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Morning Report: Opening Day for the 2019 Minor League Season


It’s Opening Day for the minor league season, which means the return of our daily Morning Report. For those who are new to the site since September, here is a brief introduction to what you can expect each morning. If you’ve been a regular reader, there are still some changes for the 2019 season listed below.

We start with the intro section, which is what you’re reading now. It will briefly cover a variety of minor league topics throughout the year. Sometimes you’ll get a mini feature on a player, sometimes it’s a summary of stats throughout the organization and other times you’ll just get a bunch of random notes that aren’t enough for an article on their own.

Last year, Tim Williams and I split up the intro section of the Morning Report. This year, Wilbur Miller will also be contributing 2-3 times per week.

Next up is the Playoff Push section, which is just there for today so you can see the setup. It will return in about 7-8 weeks as the first half of season winds down for Altoona, Bradenton and Greensboro. Those three teams play in a league with a split schedule (The Eastern League started that system this year). After the first half ends, the Playoff Push goes away again until later in the year when all nine affiliates and the Pirates will be covered. The section gets really busy in early August, running until the minor league regular season ends, or when all of the clubs have either clinched a playoff spot or been eliminated from contention.

After the Playoff Push, we have the daily schedule section called Today’s Schedule. That gives a brief rundown of the Pirates, covering their results from the previous night and the upcoming schedule, as well as a look at the minor league starters. Each team’s schedule for the day will be updated and the probable starting pitcher for each team will be listed if they are available. You’ll noticed that Altoona, Bradenton and Greensboro have season previews linked next to their game times. The Indianapolis preview will be up later today and then I’ll add it to tomorrow’s Morning Report. Those links remain there all season for your convenience. As other affiliates start to play, we will preview their seasons as well and add the links.

Next is the highlight section, which has a highlight from the Pirates today because none of the minor league teams have started play yet. I usually include a minor league highlight, sometimes two of them, and only go to the Pirates if nothing else is available.

The next section is the transactions section, keeping track of all of the moves in the system over the last ten days.  Whenever a transaction has an article to go along with it, we will include the link. This section gets very busy at times.

The final section is This Date in Pirates History and it’s self-explanatory. Every day there will be some Pirates history. This site is loaded with older articles about the early days of the Pirates. The search option will lead you to many articles and notes, including mini bios for over 1,200 former Pirates players, going back to the 1882 club when the franchise was formed.

What’s Coming Up Later Today

Besides the Indianapolis season preview, we will post our daily Prospect Watch tonight. It will contain a recap and boxscore link for each minor league game once they have all been completed. Our Prospect Watch also includes a list of the top 30 prospects in the minors at the top of each article for a quick access to their performances that night. Kevin Newman, Pablo Reyes and Nick Burdi are all top 30 prospects in the system, but they will not be on the list as long as they are in the majors.

There will also be an update on the 2019 Prospect Guide. You can order it here if you haven’t bought your copy already. The guide is updated as of last night, so it’s as current as you can get for the prospects in the system.


This feature is just here for today, since it is way too early to be thinking about the playoffs. Expect this section to return near the end of May for Altoona, Bradenton and Greensboro. They all play split-seasons and could be looking to earn a September playoff spot in June by winning their first half title. That happened in 2016 when Bradenton won the first half, then went on to win the Florida State League title. Later in the season, we will keep you informed of the playoff push with the Pirates and all of their affiliates.


Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates lost 5-4 to the St Louis Cardinals on Wednesday night. The Pirates now take on the Cincinnati Reds for four games at home. Jordan Lyles will be making his season debut, going up against 24-year-old right-hander Tyler Mahle, who is also making his debut.

The minor league schedule begins with all four full-season teams in action. JT Brubaker, James Marvel, Domingo Robles and Steven Jennings get the opening starts. The rotations in the minors aren’t based on anything more than whose day it is to pitch and that just goes by their Spring Training schedule. So don’t read too much into certain pitchers not getting the start today.

MLB: Pittsburgh (1-3) vs Reds (1-4) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Jordan Lyles (NR)

AAA: Indianapolis (0-0) @ Columbus (0-0) 6:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: JT Brubaker (NR)

AA: Altoona (0-0) @ Akron (0-0) 6:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: James Marvel (NR)

High-A: Bradenton (0-0) @ St Lucie (0-0) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Domingo Robles (NR)

Low-A: Greensboro (0-0) vs Hagerstown (0-0) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Steven Jennings (NR)


From the opener at PNC, Colin Moran’s home run in the eighth.


3/30: Pirates trade Aaron Slegers to Tampa Bay Rays

3/29: Pirates sign Jorge Ramos and Geovanny Planchart

3/29: Pirates sign Eric Wood

3/28: Pirates acquire Jake Elmore from Chicago White Sox

3/28: Pirates set Opening Day roster

3/27: Pirates release eight minor league players


On this date in 1978, The Pirates sent Miguel Dilone, Elias Sosa and Mike Edwards to the Oakland A’s to get Manny Sanguillen, who was traded to Oakland 17 months earlier for Chuck Tanner and cash.

On this date in 1977, the Pirates traded minor league pitcher Randy Sealy to the California Angels in exchange for outfielder Mike Easler. Easler would actually be sold to the Boston Red Sox before returning in another trade prior to the 1979 season.

On this date in 1964, the Pirates traded outfielder Howie Goss to the Houston Colt .45’s in exchange for outfielder Manny Mota. Mota ended up playing six seasons in Pittsburgh, hitting .297 in 642 games. He hit .332 in 1966, then .321 the following season. After slumping down to .281 in 1968, the Pirates lost him in the expansion draft to the Montreal Expos.

On this date in 1986, the Pirates traded Jason Thompson to the Montreal Expos for two minor leaguers, Ben Abner and Ronnie Giddens.

Former players born on this date include:

Jim Fregosi, 1977-78 infielder.

Les Bartholomew, pitcher for the 1928 Pirates.

Bill Hinchman, outfielder for the Pirates from 1915 until 1918, then again in 1920.

More on each trade and bios on each player in the link at the top of this section.

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John Dreker
John Dreker
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.

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