While looking through Wednesday’s minor league schedule on Tuesday afternoon, I noticed that Luis Escobar was starting tonight for Morgantown and the game will be broadcast on MiLB.tv. I planned on watching that game because Escobar is an intriguing prospect, with a fastball that hits 95 MPH and a curve that can look plus at times. We ranked him 37th in our mid-season top 50 prospects update, though that would now be 36th with the addition of Taylor Hearn and subtractions of Reese McGuire and Harold Ramirez.
I’ll have to watch that game on replay though, because I will be doing the recap for the Indianapolis game and newly-acquired Drew Hutchison will be making his debut with the Pirates. You’ll still get an Escobar recap , as Tim Williams will be covering the game live.
Hutchison has been pitching this season in the International League, so Columbus is a familiar foe. He faced them two starts in a row at the end of May. In the first game, he allowed four runs on three hits and five walks in 5.2 innings, while pitching in Columbus. Five days later in Buffalo, he threw 7.1 innings and allowed one run on three hits and one walk. He struck out nine batters in that game. Those five walks in the first game are his season high, while the nine strikeouts in the second game is tied for his second highest total this year. Hutchison struck out ten batters on June 18th.
In his three July starts, he had one bad outing, one average and one strong outing. His last game was six days ago and he allowed three runs over six innings. Five days before that, he allowed one run over six frames. The pitch counts were fairly high in each game, with 108 and 103 pitches. So he should be ready to go full tilt this game, although I’d expect him to be limited to around 95 pitches. The Blue Jays let him cross the century mark eight times in 18 Triple-A starts this season, compared to six times total for Steven Brault, Trevor Williams, Tyler Glasnow, Jameson Taillon and Chad Kuhl in 68 games.
Hutchison will be the center of attention tonight, at least on my computer. Unfortunately, Columbus isn’t very good about listing pitch speeds, occasionally mentioning it during their broadcasts. I’ll still try to get a good read on him and include my thoughts in the Prospect Watch. He will likely have six Triple-A starts before we see him with the Pirates. I’m sure at least a couple will be in Indianapolis, so we will have some good looks at him before he debuts in Pittsburgh.
** I learned something interesting while talking to a couple of GCL players yesterday. We have mentioned countless times how Pirates stress fastball command for their young pitchers, and we have talked to the new high school pitchers multiple times each. They always point out that they are going fastball heavy, occasionally mixing in their off-speed pitches.
Both players I talked to about yesterday’s game mentioned how many off-speed pitches they saw on Tuesday against the Tigers. One player said he saw 20 pitches total and only four were fastballs. The other told me that all six pitches in his last at-bat were off-speed pitches. Neither one of those things would happen with a pitcher from the Pirates on the mound. In fact, those 16 off-speed pitches one batter saw are probably more than most GCL Pirates throw in their entire start. Just an interesting difference between the two systems. The Tigers are notorious for rushing pitchers through their system, so it might not be a surprise that they don’t take the step-by-step approach that the Pirates use.
Indianapolis is in second place in their division, trailing by five games. They trail by 11.5 games for the lone wild card spot.
Altoona leads their division by a 1/2 game. The top two teams in the division go to the playoffs, with the first place team getting the home field advantage in the first round.
Bradenton won the first half title. They have home field advantage in the playoffs.
West Virginia is in sixth place in their division, trailing first by four games.
Morgantown is in third place in their division, trailing first place by ten games. They are seven games back for the lone wild card spot.
Bristol is in fourth place, trailing by six games. The top two teams in each division go to the playoffs.
The GCL Pirates lead their division by two games. This is the only league where you have to win your division to make the playoffs.
The DSL Pirates trail their division by 16.5 games. They trail in the wild card by 16 games.
PIRATES GAME GRAPH
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates won 5-3 over the Braves on Tuesday night. They now send Jeff Locke to the mound for his first start since July 20th, and just his second start since July 6th. In his last start, which was against the Brewers, Locke got knocked out of the game after three innings, allowing five runs on seven hits and five walks. The Braves will go with Rob Whalen, who is making his Major League debut. He is 22 years old and has made just three starts in Triple-A.
In the minors, 11th round draft pick Max Kranick will get the start for the GCL Pirates. He will be followed by Domingo Robles in a piggyback role, as both pitchers have been starting this season. Kranick has a 3.97 ERA in 11.1 innings over four starts. Bradenton has yet to name a starter,
and we are still waiting to hear when Nick Kingham will make his next start. Those two things could be connected. I’ve got an update on Kingham, saving it for tomorrow. Bristol has off today.
MLB: Pittsburgh (53-51) @ Braves (37-69) 7:10 PM
Probable starter: Jeff Locke (5.43 ERA, 37:60 BB/SO, 106.0 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (56-55) @ Columbus (61-50) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Drew Hutchison (NR)
AA: Altoona (59-49) vs Richmond (45-62) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Brandon Waddell (4.33 ERA, 45:62 BB/SO, 81.0 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (55-51) vs Ft Myers (54-53) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD
Low-A: West Virginia (53-54) @ Hagerstown (65-43) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Logan Sendelbach (3.49 ERA, 28:73 BB/SO, 105.2 IP)
Short-Season A: Morgantown (20-24) vs Mahoning Valley (19-24) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: Luis Escobar (3.16 ERA, 17:24 BB/SO, 31.1 IP)
Rookie: Bristol (16-23) @ Greeneville (22-18) 7:00 PM 8/4 (season preview)
GCL: Pirates (16-18) vs Blue Jays (27-6) 12:00 PM (season preview)
DSL: Pirates (19-31) vs Rangers1 (35-14) 10:30 AM (season preview)
Here is a strikeout from 15th round pick Danny Beddes, who is having a strong start to his career for Morgantown. The video includes the entire at-bat, so you get a good look at him.
8/3: Chris Harvey promoted to Indianapolis. Trey Haley sent to Altoona.
8/3: Elvis Escobar promoted to Altoona. Justin Maffei assigned to Bradenton.
8/3: Erik Lunde assigned to Bradenton. Jose Regalado activated from disabled list.
8/2: Wilfredo Boscan placed on disabled list.
8/2: Tomas Morales assigned to Altoona. Chris Diaz activated from temporary inactive list.
8/1: Pirates trade Francisco Liriano, Reese McGuire and Harold Ramirez for Drew Hutchison.
8/1: Pirates acquire Ivan Nova from New York Yankees for players to be named later.
8/1: Pirates trade Jon Niese to New York Mets for Antonio Bastardo and cash.
8/1: Blake Cederlind placed on disabled list. Evan Piechota assigned to Bristol.
8/1: Edgar Santana promoted to Indianapolis.
7/31: Pirates recall Max Moroff. Steven Brault optioned to Indianapolis.
7/31: Erik Lunde assigned to GCL Pirates.
7/30: Pirates trade Mark Melancon to Washington Nationals for Taylor Hearn and Felipe Rivero.
7/29: Pirates recall Steven Brault. A.J. Schugel optioned to Indianapolis.
7/29: Austin Meadows assigned to Morgantown on rehab
7/29: Jin-De Jhang sent to Altoona. Tomas Morales assigned to Bradenton.
7/28: Frank Duncan activated from disabled list.
7/26: Eric Fryer reinstated from paternity list. Elias Diaz optioned to Indianapolis.
7/25: Ke’Bryan Hayes placed on the disabled list.
7/24: Tyler Glasnow placed on disabled list. A.J. Schugel recalled.
7/23: Tyler Glasnow recalled. A.J. Schugel optioned to Indianapolis.
7/23: Eric Fryer placed on paternity list. Elias Diaz recalled.
7/22: Erik Kratz clears waivers. Elects free agency.
7/21: Chris Diaz placed on temporary inactive list.
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a managerial change of note. The players start with shortstop Kevin Elster, who signed as a free agent in 1997, but broke his wrist in mid-May and missed the rest of the season. Mackey Sasser, catcher for Pirates in 1987 and in 1995. The Pirates acquired him at the 1987 trading deadline for Don Robinson, then flipped him to the Mets the next spring for Randy Milligan. He didn’t last long as a free agent signing in 1995, getting released in May.
Sid Bream, played first base for the Pirates from 1985 until 1990 and then I’m not sure what happened to him, probably something I’m just trying to forget.
Jim Gott, relief pitcher from 1987-89 and then again in 1995. Teammates with Sasser during both stops with the team. He had 34 saves for the 1988 team.
Gus Getz, third baseman for the 1918 Pirates. Had a forgettable time in Pittsburgh, but his career had two things that were noteworthy. He had 1,172 plate appearances in the majors and walked just 24 times. He also hit two homers as a pro and connected on them just eight days apart during a seven-year career.
On an off-day in 1957, the Pittsburgh Pirates had a 36-67 record and decided to make a change, firing manager Bobby Bragan and hiring Danny Murtaugh to be the interim manager. Murtaugh led the team to a winning record(26-25) the rest of the way and three seasons later, he skippered them to their third championship in franchise history. He would win 1,115 games as the manager of the Pirates and brought home another title in 1971, while also making the playoffs three other times.
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.