Morning Report: Best Tools, NYPL All-Stars, and McCutchen Ties Parker

Some news and notes for your Wednesday morning.

** Baseball America started posting their survey results of the best tools in the minors. These are opinions from the managers and coaches in each league, rather than rankings put out by Baseball America. BA just does the legwork to get the surveys out there and put the information together. The International League was posted yesterday and two Pittsburgh Pirates made the list. Tyler Glasnow was voted as having the best breaking ball and Elias Diaz was voted as the best defensive catcher.

Last year’s list had Glasnow as the best pitcher in the league and the best breaking ball. The Pirates also had Alen Hanson as the best defensive second baseman. Diaz wasn’t eligible because he had played just a small handful of games with Indianapolis at the time of the survey last year.

** The New York-Penn League named the representatives for next Tuesday’s All-Star game. Morgantown has five players on the list. Catcher Deon Stafford, second baseman Tristan Gray, outfielder Bligh Madris and pitchers Adam Oller and Ike Schlabach.

No surprises in this group, although it’s a bit surprising that Matt Seelinger didn’t make the team. He has an 0.56 ERA, an 0.81 WHIP and 23 strikeouts in 16 innings over 12 appearances. Oller has pitched great this year, giving up three runs over 27 innings (1.00 ERA), while striking out 28 batters. He has been pitching in long relief, so maybe they didn’t want two relievers from the same team and went with the player who put in more time. Joel Cesar could have been considered as well. He has a 1.06 ERA in 17 innings, with 19 strikeouts and a .150 BAA.

I mentioned Monday night in the Prospect Watch that Oller missed a lot of time this spring with a shoulder impingement, so this was a special selection for him, bouncing back from an injury to put up solid stats so far. The excitement for the selection was evident when I talked to him last night.

“It was great to see I got selected and I’m extremely excited for this opportunity. It’ll be a lot of fun to meet a bunch of new guys and take everything in, it should be an absolute blast,” Oller said. “It’s nice to see all the hard work I’ve been putting in towards staying healthy is paying off.”

Madris Gray and Stafford all rank in the top 12 in the league in OPS. They were all top ten when the team was announced, but Stafford dropped back two spots after an 0-for-5 night last night. Schlabach had that run of four straight six innings starts in which he gave up one run total, so he was one of the more obvious choices for the game.

** The opposing pitchers for today’s Altoona and Bradenton games are 2015 draft picks of the Pirates who didn’t sign. That’s only technically true for one of them. Austin Sodders is facing Bradenton and Cole Irvin is going against Altoona. Sodders was announced as signed by the Pirates, even had an MiLB page made up and was added to the GCL roster, and he was at Pirate City. Something happened where he decided to go back to school, possibly a failed medical or a change of heart. Whatever it is, I’ve never seen someone in the draft announced as signed, added to a roster and then not actually sign. Irvin was injured when the Pirates drafted him in the 32nd round, so his decision to return to school was wise and it paid off. He went in the fifth round in 2016.

** Andrew McCutchen played his 1,300th game for the Pirates last night. That puts him one behind Dave Parker for 15th most in team history, which I assume he will tie tonight. He is no longer behind Parker in extra-base hits after homering last night. His 524th XBH tied him with Parker for seventh most in team history.

** A few minor league transactions of note, which wasn’t enough news for an article yesterday. Jerrick Suiter returned to Altoona after spending a few days on the Temporary Inactive List. To make room for him, the Pirates shuffled Jake Brentz back to Bradenton. That’s not a big surprise for a few reasons. Altoona had 14 pitchers on their roster, Bradenton was short a pitcher and Brentz has struggled with the jump to Double-A. Blake Cederlind came off of the West Virginia disabled list and Matt Anderson went on the list. Anderson has been pitching well recently, albeit in relief and coming from a 23-year-old in Low-A with four years of college starting. No word on his injury, but it was back dated two days.


The Pirates trail in their division by 3.5 games. They are eight games back for the second wild card spot.

Indianapolis is in first place, with a 2.5 game lead. Their season ends September 4th.

Altoona is in second place, one game behind. Their season ends September 4th.

Bradenton is in third place, 2.5 games behind. Their season ends September 3rd.

West Virginia is in fourth place, one game out of first. Their season ends September 4th.

Morgantown is in first place, one game ahead. Their season ends September 7th.

Bristol is in last place, 17.5 games back. Their season ends August 31st.

The GCL Pirates are in third place, six games behind. Their season ends September 2nd.

The DSL Pirates are in third place, 3.5 games back. Their season ends August 26th.


Source: FanGraphs


Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates won 6-3 over the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night. As this four-game series now shifts to Detroit, the Pirates will send Ivan Nova to the mound today for his 23rd start. He posted a 6.28 ERA in five July starts, then threw six innings in his first start this month, allowing four runs (one earned). Nova has a 2.70 ERA in ten road starts this year. The Tigers will counter with right-hander Justin Verlander, who has a 4.20 ERA in 137 innings, with 136 strikeouts and a 1.41 WHIP. He has a 3.29 ERA in 11 home starts this season.

In the minors, Drew Hutchison goes in the afternoon game for Indianapolis. He has a 4.20 ERA in five starts since the All-Star break. Altoona goes with JT Brubaker, who was hitting 97-98 MPH in his last start. Oddy Nunez gets the early start for West Virginia. He threw four shutout innings last time out, striking out seven batters. Nunez allowed one hit and no walks. All-Star Ike Schlabach goes for Morgantown. He ranks sixth in the NYPL with his 2.31 ERA and third with his 1.01 WHIP. The DSL Pirates play a doubleheader today. Hunter Stratton will start for Bristol.

MLB: Pittsburgh (56-57) @ Tigers (51-61) 7:10 PM
Probable starter: Ivan Nova (3.66 ERA, 19:89 BB/SO, 144.2 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (63-52) vs Buffalo (50-66) 1:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Drew Hutchison (3.78 ERA, 44:96 BB/SO, 123.2 IP)

AA: Altoona (58-55) vs Reading (60-53) 7:00 PM  (season preview)
Probable starter: JT Brubaker (4.70 ERA, 31:85 BB/SO, 97.2 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (61-50) @ Lakeland (50-57) 6:30 PM  (season preview)
Probable starter:  TBD

Low-A: West Virginia (54-57) vs Lakewood (60-55) 12:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Oddy Nunez (3.43 ERA, 24:83 BB/SO, 89.1 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (29-19) vs Brooklyn (14-33) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: Ike Schlabach (2.31 ERA, 13:31 BB/SO, 46.2 IP)

Rookie: Bristol (10-36) vs Johnson City (24-22) 7:00 PM

GCL: Pirates (14-24) vs Yankees West (19-16) 12:00 PM

DSL: Pirates (31-25) vs Cubs (29-25) 10:30 AM DH (season preview)


Here is Steven Brault picking up a strikeout during his gem pitching performance on Monday.


8/9: Joey Terdoslavich placed on Indianapolis disabled list.

8/8: Matt Anderson placed on West Virginia disabled list. Blake Cederlind activated from disabled list.

8/8: Jerrick Suiter activated from Temporary Inactive List. Jake Brentz assigned to Bradenton.

8/7: Dovydas Neverauskas optioned to Indianapolis. George Kontos added to active roster.

8/7: Danny Ortiz sent outright to Indianapolis.

8/7: Gage Hinsz placed on disabled list. Alexis Bastardo released.

8/7: Carlos Munoz promoted to Bradenton. Brent Gibbs activated from West Virginia disabled list.

8/7:  Austin Meadows assigned to Morgantown on rehab.

8/6: Max Moroff optioned to Indianapolis. Sean Rodriguez added to active roster.

8/5: Pirates claim George Kontos off waivers. Designate Jhan Marinez and Danny Ortiz for assignment.

8/5: Pirates acquire Sean Rodriguez from Atlanta Braves for Connor Joe.

8/5: Wade LeBlanc reinstated from bereavement list.

8/4: Mitch Keller promoted to Altoona. Jerrick Suiter placed on the temporarily inactive list.

8/4: Michael de la Cruz assigned to GCL Pirates

8/4: James Marvel promoted to Bradenton. Oddy Nunez activated from West Virginia disabled list.

8/3: Angel German and Oneil Cruz added to West Virginia roster. Jordan Jess promoted to Bradenton. Nick King assigned to Morgantown.

8/3: Eury Perez traded to Miami Marlins for cash.

8/2: Gregory Polanco activated from disabled list. Jordan Luplow optioned to Indianapolis.

8/2: Wade LeBlanc placed on Bereavement List. Dovydas Neverauskas recalled from Indianapolis.

8/1: Oddy Nunez and Blake Cederlind placed on disabled list. Oneil Cruz and Angel German assigned to West Virginia.

8/1: Adrian Valerio activated from disabled list.

8/1: Stephan Meyer assigned to West Virginia. Hector Quinones assigned to Bristol.

7/31: Tony Watson traded to Los Angeles Dodgers for Oneil Cruz and Angel German

7/31: Seth McGarry traded to Philadelphia Phillies for Joaquin Benoit and cash

7/31: Brandon Waddell activated from disabled list. Miguel  Rosario assigned to Bradenton


Three former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a transaction of note involving a Hall of Fame manager. On this date in 1919, the Pirates sent outfielder Casey Stengel to the Philadelphia Phillies for utility fielder Possum Whitted. Stengel refuses to report to Philadelphia after the deal, demanding a raise before he showed up. He ended up getting one the next season, but the Phillies dealt him away prior to the 1921 season. In 35 games for the Pirates in 1919, Whitted had a .389 average. He was a starter for the next two seasons, before the Pirates sold him to Brooklyn after the 1922 season.

The players born on this date include:

Matt Morris, 2007-08 pitcher. Sorry, it’s his birthday

Pat Mahomes, relief pitcher for 2003 Pirates. Had a 4.84 ERA in 22.1 innings over nine appearances in his only season in Pittsburgh.

Roman Mejias, member of the 1960 World Series champs. Mejias was signed by the Pirates out of Cuba in 1953 and he hit .216 in 71 games as a rookie for the 1955 Pirates. After spending the next season in the minors, he then played another five years off and on for the Pirates. During the 1960 season, Mejias spent most of the year in the minors, only getting three Major League appearances off the bench in May. After playing four games during the 1961 season, the Pirates lost him to Houston in the expansion draft.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    August 9, 2017 11:33 pm

    The situation with Diaz is just tragic….what a waste of a talent….the Pirates need to do the kid a favor and trade him, since they are moronic enough to choose Stewart over him.

  • Pirates are 3.5 back of first and are having the type of classic Pirate outing where they drop 4 or 5 straight right after. make a real f-Ing addition to this team! It’s precious that SRod is back but we need hitters and pitchers…there is quality all over revocable waivers right now. DO SOMETHING HUNTINGTON! We know you don’t believe in this team but the race will not be this tight for a long time….now is the damn time. Fire Branson first though, he seems like 25% of the problem.

    • PittsburghKid
      August 11, 2017 1:57 am

      TBH it’s too late, at this point what could they add? Starters that could help the team on a reasonable salary aren’t going to make it to the Pirates. Unfortunately we are handcuffed by salary and Huntington is not to blame for that, Nutting is. Relievers who can help the team could come by but a real difference maker, once again on an affordable contract, is unlikely. Position player wise there just aren’t too many bats that can help out. Most guys who could help have giant contracts even for team with more “financial flexibility” than the Bucs. And there is also the problem of who to send down. I may be off in the following but I think I’m in the ballpark. In the rotation Taillon, Kuhl, and Williams could get optioned but theres no chance of Taillon going down and Williams and Kuhl have done enough to the point where if they lose their spot they should at least stay in the pen. In the pen Schugel and Felipe are the only ones who have options (I think?) and I think his 102 mph fastball and low ones era will keep Felipe up for a while, just a guess. That leaves Schugel to be optioned which wouldn’t be a big deal. Benoit really wasn’t a bad pick up if you just look at his deal, the problem was that he was the only deal. He can eat innings and not be a complete liability which along with just being brought in will probably keep him around. Huddy shouldn’t be on this team but it’s highly unlikely we trade him given his performance but he’s also performed well enough where he doesn’t HAVE to be let go and his giant salary is too much dead money for the Bucs. On to position players there’s just no where to put anyone. Bell, Frazier, and Osuna are the only ones with options, I think. Bell doesn’t need explaining, Frazier’s been pretty darn good as a utility guy except for a rough patch pre all star break, and Osuna is going to be kept around for experience as he should be part of the bench the next few years. Jaso, Freese, Stewart, and Rodriguez are the only guys who would have a chance to be cut on a team imo. Rodriguez is staying bc he is a big part of the bench next year and we just got him, you could make the same case for Freese but he’s much more likely to be gone in the off-season rather than August, if Stewart leaves then you could just bring Diaz, and I just don’t think NH would get rid of Jaso. That leaves a bullpen spot (Schugel), a very slim chance at another bullpen spot (Benoit or Huddy cut/traded), a slim chance at a bench spot (Osuna optioned/Jaso cut), and a very slim chance at another (Freese traded). The pirates are in a terrible spot where they’re good enough to realistically make a run with some help, but arent good enough to send down young guys who need experience to get better for next year. There just aren’t enough spots to get guys in the team and except for a LeBlanc/Coke style move like late last year, Serpico and Kontos are probably it.

  • From Fanside Joshua Sadlock. We compare RJ to TG.

    If this trade had happened, MLB fans all over the world may never have been treated to the full potential of Randy Johnson. The Montreal Expos had made him a second-round pick out of UCLA in 1985, but had little luck getting the 6’10” Johnson to throw strikes. He walked over seven per nine coming up through the Expos farm system, and was walking nearly eight per nine at the time of the trade.

    Johnson’s command did not improve immediately with the Seattle Mariners, but he made strides quickly. In his first three full seasons with Seattle, Johnson led MLB in walks three times, but was also getting over 10 strikeouts per nine. Late in the 1992 season, Johnson had a throwing and advice session with Nolan Ryan that helped him hone his mechanics. The transformation finally occurred, and he produced an eight-inning, 18-strikeout masterpiece in a head-to-head matchup with Ryan. Fun fact — Johnson threw 160 pitches in that game, which has not been topped by an MLB pitcher since.

    With Ryan’s suggestion to change how his front foot landed, Johnson broke out in 1993 and dominated the American League. He went 19-8 with a 3.24 ERA and the first of his six 300-strikeout seasons. Johnson finished second in the AL Cy Young voting.

    Johnson had a 10-year peak from 1993 to 2002 where he went 175-58 with a 2.73 ERA and 12 strikeouts per nine. He led MLB in strikeouts eight times. From 1999 to 2002, Johnson joined Greg Maddux as the only pitcher to win four consecutive Cy Young awards. He was the co-MVP of the 2001 World Series with the Arizona Diamondbacks and is also the oldest pitcher in MLB history to throw a perfect game. The Big Unit ended his career with 303 wins.

  • rickmontgomery
    August 9, 2017 12:17 pm

    Is it possible to just shoot Bristol and put them out of their misery?

  • Was Alen Hanson somehow a very good defensive second baseman last year or was the ballot box stuffed?

    • Hanson made some outstanding plays at second base with Indianapolis last year. They played a crazy shift for right-handed batters for most of the season and he was on the third base side of second base, making plays ranging to his right, basically playing shortstop. That’s why I thought he could play shortstop if needed this year. His problems at shortstop were never skills related, it was the mental side and usually occurred on easy plays where he had too much time to think about the throw or would take his eye off a routine grounder.

      When they were rotating guys at second base last year in Indy, there was a huge difference between Hanson there and then watching Frazier play, with Moroff somewhere in the middle of those two.

    • Also have to remember with these “league-best” awards that the competition pool isn’t terribly deep.

  • terrygordon30
    August 9, 2017 9:19 am

    Roberto never amounted to anything.

    In all seriousness, Roman had talent, and I do not know if it had anything to do with it, but back then, most teams kept very few blacks on the bench.

    • Bob Nutting as a limited partner in MLB Advanced media made $86mil on Disney’s purchase of 75% of BAMtech

  • Who was that other rookie on the ’55 Pirates? Roberto Something or Other?