Morning Report: Thoughts on the First Month of the Season

Technically the minor league season is in day 25 now, but it’s the last day of April, so I wanted to look at some things of interest from the first month of the season. I’m going to quickly touch on one topic from each team.

Chris Bostick is really starting to look interesting for Indianapolis and it shouldn’t be a complete surprise. Four times Baseball America put him in the top 30 prospects in his organization (A’s, then Nationals). He turned 24 right before the season started, which is a perfectly acceptable age for prospects in Triple-A. He also put up big numbers in Double-A last year, receiving a promotion to Triple-A.

You basically have someone who has been a prospect for four years, who had previous success in the upper levels, and who is still young. Bostick is moving all over the place with Indianapolis, starting seven times at second base, six times in left field and three times each in right field and third base. He looks athletic in the field at each spot (from the little I’ve seen at each spot), he runs well and the bat is hot now. It’s possible he could end up being a nice bench piece in the majors at some point this season.

In Altoona, our pick for the breakout prospect, looks like he’s the front runner to be named breakout prospect this season. Kevin Kramer has reached base in every game and he even makes some loud outs despite the terrific numbers he’s posting. Basically there isn’t “luck” involved in his numbers, he’s really hitting the ball that well. Here’s my tweet from day three of the season, which I won’t bring up again if Kramer starts to slump. No pressure kid, only four months left to the season…

Bradenton’s pitching staff has a chance to be very special by the time everything is done this season. We expected Mitch Keller to be there for half of the season before moving up to Altoona, and while his first month hasn’t been Keller-like, he still has at least 8-9 more starts before he reaches that point. That includes a start today, where he tries to go six innings or more for the fourth straight game. Then you have Taylor Hearn and Gage Hinsz, who both had their best outings this week, followed by Pedro Vasquez and Dario Agrazal. Vasquez has been the best starter on the team, while Agrazal keeps putting in solid starts and getting results. It will be interesting to watch the entire group this year to see how they end up.

If I could personally make one change in the farm system, it would be to put some defense in West Virginia. They are bad all around and it’s a group effort. I’ve watched a 20-year-old pitcher in Oddy Nunez pitch in front of brutal defense twice now and at some point it seems like it would be detrimental to the pitcher. They have other pitchers of interest there like Cam Vieaux, Blake Cederlind, Matt Frawley, James Marvel and the top prospect in Luis Escobar. The offense is Stephen Alemais and the rest, which I say because none of them are in the top 50 prospects here. It’s a great group of hitters for the level, though every single one of them is at least 22 years old, which makes them an old Low-A team.

There are plenty of spots to upgrade defense without sacrificing a prospect. I think there is something to seeing a pitching prospect pitch out of jams to see how he handles it, but I personally feel it’s better to have him reap the rewards of his work. If he pitches well, he should know it at the end of the day. Twice I’ve seen Nunez pitch well and have nothing to show for it except a high ERA and shortened outings. If I could change a second thing, it would be the hometown scoring in the minors. Nunez has a high ERA because the opposition has three more RBI-producing hits (at least) than they should have, not because he pitched poorly. It’s obviously not just him though, a play that is an error should be universal, not judged by who hit the ball. That goes on a lot all around the minors and sometimes the managers are to blame because they constantly question calls after the games. End rant.


Source: FanGraphs


Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates won 4-0 over the Miami Marlins on Saturday night. The Pirates will send Chad Kuhl to the mound today, looking to bounce back from a start in which he allowed nine runs over 1.2 innings to the Chicago Cubs. The Marlins will counter with right-handed pitcher Tom Koehler, who has a 5.14 ERA in 21 innings over four starts.

In the minors, Luis Escobar makes his fifth start this afternoon, looking to keep his string going of 9+ strikeouts in every game. He leads all Pirates with 41 strikeouts. Mitch Keller allowed three runs over six innings in his last start. He has gone six innings in each of his last three starts. Alex McRae recorded a career-high nine strikeouts in his debut this season. In his last two starts combined, he had zero strikeouts over 11.2 innings.

MLB: Pittsburgh (11-12) @ Marlins (10-12) 1:10 PM
Probable starter: Chad Kuhl (6.63 ERA, 11:15 BB/SO, 19.0 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (7-14) @ Scranton/WB (11-10) 1:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Drew Hutchison (5.06 ERA, 9:18 BB/SO, 21.1 IP)

AA: Altoona (12-9) vs Harrisburg (10-10) 1:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Alex McRae (1.99 ERA, 5:13 BB/SO, 22.2 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (12-11) @ Charlotte (9-13) 12:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Mitch Keller (4.87 ERA, 4:16 BB/SO, 20.1 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (10-14) @ Rome (16-7) 2:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Luis Escobar (3.22 ERA, 4:41 BB/SO, 22.1 IP)


Here is a solo homer from Chris Bostick, who has been the best hitter for Indianapolis this season.


4/29: Pirates place David Freese on disabled list. Danny Ortiz promoted to Pittsburgh.

4/29: Justin Maffei added to Indianapolis roster.

4/28: Luis Heredia assigned to Altoona. Pirates release John Kuchno

4/28: Jackson Williams added to Altoona roster. Zane Chavez assigned to Morgantown.

4/28: Brett McKinney added to Indianapolis roster.

4/27: Eury Perez added to Indianapolis roster.

4/27: Jess Amedee placed on the disabled list. Trace Tam Sing added to Bradenton roster.

4/26: Pirates recall Gift Ngoepe. Dovydas Neverauskas optioned to Indianapolis.

4/25: Hector Garcia placed on disabled list. Mike Wallace added to West Virginia roster.

4/25: Jerrick Suiter added to Bradenton roster. Trace Tam Sing assigned to Extended Spring Training.

4/25: Antonio Bastardo placed on disabled list. Pirates recall Johnny Barbato.

4/24: Adam Frazier placed on disabled list. Pirates recall Dovydas Neverauskas.

4/20: Chris Diaz assigned to Altoona.


Three former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including second baseman Phil Garner. He spent five seasons in Pittsburgh, with the highlight being his role during the World Series winning season in 1979, when he played 150 regular season games. Garner went on to hit .417 during the NLCS and .500 in the World Series. He had 12 hits and drove in five runs against the Baltimore Orioles. Garner helped the Pirates when he was traded to the Houston Astros, bringing back second baseman Johnny Ray in the deal. With Pittsburgh, Scrap Iron played in two All-Star games and hit .267 over 664 games.

Other Pirates players born on this date include 2003 infielder Jeff Reboulet and 1921 catcher Tony Brottem.

On this date in 1887, the Pirates (then known as the Alleghenys) played their first National League game. For five seasons, the franchise played in the American Association, which was a rival Major League to the NL at the time. The Alleghenys switched leagues for the 1887 season and opened up against the Chicago White Stockings (now the Cubs). The Alleghenys played at Recreation Park and 10,000 fans showed up for that first NL game to see Pittsburgh take a 6-2 victory. This link here has the highlights from that game, but unfortunately the pictures were lost last time we changed servers. Our Facebook Pirates history page has many of the scans that were shown in the article.

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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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In a BP chat, Craig Goldstein when asked who are the top pitching prospects in the minors said, essentially, that Keller is one to watch .


To me, it is always nice when one of ours gets recognized by the “national” media.


Hughston warrants mention and an article on his vast improvement this year. He may be the leading candidate for most improved player in the entire system so far. He still strikeouts a lot, but not nearly as often as last year. I’ll take a guy who strikes out some, but provides extra base power and speed over a guy who walks a lot and offers little of anything else.


I agree John, its only been a month and he needs to do this in a larger sample size. But, we also know he is a multi tooled player with tons of upside….unlike guys like Tucker, Joe, and Craig who seemingly get far less objective criticism on this site. Maybe its because they were first round picks?


i’d like to see him move up to altoona just to see how he does

John W

I haven’t watched as much Indy as I usually do. Can someone comment regarding Meadows. As I said the other day, even his on base streak he compiled didn’t amount to a league average WRC+. His isolated power is way down this year. He’s hitting more flyballs than groundballs this year- have many of those been deep balls or more of the can of corn variety? Thanks


Thanks JD, nice to hear a point of view of someone who actually watches the games instead of the ongoing “another over hyped prospect”, blah, blah, snooze, crap, stuff…. It is not like we need him now desperately, guys like him you let him work it out and bring him up when ready, not out of desperation… wake me up in June on how he is doing, I hope it is special… If not we wait, such is life….


The Cervelli of Indianapolis

John W

Thanks john


another over hyped prospect or still adjusting?

time will tell.

Bobby L

Maybe a combination of the calendar flipping over from a forgettable month to a May Happy Birthday Wed. the 3rd will provide a spark.

John W

Just my opinion Foo but I think way too small a sample to say overhyped. He has a wonderful track record and tools. Still only talking near 80 PAs. My biggest concern with Meadows at this point is if the hamstring ends up being a recurring issue in the future. But it would be nice to see him turn it on soon.


I have no idea how he will turn out, I can only hope he turns out well.

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