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.
PIRATES GAME GRAPH
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
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
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.