In yesterday’s Morning Report, we looked at the prospects who struggled throughout the month of May. Today we switch gears to the pitchers. Just like yesterday, these might not be the worst players on each team for the month, but I tried to stick to players who are at least marginal prospects, or in the case of two of the players below, top 30 prospects in the system.
Indianapolis – This is a difficult one because Indianapolis has been so good on the pitching side this season. Trey Haley gets the nod here because he has the stuff to be better. The Pirates obviously think he can be better because they signed him as a minor league free agent and gave him a 40-man roster spot. Haley had a 7.71 ERA in April, giving up a lot of runners and not picking up many strikeouts. It got even worse in May, with an 8.38 ERA, a .333 BAA and a 2.48 WHIP. Maybe June will be the month he shows why he got a 40-man spot, after all, he did strike out the side in his only inning.
Altoona – If you just looked at the boxscore, you would have seen strong stats from Tyler Eppler in his first four starts in May. If you read my recaps of each of those starts in the Prospect Watch though, you would have known that he was getting a lot of help from his defense in the last three games during that stretch. Those hard hit balls right at fielders started finding holes in his last two games and Eppler finished May with a 5.18 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP, with an 0.60 GO/AO ratio.
Bradenton – Stephen Tarpley doesn’t have April stats to compare to his May stats, because he missed the entire month while recovering (and building back up) from a Spring Training oblique injury. He has not looked like the pitcher who put up a 2.48 ERA in 20 starts last year. The only part to his game that looks similar is the strong strikeout total. Tarpley has a 5.87 ERA, a much higher walk rate than last season, and he isn’t getting ground balls. It could just be him trying to get back in the groove from last year, but five starts should be enough to regain his form.
West Virginia – After posting a 1.32 ERA in five April starts, it looked like Logan Sendelbach could be making a climb up the prospect list, getting into the conversation at least for the top 50. Then May happened and he put up a 6.08 ERA, while issuing ten walks in 23.2 innings. That followed the month of April which included just three walks in 27.1 innings. He didn’t get off to a good start in June either, allowing four earned runs on nine hits on Wednesday.
Bradenton is 7-3 in their last ten games. They are in first place in their division, two games ahead. The first half of the FSL season ends on June 22nd.
West Virginia is 7-3 in their last ten games. They are in fourth place in their division, trailing first place by five games. The first half of the SAL season ends on June 19th.
PIRATES GAME GRAPH
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates lost 4-3 in 12 innings to the Marlins on Thursday night. They now travel home to face the Angels in a three-game series. Francisco Liriano will get the ball tonight for his 11th start of the season. In his last start, he gave up five runs to the Texas Rangers on six hits and four walks in six innings. Liriano had a 5.34 ERA in five May starts. The Angels will counter with Jared Weaver, who has a 5.40 ERA in 58.1 innings. Batters are hitting.311 against him and he has 1.51 WHIP.
In the minors, Jameson Taillon could be making his last Triple-A start tonight. With the Super Two deadline likely passed already, all he needs to do is build his pitch count back up after skipping a start ten days ago. He threw 83 pitches in his last game and faded at the end despite strong final results.
Brandon Waddell has allowed nine runs over seven innings in his last two starts combined. He also walked four batters in each of those games, matching the combined total of four walks he issued in his first seven starts this season.
Austin Coley has allowed a total of 11 earned runs in his last eight starts combined. That followed nine earned runs over eight innings in his first two starts. He has a .222 BAA and a 1.10 WHIP this season.
Gage Hinsz will make his season debut for West Virginia tonight. The 20-year-old righty is ranked 25th in our 2016 Prospect Guide. You can read more about him here.
MLB: Pittsburgh (29-24) vs Angels (24-29) 7:10 PM
Probable starter: Francisco Liriano (4.63 ERA, 34:58 BB/SO, 58.1 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (27-25) @ Toledo (25-27) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Jameson Taillon (1.79 ERA, 5:54 BB/SO, 55.1 IP)
AA: Altoona (30-22) vs Binghamton (21-31) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Brandon Waddell (4.91 ERA, 10:16 BB/SO, 25.2 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (29-24) @ Lakeland (28-25) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Austin Coley (3.23 ERA, 21:42 BB/SO, 55.2 IP)
Low-A: West Virginia (29-24) @ Augusta (26-27) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Gage Hinsz (NR)
Here is a triple from Austin Meadows on Wednesday night. He hit another on Thursday. He has been on fire lately, as Sean McCool broke down in this article.
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.
5/23: Logan Sendelbach assigned to Extended Spring Training. Jess Amedee added to West Virginia.
5/22: Trevor Williams assigned to Bradenton. Colten Brewer sent to Extended Spring Training.
5/22: Trace Tam Sing added to Bradenton roster.
5/21: West Virginia assigns Ty Moore and Casey Hughston to Extended Spring Training. Logan Ratledge and Sean Keselica added to West Virginia roster.
5/21: Logan Hill demoted from Bradenton to West Virginia.
5/21: Pirates release Eric Karch.
5/21: Juan Diaz assigned to Extended Spring Training
5/20: John Kuchno assigned to Indianapolis. Guido Knudson assigned to Extended Spring Training.
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
One former Pittsburgh Pirates player born on this date, plus two trades of note and some old draft news. The only former Pirate born on this date is second baseman Nelson Liriano, who played for the 1995-96 club.
In 2009, the Pirates traded Nate McLouth to the Braves for Charlie Morton, Jeff Locke and Gorkys Hernandez, a trade that worked out well. Exactly 103 years earlier, the Pirates dealt young Ed Karger to the Cardinals for veteran pitcher Chappie McFarland in a deal that didn’t go well. Karger went on to play until 1911 and he posted a career 2.79 ERA, while McFarland lasted six games in Pittsburgh before being put on waivers.
The Pirates have drafted some players of note on this date, taking Ryan Doumit during the second round of the 1999 draft and Jeff King as the first overall pick in 1986, the same year they took Stan Belinda in the tenth round and Jeff Banister and Rick Reed with back-to-back picks, going in the 25th and 26th rounds. In 1998, the Pirates pulled off some late round magic, taking Dave Williams, Joe Beimel, Jeff Bennett and Mike Johnston with consecutive picks in rounds 17 through 20.
On this date in 1955, the Pirates defeated the Reds by a 7-6 score, collecting 18 hits in the game. The day included Vern Law throwing 5.1 innings of relief for the win, and the Pirates scoring the walk-off run on a bases loaded single in the ninth by catcher Hardy Peterson, just his second RBI of the season. Roberto Clemente and Dick Cole each had three hits, while Dale Long had four hits. You can see the boxscore here.
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.