On Sunday in Australia, Michael Suchy extended his on base streak to 21 games by going 2-for-5 with a single and his 12th double. He scored two runs and drove in a pair. With one week remaining in the season, Suchy is hitting .306/.386/.570 through 34 games. In this unusually high year for offense, he only ranks 15th in the league in OPS. For reference sake, those same numbers in 2016 would have had him just a few points behind the league leader in OPS, and every year going back to the 2010 season, he would have been no lower than ninth place.
After making his second straight scoreless appearance on the mound yesterday, Connor MacDonald was back at first base, where he went 1-for-4 with a double, HBP and two runs scored. He’s hitting .281/.351/.570 in 33 games, while striking out in 37.3% of his plate appearances. That last stat shows why someone with that slash line was signed as a pitcher instead. He reportedly throws hard, which we will see this spring for ourselves.
Sam Street pitched for a third time over the weekend. He came on with two outs in the ninth and allowed a single before recording the final out for a 7-5 score and his second save. In seven appearances this winter, Street has a 3.72 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP in 9.2 innings, with 12 strikeouts.
The final week of the ABL season, which runs from Thursday until Saturday, will decide which Pirates make it into the playoffs. Robbie Glendinning and Perth have already qualified, but either Connor MacDonald and Michael Suchy (Sydney) or Sam Street (Melbourne) will get the final spot.
The ABL actually changed the playoff procedure this year. In the past, the second and third place team would play a best-of-three, with the winner playing the first place team in the finals. Now four teams get into the playoffs, with the top team playing the fourth place team in the first round. The finals have been shown on MLB Network in the past, but the TV schedule doesn’t have it listed as of right now.
In the Venezuelan league finals, Elvis Escobar went 2-for-3 with two doubles and two runs scored, helping his team to a 4-0 victory, which tied the series up 1-1. His first double came off of Major League veteran Freddy Garcia, mentioned only because you now can’t believe Freddy Garcia is still pitching. Escobar went 1-for-4 with a single in the series opener.
The next winter league article will be Friday. Get ready for a plethora of prospect rankings over the next two weeks.
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.
John what Milb level was Australia equivalent to?
I always said it was weak Double-A, but this year seems more like High-A.The pitching seems to be a little light this year, but there are still plenty of pitchers with experience in Double-A or higher. I think the difference in offense this year might be more in the baseballs they are using. They seem to be flying out of the park, which I can’t be certain is just from the pitching being a little weak.
The league had 220 homers this year through just 26-27 games for each team. Last year, there were 171 homers during the entire 40-game schedule, so it’s a huge difference.
Is there any suggestion that this MacDonald has any pitches other than something hard (and presumably straight, more or less)? Or do they think they can teach him a change and curve and so forth?
No scouting report other than a big young guy who throws hard. He may already throw some breaking ball, many position players fool around with pitching on the side, but the reports just say big/young/velocity. He has thrown more strikes than balls in his outings, so you like to see velocity+control.