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Morning Report: Some Decent Prospects are Off to Slow Starts

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Earlier this week we announced our Pitcher and Player of the Month awards for April. I mentioned a few days ago that around this time last year, I did a “who’s hot/who’s not” article for a Morning Report. I didn’t want to do the “who’s hot” part for April, because it would basically be the same players listed in the Pitcher and Player of the Month articles. So I waited until the lists were announced before doing this article on the players currently off to a poor start. I picked a pitcher and a hitter from each affiliate.

Indianapolis

There are a lot of choices on offense, but I’m going with Mel Rojas Jr., because not only is he playing poorly, he’s barely playing. For a player with so much raw potential, he just never put all the tools together. Now he has a .484 OPS and spends more time in the first base coaching box than he does in the outfield (that’s not a joke).

On the pitching side, it has to be Trey Haley, only because all five starters are doing great. Haley has a 6.97 ERA and 1.84 WHIP, with only six strikeouts. He hits 97-98, but so far he isn’t having success doing it.

Altoona

This is a tough one because a lot of players are doing good and some of the ones who started off slow, are starting to hit. I could go with Reese McGuire because he’s hitting .210, but you have to love the defense, and like the 13:7 BB/SO ratio. I’ll go with his backup Jin-De Jhang instead, because the defense isn’t as good and his OPS is now down to .595 through 36 at-bats.

The pitching side has a lot of good (or is it bad?) choices for the “not hot” player. I think Cody Dickson is the choice here because he has the most potential of the group and it’s not showing. He doesn’t attack hitters and tries to rely on players chasing pitches rather than putting them away. I call that Kip Wells disease.

Bradenton

A lot of hitters on Bradenton started off slow this year. While other players have been worse, Jordan Luplow is the early disappointment for me. He has a .584 OPS through 21 games, and he’s striking out nearly twice as often as last year. As a corner outfielder only this season, it also gives him less prospect value than last year when he played third base.

The pitcher is another one who isn’t doing the worst, but the performance of Yeudy Garcia early on has been very poor. He may have turned things around in his last start, with six shutout innings. He still has a 1.66 WHIP and he’s averaging less than four innings per start.

West Virginia

This is an easy one. Casey Hughston is hitting .136 with 36 strikeouts in 88 at-bats. His .416 OPS is the lowest on the team. You expect a little more from a third round draft pick out of college in Low-A ball.

This is the best of the worst pitchers, but I expected a little better out of Dario Agrazal. I included him here even though a 4.05 ERA and 1.30 WHIP aren’t horrible numbers. The latter is actually just above league average. He has a strong season last year for Morgantown and showed increased velocity numbers in the Fall Instructional League, while maintaining plus command, so it seemed like this could be a breakout year for him. It’s still early enough that could happen, but it wasn’t a good first month for him.

PIRATES GAME GRAPH


Source: FanGraphs

TODAY’S SCHEDULE

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates lost 6-2 to the Cubs on Wednesday afternoon. They have off today, as they travel to St Louis for a weekend series. Francisco Lirano will be on the mound Friday night.

In the minors, Clay Holmes gets the morning start for Altoona. His last outing was his shortest of the season, six runs over 2.2 innings. In his three previous starts combined, Holmes gave up four runs over 17 innings. Logan Sendelbach gets the start for West Virginia. He has allowed two runs or less in all five starts this season. He has an 0.99 WHIP and a 1.25 GO/AO ratio.

Indianapolis has off today. When they return to play on Friday, Chad Kuhl will be on the mound. Bradenton was rained out yesterday. Jose Regalado was supposed to start yesterday, but it looks like he is being skipped in favor of Colten Brewer.

MLB: Pittsburgh (15-13) @ Cardinals (13-14) 8:15 PM 5/6
Probable starter: Francisco Liriano (3.86 ERA, 17:29 BB/SO, 28.0 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (14-11) vs Louisville (15-10) 7:15 PM 5/6 (season preview)
Probable starter: Chad Kuhl (1.31 ERA, 4:17 BB/SO, 20.2 IP)

AA: Altoona (11-15) @ Erie (11-14) 11:05 AM (season preview)
Probable starter: Clay Holmes (6.08 ERA, 13:13 BB/SO, 23.2 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (12-14) vs Charlotte (14-12) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Colten Brewer (3.60 ERA, 10:22 BB/SO, 25.0 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (16-9) @ Charleston (17-8) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Logan Sendelbach (1.32 ERA, 3:14 BB/SO, 27.1 IP)

HIGHLIGHTS

Here is why we say Willy Garcia has the best arm in the system.

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

5/2: Jason Creasy placed on disabled list. Brandon Waddell promoted to Altoona

5/2: Tate Scioneaux promoted to Bradenton.

4/30: Jared Hughes activated from the disabled list. Rob Scahill sent to Indianapolis.

4/27: Sam Street placed on the temporary inactive list. Jose Regalado added to Bradenton.

4/25: Pedro Florimon added to Indianapolis roster. Antoan Richardson released.

4/25: Austin Meadows added to Altoona roster. Justin Maffei assigned to Morgantown.

4/25: Jake Burnette placed on disabled list. Logan Ratledge assigned to West Virginia.

4/22: Pirates recall Jason Rogers. Cole Figueroa optioned to Indianapolis.

4/21: Pirates release Michael Morse.

4/21: Jhondaniel Medina assigned to Altoona.

4/21: Cory Luebke assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.

4/20: Jared Hughes assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.

4/19: Julio Vivas added to West Virginia roster. Logan Ratledge assigned to Morgantown.

 

THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY

Three former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including two that played for Pirates teams that went to the World Series. The most recent player born on this date was Tommy Helms, a seldom used infielder for the 1976-77 teams. He joined the Pirates at the end of a career that included winning the 1966 Rookie of the Year award, two Gold Gloves and he was a two-time All-Star.

Gene Curtis played left field for a short time for the 1903 Pirates. It’s the second day in a row that a 1903 outfielder was mentioned, as yesterday was the birth date of Lou Gertenrich, who lasted just one game with the team. Curtis played the last five games of the regular season, while the Pirates rested their regulars in advance of the first World Series. It was his only time in the Majors.

Jose Pagan was born on this date in 1935. He played eight years in Pittsburgh from 1965 until 1972. Pagan was mostly a third baseman with the Pirates, although he played every spot but center field and pitcher during his time. In 625 games, he had a .690 OPS, and he had a .267 average during the 1971 World Series.

On this date in 1987, Rafael Belliard hits the first of two home runs he hit during his 17-year career. He went to the plate 1171 times with the Pirates and 1353 times with the Braves, the only two teams he played for during his career. His second homer came ten years later. You can read more about the game in which he homered for the Pirates in the link above. You can find the boxscore here.

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John Dreker
John Dreker
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball. When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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