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Morning Report: Austin Meadows, Connor Joe, Daniel Ortiz and Three Released Players

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If you checked the transactions in yesterday’s Morning Report, there were four players listed who were recently released. One of them was Eliezer Ramirez, who was in the DSL. That was covered in the DSL preview. The other three were in Extended Spring Training at Pirate City, so I figured I’d briefly mention them here.

Edgar Figueroa was a surprise release because he had a decent scouting report coming out of the DSL. It was basically that he had five average tools, just nothing that stood out. A player who can do a lot of things usually sticks around longer than he did. He wasn’t even considered for our top 50 prospect list, so it’s not a huge loss, I just think there were some outfielders for the lower levels who would have made a lot more sense to get rid of before him.

Catcher Nate Irving never even got a chance to play for the Pirates, unless you include Extended Spring Training games. He was signed this off-season after the Diamondbacks let him go. The Pirates always sign extra catchers during the off-season because you need them with all of the pitchers in camp. Almost every year, at least one of those catchers ends up being released before short-season ball starts. There are still nine catchers at Pirate City right now.

The third player from Pirate City released was Eric Thomas. When he was signed out of the 21st round in the 2014 draft, he was considered a raw player with plus speed as his only tool. He spent two seasons in the GCL and had trouble getting on base, so he couldn’t use that speed. Thomas stole seven bases in two seasons and he only had two extra-base hits, both doubles. At 21 years old, he is the youngest of this trio. Eliezer Ramirez is only 19 years old.

** Austin Meadows was named the Eastern League Player of the Week and Danny Ortiz won the same award in the International League for last week’s performance. After a slow start, Meadows has been on fire recently, extending his hitting streak to 15 games last night. He has collected at least one extra-base hit in nine of his last 12 games. What about those three games without an extra-base hit you say? He had two singles in each of those games. Ortiz is doing his damage much quieter, leading Indianapolis with seven homers, yet no one mentions him. He just missed another home run on Monday night, hitting a single so hard off the high wall in right field, he couldn’t even think about going to second base because the ball was thrown back in the infield as he was rounding first base.

** The Bradenton Marauders didn’t play last night due to the tropical storm in Florida. They came into the day with four game lead in their division and a magic number of ten. That number went down to nine because the entire league was canceled. They play a split season in the FSL, so if a game isn’t made up in the first half, it just gets canceled. That rule helped out their playoff run last night.

** Connor Joe was added to the Florida State League All-Star roster. Not sure I understand this selection. They usually pick a player from the same team as a replacement and Kevin Newman can’t play due to his injury. Knowing that ahead of time, I tried to guess who they would pick the other day, and came up with four names. That list included three infielders in Pablo Reyes, Kevin Kramer and Chase Simpson. Kramer was my favorite by a little, then had a huge weekend, so if you asked me today, I would have just picked him and not had other choices. I also gave Michael Suchy as a possibility if they wanted an outfielder.

I didn’t pick Joe because he’s ninth among the 11 regulars in OPS and the two players right below him (Jerrick Suiter and Elvis Escobar) both add defensive value. Joe is first baseman still in the early phases of learning to play third base. So you could almost say they couldn’t have made a worse choice. Maybe it will be good for him going to the All-Star game as motivation and it’s also possible that once he gets comfortable with third base, he starts hitting better. He is certainly having an odd season. We had him 32nd in our top 50 partially due to his pre-draft pedigree and giving him benefit of the doubt with his back injury, but more due to the impressive 50:34 BB/SO ratio in 357 plate appearances last year. Well this season he has a 16:44 BB/SO ratio in 198 plate appearances. I don’t think anyone saw that drastic change coming.

PLAYOFF PUSH

Bradenton is 8-2 in their last ten games. They are in first place in their division, four games ahead. The first half of the FSL season ends on June 22nd. Their magic number is nine.

West Virginia is 6-4 in their last ten games. They are in fifth place in their division, trailing first place by 7.5 games. The first half of the SAL season ends on June 19th.

PIRATES GAME GRAPH

Monday’s game was postponed due to rain.

TODAY’S SCHEDULE

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates were rained out Monday. They will send Jon Niese to the mound against his former teammates tonight as the two teams play a doubleheader. In his last three starts combined, he has allowed four earned runs over 18 innings. The Mets will counter with Steven Matz, who has a 2.60 ERA in 55.1 innings, with 53 strikeouts and a 1.05 WHIP. In his last start, he allowed three runs on seven hits and two walks in 5.2 innings against the White Sox. In his prior outing, Matz threw eight shutout innings against the Nationals. The Pirates haven’t announced a second starter, while the Mets will go with Jacob deGrom, who has a 2.62 ERA in 55 innings, with 47 strikeouts and a 1.16 WHIP. In his last start, he allowed one run over seven innings to the White Sox, striking out ten batters. UPDATE: Juan Nicasio will start the second game

In the minors, Jonathan Brubaker is now the West Virginia starter for tonight, with Mitch Keller getting skipped in the rotation to help limit his innings. Trevor Williams makes his third start for Indianapolis since returning from his shoulder injury. He gave up two runs over six innings in his first game, then got touched up for five runs on nine hits in five innings in his last outing. Cody Dickson has allowed a total of four earned runs in his last five starts combined.

Bradenton was rained out on Monday and they have off today. When they return to action tomorrow, Stephen Tarpley will make his sixth start, as he looks to get on track after missing the start of the season with a Spring Training oblique injury. In three of his starts, he failed to make it to the fifth inning due to a high pitch count. We added the DSL season preview below to the schedule. It will be there all season for easy access.

MLB: Pittsburgh (30-25) vs Mets (31-24) 4:05 PM DH
Probable starter: Jon Niese (4.36 ERA, 22:47 BB/SO, 64.0 IP) and Juan Nicasio (4.75 ERA, 21:51 BB/SO, 53.0 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (30-26) @ Columbus (32-25) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Trevor Williams (5.56 ERA, 2:6 BB/SO, 11.1 IP)

AA: Altoona (31-25) @ Erie (23-35) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Cody Dickson (3.96 ERA, 36:30 BB/SO, 50.0 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (32-24) vs Tampa (36-20) 6:30 PM 6/8 (season preview)
Probable starter: Stephen Tarpley (5.87 ERA, 10:22 BB/SO, 23.0 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (29-27) vs Delmarva (31-24) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: JT Brubaker (3.70 ERA, 23:68 BB/SO, 56.0 IP)

DSL: Pirates (0-2) vs Yankees1 (2-0) 10:30 AM (season preview)

HIGHLIGHTS

Here is a diving grab by Austin Meadows in center field, which was followed by the home run below in the bottom of the inning

The home run…

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

6/6: Clay Holmes assigned to Extended Spring Training. David Whitehead added to Altoona roster.

6/4: Pirates released Nate Irving, Edgar Figueroa, Eric Thomas and Eliezer Ramirez.

6/4:  Pirates option Rob Scahill and Wilfredo Boscan to Indianapolis. Recall Curtis Partch and Cory Luebke.

6/4: Ryan Vogelsong transferred from 15-day disabled list to 60-day DL.

6/4: Guido Knudson added to Indianapolis roster.

6/2: Gage Hinsz assigned to West Virginia. Mitch Keller assigned to Extended Spring Training.

6/2: Justin Masterson assigned to Indianapolis. Frank Duncan assigned to Altoona.

6/2: Arquimedes Caminero assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.

6/2: David Whitehead assigned to GCL Pirates.

6/1: Pirates release Michael Fransoso.

5/29: Justin Masterson assigned to Bradenton.

5/29: Jhondaniel Medina assigned to Altoona.

5/28: Tony Watson reinstated from paternity list. Kyle Lobstein optioned to Indianapolis.

5/28: Cole Tucker promoted to Bradenton. Jess Amedee added to West Virginia roster.

5/27: Trevor Williams and Jim Fuller assigned to Indianapolis.

5/27: Kevin Newman placed on disabled list. Colten Brewer added to Bradenton roster.

5/27: Logan Sendelbach added to West Virginia roster. Jess Amedee assigned to Extended Spring Training.

5/26: Jhondaniel Medina promoted to Indianapolis.

5/25: Pirates place Tony Watson on paternity list. Recall Rob Scahill.

5/25: Pirates place Arquimedes Caminero on disabled list. Recall Kyle Lobstein.

5/24: Pirates place Ryan Vogelsong on disabled list. A.J. Schugel recalled from Indianapolis.

THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY

Three former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus one very interesting day for transactions back in 1939. Starting with the players, we have 2009 pitcher Virgil Vasquez, catcher Roy Jarvis (1946-47) and shortstop Bones Ely, who played for the team from 1896 and 1901 and who held the shortstop position for the first two seasons that Honus Wagner spent in a Pirates’ uniform. A few years back, we posted an article on Ely and his time with the Pirates. That can be found here.

On this date in 1939, the Pirates decided to release outfielder Heinie Manush and sign outfielder Chuck Klein, who was just released by the Phillies the day before. Manush wasn’t doing well in a pinch-hitting role, going 0-for-12 with a walk and an RBI. The release actually ended his big league career. Klein came in and did well for the Pirates, hitting .300 with 11 homers the rest of the way. By the end of next Spring Training however, he was released and re-signed with the Phillies. These two players were both elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Manush made it in 1964 and Klein 16 years later.

Here is the boxscore from the day Klein signed and Manush was released. The Pirates won 2-0 behind a complete game shutout from Bill Swift. Every player in the Pirates lineup that day had at least one hit, including two by Lloyd Waner. Klein scored the first run of the game, which ended up being the game-winner.

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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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