Prospect Watch: Tyler Eppler Has a Rough Start; Cole Tucker Extends On Base Streak

P2 Top 30

A look at how the current top 30 prospects did today. If a player is in the majors for an extended time (Trevor Williams, Alen Hanson, Jose Osuna), or loses his prospect eligibility, he will be removed from this list. Everyone below him will be shifted up a spot, and a new player will be added to the bottom of the list. If a player is out for the season, he will be removed and everyone below him will move up a spot. Removing these guys doesn’t mean they have lost prospect status. It is just an attempt to get more active prospects on the list. Rankings are from the 2017 Prospect Guide, and links on each name go to their Pirates Prospects player pages.

1. Austin Meadows, CF, Indianapolis -[insert_php] include_once (‘./p2-stats/stats_functions.php’);
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2. Mitch Keller, RHP, Bradenton – [insert_php] display_top30(656605,’P’,’20170520′);
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3. Kevin Newman, SS, Altoona – [insert_php] display_top30(621028,’B’,’20170520′);
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4. Cole Tucker, SS, Bradenton – [insert_php] display_top30(657061,’B’,’20170520′);
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5. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, Bradenton -[insert_php] display_top30(663647,’B’,’20170520′);
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6. Will Craig, 3B, Bradenton – [insert_php] display_top30(643269,’B’,’20170520′);
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7. Taylor Hearn, LHP, Bradenton – [insert_php] display_top30(621368,’P’,’20170520′);
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8. Gage Hinsz, RHP, Bradenton – [insert_php] display_top30(656543,’P’,’20170520′);
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9. Nick Kingham, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(592468,’P’,’20170520′);
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10. Steven Brault, LHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(643230,’P’,’20170520′);
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11. Clay Holmes, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(605280,’P’,’20170520′);
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12. Braeden Ogle, LHP, Extended Spring Training – [insert_php] display_top30(669180,’P’,’20170416′);
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13. Max Kranick, RHP, Extended Spring Training – [insert_php] display_top30(668820,’P’,’20170416′);
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14. Elias Diaz, C, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(553869,’B’,’20170520′);
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15. Edgar Santana, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(650828,’P’,’20170520′);
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16. Luis Escobar, RHP, West Virginia – [insert_php] display_top30(650813,’P’,’20170520′);
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17. Dovydas Neverauskas, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(596720,’P’,’20170520′);
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18. Yeudy Garcia, RHP, Altoona -[insert_php] display_top30(650817,’P’,’20170520′);
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19. Kevin Kramer, 2B, Altoona -[insert_php] display_top30(596012,’B’,’20170520′);
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20. Tyler Eppler, RHP, Indianapolis -[insert_php] display_top30(621169,’P’,’20170520′);
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21. Stephen Alemais, SS, West Virginia – [insert_php] display_top30(641301,’B’,’20170520′);
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22. Brandon Waddell, LHP, Altoona – [insert_php] display_top30(663399,’P’,’20170520′);
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23. Travis MacGregor, RHP, Extended Spring Training – [insert_php] display_top30(669740,’P’,’20170416′);
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24. Barrett Barnes, LF, Indianapolis -[insert_php] display_top30(608627,’B’,’20170520′);
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25. Max Moroff, 2B, Indianapolis -[insert_php] display_top30(621559,’B’,’20170520′);
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26. Eric Wood, 3B, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(607780,’B’,’20170520′);
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27. J.T. Brubaker, RHP, Altoona – [insert_php] display_top30(664141,’P’,’20170520′);
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28. Chris Bostick, INF/OF, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(607471,’B’,’20170520′);
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29. Connor Joe, 3B, Altoona – [insert_php] display_top30(656582,’B’,’20170520′);
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30. Pat Light, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(572990,’P’,’20170520′);
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P2 Top Performers

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Prospect-Watch-Indy

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INDIANAPOLIS — One player has struggled against Toledo in his past two starts, while one of his teammates would prefer to keep playing the Mud Hens.

Tyler Eppler allowed a career-tying high four walks, something he’s done three times in his career, and two of those times have been against Toledo this month.

Jason Rogers, meanwhile, continues to torch the Mud Hens. He went 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBI in the Indians’ 8-7 win on Saturday. Against Toledo this season, Rogers is hitting .395 with three home runs and 11 RBI in 10 games.

There’s no magic formula when Indianapolis plays Toledo, just a lot of familiarity.

“You see them so much you know how they’re going to pitch against you,” Rogers said.

Eppler made his eighth start of the season and half of those have been against a veteran-laden Toledo. He gave up seven hits, but only one of the five runs were earned due to three errors behind him.

Those miscues and some uncharacteristic command problems led Eppler to allowing five Toledo runs.

Eppler only threw 58 of his 96 pitches for a strike, a low percentage by his standards and he didn’t have a strikeout for just the third time in his career.

“We didn’t play very well behind him, but he was up in the zone a little more than normal,” Indianapolis manager Andy Barkett said. “He didn’t labor, but didn’t have that command we’ve seen out of him earlier in the year.”

Toledo should have been retired in order on ten pitches in the first inning, but Indianapolis left fielder Barrett Barnes dropped a flyball running toward the corner as the ball appeared to simply pop out of his glove.

That would have been the final out of the inning, on Eppler’s tenth pitch of the inning. The Mud Hens capitalized with a pair of RBI singles, though, a good throw home could have kept either run from scoring.

Toledo’s Bryan Holaday singled to left and Barnes’ throw home was way off target, but catcher Elias Diaz still nearly swung around to make the tag. A good throw would have easily thrown out the runner at home.

Mud Hen Jason Krizan singled to centerfield but Austin Meadows’ throw home was slightly off target and it appeared Diaz slightly bobbled the catch.

Both of the runs were unearned and the error extended the inning by six pitches.

The errors didn’t anger Eppler, but they did have a different effect on his performance. He wanted to pick up his teammates after their mistakes and strand those runners. Maybe a little too much.

“I tried a little too hard to pick them up,” Eppler said. “I tried to make better pitches and tried to make myself nastier. I kind of left some stuff up and let some of those runs scored, but I’m mostly upset about those four walks.”

Eppler threw four walks, which tied a career-high. He’s thrown four walks three times in his career, but twice against Toledo this season, including his last outing against the Mud Hens on May 3.

“I was just kind of struggling to find it and it was one of those days where everything felt off,” he said.

Eppler worked around a two-out double in the second inning, needing just ten pitches.

Jacoby Jones reached due to a Phil Gosselin throwing error to lead off the third inning, and scored on a Holaday double. Toledo had runners at first and third with two outs, when the Mud Hens used a double steal to add another run. Diaz threw to second, which allowed Holaday to score from third once Omar Infante slowed up before getting tagged out trying to steal second.

Toledo’s Brendan Ryan doubled off Eppler in the sixth inning for the lone earned run he allowed in the game.

Eppler was up in the zone with a lot of his pitches and didn’t have his best stuff, but he also didn’t let the game get out of hand.

“He made some tough pitches and grinded through it,” Barkett said. “Our defense made him throw a lot more pitches than he probably should have and that could have changed the outing. He could have gotten into a groove at some point. I tip my cap to the kid for hanging in there. He could have been better, but I was proud of the outing for not having his best command.”

Rogers crushed a two-run home run to left field in the third inning on a changeup over the middle-inside portion of the plate, his fifth of the season.

Austin Meadows came through with a two-run, two-out double down into the rightfield corner in the seventh inning to put Indianapolis ahead, 5-4. The Indians added a few insurance runs, with Meadows scoring on a throwing error on a double steal. Rogers added an RBI single.

Meadows was 2-for-4 with two RBI, while Phil Gosselin and Erich Weiss each had two hits. Weiss had an RBI single, while Gosselin has an 11-game hitting streak with a .413 average since being optioned to Indianapolis.

Pat Light pitched the final two innings of the game and had to grind his way through the ninth inning, allowing two runs and six hits over those two innings. He threw 50 pitches and was the last person available out of the bullpen due to a pair of doubleheaders over the last five days.

Indianapolis has won 15 of its last 17 games. – Brian Peloza

Prospect-Watch-Altoona-Curve

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Altoona won 4-1 over Erie behind the bat of Connor Joe on Saturday night. Joe went 4-for-4 in the game with three doubles and three runs scored. He had just five doubles this year coming into the game. He raised his average to .321 on the season, adding 25 points to his average in this contest.

Brandon Waddell started and went 4.2 innings, allowing an unearned run on four hits and two walks. He had three strikeouts and a 9:0 GO/AO ratio, but he also had trouble throwing strikes in this game, which caused him to leave before finishing five innings. Waddell threw 44 of his 83 pitches for strikes. In five starts he has yet to complete five innings, though he was on a limited pitch count when he first came back from his left forearm injury earlier this month.

Tate Scioneaux followed Waddell and threw 3.1 scoreless innings for the win. The walk he allowed in this game was just the second he has issued all season. Sean Keselica got three ground ball outs in the ninth for the save. He had allowed runs in each of his four previous outings.

Jin-De Jhang played his first game of the season and went 1-for-4 with a double and two strikeouts. Edwin Espinal and Jerrick Suiter each went 2-for-4 and drove in two runs. Espinal hit his 12th double. Jordan Luplow hit his 11th double and drew two walks. Kevin Kramer and Kevin Newman had tough days, going 0-for-8 with five strikeouts combined, with an error for Newman. Kramer is hitting exactly 100 points higher than Newman (.348 vs .248).

Prospect-Watch-Bradenton

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Bradenton lost 9-8 in ten innings against Fort Myers on Saturday night. Logan Sendelbach got another start after five shutout innings in his last outing. He had a bit of trouble in this game, allowing four runs over 4.2 innings on five hits and three walks. Two of the hits he allowed were homers. Sendelbach had four strikeouts and an 8:1 GO/AO ratio.

Jake Brentz followed Sendelbach and had his share of issues while posting nearly the same stats as Sendelbach. Brentz also allowed four runs on five hits and three walks, but he did it in just 1.1 innings. He allowed three runs in his previous outing, which came after he gave up just two runs total in his first ten appearances. Pedro Vasquez threw two scoreless innings in relief. It appears this was done to help limit the innings of the 21-year-old, who is just 26.1 innings behind his total from last season.

Cole Tucker extended his on base streak to 27 games with a walk in the third inning. He would add three singles later in the game, briefly getting his average over .300 before striking out in his final at-bat. Logan Hill hit his 12th home run of the season, tying Max Moroff for the most among all Pirates. Casey Hughston had two hits, including his ninth double and third homer. Mitchell Tolman had three hits and an RBI. Ke’Bryan Hayes had two hits, and Will Craig went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts.

Bradenton had some trouble on the bases in this one. Tucker stole his 26th base, then got thrown out trying to steal third base. He was also doubled off first base on a line drive double play. Ke’Bryan Hayes was caught stealing for just the second time this season and Mitchell Tolman got picked off.

Prospect-Watch-WV-Power

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West Virginia won 9-3 over Columbia on Saturday night, as they put up four runs in the second and third innings. James Marvel was originally scheduled to start this game, but he wasn’t activated from the disabled list. No reason was given, but his absence allowed Eduardo Vera to make another start and he took advantage of the opportunity.

Vera started back on Sunday and gave up one run over five innings. It was the first time he went five innings in a game since 2013 when he was in the DSL. Vera missed all of 2015 and part of 2016 due to Tommy John surgery. This season he came to Spring Training throwing harder than before, and all three of his pitches looked sharper, with better command. That caused him to skip over two levels to West Virginia.

He wasn’t great on Saturday, but he still got the desired results. Vera went five innings, allowing two runs on seven hits and no walks, with five strikeouts. He threw 57 of his 77 pitches for strikes, with his biggest issue being that his fastball was up in the zone too often, which led to some hard contact, including three doubles in a row to bring home the two runs. He has a 2.27 ERA in 31.2 innings, with 32 strikeouts this season.

Blake Cederlind followed Vera with one run over three innings, before Matt Eckelman finished things off in the ninth. Cederlind was hitting 96 MPH.

The Power had 15 hits in this game, with the big blow coming off the bat of Clark Eagan, who hit a third inning grand slam. It was the fourth homer of the season for Eagan, who also drove in a run later in the game. Hunter Owen and Ty Moore each had three hits, with Moore connecting on a three-run double in the second inning. Adrian Valerio came into the game with one hit in his first 20 at-bats, but he had three hits in this contest. He scored once and drove in a run.

  • Bill Harvey
    May 21, 2017 4:26 am

    I would also like to add that this is the Connor Joe that I thought the Pirates got in the draft. When healthy, the young man can hit. Such a rare thing in this organization.

    • Not this season. Seems like the Pirates have guys at every level ripping the cover off the ball.

  • Logan Hill due for a promotion in June given his age and power I hope?

    • A small college kid who did not get much ink, but has an excellent season going so far. Could be one of our best power hitters?

      • He could be a nice power bat off the bench one day. If there was ever a season that showed the importance of a 4th OF its 2017.

    • Hope he gets promoted too but not sure his potential. His K rate is in the disaster range. Compared to K Kramer, with more BBs and 40% fewer Ks in similar # of ABs at higher levels.

      Still a lot of taters for the FSL.

      • Not ready to overreact but if he starts doing this in Altoona I think we can take him seriously. The 30% strikeout rate is troubling. Crossing my fingers.

    • Bill Harvey
      May 21, 2017 4:23 am

      It is pronounced Logan fricking Hill.

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