitely not hit his prime yet and is strong… Specialization is what it is though so I doubt even as strong as he is late in games he will ever get more than 3-4 a year.


#Reclaim Lunchbox

He’s gotta be better than Ishikawa.


We have 4-5 guys in Indy who are better than Ishikawa…but the Pirates prefer older veteran retreads over their prospects.

Kris Mosley

You don’t bring up prospects to be pinch hitters, you want them getting ABs.
If a starting spot miraculously opened up then I could see the calls for prospects.
But you don’t bring still developing prospects up to have them ride the bench.
Players like Ishikawa have value on a contending team.
This isn’t 10 years ago everyone, the prospects will come up when there is a place for them to contribute.

Scott K

The days of complete game starts are going the way of the Dodo.

Scott Kliesen

MLB could start playing 7 inning games and that record still wouldn’t be threatened John.


Yep, Ed was a terrific pitcher for those couple of years. But he followed up those two years of sub 2.5 ERA’s and a combined WHIP under 1.00 (ERA+ in the high 130’s) with a 4.31 ERA and 1.4 WHIP, had a bounce-back year in 1888 (2.31 ERA, 480 IP, 55 CG, and a 1.133 WHIP), collapsed in 1889, attempted a comeback in the Players’ League in 1890, and was gone. For his career with the Alleghenies, he started 240 games and completed 235.

He’s buried in Union Dale Cemetery, FWIW.


Jeff Locke has to feel like the Rodney Dangerfield of the Pirates Rotation – just gets no respect! Well, in the last 3 years that he has been in the Rotation he has averaged 24 starts a year with a 3 year record of 23 – 19. He has done that making $500K per year or a total of $1.5 mil. His WAR over those 3 years is 2.5 which in today’s dollars is worth $19.1 mil or about 13 times what he was paid.

Scott K

Good point Emjay. But if you’re NH, is he worth paying as he goes into arbitration years?

Be interesting to see how he’s dealt with next season when presumably JT & TG are ready to be inserted into rotation.


He should be signed to a long term contract along the lines of Morton’s if they can pull it off. I think he is a better pitcher then Morton and would hope that he would just get a bit more “intestinal fortitude” from his mentor.


Given that we have Taillon and Glasnow knocking on the door, as well as Kingham, I’d prefer that the Pirates open up spots in next year’s rotation for a couple of them in 2016. Burnett is retiring, and of the two I would let Morton walk and keep Locke – primarily because he’s a LH starter.

Some combination of two out of Taillon, Glasnow, and Kingham should be in the rotation next Spring. Kingham may not yet be fully recovered by TJS.


I agree John – for most pitchers, it seems to be at minimum of 15 months recovery…sometimes even longer (see Dylan Bundy)….

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