Early Look at the 2016 Pirates Minor League Rosters – Pitching Edition

I’ve done early previews this off-season of the minor league infield and outfield alignments for the Pirates at the start of the 2016 season. With the 2015 recaps of the rotation and the bullpen complete, I wanted to wrap the series up with a look at the pitching groups at the four full-season levels.

Most of this will be focused on the rotations. The bullpens in the minors don’t feature a lot of true prospects, especially in the lower levels. I’ll mention the relievers who are expected to be at each level, while noting the guys who could actually be prospects that can reach the majors. Most of the upper level guys have that shot in some capacity, even if it’s a depth option. Very few lower level relievers will have that shot. As for the rotation options, a lot will eventually burn out or turn into relievers, but at the start of the year, the Pirates will have a lot of prospects at each level, with a lot of tough decisions.

Here are the previews for each level.

Indianapolis

Indianapolis might be the easiest team to project heading into the 2016 season. They will have Tyler Glasnow and Jameson Taillon for sure. The other three spots could be taken by Chad Kuhl, Trevor Williams, and Steven Brault.

One of those three could easily be left back in Altoona, and my money would be on Brault. It’s not because Brault doesn’t deserve to be in Indianapolis at the start of the year. It’s more of a depth issue early in the season. The Pirates tend to sign at least one minor league free agent for early season depth. After injuries that will wipe out the 2016 seasons for Casey Sadler and Brandon Cumpton, they will definitely need to go this route.

I picked Brault because Kuhl and Williams have already moved up to Triple-A. That doesn’t guarantee anything, but it makes them the favorites to start at the higher level. Brault will definitely make it to Indianapolis at some point in 2016. He could be joined later in the year by Nick Kingham, after the right-hander returns from Tommy John surgery. You can also expect other minor league free agents to make starts here and there throughout the year, while mostly working as bullpen depth.

In terms of relief pitching prospects who could pitch in Indianapolis, most of this will likely be minor league free agents. If he’s healthy again, John Holdzkom could be the top relief pitching prospect at the level. Waiver wire guys like Jorge Rondon and Guido Knudson could also factor in the mix here, assuming they don’t make the active roster and clear waivers. As for relief prospects who could make the jump from Double-A, the list includes John Kuchno, Tom Harlan, Jhondaniel Medina, Brett McKinney, and Montana DuRapau, although all of those guys would be expected later in the year, since the Triple-A bullpen will be mostly made up of minor league free agents and waiver claims.

Altoona

The Altoona rotation gets a bit difficult to project at this time of year, although the situation might become more clear after some trades and moves to the bullpen. For example, at this time last year the Altoona rotation looked crowded, with Tyler Glasnow, Jason Creasy, Chad Kuhl, John Kuchno, Zack Dodson, Angel Sanchez, Joely Rodriguez, and Shane Carle all vying for spots. The Pirates traded Carle and Rodriguez, moved Kuchno to the bullpen, and the Opening Day rotation was set.

This time around they’ve got Jason Creasy as a guy who will probably return to the level. Tyler Eppler made the jump at the end of the year, and should return to Altoona to start the 2016 season. It’s hard to say where Clay Holmes will end up, since he was coming off Tommy John surgery last year, and had limited time in Bradenton, with just 23 innings pitched. Moving him to Altoona might be a bit aggressive, although he’s Rule 5 eligible this off-season, needs to be protected, and would then have options burning. An aggressive push wouldn’t be bad here, especially since he looked good in his limited playing time.

As noted above, I could also see Steve Brault returning to the level, or possibly one of Kuhl or Williams if Brault makes the Triple-A rotation. That’s four spots already for the rotation, with a few guys being pushed up from Bradenton.

Cody Dickson would be the top candidate for the final spot. He was sent to the AFL this off-season, and has the highest upside of the remaining group. Other candidates are Frank Duncan, Matt Benedict, and Luis Heredia. The first two are more control and command guys, and don’t have the highest upside. They could be candidates to move to relief, with Benedict serving as upper level organizational rotation depth the last two years. Heredia has struggled recently, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him move to the bullpen next year, as he’s well behind the other rotation options listed.

As for relief prospects, out of the group listed in the Indianapolis section, the top guy is Montana DuRapau. Henry Hirsch and Isaac Sanchez are two of the top candidates that could join the rest of the previously mentioned list.

Bradenton

I mentioned that a few guys would be getting pushed up to Altoona, and that’s due to the amount of candidates in the lower levels. I’d expect most of the West Virginia rotation to move up to Bradenton. The top prospects — Yeudy Garcia and Stephen Tarpley — are sure bets to remain starters in Bradenton. I could also see Austin Coley and Alex McRae making the jump to the High-A rotation, although McRae seems like the most likely candidate to move to a long relief role in the bullpen.

The Pirates have given aggressive pushes to a lot of advanced middle round college arms in the past, taking this approach with Adrian Sampson, Chad Kuhl, and Tyler Eppler. All of those guys were skipped over West Virginia in their first full seasons. This year, the Pirates have two candidates for that jump in Brandon Waddell and JT Brubaker. Waddell is a lefty who went in the fifth round, and Brubaker is a right-hander who went in the sixth round.

The chances of both of these guys making the jump to Bradenton depends on whether McRae starts, and also depends on how the Altoona situation plays out. I definitely think one of them will make the jump, and both could due to the crowded pitching in West Virginia.

In terms of relievers, John Sever is the top prospect. He has started in the past, but the Pirates see his upside best as a power lefty out of the bullpen. Jared Lakind and Sam Street are two other candidates to jump to Bradenton. Dovydas Neverauskas should return to Bradenton, after doing well at the level at the end of the season. There’s also the chance that the Pirates could take a few of the middle-to-late round college guys that would otherwise be candidates to start in West Virginia, and make them relievers in Bradenton.

West Virginia

The West Virginia group could be the most crowded, and it all depends on how the Pirates handle some of their youngest arms. They sent Billy Roth, Mitch Keller, Trey Supak, and Gage Hinsz to Bristol last year, and it’s hard to say whether they’ll jump those guys to West Virginia, or send them back to short-season ball in Morgantown.

I say it’s hard to say because we really haven’t seen their approach with prep arms now that Bristol is in the system. In the past, the Pirates would send guys to the NYPL affiliate (which is now represented by Morgantown) their first full season, and West Virginia their second full season. Roth went to Bristol twice, struggling his first year. The 2014 prep pitchers spent their first full year in Bristol. So is the next step West Virginia, skipping over Morgantown? Or do they go on a slower path with the new affiliate in the lower levels, and a stronger pitching group in the upper levels holding them back?

I could see a mixture of both. It makes the most sense to send Roth up, since he’s older and had the best results of the group. The other three had some inconsistencies with their command, and might have to wait until Spring Training, in order to see how their stuff looks coming out of the off-season.

The decision is tough because there are other strong candidates for West Virginia. Dario Agrazal was great in Morgantown, and should remain as a starter for now. Bret Helton and Seth McGarry were both drafted high enough and are some of the better arms at the level. Therefore, you can expect both to start.

Luis Escobar was one of the top arms in the GCL last year, and got a big push at the end of the season to Morgantown. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see that push continuing, with the hard throwing right-hander going to full season ball.

Luis Paula and Logan Sendelbach are two other candidates to go to West Virginia, although they seem more likely to be long relievers or piggyback options. Scooter Hightower could be in the same situation. Hightower and Sendelbach are two candidates to skip over to Bradenton in relief roles if the Pirates give up on them as starting options.

Regardless of whether the four young arms from Bristol make the jump, you can expect a lot of piggybacking to take place at this level, with more starters than rotation spots. Neil Kozikowski could factor into that mix if he goes to West Virginia, although I’d expect him to start in Morgantown.

The Chain Reaction and Rotation Depth

There aren’t many open spots at each level for mid-season promotions, unless spots are created by a chain reaction of moves. That could start when Tyler Glasnow and/or Jameson Taillon are promoted to Pittsburgh.

The likely promotions from Altoona would be Steven Brault and Jason Creasy, assuming the latter is having a better season than he had last year.

Bradenton could see several candidates for promotions, and at this point you’d lean to Yeudy Garcia and Stephen Tarpley, since they’re the top prospects at the level.

As for West Virginia, there weren’t any big promotions in 2015 from the rotation, but that would definitely change in 2016 if Brandon Waddell and/or JT Brubaker start off in West Virginia.

The Pirates have a lot of starting options throughout the system. Obviously not all of those guys will remain starting options, with some jumping to the bullpen this year, and others making the jump in the future. There’s also the very likely possibility that not all of them will remain in the system until Spring Training, with some being used for trade chips, as we saw last year with Joely Rodriguez (Antonio Bastardo) and Shane Carle (Rob Scahill).

The big thing you want to see is upside, with the hope that someone turns into more than a number four or five starter. The guys below Indianapolis who have the best shot are Brault, Holmes, Garcia, Tarpley, and the four young pitchers from the 2015 Bristol rotation.

Analysis

  • So why exactly are the Pirates signing a minor league free agent when they have plenty of capable actualy prospects? That just doesn’t make sense to me. Glasnow,Taillon, Kuhl, Williams, and Brault is practically a better rotation than the Phillies major league rotation.

    • None of those guys will be ready on Opening Day.

      • I disagree because if the need was presented, I think at least one and possibly two or three of those kids could be ready to pitch in the majors on opening day. The Pirates, of course, will not choose to resort to that.

      • I have no doubts that any one of those guys could make a spot start if necessary.

        • well, making a spot start and making a good spot start are two different things 🙂

          And, they might even have some success at first, as young pitchers often do. Then their flaws come through, and those guys all still have them.

          Glasnow needs to find a useable changeup and to fix his control issues. I don’t feel confident AT ALL that he’d be successful if he came up now. I think he’d blow some people away with his fastball and get lit up otherwise, especially by lefties. 4.50 ERA, 1.30 whip with lots of Ks.

        • Problem would come in relying on some of those arms over 5+ starts. If Liriano goes down for 3 weeks and we now need 3-5 starts from that guy, it gets problematic unless you are just absurdly high on a few guys with minimal AAA experience.

          Lotta guy could do fine in a few games, but some of the names on that list should certainly not be the #6-7 options.

          • All true, but then again, you really don’t Chris Volstad starting 6-7 games for you, either. Early season rotation depth should be built into the 25-man as it was last year, which is why I feel *only* signing a mid-tier guy like Happ isn’t enough.

          • Preferably somebody who also projects to be a solid bullpen guy. Bud Norris isn’t even making top 50 free agent lists. Is Bud Norris *that* much worse than Morton/Locke? I’d take him for a Volquez-type contract…the first one, that is.

          • I’d rather go with the upside of a legit prospect than a career fringe/AAAA guy.

            • longterm absolutely, but in a situation where you need 5 starts and kinda hope they are at least average starts.

              I think rolling with young guys in AAA is fine, but having 1-2 guys in AAA or the bullpen able to cover a short stint is wise. Balance longterm team needs with short term needs.

  • I hate to be the bearer of bad news…but the Pirates aren’t trading for Freeman.

    This team is not going to pay $119M for six seasons when they can get Josh Bell for 6 1/2 and less than $35M.

    Now, Teheran? That’s a lot more realistic.

    • Yep. Some haven’t gotten or read the message: Build through the draft & IFA signings.

      In retrospect, failing to land the oft injured and incredibly expensive Stanton was a gift from the baseball Gods.

      Instead of Mr. Emergency Room Stanton, the Pirates will have a RFer, 1Bman and one or two top-of-the-rotation pitchers. I’d call that fortunate. Of course, Mr. ER Stanton led Miami to multiple WS victories since that trade failed to materialize….

      /sarcasm

    • Blaine: This is a case of John Hart being willing to trade FF for 1 or 2 Top of the Rotation SP’s – see the Heyward trade to get Shelby Miller from the Cards. And, when the Hart is willing to trade a young SP like Teheran, you better know everything about the kid since birth – he makes very few mistakes about SP’s, especially inexpensive young SP’s.

      Some folks thought that having Pierzynski behind the plate was a problem for Teheran, resulting in losing a lot of strikes. He already has more than 90 Starts, 600 innings pitched in the majors and is still only 24 – an age where most of the Pirate Prospect SP’s are still matriculating through AAA. We got Cole at 23, and may get Glasnow at 23 in 2016, but, Taillon and Kingham will be 24 at their earliest promotions to MLB. Are we too deliberate?

  • I lost track of where Angel Sanchez is now?

  • So a Closer, Shortstop, and a Starting Pitcher move have been made and I see two things that stand out to me… One: It’s expensive to play Two: Big Talent is available.
    That’s kind of what you’d want to hear if you going to pay up though right is that your going to get something for it. 1. The best closer in the game arguably. 2. The best defender in the game argualbly. Wow.
    Freeman to the burgh… I know I started chirping about this before the deadline last year and I’m still on board 100% even at the cost of Josh Bell and it hurts a little to say that.
    It’s also helpful to know that the Braves will also take on a “little” salary to replace a lot of salary – as they did with Eybar… prob not spelled right sorry but Pedro has a little salary on the bone they would probably ok with as part of the deal.
    We already missed the boat on Simmons, too bad there, but Freddy would look great in Black and Gold. It would also put an end to the 1B issues offensively and defensively for the next 6 years.

    • Taking on a little salary=a crap load more than Josh Bell to get it done.

      Bell+Glasnow and then 2 players.

      • I think Luke is right here. Though I’d hope they could keep Glasnow and deal someone else.

        • I honestly have no idea what ATL would place as far as value for Freeman. They could, with logic, go stupid high and ask for 3 top guys. He is a legit option at 1B with massive years of control left at a non terrible age.

          If we could do it for only 2 top young guys and B type filler id be tempted.

          • On the other hand…. 6 years and $118M is a lot of commitment. Assuming he stays a 4 WAR player and doesn’t get any better, and the $/WAR is at $7M now and goes up 5% per year, that 6 years is worth about $190M, so…

            No, there is no on the other hand. It’d be a great deal.

            • I consider myself a “prospect guy”, meaning I typically side towards holding onto them vs using them as a trade-able commodity, and this one even surprises me.

              Freeman notched his first 5 win season at the same age Josh Bell is *right now*. $118m is a lot of money, no question, but will it actually look like a lot when his deal really gets expensive? Is ~$20m/yr really going to be prohibitive by the end of this decade? That’s already below the 20% of team payroll threshold for the Pirates, without a single extra dollar spent over what they put out last year.

              Good defender, gets on base a ton, doesn’t strike out much, and comes with above average power production already. If there’s a better prototypical first baseman for the Pirates, I’d love to see him.

      • Wouldn’t do it for Bell and Glasnow

        • You would refuse if you were the Braves or Pirates?

          • You’d have to think itd be ATL denying that trade. PGH could see it as really only giving up Glasnow and replacing 6 years of Bell with 6 years of a much more solidified talent. That’d be best case scenario for PGH, give up 1 high upside arm for a legit threat at 1B. You lose Bell, but that’d be rather small potatoes since you got 6 years of talent at his spot.

            From an ATL standpoint, id ask for more.

          • Refuse if I was the Pirates. Definately overpaying.

            • Ironically…

              “Comment From Tim

              Tyler Glasnow, Josh Bell, and a lottery ticket prospect to Atlanta for Freeman and $20M, who says no?”

              “Dan Szymborski

              Pirates

              The thing about Freeman is that he’s a really good player, but he’s not a superstar – teams aren’t emptying out their best prospects for him.

              Or should I say I don’t *think* anyone’s emptying out their best prospects for him.

              Freeman’s owed what, 6/120? He would obviously beat that in free agency I think

              But does a team that has a long-term strategy that involves maximizing value from prospects pre-FA years even give up a Top 10/20 prospect for the privilege of giving Freeman 6/120? I dont’ think so

              I don’t think the Pirates would do well 6/100 for just Glasnow even.”

              http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/dan-szymborski-fangraphs-chat-111615/

              I would’ve sided with Luke, FWIW.

              • I side with Dan S. – there isn’t enough surplus value with Freeman’s contract to justify that kind of prospect haul.

                • I just did the value calculation elsewhere on the thread. 6 years of 4 WAR (assuming he doesn’t get any better and doesn’t get hurt) is pretty valuable. It’s about $5/WAR which is great for a free agent, but you’re right, it’s not great for a homegrown guy.

                  Replacement level is around 47 wins. The Pirates want to be in the 90s, so the Bucs need to buy about 48 wins for their salary of, say, $110M, which is about $2.2M per WAR. They are getting great value from McCutchen, Marte, & Cole and some of their other younger players, which allows them to spend more on guys like Liriano — who coincidentally cost about $5M per WAR last season.

                  So, on the one hand, they can’t fill their whole team with guys like this, even though they would be cheap for free agents. On the other hand, you do need some on the top end because it’s really hard to create a playoff team without them, and you can afford a few if you are getting value from the low end.

                  Glasnow and Bell are great prospects, but still prospects. They would be bargains for a while if they worked out. But Freeman is already very good and is just turned 26, and looks to be a bargain even if he doesn’t get better.

                  Tough call.

            • I agree.

  • Sorry meant this as a reply to Jered’s question about whether the Pirates should look into possibly trading for Freddie Freeman.

    Freddie Freeman signed an 8 year contract which still has 6 years remaining. Next year he will make $12 million which will escalate to $22 million a year in 2021. Would the Pirates be interested if the Braves included a cash incentive? And if so what would it take to acquire him? I also read the article today from Ken Rosenthal on Fox Sports and listed on mlbtraderumors and they suggested a package around Josh Bell. If the Braves included cash, they will expect better prospects. Can the Pirates even afford him? Or would they be better off with Bell and worse defense?

    • I’m in for two reasons: 1. Cole will not be under cheap/control forever.2. By the end of Freemans deal, top notch 1b are making 30plus, ten million more than his max easy.

      Inflation, Tim Williams.

      • I think the Pirates would be crazy not to try.

        We’re talking about a guy at a dire position of need who has *already* established himself as a 4 WAR player and will *still* be controlled for the same length of time that you’ll have Bell at an extremely reasonable rate. These players simply don’t hit the market very often. Josh Bell simply isn’t *that* good of a prospect that you sit back and quit thinking about the position for the next six year.

        Hart seems to love his pitchers, but he also need outfielders. If the Pirates used Polanco to headline a package, Bell and one of the lower level, high upside arms might be enough to get it done. Freeman alone provide as much or more value than you’re likely to get out of Bell *and* Polanco in 2016. and the Pirates should be able to start plugging in outfield prospect depth by midway through the next year.

        • Id love to see the starting ask price from ATL on Freeman, because its so rare to see a guy with his talent+years of control go on the trading block.

          • I’ve been one of the guys telling the Freeman backers they were having a pipe dream, but man, it sure looks like I was wrong. If they got rid of Simmons, I’m not sure I see what would keep them from making a reasonable deal for Freeman (and by reasonable, I mean one that another team would actually agree to).

            • It really does seem like they cant keep Freeman if they are going full rebuild, but i suppose they could have delusions that the team even without Simmons can stay relevant and in 2-3 years be ready to compete with Freeman as a center of the offense.

              Idk, id certainly listen to an offer. Even Glasnow+Bell makes me not hate the deal (though im a bit skeptical of Glasnow as far as actually reaching that insane upside).

        • I was thinking Polanco too. 6 years of Freeman is too good to pass up. Dealing both Polanco and Bell would open a hole in RF, which Harrison could plug once Kang comes back. But yeah, the chances that either Polanco or Bell becomes as good as Freeman is already are pretty slim.

      • Huh? Did I make a comment about Freeman that I don’t recall?

  • Atlanta has put Freeman on the trade block…we would be stupid not to inquire.

  • I am concerned that the bullpen option if needed is John Holdzkom. I hope that the bag of magic dust still works.

  • I wonder if the departure of Benedict will affect the Pirates approach in developing young pitchers at all? While the Pirates are well known for resurrecting pitchers careers under Benedict they really have struggled to develop their own young prospects (see 2009 draft class) and the shear number of TJ surgeries has to give pause and make you wonder if there might be a better way.

    • As they say on that other site, all the coffee cups.

    • The person who finds a better way to avoid Tommy John will end up being one of the highest paid people in the game.

      • Even so, it’s a pretty short list of pitchers drafted by Huntington who have made a start in the Show. Let alone be effective.

        It’s okay to call a spade a spade sometimes, Tim.

        • There’s a reason for that. They drafted a bunch of hitters in 2008. The 2009 draft was all prep guys and none of them worked. The 2010 group would have Taillon, Kingham, Cumpton, and Sadler if not for Tommy John.

          Anything after that is way too early. For example, Glasnow took about an aggressive a path as you can take, and he’s due up next year. That was 2011.

          They’ve done well developing pitchers. The reason they don’t have a ton of guys in the majors right now isn’t due too development. And that lack of pitchers will start top change next year.

          • The ’09 draft grade for Pitching has to be an F. All other years are too soon to give a final grade.

        • As I believe NMR pointed out/ I will be happy to simpy graduate some solid middle relief, 7th inning options instead of having to go outside the organization.

          • Yeah, I see no logical way to call the Pirates pitching development, to date, “good”. That would be an incredibly low bar to set.

            Incomplete, yes. They deserve a chance for the TJS guys to come back and show what they can do.

            But you can only use the injury excuse for so long.

      • No Tim. That person would end up being the highest paid person in the game !

    • Again on the TJ subject. We just can’t say it is the Pirate’s system of the many TJ cases. These pitchers now a days could have been overused in AAU and their regular little league games as well as the high school and college coaches over using them. Especially the most gifted players being over used.

      • I’m sorry but changing mechanics factors in there too. Charlie Morton is a perfect example of that. There’s a handful of Latin American kids too that were signed who had issues. No doubt they had nowhere near the wear and tear their American counterparts did.

        I get it. Not all the injuries are their fault. But the success of the last three years was in *spite* of their development issues. Certainly not because of them.

        Hell. Where did Brault and Williams come from?

        • Development=/= a player being in the majors. Thats the end goal of development, but as you never stop ranting about how our development has lacked ill keep pointing out how myopic that is.

          You can have a solid developmental team while not seeing immediate results on the big league club. If Taillon and Glasnow never end up being more than back end SPs, their development lacked in some area. Right now, what can be said is that the development on those guys is not complete.

          Its far from clear at all that PGH has “developmental issues” but it wont stop plenty of fans acting like not getting a HS kid to the bigs in 4 years is a crime.

          • OK.

            How bout a college arm?

            How bout a high school kid in six years?

            The goal posts keep moving, guys.

            • They really arent, you have Taillon and Glasnow both well within a fine timeline of reaching the majors. Taillon drafted in 2010 out of HS, TJ surgery stooping him from a 4-5 date of arrival.

              Tyler Glasnow drafted in 2011, potentially arriving in 2016.

              Those are the two frontline arms that drive everyones attention and development minds, and both are in no way moving slowly or being moved goalpost wise. Anyone upset they didnt arrive in 3 years has an issue with expectations. 3 years is pretty much best case.

              As far as pure development, PGH is incomplete but far from bad. They have plenty of fine arms in AAA, thats not lacking in development. They were able to develop arms well enough to have Taillon+Glasnow+Cumpton+Sadler all in AAA/when healthy in AAA and able to contribute.

              • The goalpost moving, which I am guilty of myself, comes from using the same “it’s too early” excuse to (rightfully, at the time) temper expectations for those first two draft classes. That time has passed, judgement can be rendered, and it cannot be reasonably justified as “good”.

                2010 class has been decimated by Tommy John injuries, but other than the R1.4 pick, none of those arms project as more than back end starters, and really Kingham is the only one who was a legit prospect.

                Given the organizations stated goal from the very beginning, I cannot imagine how this could be viewed as “success”.

      • Mets are 2nd in baseball with the number of TJ cases behind PGH. Id love to see someone argue the Mets arent doing well at keeping pitchers healthy and its their system that is causing their pitchers issues.

        The TJ issue starts well before the players reachers the professional level, and even Dr. James Andrews has asserted that fact. You have more HS guys undergoing the surgery, playing baseball year round, and throwing harder than before. It all adds up to a rather alarming issue.

        • I thought that is what I was saying? 🙂 Good job of reading what I was saying

        • Yes Andrews places a lot of blame on overuse at a young age. However, in his 2014 paper he never says that is the only problems. As for as professionals he talks about “consistent mechanics” That is left for interpretation. There is a lot we don’t know. And it’s certainly possible that sometime in the future we may find out a team(not necessarily the Pirates) are teaching something that may be leading to more TJS issues. There is a lot of speculation about mechanics. One thing Jeff Bittiger talks about specifically that he thinks is a mechanical problem putting people at higher risk for TJS is getting rid of the drop and drive delivery and trading it in for short strides to throw downhill. Sound familiar to any prized prospects we may know in our system?

          No- I’m not saying that is what caused Taillon’s problem. We will never know. But I am saying that someone has specifically mentioned some of the exact changes Taillon had/had made as a potential risk factor.

          There is a lot we don’t know. It’s not fair at this point to say Pirates are doing anything wrong. It’s also not accurate to say these are just happening because all these guys pitched too much at a young age. That certainly is a very large risk factor, but not the only one. There simply isn’t a lot we know right now. It’s certainly possible that the Pirates issues are nothing more than bad luck. It is NOT out of the real of possibility that there may be something else at play. We just don’t know.

          • It also should be mentioned that biomechanical studies have not validated Andrews hypothesis that throwing curveballs at an early ages places one at greater risk for TJS. In various age groups fastballs were shown to place the most torque on the elbow.

          • Oh of course its not the only problem, this is a very complex issue that spans many issues/stages. Its certainly anything but a simple issue.

            I dont think its just that they go too much at a young age, but its relatively clear that contributes and overall my issue was with the silly idea that its somehow PGH’s fault their guys are going down. I find it tough to point to anything PGH does and see them being problematic….PGH is often overly cautious with its guys. Proving, at this point, even being cautious with 23 year olds may not be enough.

            • There’s a lot we don’t know at this point. The Pirates have had 9 of the last 75 pitchers go down with TJS. That’s a lot. The Mets have something like 6 and that’s a lot as well. I think any team that is overrepresented may want to look at what they are doing and at least CONSIDER that something they are doing could potentially be a problem. That’s not assigning guilt but is a much different attitude than hey its “SILLY” to think we could be doing something wrong when we are leading the league in TJS recently by a large margin. ” We’re cautious, it’s implausible” we could be doing/teaching something wrong mechanically.” Actually if I had to guess I imagine the Pirates have a different attitude than you and are looking at this recent surge of TJS very closely and analyzing everything they do.

              Ryan Madson has gone back to drop and drive and felt that being so upright is what caused his original TJS. There’s a lot about the proper/improper mechanics we don’t know that may very well be contributing to TJS in addition to overuse at a young age.

              One thing that would be interesting imo is while understanding this is relatively small sample size to still look at the teaching philosophies of different organizations. Perhaps it is all rotten luck. But take the Brewers who are clearly underrepresented in recent TJS. Do they teach a different approach as far as the stride and how to throw on a downill plane? I have no idea but food for thought.

              • One distinct pitching philosophy the Brewers have is that they basically don’t let their minor league pitchers throw 2 seamers. Just 4 seamers for most part. Not saying this proves anything but I did find that interesting.

    • Track through this logic with me…

      -Under Benedict & Searage, the Pirates have been incredibly successful resurrecting Major League arms. Of all kinds. The one single thing that can unquestionably be said about all of the reclamation projects is that they all had *prior* big league success. They were all proven Major League talents.

      -Under Benedict & Searage, the Pirates have had considerably less success developing amateur talent, who inherently have *not* shown to be proven Major League talents.

      What is the variable here? Wouldn’t seem to be Benedict & Searage, as much as it is the talent they were given to work with. It’s not like those guys were taking guys off the scrap heap who were never anything, like a kid fresh out of high school. They weren’t even able to do much with (relatively) significant minor league arms acquired via trade, a la Bryan Morris and Stolmy Pimentel. Locke & Morton represent the pinnacle of their non-Major League development successes.

      Would seem to me that amateur talent acquisition may be a bigger issue than the development side of things.

      • It is an interesting observation. For all the kudos they receive(and they are worthy of credit for the reclamations) most of it involves getting guys who had prior success near their prior levels. Liriano was reborn as a 3 WAR pitcher but had once pushed north of 5 WAR. Vance Worley while a mess in Minnesota was a 2 WAR pitcher for awhile in Philly. Clayton Richard pushed 2 WAR as a career best in San Diego but was generally below that. Getting him even above replacement level is a modest accomplishment. But there haven’t been a lot of stories about minor league guys with impressive raw arms turning into something here. As you said they couldn’t even get impressive arms like Morris and Stolmy above replacement level for the most part.

        For all the talk about rebuilding Charlie Morton aka Halladay his best year in terms of WAR was 2011 when he was able to throw 170 some innings.

        • And if you buy into this logic, letting Benedict go to “pursue other roles” or whatever seems even worse considering the only publicly expressed difference in roles seems to be more authority in drafting/player acquisition. If the Pirates employ *anyone* who has been so good that sharing authority with Benedict was a dealbreaker I would looooove to know who this mystery genius is.

  • More is better. Sampson for Happ looks like a gift from heaven given the competition Sampson would have had to defeat to win a rotation spot in Pittsburgh. Of course, the trade depleted the organization’s pitching depth; yet, because the organization has so many quality pitchers, the loss of Sampson was barely a loss at all. And Sampson will likely have a stronger opportunity to succeed in Seattle.

    A true win-win outcome for the Pirates and Sampson.

  • I’ve enjoyed these a lot. I’m starting to be intrigued by Trevor Williams. Just has the look of a solid 3 or 4 one day. I’m still learning about him, but I like the makeup. Seems like the no nonsense type on the mound. Something about him makes me think he’ll be a yinzer favorite.

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