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Saturday, December 3, 2022

First Pitch: Scouting Mitch Keller, Braeden Ogle, and Max Kranick

I’ve got a pretty busy Tuesday lined up. The GCL Pirates were rained out on Monday, giving them a double-header on Tuesday. The expected starters are 2016 prep pitchers Braeden Ogle and Max Kranick. This will be the first time I see Ogle pitch, and the second time seeing Kranick. The first time I saw him, he only threw two innings. Both guys are up to five innings now, which should allow for a good look.

Then, the main event is Mitch Keller’s debut in Bradenton that night across town. I’ve seen Keller twice this year in West Virginia, along with a few times in Spring Training, but this will be a different look, seeing him against a higher level of competition.

I don’t think you could ask for a better pitching lineup for a triple-header.

To serve as a preview for tomorrow, here is a rundown of each player.

Braeden Ogle, LHP – Ogle has a 3.18 ERA in 22.2 innings, with a 14:9 K/BB ratio this season. He has dealt with some command issues the last two starts, with six walks in nine innings. The reported pre-draft velocity was 91-93 MPH, touching 96, although the fastball command wasn’t reported as strong. He’s very comfortable with his changeup, throwing it as his primary secondary pitch for most of his life. He’s working on a new slider that he added this year in high school, using Noah Syndergaard as a guide. A left-hander with some projection and the ability to touch 96 is an interesting prospect, especially with a good changeup. If he can improve the slider and develop an out pitch, he’ll be an actual prospect in no time.

http://18.206.184.11/2016/07/pirates-draft-pick-braeden-ogles-new-slider-was-inspired-by-noah-syndergaard.html

Max Kranick, RHP – My lone view of Kranick this year wasn’t the best situation. It was his pro debut, and he had some command issues, giving up a walk in two innings. That was actually one of just two walks he’s allowed this year in 30.2 innings, with a 2.64 ERA and 17 strikeouts in that time. So the command issues seem to be limited to that outing. The draft reports had him hitting 95-96 MPH, and the hope is that his projectable frame will allow him to sit mid-90s one day, rather than just hitting it. I had him 89-92 with his two-seamer and 93-94 with the four-seamer earlier in the year. He’s another guy who has a good changeup, focusing on the pitch a lot in his younger years. He also doesn’t have much of a breaking pitch, adding a curveball this year to replace his slider, which wasn’t effective. The curve has 12-to-6 break, but he’s looking to find a consistent release point. I didn’t see many in the game earlier in the season, but did see him throw it in bullpens, and he has the tendency to spike it short of the plate at times, showing the need for more improvements. Despite being taken in the 11th round, Kranick might be the best prep pitcher the Pirates took this year, at least evaluating where everyone is at right now.

http://18.206.184.11/2016/07/pirates-11th-rounder-max-kranick-showing-promise-with-his-new-curveball.html

Mitch Keller, RHP – I saw Keller a few weeks ago, and he looked fantastic. He was sitting 94-97 MPH with his fastball, and has been in that range for at least a month now. I think the thing that is most impressive about him lately is that he has been dominating only with his fastball. This isn’t because he doesn’t have good secondary stuff, but because he’s working off his fastball until opponents figure it out, and they’re just not figuring it out. It gets to the point where he needs to force himself to throw off-speed stuff in the fourth and fifth innings, just to get work on those pitches. We’ll see if that holds up in Bradenton, but he was not getting challenged at all by the end of his time in West Virginia. That’s a big reason why I wrote that he looks better than Jameson Taillon and Tyler Glasnow did at the same level. Keller is turning into a special pitcher, and I’m looking forward to his High-A debut.

http://18.206.184.11/2016/08/mitch-keller-looks-better-than-taillon-and-glasnow-did-in-west-virginia.html

Tomorrow will be a busy, but fun day. Wilbur Miller will also be covering the games with me, and providing his thoughts. Check out the Prospect Watch throughout the day for recaps, videos, and interviews. If you aren’t a subscriber, tomorrow is a good day to join us.

**With Rosters Expanding Soon, a Look at the Pirates’ Call-Up Candidates. A great article by Brian Peloza, breaking down the candidates for a September call-up later this week.

**Pirates Recall Steven Brault; Place Gerrit Cole on Disabled List. It’s good that Cole is only dealing with inflammation, and no structural damage.

**Prospect Watch: Nick Kingham Looks Strong in Return to Altoona. Sean McCool had a live report on Kingham’s rehab start in Altoona.

**The Twenty: Gage Hinsz and Adrian Valerio Lead the System This Week. One of my favorite features, with a lot of good notes in one place on the top 20 performers from the last week.

**Ke’Bryan Hayes Has Rehab Shut Down With a Cracked Rib. Hayes has a setback with his rehab, and if it wasn’t official before, he won’t be returning for the rest of the season.

**Morning Report: Pirates Invite Nine Players to Fall Instructional League. John Dreker reports that nine players are making the jump from the DSL for instructs.

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Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.

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leefoo

I am a big Ogle (and Keller) fan. I wished I could be there to watch both of them.

RonHeb72

Next year Keller should be in ALTOONA!!! WOOHOO!!

emjayinTN

That is a great schedule for today, and I hope you have excellent weather and a lot of positive info to spread to us minions tomorrow.

Scott K

Nice that the guy Pirates traded Melancon for was able to get 3 outs in the 7th last night.

I know it’s been said before, but it bears repeating, “CONTENDERS DON’T TRADE AWAY THEIR CLOSER IN A PLAYOFF RACE!”

Damn, just damn. This one hurts.

leefoo

Maybe Rivero should be our closer?

Scott K

I like him to pitch 8th inning now. I know there are some who would be opposed to having lefty-lefty in 8th and 9th inning, but with Rivero’s reverse split #’s, I think it would work. I think Feliz may be on the slippery slope to self destruction this season from overuse.

gozurman1

Not trying to argue but Rivero has had 2 more appearances and 11 more innings than Feliz this season. Granted both are a lot but both are similar.

mike367

I blame this one on Feliz moreso than Watson.

jimmyz

I cant pinpoint this to a particular pitch/situation but generally speaking I’ve noticed Watson seems to try to groove one or two over for strikes early in the count nowadays as opposed to attacking the batter on the first pitch like he did in years past that got hitters to be aggressive on his breaking pitches in more favorable pitchers’ counts.

Scott K

And Locke, too. Plenty of blame to go around, but Watson has to make a better pitch to Soler in that situation.

gozurman1

Feliz had the same problem with close calls that helped the Pirates with Arietta. Was not getting calls that he should have gotten on the corners. It’s baseball and it happens.

John W

Right. Was it here or somewhere else I read the Pirates bullpen might be better without Mark Melancon?

Scott K

Won’t be reading that anywhere today.

rich

This bullpen didn’t lose because they’re not good. They lost because they were burned out. The same thing would happen to any pitcher. I’ll bet Locke, Watson, and Feliz are all not available tonight

rjgrinde

They lost because Hurdle refuses to pitch on a match-up basis. Also, Watson throwing a 1-2 heater right down the pipe to a guy who is notorious for his inability to hit off-speed pitches but crush fast balls is beyond absurd. Loved what I saw from the offense (except for SRod, surprise surprise) but, we don’t have a shot against the Cubs if we are going to be stubborn while at the same time making terrible pitch decisions.

John W

Really? Because DIPs state pretty emphatically that Watson and Feliz aren’t good for the roles they are in. Feliz is below replacement and your closer’s FIP and xFIP both above 4.

rich

Are you talking about their stats for the last month? Or interpreting their previous role’s stats for their current role?
I was just stating the obvious that they were tired last night and theoretically should not have pitched – Feliz 4 out of 5 days and Watson 5 out of 6 days

emjayinTN

Sure enough, it is a tough loss. But, at the time the MM trade occurred the Pirates were a game above .500 and not looking very contender-ish. They went into last night 6 above .500 and the rest of the WC contenders have fallen back.

It is what it is and shit happens. Much love for this Pirate team fighting for another win on the road against the best team in baseball so far in 2016.

mike367

The best thing about the game was the Bucs getting to Arrieta again.

Scott K

The oppo taco’s off the bats of Bell and Polanco were more beautiful than and Picasso painting to me.

Scott K

They were 4 games above .500 and proceeded to lose 3 straight to Brewers when it was announced Pirates were looking to deal MM.

gozurman1

The clubhouse knew that MM was being dealt since last off season. It was not a shocking move to them.

Scott K

Having a player traded away in off-season is far different than having your most reliable Pitcher dealt away in late July when in postseason contention. Every baseball fan understands this, and I can assure you the players in the clubhouse do, too.

gozurman1

Except you make it sound like the players were surprised by the move and that is the reason why the lost games the beginning of the month. All I said is that they were not blindsided by the move.

Scott Kliesen

I think the Pirates players were surprised the FO would trade away their best pitcher at the time while in contention. And I know they were disappointed because their best player said so in not those exact words.

RonHeb72

I really think you lack understanding of how things work in baseball and how the clubhouse is affected.

gozurman1

Cutch was talking about Liriano when he expressed disappointment at the deadline if I am not mistaken.

RonHeb72

Explain the Yankees…… DONE!!!

Scott Kliesen

Their rookie Catcher is hitting like Babe Ruth since being called up. Done!

RonHeb72

So again trading away a player that may open up time for a young rookie can create success. Still didn’t answer my argument at all. Actually you proved it even more.

RonHeb72

MM Never gave up HR’s, and we weren’t facing the best HR hitting team in baseball last night either. Lets not forget MM first year closing he blew a few saves, and again he was not coming back next year so. This story is over and done with. They made a move for the future that still kept us in competition for this year too.

gozurman1

Rivero had another good outing last night as well. He is the closer in the next year. Two at the most.

michael t

The Pirates were the hottest team in baseball the month before the deadline and immediately went into a two-week slide beginning the day of the MM trade.

gozurman1

The Pirates had a historically bad June while they still had MM. That is what killed the Bucs.

Scott K

June had nothing to do with last night’s loss.

gozurman1

June is the reason why last nights loss hurt more. If they won half of the games they lost in June, they still have the 1st WC sport and still in striking distance of the Cubs.

Scott Kliesen

Oh, so Pirates are only WC contender who can play the what if game?

gozurman1

No, never said that. You ignore the losses earlier in the year and make it seem like they make no difference in a playoff chase. What I did say is that if they win some of those games in June, they are not near as desperate now. The did lose those games so it makes it more difficult now. You think the Cubs cared about all of those early wins they had?

RonHeb72

They also have the 3rd best record Since the trade deadline so not much has changed especially if you take out the home series against the Marlins which was just awful. The team dug a hole the first half that is going to be tough to get out of. I am sorry there is no way you get me to buy in that MM is the reason we are still outside the wild card.

Scott K

The issue is the team made a move to benefit next year and after at expense of this year. You can slice it anyway you want to make you feel better about the trade, but there’s no doubt it hurt the 2016 Pirates while they were still in contention. That is my sole issue with the Melancon trade.

RonHeb72

Contention for the wild card which they still are. In fact they are actually closer now then they were then. SO not seeing your point.

Scott Kliesen

My point is quite simple, the 2016 Pirates were better, and had a chance for more late season and hopefully postseason success, with Melancon than without him.

RonHeb72

Ok true, but were they really contenders. Show me in history where any team that was 5 games UNDER .500 in the month of June has ever won a world series (maybe it has happened I don’t know), but I can tell you its rare.

jimmyz

Agreed and understood. But the 2016 pirates with this years’ starting rotation arent going to win a World Series and the 2017-2023 Pirates have a much better chance to do so with Felipe Rivero and potentiatially Taylor Hearn in their bullpen than not having either of them or Mark Melancon.

ginbear

Since the trade, Rivero and Melancon have each given up 1 run. Rivero has pitched more innings. If trading away 20 innings or so of the guy with the .71 era since the trade and getting a guy for 4 years with the .60 era since the trade is “at the expense of this year” I’ll gladly take it.

Scott Kliesen

So you’re the guy who thinks the Pirates bullpen is better without Melancon this year?

RonHeb72

I really don’t think its that much worse sorry.

ginbear

Better? No, but its been pretty much a wash on the trade so far.

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