P2Daily: It’s Bradenton Marauders Week on Pirates Prospects

This week on Pirates Prospects we’re covering the Bradenton Marauders.

This week is our specialty.

Single-A is where most breakout prospects are found. Some of them emerge early in the season and set fire to their league. Some have up and down years, finishing strong in the second half. Some never have that consistent stretch of good performance, and continue relying on age and ability for another year.

Our focus at this level is the same as any level — to keep you informed of what is happening with every player throughout the entire season. Not many sites dedicate this level of focus to Single-A, which is how we’re typically the first to report on the breakout players.

There’s one such player we covered this week who no one else has written about, and who might end up in my top ten in the system by the end of the year. I have a feeling you’ll read more about him by the end of the season, and this week’s article will tell you why.

Skip to the links below to check out all of the new content in this week’s article drop.

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Cole Tucker was designated for assignment today, which led to an interesting conversation on Twitter. Adam Bittner pointed out how the front office was brought in to fix the issue of players not living up to their upside in the majors. That obviously hasn’t worked with Tucker and the new front office.

Tucker was drafted in the first round in 2014. One year later, the Pirates drafted second baseman Kevin Kramer out of UCLA. Kramer weighed in on the discussion, explaining the difficult task the current front office has with players under the old development system.

What really stood out to me was the follow-up comments from Kramer, especially the comments about the feedback he got from some former coaches.

I’m going to be writing about this topic later this week, but I wanted to highlight it today while we’re talking about Single-A players.

Most of the players we’re covering this week are barely professional baseball players. Anthony Solometo is 19 years old and has pitched exactly three official innings in his career, for example. Even with the most talented players, it takes imagination to envision them as future MLB players from this stage.

Then, they reach the upper levels, where they have to face another challenge. They might be good enough to reach the majors, but are they the best option for the current system? The best prospects won’t have this issue, but the “depth” that the Pirates get touted for — all of the 40+ to 50 grade guys who might be average starters in the majors — those guys could end up in a competition.

From the very start, there is so much doubt for any player in a sport where very few amateur players make it to the majors.

I can’t imagine how difficult the journey would be if you have coaches reaffirming your fear that you won’t make the cut.

That’s a style of motivation that works on some people. It was a very prevalent style under the old system. It probably ruined some careers. I’ll get into that a little more, from my perspective, later in the week.

Overall, removing that type of tough-love, drill-sergeant style teaching is one of the biggest positives of the current system. They are treating the players with the respect of people.

Think of it this way: If you had someone telling you that you would fail at your life’s pursuit, would you consider that person to be treating you with respect? Is that a person you’d trust to help you reach your goal? What if both answers are “No”, but you have no other choice?

I’ll have more thoughts on this later in the week. For now, I’m glad these Single-A prospects we’re covering are growing up in a much more supportive system.

Pirates Prospects Spotlight

Williams: The Growing Pains of Single-A

Pirates Links

Daily Video Rundown: Oneil Cruz, Deivis Nadal, Sergio Campana

Pirates Discussion: Pirates 6, Dodgers 5

P2Daily Articles:

THIS WEEK ON PIRATES PROSPECTS

Williams: The Growing Pains of Single-A

Carlos Jimenez Has Emerged As One of the Pirates’ Best Lower Level Pitching Prospects

Anthony Solometo: High Changeup Usage Highlights Debut

Bradenton Statcast: Who Is Hitting The Ball Well?

Tsung-Che Cheng: “He’s the type of guy who has an elite level of focus, an elite level of drive”

Joelvis Del Rosario is Starting to Make a Name For Himself

Brenden Dixon: Approach Leading To Success As Bradenton’s Table Setter

Song of the Day

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MWT

I never got the impression that the new regime wanted to “fix” players left over from the previous regime. It’s looked pretty obvious to me that they had an evaluation period of the players remaining and decided to move on from the majority of them.

NMR

That was literally their pitch when Ben got the job!

There’s talent here, but like those who’ve left it is underperforming and the new group has what it takes to make them succeed.

And even if you’re correct, does that make Clay Holmes an evaluation failure, development failure, or both?

Last edited 2 months ago by NMR
MWT

I believe now more than ever that Cherington’s objective all along was to have the opportunity to completely gut and rebuild an organization from the bottom up. You take over, give the existing team nothing to help it compete right away, and use that failure as an excuse to blow it up and rebuild. I think ego plays a part, no GM wants to be accused of winning with players acquired by their predecessor and have that asterisks next to their success. The reality is no one, with the exception of Hayes and Reynolds, was safe. I truly don’t think it gets any more complex than that.

Time will tell if a new philosophy for pitchers will yield more success in the future, but based off of what I’ve seen so far I’d take Ray Searage over Oscar Marin any day of the week.

NMR

“Impossible” task?

Somebody forgot to tell all of the organizations that acquired and improved Pirate players.

There’s this weird inclination in Pittsburgh media to coddle new management teams.

It happened to Huntington, who received near universal support when DK blew the whistle on their Hoka Hey bullshit. As big a red flag on fucked up developmental practices as one could wave, yet it took another half-decade for most outlets to finally see the truth in front of them.

Framing like this article sure feels like a redux of that behavior. Yes they’ve objectively failed to do what they were hired to do, BUT it’s really the fault of those who came before them.

Of course the previous group had shitty coaches. Pretty sure Dean Treanor yelling at Glasnow to “throw it like a motherfucker” did him no favors.

But thing is, Tampa sure as hell didn’t let that stop them.

If this club stands any chance at success, they have to develop better than the best. They have no leeway to just be average. Time to buck up and start taking accountability.

Last edited 2 months ago by NMR
SBRO

And to think the worst thing we knew about Kyle Stark was the one-time zero dark thirty drill where Taillon hurt his knee. We can only guess how many careers he suffocated in the crib. Do we know of any players he helped?

NMR

It’s a slippy way to think of development, IMO.

Marte exceeded expectations all the way to being a bonafide star. Does Stark get “credit” for that?

Was there something specific that led to JHay doing the same, albeit for only a brief period?

Jordy Mercer, Adam Frazier, Jake Stallings…

skliesen

Some people thrive in an environment based on fear, but most do better when they feel encouraged to perform their best. If Kramer’s statements are accurate, it’s understandable why Pirates failed to get the best out of most of their top prospects.

SBRO

Then how should we think about development and accountability, if not “prospects graduated vs. some objective standard”? Hey, maybe Stark ruining a few borderline guys, albeit high picks, is the by-product of a system that works?

Let’s set aside the “blame the other guy” excuse, we’ll be seeing plenty of that. If I want to know whether Stark’s approach was successful, what metrics should I look for?

NMR

The only real way is to focus on body of work, right?

Your question was a specific one, which players did he help. Short of identifying an explicit flaw>solution>result process for any of them, you can’t actually answer that question by just pointing out the dudes who did well.

Similarly, I don’t think you can do that for the dudes who did better elsewhere. Baseball is full of these examples across the league, and they all don’t mean the initial dev group is bad.

The total body of work, then, seems to be the only real way to reach a conclusion here and even that has to be a relative judgement.

MWT

I always considered the previous regime as being “down the middle”. Their militaristic, “no one player is greater than the team” approach seemed to get the best out of guys who were fringe type players, while also seemed to hold back certain players (Marte/Gerrit Cole/etc.) from reaching their full potential.

The conversation starts to gets interesting when you look back objectively and try to determine if their ideology was really THAT bad. Any time someone brings the cliché “all the Pirates do is trade away their best players” mantra I ask myself: who exactly are they referring to? The names you mentioned: Jordy Mercer, Adam Frazier, Jacob Stallings, etc. all seemed to benefit from whatever philosophy the organization had in place at that time, all well as a long list of other players who had success here (no matter how brief) only to quickly fizzle out elsewhere. Not to mention having a run of completely rebuilding an effective pitching staff off of waiver claims for nearly a decade. Whose “fault” is that?

NMR

MAN do I love this take.

I’ve made the comment on other threads that I just do not believe there is THAT much room for improvement, if we’re talking about dev alone being the difference between late-era Huntington clubs and a literal world series contender.

The previous group was not a complete failure, and no organization ever achieves complete success.

AdministrativeSky236

Super excited for these features, have been wondering who to follow at bradenton but will end today having new favorite players to track

MShaeffer4444

This is why I’ll reserve judgement on the new developmental system until we start seeing guys that this Front Office had from the get go.

Ardotcom2

If what Kramer said is true, and I’m inclined to believe him, that pisses me off. What kind of crap is that?

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

Bradenton week is going to be Murph’s favorite week

skliesen

It’s one thing to coach hard by affirming in a loud voice the performance isn’t acceptable. It’s quite another to say to someone you’re a failure and always will be.

This kind of crap pisses me off to know end.

No wonder our once vaunted farm system produced so little success. And it further explains why top prospects had much more success after leaving the Pirates.

NMR

Yet that success proves it clearly didn’t limit their potential.

We’re almost three years out and still blaming the previous administration for everything. In politics, that’s a sure sign of deflection…

patrick_kelly

I was a NH guy for the longest time and gave him a lot of leeway. That turned somewhat towards the end as the ML team and MiL system fizzled down to crap and overly top-heavy, respectively. Until the full story is out I’m willing to hold judgment. Which may never happen and I’ll eventually forget about the NH era (13-15 run will stay of course).

Having said that, since we (I) can’t judge whether the failure of carry-over prospects and ML players under Ben are his or NH’s fault, one has to consider that those prospects haven’t succeeded because they are in fact broken. Maybe at some point we hear from Tucker on why he never learned to hit under 2 regimes.

Last edited 2 months ago by patrick_kelly
NMR

I think any individual prospect would be a poor judge of whether or not the new group has or is even showing signs of success, but I think you have to look at the body of work and ask just how coincidental it is that of all the young talent Ben inherited – who he himself stated was underperforming and would be the source of improvement under him! – the only guy to actually get any better has been the one he’s already traded, Clay Holmes.

All the guys here are broken, but apparently not Holmes?

I’m not buying it.

Tucker may have been a lost cause, but Keller still isn’t showing anything, Kebryan is rolling a double-digit ISO, not a single one of his lottery tickets have improved.

Man, at some point you gotta be accountable for at least a little bit of that don’t you?

skliesen

It’s possible the previous regime was bad and this one is, too. For different reasons.

JimEastTennessee

Definitely the old school mentality was no longer working (most of us still carry scars from that philosophy of “development”… sport, or otherwise.
It seems the current development philosophy, heavy on individualism and empathy, is the correct way to go.
Will this path lead to continued growth, and maximization of talent, resulting in October ball late in Pittsburgh?
That is the question, and the unknown x-factor remains…development; what happens within the glut for 45+value players?

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