Three months ago, Ke’Bryan Hayes was drafted out of high school by the Pittsburgh Pirates with the 32nd overall pick in the amateur draft. Last night, he was fielding a grounder with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and rocketing a throw over to first base for the final out of the New York-Penn League season. Hayes capped off an impressive rookie season with a celebration on the field, proving that he could handle playing in a league that was filled with college players, who were 3-4 years older than him in most cases.
The Gulf Coast League was where Hayes started this year, and that’s the appropriate level for someone his age. He showed that he was advanced for the league as a player, despite being younger than the average player in the league. He finished second in the batting title race and put up an .809 OPS, which was the fifth best mark in the league. Some of the younger players in the league were up from the Dominican Summer League, which is a bit tougher than the average competition Hayes saw in high school. Plus those players were playing a lot more baseball before the GCL season began, seeing action in Extended Spring Training. Hayes played 29 games in high school this year.
Late in the season, Hayes was sent to Morgantown to finish the season. He got into 44 games in the GCL and was able to play another 12 regular season games in the NYPL, plus five playoff games. It wasn’t just the difference in competition that was good for his future, it was getting used to minor league life. When you play in the GCL, it’s noon games in front of a handful of fans and scouts. When you play on the road in the GCL, you’re back at Pirate City within an hour or so of the game. You don’t get the feel of long bus rides and staying in hotels, packing for road trips. You don’t get night games, you don’t get big crowds and walk-up music, with mid-inning gimmicks serving as distractions. The GCL isn’t that different from high school, so moving him up for the last two weeks gave him a real feel of minor league life to help prep him for next season.
The late season call-up from the GCL to a higher affiliate is usually a precursor to playing full-season ball the next year. Not always, as some players are legitimately there to help fill out rosters, but for a player like Hayes, it’s almost a guarantee. He of course needs to come into camp with the mindset that he has to earn a spot in West Virginia next year, because we have seen good players left behind due to conditioning.
When he got called up to Morgantown, I basically said that his results there don’t really matter. It’s a league well above what he is used to, and just the experience alone is good for him. If he did well, even better. Thanks to MiLB.tv showing the game last night, I got to see Hayes play for the first time. I’ve seen all the video on him for the draft, he was after all someone we talked about often in our draft coverage, so I read all the reports and watched all the videos. That’s not the same as seeing how he reacts during games though.
I have to say, for an 18-year-old playing in a title game, he played outstanding. He handled everything smoothly at third base, he showed patience at the plate. Hayes even went the other way on a single and dropped down a terrific sacrifice bunt. There were college players in this brief series that had a lot of trouble just putting down a bunt, with numerous failed attempts, but his bunt would have made Dots Miller proud(29 sacrifice bunts as a rookie in 1909!).
Hayes didn’t hit for any power as a rookie, collecting six doubles and a triple in 199 at-bats including playoffs. He only hit .220 with Morgantown and went 2-for-14 in the playoffs, but he showed that he wasn’t out of his league, when he literally was out of his league playing in the NYPL at his age. He should have no trouble handling the jump to West Virginia next year and watching him at the plate and in the field should give you hope that the Pirates will have a solid third baseman for awhile, someone who can win Gold Gloves and get on base at a high clip.
With Morgantown taking home the NYPL title on Tuesday night, all that is left is for Indianapolis to try to make a comeback in their series, as they dropped the opener to Columbus. The NYPL title for Morgantown is the first for a Pirates’ affiliate in the league since Williamsport won the title during the 2003 season. That team had seven future Major League players, including Paul Maholm, Tom Gorzelanny and Nyjer Morgan.
Indianapolis has set their rotation for games 2-4, starting with Wilfredo Boscan tonight. They will go with Tyler Glasnow on Thursday night and if it gets to game four, Chad Kuhl will be on the mound, making his AAA debut. Kuhl was called up from Altoona after Vance Worley was promoted. That’s going to be a tough assignment for Kuhl, who last pitched in the AA playoffs last Wednesday and only lasted 1.2 innings due to his poor performance. Now he is scheduled to go nine days later, while also moving up a level? He had a great season and was the best choice from Altoona to fill this spot, but this will be quite a challenge. First things first though, as Indianapolis needs to win at least one game to make sure it gets to him on Friday.
The Morning Report and Prospect Watch will both continue until the day the last playoff game is played. You can find last night’s Prospect Watch here.
Indianapolis vs Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Best-of-five series. Indianapolis won the series 3-0
9/9: Indianapolis 7, Scranton/WB 3
9/10: Indianapolis 6, Scranton/WB 1
9/11: Indianapolis 4, Scranton/WB 2
Indianapolis vs Columbus. Best-of-five series. International League finals. Indianapolis trails series 1-0
9/15: Columbus 6, Indianapolis 5
9/16: @Columbus 6:35
9/17: @Indianapolis 7:05
9/18: @Indianapolis 7:15 if necessary
9/19: @Indianapolis 7:05 if necessary
Altoona vs Bowie. Best-of-five series. Altoona lost the series 3-1.
9/9: Altoona 8, Bowie 7
9/10: Bowie 7, Altoona 0
9/11: Bowie 11, Altoona 3
9/12: Bowie 3, Altoona 0
West Virginia Power vs Hickory. Best-of-three series. The Power lost the series 2-1.
9/9: West Virginia 4, Hickory 2
9/11: Hickory 6, West Virginia 3
9/12: Hickory 1, West Virginia 0
Morgantown vs Williamsport. Best-of-three series. Morgantown won the series 2-1
9/9: @Morgantown 7:05 postponed until 9/10
9/10: Morgantown 2, Williamsport 1
9/11: Williamsport 3, Morgantown 1
9/12: @Williamsport 12:00 postponed until 9/13
9/13: Morgantown 4, Williamsport 0
Morgantown vs Staten Island. Best-of-three series. NYPL Finals. Morgantown wins 2-0
9/14: Morgantown 4, Staten Island 3
9/15: Morgantown 3, Staten Island 1
The Pirates trail by three games in the division to the Cardinals. They have a four game lead for the top wild card spot.
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates won game one of the doubleheader on Tuesday by a 5-4 score, then dropped game two to the Cubs by a 2-1 score. A.J. Burnett will make his second start since returning from injury tonight. He went five innings in his first game back against the Brewers, allowing three earned runs. The Cubs will send Jake Arrieta to the mound. He has a 1.99 ERA and he’s looking for his 20th win. He has faced the Pirates three times this season, going seven innings in each game. He’s allowed a total of two earned runs in those 21 innings.
MLB: Pittsburgh (87-57) vs Cubs (83-61) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: A.J. Burnett (3.14 ERA, 38:117 BB/SO, 140.1 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (83-61) @ Columbus (83-61) 6:35 PM
Probable starter: Wilfredo Boscan (3.07 ERA, 45:86 BB/SO, 126.0 IP)
AA: Altoona (74-68)
High-A: Bradenton (74-64)
Low-A: West Virginia (87-52)
Short-Season A: Morgantown (42-34) NYPL Champs
Rookie: Bristol (29-36)
GCL: Pirates (28-31) (season recap)
DSL: Pirates (30-42) (season recap)
Here we have two videos of Max Moroff from earlier in the season. He was just named the Player of the Year for the Pirates minor league system.
9/15: Radhames Liz designated for assignment. Vance Worley added to Pirates.
9/15: Chad Kuhl promoted to Indianapolis. Matt Benedict assigned to Altoona. Brad Lincoln activated from DL.
9/10: A.J. Burnett activated from disabled list.
9/9: Zack Dodson promoted to Indianapolis.
9/9: Felipe Gonzalez and Hunter Morris promoted to Altoona. Robert Stock assigned to GCL Pirates.
9/7: Travis Ishikawa activated from disabled list.
9/5: Travis Ishikawa assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.
9/3: Hunter Morris assigned to GCL Pirates
This Date in Pirates History
Eight former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including a couple recent ones we can skip over quickly. Michael Martinez (2014 roster filler) and Brandon Moss (2008-10 disappointment, who had some success elsewhere) both celebrate birthdays today. The others born on this date include:
John Ericks, first round draft pick of the Cardinals in 1988, his entire big league career was spent in Pittsburgh from 1995 until 1997. He had a 4.78 ERA in 162 innings, making 22 starts and 35 relief appearances.
Scott Medvin, 1988-89 reliever. In 23 appearances with Pirates, he had a 5.03 ERA in 34 innings.
Mark Parent, hit .232 with 15 homers in 69 games for the 1995 Pirates. He was a waiver pickup from the Cubs after the 1994 season and was returned to them during the 1995 season. Played 13 years in the majors.
Chuck Brinkman, 1974 catcher. Was purchased from White Sox in July and went 1-for-7 in four games, his last games in the big leagues. His brother Ed Brinkman played 15 years in the majors.
Con Dempsey, 1951 pitcher. The Pirates purchased the 28-year-old from the San Francisco Seals(PCL) following the 1950 season and returned him in early May after he posted a 9.00 ERA in two starts and one relief appearance.
Sam Moran. His only Major League season was 1895, as a late-season addition with the Pirates. Made six starts and four relief appearances, posting a 7.47 ERA in 62.2 innings. Moran began his career in 1893 in Altoona and by 1897, he was sick due to kidney failure, passing away at age twenty-six. You can read a bio of him here, which is a link FILLED with early player bios and a recap of the 1887-96 seasons.