Morning Report: Adam Frazier and His AFL Assignment

Adam Frazier has a nine point lead in the Eastern League batting title race with six games left. There will be focus on him the next few days as he goes for the title, but he will also be talked about a lot after the season. It was announced on Tuesday that he will attend the Arizona Fall League in October. Before the announcements were made, I put together my guesses for the AFL and Frazier was the only one I got right. The Pirates went heavy with Bradenton players, which is against the AFL rules for players(no more than one player below AA per team), but the AFL rules are the most loosely enforced rules you’ll ever see. It’s more like a suggestion that no one follows, sort of like the hall monitor of league rules. Last year, the Pirates sent four players that weren’t eligible.

Back to Frazier and the reason I guessed him is that he is the perfect player to send. He missed time at the beginning of the year, so he can go to the AFL to pick up some lost at-bats. He can also go to get more time at positions other than shortstop. Frazier is hitting well this year, but he isn’t going to be a power hitter and he doesn’t take a lot of walks. He has decent speed, yet he isn’t good at stealing bases. His defense is average, so there isn’t a Gold Glove in his future. He’s a solid player, but that all adds up to someone that needs position versatility.

Frazier should be at Indianapolis next year, but the Pirates seem pretty good around the infielder for a few years. If he’s able to play multiple positions well, including shortstop, then he has a lot of value as a bench player. If he’s able to do that and hit with average, then you’re talking about someone that could be a bench player in the majors by 2017. It will be interesting to see how he is used in the AFL. Moving him around a lot for 32 games, doesn’t do a lot of good for getting him better at any particular spot, so you might see him concentrate on one position that he hasn’t played much, like third base. Although, his future could very well be as a player that moves around a lot, so getting him used to that role might not be a bad idea.

Harold Ramirez has a .337 average, which is 13 points higher than the FSL leader. Unfortunately for Ramirez, he is 41 plate appearances short of qualifying with four games left. He can still win the batting title without reaching the minimum amount of at-bats, but he’s really going to need to raise his average over the last four games. You might remember back in July that Ramirez and Tito Polo went up to Toronto to play for Colombia in the Pan-Am games. Now obviously you don’t know what he would have done if he stayed with Bradenton, plus I’m sure that he would rather represent his country, but it’s likely that leaving for that tournament cost him the batting title.

The Bradenton Marauders might not make the playoffs, but the certainly came up big when it mattered, sweeping Palm Beach in a three-game series, where one loss would have given the division to the Cardinals. Bradenton trails by two games with four games left, so now they will need some help from another teams. Palm Beach holds the tie-breaker, so the Marauders basically need to go 4-0 and hope Palm Beach wins one or none. That second part will be tough since Palm Beach is at home and they’re playing a team with a losing record. There’s still a chance, so we keep following.

Six days left in the minor league regular season. The Pirates’ affiliates have a total of 28 games left, and three teams have now finished their season. There is actually a slim chance that the top five affiliates make the playoffs, so we could still be busy for a few days after the season ends. We might see a player or two from Bristol go to Morgantown to finish the season, though they have already received five players from either the GCL or Bristol, so there might not be roster room.

Pirates Game Graph


Source: FanGraphs

Playoff Push

The Pirates trail by six games in the division to the Cardinals. They have a 4.5 game lead for the top wild card spot.

Indianapolis is 5-5 in their last ten games. They have a one game lead in the division with six games left.

Altoona is 5-5 in their last ten games. They are in second place, 4.5 games back of Bowie and they lead the wild card by four games, with six games left.

Bradenton is 6-4 in their last ten games. They trail Palm Beach by two games in the standings with four games left. Palm Beach holds the tie-breaker.

West Virginia has clinched a playoff spot.

Morgantown is 6-4 in their last ten games. They are tied for the lead in the wild card chase with six games left in the season.

The Bristol Pirates’ season is finished. They did not make the playoffs.

The GCL Pirates’ season is finished. They did not make the playoffs.

The DSL Pirates’ season is finished. They did not make the playoffs.

Today’s Schedule

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates lost 7-4 to the Brewers on Tuesday night. Jeff Locke will be on the mound for the Pirates tonight. He gave up two earned runs over seven innings in his last start, which was against the Marlins. Locke has faced Milwaukee three times, allowing six earned runs over 21.1 innings. The Brewers will go with 22-year-old righty Zach Davies, who is making his Major League debut.

In the minors, Chad Kuhl gets the start for Altoona tonight, his 26th of the season. In his last four starts combined, he has allowed four earned runs in 24 innings. Kuhl is fourth in the Eastern League in ERA at 2.52 and his 1.16 WHIP ranks tenth in the league. Alex McRae has given up one run in each of his last two starts, allowing a total of seven hits in 13 innings. Bradenton has off today. Bristol, DSL and GCL Pirates are done. You can view last night’s prospect watch here.

MLB: Pittsburgh (79-51) @ Milwaukee (56-75) 8:10 PM
Probable starter: Jeff Locke (4.46 ERA, 52:105 BB/SO, 141.1 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (80-58) @ Columbus (79-59) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Chris Volstad (3.26 ERA, 40:86 BB/SO, 141.0 IP)

AA: Altoona (72-64) @ Bowie (76-59) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Chad Kuhl (2.52 ERA, 40:96 BB/SO, 146.1 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (71-63, 39-25 second half) vs St Lucie (67-67) 6:30 PM 9/3 (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD

Low-A: West Virginia (82-51, 45-19 second half) vs Lexington (55-77) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Alex McRae (4.81 ERA, 31:86 BB/SO, 127.1 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (37-33) vs Williamsport (42-26) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: TBD

Rookie: Bristol (29-36)

GCL: Pirates (28-31) (season recap)

DSL: Pirates (30-42) (season recap)

Highlights

Here is the last AAA homer from Elias Diaz, who was promoted to the majors for the first time on Tuesday.

Recent Transactions

9/2: Austin Meadows, Tyler Eppler and Montana DuRapau sent to Altoona. Matt Benedict and Mel Rojas Jr sent to Indianapolis

9/1: Luis Escobar promoted to Morgantown.

9/1: Casey Sadler placed on 60-day DL. Elias Diaz, Bobby LaFromboise, Jaff Decker recalled

9/1: Rob Scahill activated from DL. Travis Snider and Radhames Liz added to 40-man roster.

8/31: Wilkin Castillo added to Indianapolis roster. John Bowker and Adam Miller activated from disabled list.

8/29: Alen Hanson activated from Temporary Inactive List. Wilkin Castillo assigned to GCL.

8/28: Carlos Munoz promoted to Morgantown.

8/28: Edwin Espinal activated from Bradenton disabled list. Clay Holmes placed on disabled list.

8/28: Kelson Brown placed on disabled list.

8/26: Stephan Meyer and Tanner Anderson promoted to Morgantown.

8/26: Cristian Mota promoted to Bristol.

8/25: Ke’Bryan Hayes promoted to Morgantown. Raul Siri promoted to Bristol.

8/25: Kevin Kramer promoted to West Virginia. Jordan Luplow placed on disabled list.

8/25: John Bowker placed on disabled list. Kelson Brown activated from disabled list.

8/25: Pedro Florimon sent outright to Indianapolis.

8/25: Alen Hanson placed on temporary inactive list.

8/22: Jordy Mercer activated from disabled list. Travis Ishikawa placed on disabled list.

8/22: Josh Wall sent outright to Indianapolis.

8/22: Pirates release Jesus Ronco and Luis Brun

8/21: Josh Harrison activated from disabled list. Josh Wall designated for assignment.

8/20: Corey Hart assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.

8/20: Travis Snider signed to minor league deal.

8/19: Josh Wall added to Pirates. Pedro Florimon designated for assignment.

This Date in Pirates History

Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus one transaction of note. On this date in 1972, the Pirates sold pitcher Bob Veale to the Boston Red Sox, ending his 11-year career in Pittsburgh. Veale was actually in AAA at the time of the deal. He didn’t pitch well in 1971 or early in 1972, but at one time he was a dominating pitcher when he was on his game. His 1652 strikeouts are second in team history and he owns four of the top seven strikeout seasons in franchise history

Players born on this date include:

Gaby Sanchez, first baseman from 2012 until 2014. He had a .722 OPS in 309 games with the Pirates and he was slightly better over five seasons with the Marlins.

Yamid Haad, pinch-hitter for the Pirates on July 5, 1999. Signed as an amateur free agent by the Pirates out of Colombia, Haad was called up after Jason Kendall had his season-ending ankle injury in 1999. Haad grounded out to third base in his only at-bat. He was called up again later in the season when Keith Osik got hurt, but he never played. Haad made the majors briefly in 2005 with the Giants, his only other big league experience during his 14-year pro career.

Sean Lawrence, lefty pitcher for the 1998 team. He was a sixth round pick of the Pirates in the 1992 draft. Had a 7.32 ERA in 19.2 innings that season, his only time in the majors.

Luke Walker, lefty pitcher during the 1965-66 seasons, then again from 1968 until 1973. Won 15 games during the 1970 season, then ten during the 1971 WS winning season. Started game four of the Series, but couldn’t make it out of the first inning. Walker had a 3.47 ERA in 733.1 innings with the Pirates.

Ben Sankey, shortstop from 1929 until 1931. Hit .213 in 72 big league games, all with the Pirates. Played over 1500 minor league games.

 

  • Caught a handful of AFL games on the MLB network last couple years. Definitely on the baseball bucket list. Looks cool, like a Futures ASG league. They might not all pan out, but all their best baseball is in front of them.

    • Those games are like watching AA All-Star games everyday. I’d definitely like to catch some. Maybe Tim will work out a rotation, since he goes this year, someone else can go next year

  • Every game from here on out is a “must-win” but the Bucs cannot suffer a losing streak at this point in the season and recover from it. They have got to beat the Brewers.

  • I remember Luke Walker well. He sent a note to his mom “I’m alive and well and not pitching in Pittsburgh”.

  • Would the ceiling on Frazier be Brock Holt? If so, he could be a very serviceable MLB player.

    • There are definitely some similarities with their tools and he is one of the names I was thinking of mentioning. The other was Jeff Keppinger

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