Back when the DSL season started, I posted a list of ten players to watch on the team. We got the list of DSL players who were invited to the Fall Instructional League on Saturday and nine of those ten players were invited. It was a huge list of names invited, 22 to be exact, so I didn’t really do anything special by picking nine players for the list who were invited. The odds were in my favor.
The one player from that ten players to watch article, who didn’t get invited was Pedro Castillo. He was a player who I described as raw and said ” it’s possible his playing time is somewhat limited and the final stats don’t impress you”. I got that part right, as he played in 37 games and hit .205/.308/.254 in 122 at-bats. My “prediction” was based off what I heard from multiple people during Spring Training, but part of the reason he was even more limited than I thought was that he missed two weeks with a quad injury. So between missing time and looking somewhat raw, the Pirates decided it would be better for the 17-year-old outfielder to stay back and go through instructs in the Dominican in October.
Of the other ten players, one is actually an invite based on the fact he was already here. Samuel Reyes has been in the GCL since the league started, spending just 3 1/2 weeks of the DSL season in the Dominican. He has put up solid stats in the GCL and will likely be the first one from this group to play full-season ball. I mentioned Samuel Inoa, Sherten Apostel, Jean Eusebio and Francisco Acuna in the invite article yesterday, but we can look at the other four players from the top ten here.
Larry Alcime had a few minors injuries, even dealt with dehydration, then got hit by a pitch in the face on Thursday, so he just had one constant tough season and barely showed improvements over his 2016 rookie season. It’s tough to see positives in the slight improvement, other than using his injuries during the season as a possible excuse/reason. Besides the dehydration (which kept him out about 4-5 days) and the recent facial injury, he also had a hamstring issue that lingered and was hit by a pitch on his shin and needed time off. He was playing well during Spring Training, which was the only extended time he was healthy, so maybe there is more than the stats with him.
Noe Toribio was the best pitcher the team had during Spring Training, which is a bit different from saying that in Major League Spring Training, where the stats are hard to judge due to small sample size and the different levels of competition. In the Dominican during Spring Training, you’re facing the same player you’re going to face during the season. Toribio turned 18 on Friday, so he played his entire season at 17 years old. He had a 4.13 ERA in 56.2 innings, with 49 strikeouts and a 1.86 GO/AO ratio. What you like to see is that he finished strong (1.88 ERA in last six starts) and even put in six innings during one start. He lived up to the early billing.
Santiago Florez was a little like Castillo in that I talked him down, noting that he was included because he turned 17 in May and he was already 6’6″, 222 pounds and hit 92 MPH. He had a decent season, but his wildness killed him. He was hard to hit with a .222 BAA, but 38 walks in 53.1 innings led to a 4.56 ERA and some outings where he didn’t last long. While you can’t say he disappointed, you can say he has work to do. That frame though, and early velocity, still is an exciting combo. Assuming he stays in the U.S. next year, he’s still going to be 17 when Extended Spring Training starts.
Osvaldo Bido I can say is a bit disappointing. He was signed at 21 years old, but the Pirates have been finding some strong pitching among the older group of unsigned pitchers recently. Bido was hitting 95 as a starter in Spring Training and won a rotation spot, so the expectations bar for him was set a little higher. He ended up with a 5.33 ERA in 50.2 innings, with 41 strikeouts and 36 walks. You can point to him still being a rookie and this is probably a lot of innings for him, but those are more the stats of a project than a prospect. He’s got the live arm and the 6’3″ frame, so there’s hope.
I’ll have more on all of these players, including scouting reports, when we do the season recap sometime next month.
** I missed it from Friday night, but Johnny Barbato has graduated from having a prospect status. Friday night was his 31st Major League appearance, one over the maximum we use for pitchers, who can also lose their status by crossing the 50 IP mark. The next player to graduate from being a prospect will likely be Steven Brault, and that should occur soon. With 33.1 innings last year and 10.2 so far this season, he needs another 6.1 IP to drop off our top 50 prospects list.
Elias Diaz looked like he was going to be a tough one to figure out after he got sent down on Friday. He needs 25 more at-bats to lose his status. Now that he’s back with the Pirates, you would think that should easily happen (and fairly soon), just to get him extra playing time to get him ready for a bigger role next season. He’s out of options next year, so it’s hard to imagine that he won’t be with the team all season.
I will note one thing with Diaz and Max Moroff, which differs from some other prospects rankings. The Pirates sat Josh Bell in the last game last year, keeping him from losing his rookie status and making him eligible for the Rookie of the Year this season. Diaz obviously isn’t a Rookie of the Year type candidate, but he already lost his rookie status this season due to time in the majors. We don’t use that service time criteria (45 non-September days) though, so both he and Moroff are still eligible to be in our prospect guide until they cross 130 at-bats. Diaz should easily make the mark, Moroff won’t unless they realize it might be a good idea to see what he can do with regular at-bats in the majors for the first time. It’s not as if it would hurt the team to find out.
** The minor league schedule is really winding down at this point. As shown in the Playoff Push section, four of the eight affiliates have a legit shot at the playoffs, while two others haven’t been eliminated just yet. Indianapolis has ten games left over the final nine days, including today. Altoona has nine games left, Bradenton is down to nine games (plus the completion of a suspended game), and West Virginia is at eight left. Morgantown still has 12 games left without an off-day between now and September 7th. Bristol is mercifully down to five, while the GCL has six and the DSL season ended Saturday.
The Pirates trail in their division by eight games. They are 8.5 games back for the second wild card spot.
Indianapolis is in first place with a 7.5 game lead. Their season ends September 4th.
Altoona is in first place with a two game lead. The top two teams make the playoffs. Their season ends September 4th.
Bradenton is in third place, eight games behind. Their season ends September 3rd.
West Virginia is in third place, three games out of first. Their season ends September 4th.
Morgantown is in second place, two games back. Their season ends September 7th.
Bristol has been eliminated from the playoffs.
The GCL Pirates are in third place, six games behind. Their season ends September 2nd.
The DSL season is over.
PIRATES GAME GRAPH
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates won 1-0 over the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday night. They will send Jameson Taillon to the mound today for his 20th start. He has posted a 8.24 ERA in eight starts since the All-Star break and a 4.09 ERA in eight starts on the road this season. Taillon has allowed 16 earned runs over 14.2 innings against the Reds this season. The Reds will counter with one of their top prospects, 22-year-old righty Tyler Mahle, who is making his big league debut.
In the minors, there is a lot of talent on the mound with Tyler Glasnow, Mitch Keller and Luis Escobar all pitching. Escobar is looking to break Glasnow’s team record for strikeouts, when he put up 164 in 2013 for West Virginia. Escobar trails by 11 with two starts left. Bradenton had their game rained out last night, leading to it being canceled. They will attempt to play Friday’s suspended game before today’s regularly scheduled game. If neither game can be played today, they will both be canceled and Friday’s stats through four innings will be wiped away. Gavin Wallace starts for Morgantown and Max Kranick starts for Bristol. The DSL season is over. The GCL Pirates are off on Sundays.
MLB: Pittsburgh (62-68) @ Reds (55-75) 1:10 PM
Probable starter: Jameson Taillon (4.85 ERA, 37:99 BB/SO, 102.0 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (74-58) vs Columbus (67-66) 1:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Tyler Glasnow (1.99 ERA, 29:122 BB/SO, 81.1 IP)
AA: Altoona (70-61) vs Bowie (68-63) 6:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Mitch Keller (3.13 ERA, 9:27 BB/SO, 23.0 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (67-58) vs Jupiter (64-64) 1:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Bret Helton (3.41 ERA, 35:82 BB/SO, 108.1 IP)
Low-A: West Virginia (63-65) vs Hagerstown (69-60) 2:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Luis Escobar (4.21 ERA, 56:153 BB/SO, 119.2 IP)
Short-Season A: Morgantown (35-29) @ Mahoning Valley (36-26) 4:05 PM (season preview)
Rookie: Bristol (14-47) vs Kingsport (28-33) 6:00 PM
GCL: Pirates (23-31) vs Braves (29-25) 12:00 PM 8/28
DSL: Pirates (36-34) (season preview)
Here is a home run from Erich Weiss, sans batting gloves
8/26: Francisco Cervelli placed on the disabled list. Elias Diaz recalled from Indianapolis.
8/25: Francisco Cervelli activated from the disabled list. Elias Diaz optioned to Indianapolis.
8/23: Edgar Santana optioned to Indianapolis. Pirates select the contract of Angel Sanchez.
8/23: Cody Dickson promoted to Indianapolis.
8/23: Gage Hinsz placed on disabled list.
8/23: Braeden Ogle placed on the disabled list.
8/23: Arden Pabst placed on disabled list. Henrry Rosario promoted from Bristol to West Virginia.
8/22: Joaquin Benoit and George Kontos placed on disabled list.
8/22: Dovydas Neverauskas optioned to Indianapolis. Steven Brault, Edgar Santana and Johnny Barbato recalled from Indianapolis.
8/22: Hunter Owen and Jason Stoffel assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab.
8/21: Pirates option Jacob Stallings to Indianapolis.
8/21: Brandon Cumpton promoted to Indianapolis. Jacob Brentz activated from Altoona disabled list.
8/21: John Bormann assigned to Bradenton.
8/20: Pirates recall Jacob Stallings.
8/20: Trae Arbet placed on disabled list. Shane Kemp assigned to West Virginia.
8/19: Steven Brault optioned to Indianapolis. Dovydas Neverauskas recalled from Indianapolis.
8/19: Barrett Barnes assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab.
8/19: Max Kranick promoted to Bristol.
8/19: John Bormann assigned to Indianapolis.
8/18: Wade LeBlanc placed on disabled list. Steven Brault recalled from Indianapolis.
8/18: Joey Terdoslavich activated from disabled list.
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus current Pirate shortstop Jordy Mercer turns 31 today. Starting with the most recent former players first:
Mike Maddux, 1995 Pirates. He gets lost in the shadow of his HOF brother, but he actually played 15 seasons in the majors, throwing a total of 472 games. His Pirates career was short with eight relief appearances and a 9.00 ERA. He was signed in April and released in May.
Mike Edwards, 1977 second baseman. He went 0-for-6 in seven games as a September call-up, then he got traded prior to the 1978 season. He has a twin brother named Marshall, who played in the majors for three seasons. The strange part about them is that his brother batted and threw lefty, while Mike hit and threw right-handed. The Pirates also had a player named Mike Edwards during the 2006 season.
Charlie Engle, 1930 infielder. The Pirates selected him in the Rule 5 draft. He hit .264 in 67 games. Only other Major League experience was 20 games for the 1925-26 Athletics.
Eddie Mulligan, 1928 infielder. Had a 25-year pro career. Hit .233 in 27 games, seeing very little time despite spending the entire year with the Pirates
Dave Wright, pitcher on July 22, 1895. His first two appearances in a Pirates’ uniform were actually mid-season exhibition games that he started. He only non-exhibition game appearance with the Pirates came as a reliever, throwing the last two innings of a game on July 22nd. He gave up six runs in his first inning, then threw a scoreless ninth. His only other Major League game came in 1897 and he defeated the Pirates, throwing a 15-14 complete game.
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.
– Our MLB starting rotation is not good in terms of ERAs ranging from “best” (Nova @ 3.97) to worst (Taillon @ 4.85)
– Our Indy rotation has four legit prospects who are doing great right now in (Brault, Glasnow, Holmes, and Kingham) with ERAs ranging from 1.94 to 3.99 (and that last number is inflated from Kingham’s recent implosion)
– Indy also has additional parts including Hutchison, Sadler, Cumpton, and Eppler
It is unclear at this point on which of those 13 guys we are able to rely on and no one wants to use the 2018 to break in another starter like we did this year.
Who are the best five for the MLB rotation? Which three need to be kept for injury insurance? Who is needed (and can adapt) to the bullpen? Who is then really available for trades?
Cole, Taillon, Nova, Glasnow for the rotation.
Holmes, Eppler, Sadler, and Cumpton back in the AAA rotation/bullpen depending on which current starters from Altoona are promoted.
I could easily see one of Williams, Kuhl, and Hutchison being traded, and one of Brault and Kingham being dealt for prospects and/or bullpen arms. The remaining 3 (hopefully Kuhl and Kingham among them) compete for the final rotation spot, with 1 winning a starting job, 1 in long relief, and 1 being FULLY transitioned to a middle relief option
They players you want to trade for prospects are prospects. I don’t get it?
Hitting prospects/prospects at other positions obviously…
Keep Cole, Taillon, Glasnow, Williams and Brault in the rotation. Trade Nova and Kingham, put Kuhl in relief and use the rest for filler.