Prospect Watch: Tyler Eppler Puts Together a Solid Start; Barnes Leaves With Leg Injury

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 (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’,’20170611′);
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3. Kevin Newman, SS, Altoona – [insert_php] display_top30(621028,’B’,’20170611′);
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4. Cole Tucker, SS, Bradenton – [insert_php] display_top30(657061,’B’,’20170611′);
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5. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, Bradenton -[insert_php] display_top30(663647,’B’,’20170611′);
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6. Will Craig, 3B, Bradenton – [insert_php] display_top30(643269,’B’,’20170611′);
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7. Taylor Hearn, LHP, Bradenton – [insert_php] display_top30(621368,’P’,’20170611′);
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8. Gage Hinsz, RHP, Bradenton – [insert_php] display_top30(656543,’P’,’20170611′);
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9. Nick Kingham, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(592468,’P’,’20170611′);
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10. Steven Brault, LHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(643230,’P’,’20170611′);
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11. Clay Holmes, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(605280,’P’,’20170611′);
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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, Pirates – [insert_php] display_top30(553869,’B’,’20170611′);
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15. Edgar Santana, RHP, Pirates – [insert_php] display_top30(650828,’P’,’20170611′);
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16. Luis Escobar, RHP, West Virginia – [insert_php] display_top30(650813,’P’,’20170611′);
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17. Dovydas Neverauskas, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(596720,’P’,’20170611′);
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18. Yeudy Garcia, RHP, Altoona -[insert_php] display_top30(650817,’P’,’20170611′);
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19. Kevin Kramer, 2B, Altoona -[insert_php] display_top30(596012,’B’,’20170611′);
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20. Tyler Eppler, RHP, Indianapolis -[insert_php] display_top30(621169,’P’,’20170611′);
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21. Stephen Alemais, SS, West Virginia – [insert_php] display_top30(641301,’B’,’20170611′);
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22. Brandon Waddell, LHP, Altoona – [insert_php] display_top30(663399,’P’,’20170611′);
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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’,’20170611′);
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25. Max Moroff, 2B, Pirates -[insert_php] display_top30(621559,’B’,’20170611′);
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26. Eric Wood, 3B, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(607780,’B’,’20170611′);
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27. J.T. Brubaker, RHP, Altoona – [insert_php] display_top30(664141,’P’,’20170611′);
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28. Chris Bostick, INF/OF, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(607471,’B’,’20170611′);
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29. Connor Joe, 3B, Altoona – [insert_php] display_top30(656582,’B’,’20170611′);
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30. Pat Light, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(572990,’P’,’20170611′);
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P2 Top Performers

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Prospect-Watch-Indy

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INDIANAPOLIS — This was a bounceback performance.

Tyler Eppler allowed just two earned runs in seven innings, matching his longest start of the season. That comes five days after throwing just 4.2 innings in his shortest start of the year.

And the timing of Eppler’s performance in Indianapolis’ 9-3 win over Columbus was critical, considering team implications. The Indians had lost its previous four games and their bullpen was used frequently after Clay Holmes didn’t get out of the first inning on Saturday.

“For me I was really more concentrated on his back-bounce outing than necessarily his stuff,” Indianapolis manager Andy Barkett said. “I was proud that he was resilient and came back out against a tough lineup in a game we needed, and he executed to get it done.”

But Eppler’s impressive start came with an ominous beginning. Abraham Almonte, on a major league rehab assignment, took the fourth pitch from Tyler Eppler into the right field bleachers for a home run.

“They were all fastballs inside, he had seen three before that so he was ready for that fourth one right there,” Eppler said.

Yandy Diaz had an infield single on a slow roller to shortstop, but Eppler quickly ended any chance of the inning spiraling out of control. Giovanny Urshela grounded into a 6-4-3 double play, after falling behind 0-2 and fouling off the next two pitches. Eppler struck out Richie Shaffer looking with an 89 MPH slider-cutter, getting out of the inning with just 16 pitches.

“I think he’s learned some really valuable lessons this season,” Barkett said. “Some painful ones at times, but that’s part of the growth process with these guys. To see him bounce back and navigate through that inning, especially with Holmes had a rough day yesterday, everybody is thinking this could happen again, but he executed and made pitches when he needed to make them. It was encouraging.”

And Eppler didn’t waste the opportunity to build on his bounceback in the first inning, retiring the side in the second inning on five pitches. Mike Papi hit a flyout and Chris Colabello grounded out, both on the first pitch of the at-bat. They appeared to be trying to attack Eppler’s fastball early in the count.

“That just makes me focus even more on executing those pitches on the corner and letting them get themselves out,” Eppler said.

Adam Moore flied out into the corner in right field to end the second inning, with Christopher Bostick making a nice catch moving backwards on a ball that carried.

Eppler cruised from there with one exception: a missed fastball that Columbus’ Nellie Rodriguez crushed over the concourse in left field for his seventh home run of the season.

But while Eppler missed with his fastball on the two home runs he allowed, his improved command of that pitch was key to his solid outing.

“The fastball execution was a lot better today, working it in and out to righties and lefties,” Eppler said. “I obviously made the two mistakes on fastballs and those cost me, but I made the pitches when I needed to. The ball was down today which was big.
“Here lately it’s either been a big miss or a miss down the middle. Today my misses were either right where I wanted them to be or right off the plate, just working those corners.”

Austin Meadows showed the ability to make adjustments against Columbus starting pitcher Mike Clevinger, one of the organization’s top young pitching prospects.

Clevinger won the first two at-bats, which included a strikeout of Meadows in the second inning on a 75 MPH breaking pitch in the dirt with a runner at second. The next time around Meadows hit a three-run, bases clearing double into the right field corner.

Meadows anticipated, with the bases loaded, Clevinger would throw another off-speed pitch.

“He threw a slider or maybe a curve that stayed up in the zone,” said Meadows, who was 3-for-5. “And I was telling myself to see it up because in my last at-bat I didn’t do that. But I saw it up and put a good swing on it.”

Clevinger allowed five earned runs in four innings. He struck out six batters, but walked four and hit another one. In his previous six starts with Columbus, Clevinger had allowed a total of five earned runs.

Eric Wood was 3-for-4 with four RBI, including a two-run single in the second inning.

Barrett Barnes was 2-for-2 with two runs scored, but was injured legging out an infield single. He appeared to injure himself running, before he touched first base.

Barkett said Barnes likely has a hamstring injury and might be out a couple of weeks, but nothing was definitive immediately after the game.

Steven Brault allowed one hit in a scoreless inning of relief. He will skip his start on Tuesday in lieu of making the relief appearance on Sunday.

Brault has a 1.09 earned run average over his last seven starts, dating back to the beginning of May. As for the thought skipping a start could bust up Brault’s momentum, Barkett said, “You would have to ask Neal Huntington that.”

Tyler Glasnow is scheduled to throw a side session on Monday and make his first Triple-A start of the season on Wednesday. – Brian Peloza

Prospect-Watch-Altoona-Curve

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Altoona was trailing 3-1 through five innings, then put up back-to-back four run frames for a 9-3 win. Tanner Anderson allowed three runs over six innings for the win, with one of those runs being unearned. He did a somewhat decent job of limiting runs this week with six in 12.2 innings, despite allowing 18 hits. He’s been good at getting out of jams this season with some well-timed double plays. Anderson allowed a run in each of the first two innings, but he recorded a double play in each frame.

On the season, he has a 4.23 ERA in 61.2 innings. It’s important to remember that he was a reliever prior to this season and switched to the starter role in the upper levels. He threw 88 innings last year, plus playoffs and a stint in the AFL, so he should be good to continue starting through the end of the season.

Luis Heredia threw a scoreless seventh, which was his fifth appearance in a row without allowing a run. Montana DuRapau closed it out with two shutout innings.

On offense, Edwin Espinal, Pablo Reyes, Elvis Escobar and Jerrick Suiter each picked up two hits. Suiter hit a three-run homer in the seventh, his third of the season. Espinal picked up his 18th double and drove in a run. Reyes had a big day in place of the injured Kevin Kramer, collecting two hits, two stolen bases, a walk, a run scored and an RBI. Kevin Newman saw his average drop to .234 with an 0-for-3 night, though he did walk twice and pick up an RBI.

Prospect-Watch-Bradenton

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Bradenton won 8-4 on Sunday to keep their playoff hopes alive as they enter the last week of the first half. You can forgive Pedro Vasquez for his tough first inning tonight. He allowed three runs on a walk and three hits. It was his first start in 11 days due to three rain outs last week and an off-day. He also had to wait out a rain delay for an extra 80 minutes before the start. Vasquez came into the game with a 1.94 ERA, which went up to 2.20 after this game. As, I said, you can forgive him for the first inning because he quickly shook off the rust. In his last four innings, he retired all but one batter, issuing a two-out walk in the third inning. He finished with five strikeouts and a 6:2 GO/AO ratio. It was just the second time he has allowed more than two runs in a game this year.

Brandon Cumpton was on next, pitching his second game since returning from multiple surgeries (shoulder and Tommy John), which have kept him out since September, 2014. He allowed one run in his only inning during his season debut earlier this week. This night was much better, with his only blemish being a walk over two innings. He had four strikeouts and two ground outs.

Jordan George had the big game on offense, but everyone except former Major Leaguer John Bormann contributed for the Marauders. George drove in four runs, reaching base four times on a double, single and two walks. Will Craig continued his recent tear, collecting two hits and a walk, while scoring three runs and picking up an RBI. He now has a .290 average and an .819 OPS. Ke’Bryan Hayes had two hits, a walk and a run scored. He now has a .287 average. Logan Ratledge had three hits in the lead-off spot and Logan Hill picked up a pair of hits, a walk and scored a run.

Prospect-Watch-WV-Power

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West Virginia lost 12-1 on Sunday to Greensboro, which eliminated the Power from the first half pennant race with a week to go. James Marvel started and went three innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on six hits and one walk. He had given up just two runs in his previous 12 innings, covering three appearances. Jordan Jess kept the game close with two shutout innings before reliever Blake Cederlind opened the floodgates in the seventh inning with three more runs, then another in the eighth before being removed. Outfielder Alexis Bastardo finished off the game and gave up four meaningless runs. It’s the first time he has pitched in five seasons as a pro.

The Power didn’t have any trouble getting on base in this game with ten hits, including four doubles. The problem was, getting a hit once someone got to second base. They went 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position. Albert Baur, Hunter Owen and Arden Pabst each had two hits. Baur, Owen, Trae Arbet and Ty Moore each had a double. Sandy Santos went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts. He has 55 strikeouts in 116 at-bats this year.

Prospect-Watch-DSL

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The DSL Pirates

  • Any chance today was used as a side session for Brault who should be heading to Pittsburgh to take Kuhl’s spot in the rotation?

  • Anyone know the reason for using Brault in relief today?

    • They have 6 starting pitchers so I think they’re trying to skip some starts. And possibly trying to ease the workload too?

      • With the shake up of the bullpen yesterday and its current struggles, I would guess they are trying to give him some experience in case a starting spot does not open but he can help the bullpen

    • They have done that with other starters just to give them a little break and limit their innings.

  • Barrett Barnes injured…in other news, water is wet.

  • Barnes was starting to hit and then of course, he’s injured. I really don’t know what to do with him. So fragile.

    • Have you ever known a Pirates prospect who got hurt more than Barnes? I can list a few who had career ending injuries before ever getting out of AAA but I can’t think of anyone who been hurt more often than Barnes.

  • Who’d have thought cole would be pushing hudson for a higher era. That’s frustrating. Number one pick in the draft. Pedro, number one pick in the draft. And enough with this talk that our outfield is set through 2018. Our outfield is anything but set. Too much optimism around this club and not enough discipline. The articles are written too optimistically so to keep a good relationship with the club, players, and affiliates.Tough press and practical viewpoints are the boo birds and applause outside the stadium. Give them what they deserve and enough with the everbody gets a participation trophy. This club is in a bad spot, period. Glasnow, number what prospect? Meadows, number what prospect? End rant.

  • Pinch hit for Nova who is throwing a shutout and jaso immediately hits into DP. I understand Nova’s knee is hurting. But if he is ok to continue doing this with a 3-0 lead is moronic. Jaso is what he is but I don’t know how many times I’ve see him who is known as a patient hitter swing at strike one and do absolutely nothing with the pitch. This team is just plain frustrating to watch.

    • Nova has also gotten hit a little in the 7th inning. I was glad to see Jaso pinch hit there; he has been good lately. Loved Cutch’s jump.

    • Jaso had a .386 batting average as a pinch hitter this year. Also had the game-winning double as a pinch hitter yesterday.

      • That doesn’t really have anything to do with Hurdle pinch hitting for Nova who was dominating or an experienced PH swinging at pitch one and beating it into the ground. I know baseball is difficult but get something you can handle and get it into air. Jaso knows how to hit, but that whole scenario plus the Pirates getting so many hits and not getting runs in is an ongoing theme. At least the young guys are hitting well.

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