The GCL Pirates open up their season today, meaning for the next two months, all eight affiliates of the Pittsburgh Pirates will be in action. We actually have to wait until Wednesday for all eight teams to play on the same day. Bradenton has off today and Morgantown has off tomorrow. It’s the busiest time for our Prospect Watch and for filling out the daily schedule down below.
This year actually has an odd little quirk. In the past, we have seen players go from the GCL to Bristol late in the year to get in some extra games. That won’t be the case this year because the GCL season actually ends two days later than the Appalachian League. With the later ending date, those GCL players really can’t get extra time in Morgantown either. Their season ends just two days after the GCL and promoted players usually get a day off due to the travel. You might see some players promoted from Bristol to Morgantown though just to get in some extra games, but possible playoffs for either team will also be part of those considerations.
The reason I brought that up is because we have seen big name players in the past get promoted late. Most recently, we saw it with Ke’Bryan Hayes, who went to Morgantown for the final 12 games, then get some playoff action as well, with the Black Bears winning the title that season.
Hayes was promoted because he was a first round pick and they wanted to get him some time under the lights against better competition. The plan was to get him to West Virginia the following season. That also happened with Austin Meadows and Cole Tucker would have went if not for a thumb injury at the end of his first season.
This year the Pirates drafted four high school players with their first four picks, two of them being position players. I’m not going to rule out late season promotions for 12th overall pick Shane Baz or 42nd overall pick Steven Jennings, but the Pirates seem more lenient with position players and getting them extra time. Both Baz and Jennings will be somewhat limited with their innings this year.
That lack of a promotion won’t keep Baz from possibly skipping right to West Virginia next year if they feel he is ready. Jameson Taillon made that jump, though he arrived a little late to avoid both the cold weather and running up his inning total too high.
The other picks this year were 50th overall pick Calvin Mitchell and 72nd overall pick Conner Uselton. They could be options for those late promotions up to Morgantown, though as I pointed out, this year is a bit different than most. At the very least, the two of them should be in for some good playing time this year in the GCL. The active roster only has 12 players and three of them are catchers, though Mikell Granberry will get his share of time at first base when he isn’t catching. I also pointed out in a previous article that the GCL Pirates have two of their better low-level international prospects in that outfield, with Jeremias Portorreal and Kevin Sanchez.
I’ll note now that Kevin Sanchez is going by the nickname Lolo, which he apparently had long before joining the Pirates, and he just turned 18 back in April, so he’s the young buck in the group. I’ve been holding off on calling him Lolo, but they changed it on his MiLB player page, so if you see that name, it isn’t someone new. It was actually printed that way on the Fall Instructional League sheet, but I just couldn’t force myself to write that as a player’s name.
Anyway, get ready for a lot of coverage from the GCL with those four high draft picks, as well as sixth round pick Cody Bolton when he signs and 19th round pick Jake Webb. Both were rated higher than those spots, so don’t let the round fool you. For the time being, they also have Max Kranick and Austin Shields on the team. More on those two later.
Basically, with all of those pitchers of interest, almost every game will be worth checking the boxscore. They also have Yeudry Manzanillo and Leandro Pina on the staff. That’s the pitcher who received the highest international bonus in 2015 and the pitcher who performed the best in the DSL for the Pirates. Pina actually started the DSL All-Star game. Finally, I can’t leave out 18-year-old switch-hitting shortstop Rodolfo Castro, who put up big stats in the DSL last year. He will be a regular in the infield.
You’ll likely see the Prospect Watch go up early a few times. That will probably happen when Baz starts and maybe Jennings. It will give you a heads up to follow along, especially on days when we have live coverage from down there.
PIRATES GAME GRAPH
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates lost 8-4 to the St Louis Cardinals on Sunday night. The Pirates have off today as they travel home for a six-game homestand, starting with three against the Tampa Bay Rays, then three more against the San Francisco Giants over the weekend. Trevor Williams will get the start for the Pirates on Tuesday, going up against right-hander Alex Cobb, who has a 4.05 ERA in 93.1 innings, with 66 strikeouts and a 1.39 WHIP.
In the minors, Tyler Glasnow makes his third start for Indianapolis. In the first game, he allowed one run over six innings. That was followed by two runs over five innings last time out, striking out 11 batters. He has walked four batters in each game. While Glasnow has walked four each game, West Virginia starter Eduardo Vera has four walks total in 52.2 innings this season. He is making his seventh start, coming off of one run over five innings in his last outing. Bradenton has off today. Today is the opener of the GCL season and
Yeudry Manzanillo Roger Santana (yes, already a change on day one) will be starting. Hunter Stratton, who was a 16th round draft pick this year, is scheduled to start for Bristol.
MLB: Pittsburgh (35-41) vs Rays (40-38) 7:05 PM 6/27
Probable starter: Trevor Williams (5.09 ERA, 17:41 BB/SO, 58.1 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (42-33) vs Durham (46-29) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Tyler Glasnow (2.45 ERA, 8:19 BB/SO, 11.0 IP)
AA: Altoona (40-32) @ Bowie (36-39) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Alex McRae (3.71 ERA, 19:43 BB/SO, 80.0 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (39-32) vs Dunedin (35-38) 6:30 PM 6/27 (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD
Low-A: West Virginia (32-38) @ Augusta (24-44) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Eduardo Vera (3.25 ERA, 4:54 BB/SO, 52.2 IP)
Short-Season A: Morgantown (5-2) @ Batavia (4-3) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: Sergio Cubilete (3.60 ERA, 3:3 BB/SO, 5.0 IP)
Rookie: Bristol (1-3) vs Greeneville (2-2) 7:00 PM
GCL: Pirates (0-0) vs Tigers East (0-0) 12:00 PM
DSL: Pirates (10-9) vs Indians (8-11) 10:30 AM (season preview)
Here is Pablo Reyes hitting his second home run of the season on Saturday night.
6/25: Logan Ratledge promoted to Altoona.
6/25: Ryan Nagle promoted to West Virginia.
6/25: Matt Diorio assigned to Bristol.
6/25: Victor Ngoepe, Felix Vinicio, Jose Delgado and Brian Sousa assigned from Bristol to GCL Pirates
6/24: Cole Tucker activated from disabled list.
6/24: Dario Agrazal placed on disabled list. Cody Dickson assigned to Indianapolis.
6/24: Geoff Hartlieb promoted to Bradenton. Andrew Potter promoted to West Virginia.
6/23: Jake Brentz promoted to Altoona.
6/23: Samuel Reyes promoted to GCL Pirates.
6/22: Francisco Cervelli placed on the disabled list. Jacob Stallings Recalled
6/22: Evan Piechota, Chris McDonald, Nelson Jorge, Jhoan Herrera and Luis Perez transferred from Morgantown to Bristol.
6/22: Justin Maffei and Anderson Feliz assigned to Indianapolis. Austin Meadows and Gift Ngoepe placed on disabled list.
6/22: John Bormann assigned to Indianapolis.
6/22: Pirates sign five draft picks.
6/21: Pirates sign eight draft picks.
6/21: Pirates release Chase Simpson
6/21: Altoona activates Michael Suchy from disabled list.
6/20 Pirates sign Conner Uselton and Calvin Mitchell.
6/20: Pirates announce nine draft signings.
6/20: Dario Agrazal promoted to Altoona. Yeudy Garcia placed on disabled list.
6/19: Tomas Morales assigned to Altoona. Zane Chavez placed on disabled list.
6/18: Chris Stewart activated from the disabled list. Jacob Stallings optioned to Indianapolis.
6/16: Pirates sign Shane Baz.
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
Seven former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including two of the better players in team history. Starting with the other five players (their bios can be found in the link above), we have pitcher Howie Pollet (1951-53, 1956), pitcher Elmer Singleton (1947-48) and third baseman Deb Garms (1940-41), who controversially won the 1940 batting title. Also outfielder Babe Herman (1935), who was a star during his day, and pitcher Elmer Ponder (1917, 1919-21). Pollet was involved in two of the bigger trades in team history, coming over from the Braves in 1951 for Cliff Chambers and Wally Westlake. Chambers had thrown a no-hitter a month earlier. In 1953, Pollet was part of the huge Ralph Kiner deal with the Cubs.
Garms hit .355 in 1940 to win the NL batting title, but many people felt he didn’t have enough plate appearances. NL President Ford Frick stated at the time that he only needed to play 100 games to qualify and Garms played 103, going to the plate 385 times. Now the minimum is 502, although a player can still win with fewer if their average is still higher than second place after you add hitless at-bats to their total (only for calculation purposes). For example, if a player had 480 plate appearances, and adding an 0-for-22 to his total still had him with the best average, then he would win.
The bios for the two other players can be found here. They are catcher Jason Kendall and IF/OF Bill Robinson. Kendall played nine seasons (1996-2004) for the Pirates and caught more games that anyone else in team history. He ranks in the franchise’s top 20 in games, runs, hits, doubles and stolen bases. He batted .306 in 1,252 games. Robinson played eight years (1975-82) in Pittsburgh and hit .276 with 109 homers for the Pirates. He hit 166 homers during his career. During the 1979 championship season, he hit 24 homers and drove in 75 runs.