A few notes on the day Stephen Tarpley makes his season debut.
** We start with Tarpley, who has been out with an oblique injury suffered during Spring Training. This is his second late start to a season with the Pirates. Tim Williams has been keeping us updated on Tarpley’s return, announcing over the weekend that he would return today. Tarpley has missed some innings on paper, but he is still putting in work, going five innings in each of his last two starts in Extended Spring Training. Before that, he put in four innings on April 25th and three innings in his previous start, which was exactly 50 pitches. The natural progression is add an inning each start, so Tarpley has put in 20 innings already this season.
One “way too early” thought I had on Monday was the potential Arizona Fall League roster and who would be a good fit. Tarpley was one of the names I came up with because he could use the innings. Of course, they could have him make five starts in the Fall Instructional League and add 25-30 innings there as well, so that’s a possibility too. I was just trying for some potential prospects among guys currently in Bradenton, or in their first year at Altoona (with no prior AFL experience) because that’s the usual group they choose from for that assignment. Tarpley could be one of the better prospect of the Pirates sent to the AFL, so my early thoughts were mostly about who could make the roster more exciting to cover. He fits that group and he’s the type of player who could use the extra work.
** I said after Jameson Taillon’s last start that he could look Major League ready after his next start, which was last night. That’s not to be confused with just being better than the current #3-5 starters. It means he’s ready to perform at his current peak level each start, but could still see improvements in the majors to reach his actual peak. If you read the game recap or watched the game, that scenario obviously didn’t play out. On paper and by the looks of it, last night was his worst outing. The article after his last start was more about limiting his innings and when would the Pirates do that. They never gave an official limit and honestly they probably still aren’t close to deciding it. The want to see how he reacts after each game, but the 180 limit was kicked around and for them to get him there now, they would need to do some limiting soon.
Taillon is at 37.1 innings right now, with 25 starts left in the season. That would mean that if he averaged six innings per start (which is less than where he is at now) they would need for him to skip one start and he would be at 181.1 innings. That would also mean that they are ruling out using him in October. I don’t see that happening, so something will need to be done because his current pace is 193 innings just for the regular season. Just something to watch for before he gets called up.
** How about a former prospect update? Adrian Sampson is doing fairly well in the very hitter friendly Pacific Coast League. He has a 3.47 ERA in six starts, with a 4:33 BB/SO ratio, a 1.10 WHIP and a 1.43 GO/AO ratio in 36.1 innings. Taking the league into consideration, those are terrific numbers. He’s fifth in the league in strikeouts and sixth in WHIP.
** How about a former prospect update: part two? Tony Sanchez is hitting .163/.234/.233 in 13 games in Triple-A. He is also 1-for-11 in throwing out runners. He’s just ten days shy of his 28th birthday, so things don’t look good right now for the former first round pick.
** Want one more update? Keon Broxton made the Milwaukee Brewers Opening Day roster out of Spring Training, which had bad news written all over it. We projected him to return to Triple-A for more seasoning and he finished out Spring Training in a horrible slump this year. His MLB time went as predicted (probably worse) as he went 0-for-16 with 11 strikeouts before being sent to Triple-A. We ranked Broxton 40th in our prospect guide and thought he would be a decent fourth outfielder. I think he still has that potential, but he just isn’t ready for that role yet. He is playing with Colorado Springs, where baseballs go to die. Broxton is hitting .308/.379/.564 in 19 games. That ranks him 15th in the PCL in OPS.
PIRATES GAME GRAPH
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates lost 3-2 to the Reds on Monday night. They now send Juan Nicasio to the mound for his second start against Cincinnati. On April 29th, he threw seven shutout innings with eight strikeouts against the Reds. In his last start, he allowed four runs (one earned) over 4.1 innings. The Reds counter with Alfredo Simon, who has a 9.86 ERA over 21 innings, with 21 strikeouts and a 2.19 WHIP. He gave up three runs over four innings against the Pirates on April 30th.
In the minors, Stephen Tarpley makes his first start of the season for Bradenton. Brandon Waddell moved up to Altoona to make a spot in the rotation for Tarpley. He allowed two runs over 6.1 innings in his first Double-A game last Wednesday. Prior to being promoted, Waddell won the Florida State League Pitcher of the Month award for April. He had an 0.93 ERA, an 0.52 WHIP and a .133 BAA in 29 innings, with 26 strikeouts.
Wilfredo Boscan goes for Indianapolis. He has thrown shutout ball in three of his five outings, including his last two games. He ranks sixth in the International League with a 1.61 ERA.
MLB: Pittsburgh (17-15) @ Reds (14-19) 7:10 PM
Probable starter: Juan Nicasio (3.16 ERA, 15:32 BB/SO, 31.1 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (15-14) @ Syracuse (18-12) 6:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Wilfredo Boscan (1.61 ERA, 3:23 BB/SO, 28.0 IP)
AA: Altoona (14-17) vs Trenton (17-12) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Brandon Waddell (2.84 ERA, 0:3 BB/SO, 6.1 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (14-16) @ Ft Myers (18-13) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Stephen Tarpley (NR)
Low-A: West Virginia (17-13) vs Hagerstown (20-10) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Logan Sendelbach (3.34 ERA, 6:15 BB/SO, 29.2 IP)
Here is a nice catch from Alen Hanson out in left field. This was from his fourth game at the position this season. Prior to this season, he played 11 games in left field back in 2010 while in the Dominican Summer League.
5/9: Mel Rojas Jr. traded to the Atlanta Braves for cash considerations.
5/8: Cole Tucker added to West Virginia Power roster. Logan Ratledge assigned to Extended Spring Training.
5/7: Billy Roth added to West Virginia Power roster.
5/6: Jung-ho Kang activated from disabled list.
5/6: Mel Rojas Jr. assigned to Extended Spring Training.
5/5: Jason Rogers optioned to Indianapolis.
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.
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
Four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, and one trade of note, plus a little baseball history about the cities where the Pirates’ top two minor league teams play. Three of the players had brief careers with the team, including outfielder Tony Alvarez (2002, 04), pitcher Pete Schourek (1999) and infielder Al Rubeling (1943-44). The other was pitcher Russ Bauers, who played for the Pirates from 1936 until 1941. His career was derailed by multiple arm injuries, so after winning 13 games in both 1937 and 1938, Bauers seemed like he would win more than 31 games in his career, but that’s where he ended. In his six seasons with the Pirates, he had a 3.53 ERA over 553.2 innings.
On this date in 1989, the Pirates traded infielder Ken Oberkfell to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for pitcher Roger Samuels. This ended up being a one-sided trade, as Oberkfell hit .319 the rest of the way, while Samuels pitched 3.2 unsuccessful innings with the Pirates, which marked the end of his big league career.
Not many people know that Altoona was once a Major League city back in 1884. For that one season, there was a league called the Union Association, which competed with the National League and the American Association to try to win over fans. The Union Association folded after one season and Altoona has only hosted minor league teams since then, including the Pirates Double-A squad since 1999.
Indianapolis has had multiple Major League teams in their history, but none since 1914 when the Federal League shutdown. Their first NL club played in 1878 and the first win in franchise history was on May 10th. Altoona’s first win was on May 10th as well, exactly six years later, and both teams won their first game while they were home. Indianapolis was called the Blues, while Altoona was known as the Mountain Citys.
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.