The Pittsburgh Pirates have made two pitching moves to get right-handed pitchers Dario Agrazal and Yefry Ramirez back on the Indianapolis roster. Right-handed pitcher Eduardo Vera was released and lefty Cam Vieaux was sent down to Altoona. With Mitch Keller slated to join the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday, they will have a whole new look in the Triple-A rotation.
Vera is somewhat surprising, but also not really at the same time. At this point last year, he was starting a dominant run in Altoona that ran through the playoffs and winter ball, which may have been his biggest issue. I talked to him in May and he already said he wasn’t going to pitch winter ball again this upcoming off-season (that might change now) because he was having a lot of trouble finding his fastball and control this season. He really piled up the innings last year and then started throwing very early in January, hoping to impress during Spring Training. The combo of 200+ total innings, along with a very short off-season may have led to these results.
Vera struggled this year, and is an upcoming minor league free agent, so with the fact that he pitched yesterday, we are talking about letting him go three appearances before free agency kicked in (season ends September 2nd). In that sense, it’s not a shocking decision. He couldn’t do anything in that short amount of time that would make them overlook the rest of the season. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him do much better next year somewhere else, using his 2018-19 off-season as a learning lesson.
Vieaux is a bit of a head-scratcher as well. He wasn’t pitching well in Indianapolis, but I’m not sure what good it would do to send him down to Altoona when you’re already losing two other starters. He just threw five shutout innings yesterday, so maybe it’s just a temporary move until Keller is cleared off on Monday, although we all should remember Pedro Vasquez being sent down after seven shutout innings, only to win our Pitcher of the Month award back in Altoona. This is a more wait-and-see move, because it might be nothing.
In other news, Kyle Mottice returned to Greensboro. He was out with a back sprain. To make room on the roster, Victor Ngoepe was sent back to Morgantown. Mottice has a .509 OBP in 41 games this year.
Braeden Ogle has been activated from the Bradenton injured list. He replaced Max Kranick, who was placed on the injured list yesterday. There are no actual injuries here, just limiting innings. In Ogle’s case, it’s because he missed almost all of last season. For Kranick, he was leading the FSL in innings pitched when they shut him down. I expect him to return this season as he wasn’t showing any signs of fatigue.
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.