Morning Report: Everyone Has Been Asking About a Possible Promotion

Before I get into the title part, I wanted to look at the standings around the minors. A few minor league clubs for the Pirates are in position to make the playoffs at this point. I’m going to add the Playoff Push section back soon, which might not even need to include Bristol at the rate they’re going. They have the worst record in baseball. Last night was the halfway point of their 68-game season and they are 12 games out right now. If they were in the other division of the Appalachian League, they would be 16 games out.

Anyway, a brief summary of the teams with much better playoff chances:

Indianapolis leads their division by 2.5 games, with 39 games left. They play the second place team six more times, while the other two clubs in the division don’t really have a chance.

Altoona is in a three-way tie for first place, with the top two teams both making the playoffs. On top of that, one other team is only three games out. So basically, every game is important for the players. They also have 39 games left, with only eight of those games against the other top three teams in the division.

Bradenton has a two-game lead in their division, with the third place team just 2.5 games back. They have 38 games left.

Morgantown has a 1.5 game lead in their division, with a total of three teams within three games. They have 42 games left, which is the most for any team. This year could be the first time that I can remember, where one of the full-season teams is in the playoffs while another team is still playing regular season games. Our Prospect Watch has had playoffs and regular season games on the same day before, but that was the GCL/DSL teams, which almost always end before the rest of the clubs.

That gives the Pirates four first place teams out of their eight affiliates and three others have a shot. West Virginia is only three games back of a playoff spot, but no one in the division of seven teams can be counted out yet. You already know about Bristol, while the GCL Pirates are just four games back, though they are also 10-16, so it’s not exactly going well. The DSL Pirates have the fewest games left (27) and they trail by four in their division.

* The Pirates went 1-5 vs the lowly Giants this season. They came into the season needing just two wins to reach 1,000 wins in the head-to-head series. The two teams have been playing each other since 1887, with the Pirates (Alleghenys at the time) picking up their first win on May 24, 1887. I knew about this milestone coming up since last year, so I planned to do a special Morning Report about the 1,000th win at some point this season. You’ll have to stay tuned until next year for that article now…hopefully.

When is Mason Martin Getting Promoted?

I’ve been getting this question A LOT in the last week, so let me answer it here and then if you see anyone ask in the comments, you can tell them. People want to know if Mason Martin will get promoted soon. Some of you probably just laughed when you read that, but for others, it’s a legit question in their mind. He COULD get promoted soon, but that’s just because the Pirates can move any player anywhere they want. John Bormann would confirm that fact.

What the Pirates have done in the past though, suggests that he is staying in the GCL until at least the last week of the season. Same goes for Shane Baz, Steven Jennings, Calvin Mitchell and Cody Bolton, who some of you may have forgot about recently. They don’t even move up every big high school signing during that last week, but they may want to give someone like Mitchell an extra week of at-bats with Morgantown, so you may see him or Martin leave the GCL on August 27th (the last scheduled off-day) and get to Morgantown with 11 games left in their season.

So the answer is always going to be “no” when asked if he will be promoted, because they have never given the indication that it will happen and there have been much bigger names than Martin who didn’t receive that mid-season promotion. Ke’Bryan Hayes was the league’s leading hitter when he got called up late for some extra games. Austin Meadows had a .918 OPS in a very pitcher friendly league before leaving during the last week. Reese McGuire competed for the batting title, showed plus defense and never left the league. Cole Tucker didn’t get promoted either, though he got injured the last week, so he may have moved up for a few games if he was healthy.

It just doesn’t happen, and until it does, there is no reason to believe any of the six active prep players (don’t forget Jake Webb, but do forget Conner Uselton because he’s done for the year) will get called up early. I’ll also note that pitchers are even less likely to move, so I wouldn’t plan a trip to Morgantown to see Shane Baz just yet.

The same rule would apply to Lolo Sanchez, who has looked like the best all-around player for the team. Seriously, don’t overlook him…and did you honestly skip the top section to just read this part? Sanchez is a first year DSL player and if he leaves, it will be at the same time as the players above. Jeremias Portorreal, who ranked in our mid-season top 50, is a different story. He played some GCL games last year and he has been in the Fall Instructional League twice already, so a promotion for him is possible at any time. I personally wouldn’t mind seeing him in Bristol so they have some more batters to write about each night.

Basically, don’t expect any GCL promotions within the next month unless the players has prior GCL experience, or they were drafted out of college. Also, I wouldn’t worry about a player moving up this year, because it won’t affect their placement next year. McGuire and Cole Tucker both started in West Virginia without moving up. How the players look in Spring Training camp next year will be the deciding factor, not a couple extra weeks at a higher level.


Source: FanGraphs


Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates lost 2-1 to the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday afternoon. The Pirates are off today before starting a three-game series in San Diego on Friday. They will send Chad Kuhl to the mound Friday for his 21st start. He has a 3.96 ERA in ten road starts this season. Kuhl has a 3.25 ERA in five starts this month. The Padres will counter with TBD, who has been scheduled numerous times, but always seems to be a late scratch.

In the minors, Clay Holmes gets the start for Indianapolis tonight after being pushed back a day, flipping spots in the rotation with Tyler Eppler. Holmes has walked six batters in two of his last four starts, but had no walks in the other two games. He has not allowed more than two runs in a game in any of his last five starts. Casey Sadler starts for Altoona tonight, his first starting assignment in over two years. Yeudry Manzanillo is scheduled for the GCL Pirates and Hunter Stratton should get the ball for Bristol. If the schedule is correct, the brothers Wallace will both start on the same night for the first time. Mike for West Virginia and Gavin for Morgantown.

MLB: Pittsburgh (50-52) @ Padres (44-57) 10:10 PM 7/28
Probable starter: Chad Kuhl (4.92 ERA, 39:80 BB/SO, 97.0 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (57-46) vs Rochester (59-44) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Clay Holmes (3.51 ERA, 44:78 BB/SO, 82.0 IP)

AA: Altoona (53-48) vs Trenton (69-33) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Casey Sadler (3.18 ERA, 1:10 BB/SO, 11.1 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (58-41) @ St Lucie (46-55) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Cam Vieaux (3.68 ERA, 10:18 BB/SO, 36.2 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (46-51) @ Hagerstown (55-44) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Mike Wallace (3.36 ERA, 17:46 BB/SO, 61.2 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (22-12) @ Auburn (13-22) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: Gavin Wallace (4.66 ERA, 2:17 BB/SO, 19.1 IP)

Rookie: Bristol (8-26) vs Greeneville (18-14) 7:00 PM

GCL: Pirates (10-16) vs Braves (13-13) 12:00 PM

DSL: Pirates (24-21) vs Rays2 (24-17) 10:30 AM (season preview)


Here are two recent highlights from Indianapolis. First is Gift Ngoepe doing Gift Ngoepe things to end the game.

Next is Nick Kingham picking up a strikeout during his fantastic outing on Monday. Video includes the entire at-bat.


7/25: Connor Joe activated from Altoona disabled list. Justin Maffei assigned to Indianapolis.

7/25: Jonathan Schwind assigned to Morgantown.

7/23: Adrian Valerio placed on disabled list. Andrew Walker assigned to West Virginia.

7/22: Gregory Polanco placed on the disabled list. Steven Brault recalled from Indianapolis.

7/22: Hector Garcia assigned to Morgantown on rehab.

7/21: Adonis Pichardo assigned to GCL Pirates from Bristol. Ryan Valdes, Hector Quinones and Will Reed promoted to Bristol.

7/20: Kevin Newman promoted to Indianapolis. Anderson Feliz and Jackson Williams assigned to Altoona.

7/20: Tomas Morales placed on disabled list.

7/20: Cole Tucker promoted to Altoona. Logan Ratledge assigned to Bradenton.

7/20: Stephen Alemais promoted to Bradenton.

7/20: Pirates release Zane Chavez

7/19: Brandon Waddell and Conner Joe assigned to Morgantown on rehab.

7/18: Starling Marte activated from restricted list. Phil Gosselin optioned to Indianapolis.

7/18: Hunter Owen placed on disabled list. Nick King promoted to West Virginia.


Two former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a key game from the 1979 season. Starting with the players and neither was around too long. Enrique Wilson played for the 2000-01 Pirates, joining the team on July 28, 2000 in a deal with the Cleveland Indians for Wil Cordero. The next season he was dealt to the Yankees on June 13th for Damaso Marte. Wilson was a valuable utility player during his first season with the Pirates, seeing time at 2B/3B/SS and putting up a .723 OPS. He was mostly playing shortstop in 2001 before the trade and had a .186 average in 46 games.

The other player born on this date was left-handed pitcher Irish McIlveen, who despite pitching for the Pirates back in 1906, is one of the last Major League players born in Ireland. He was a star athlete at Penn State and joined the Pirates in July of 1906 right out of college. McIlveen pitched twice for the Pirates and played three games off the bench. After coaching two years at PSU, he returned to the majors with the New York Highlanders, playing exclusively in the outfield. By May of 1909, he was out of baseball.

On this date in 1979, the Pirates took a doubleheader from the first place Montreal Expos, which brought them within a half game of the NL East top spot. The link above has more details for the games, including quotes from Dave Parker, who got hit by a pitch in both games of the doubleheader. You can find the boxscore for game two here, which has a link for the first game.

  • With first year players one should not get to high or upset with performance. For the first time it is a job and with that comes pressure to perform. So while some do well (MM) others not so well. Give them a chance to mature and lets see what they do next year before worrying about when they will get promoted or released.

  • This was a humorous tweet from Tim:
    Tim Williams


    He’s like every single OOTP GM who takes over a struggling franchise. Trade everyone and get the best prospects from all around the league.

    I love OOTP, but I’m so old that I remember when it was APBA, Strat and Action PC.

    Btw, when I play the Bucs, their prospects NEVER denigrate….I make sure of that via the editor. I don’t call it cheating….I call it Karma for those 20 years. 🙂

  • meatygettingsaucy
    July 27, 2017 10:44 am

    But…. when is Mason Martin getting promoted?

    • I think John knows but won’t tell us. I’m wondering if Keller gets to Altoona for a possible playoff game or two.

  • Buddy Turney
    July 27, 2017 9:08 am

    You guys weren’t around for the days of “Superstar” Chad Hermansen. In the year he was drafted (1995), he played half the season in the GCL and half the season in the NY-Penn league. The scouting report was he walks on water. Chad didn’t turn 18 till September that year. Chad is only 39, wonder what he is doing these days?

  • Nice looking pitches from Kingham there. That change up and curve were both filthy.

    • Mechanics are a bit of a mess, too.

      Looks to me like he’s opening up much more now and the arm action is inconsistent compared to before missing time with TJS.

      Also obviously more movement and opportunities to get out of sequence now that he’s going up over his head.

      • Those are 2 quite different looking wind-ups. I’ve never been a big fan of the over head with the arms wind-up. Seems like a lot of unnecessary moving parts.

        • This is where my Kingham optimism stems from.

          You can’t allude to a guy “being a different pitcher” after TJS when simple mechanical adjustments can be made. This isn’t a Brady Aiken situation.
          I’m not at all convinced Kingham’s any less of a talent now.

          • The Astros are a fascinating bunch when it comes to the draft. Draft Correa over Appel and use those savings to draft Lance McCullers. (Boy did that work out). But then take Appel the following year and pass on Kris Bryant which could’ve been a Correa/Bryant left side of the infield. Then trade Appel just two years later for Ken Giles. Take Aiken, low ball him, then offer him 5 mil (which he should’ve taken) and all the while screwing up the Jacob Nix signing. But then turn the failing to sign Aiken into Alex Bregman and Tucker the following year.
            So you think Kingham can maybe fix his mechanics some and turn into a starter with mid rotation upside?

            • Mid-rotation is a high bar. I don’t know that he was ever really a likely mid-rotation arm, more of a quality #4/#5.

              The video John linked above was FB away > FB in > CH away > CB burried for the K. That’s a big league sequence with three big league-quality pitches.

              If one accepts the delivery can improve, and understands the benefits to command that come with it, then there’s no reason one shouldn’t still see him as a potential #4/#5.

              • I couldn’t agree more. I personally feel there is more upside in Kingham than the likes of Brault, Holmes, Eppler, and maybe even Trevor Williams. With no options remaining, it will be interesting to see what they do with him next year. That is if he isn’t used as a trade chip, though I’m not sure what his value would really be anymore in a trade.

                • Almost certainly more than the first three – Holmes is really the only candidate and he hasn’t come close to showing starter command – and I would agree over Williams just based on stuff, but you can’t argue with the results he’s getting right now. Hopefully they hold up after he gets around the league a couple times.

  • WillyMoGarcia33
    July 27, 2017 8:48 am
  • Seeing a guy wearing a Cubs jersey ringing a bell is borderline sacrilegious!

    Give that guy a Josh Bell jersey!

    • I assume he immediately went to the in-stadium store and got a Gift jersey after that beautiful grab.