Now that all of the full-season minor league affiliates of the Pittsburgh Pirates are in action, there is still a large group of players back at Pirate City in Bradenton.
That group includes rehabbing players with short-term injuries and full-season injuries. A majority of the group is players who will end up in the Florida Complex League when that season begins on June 5th. There are other players who got squeezed off full-seasons rosters, but will appear somewhere as soon as there is an opening.
Here’s a look at some of the 66 names currently on the Extended Spring Training roster of the Pirates.
The best place to start on a prospect site is with the top prospects. On the pitching side, that includes Jun-Seok Shim, the top ranked international signing from January. The reports on him out of Spring Training have been great so far, which is what you would expect from a teenager (he just turned 19 on Easter) who hits triple digits.
He’s joined by a pair of 2022 drafts picks, with Hunter Barco (second round) and Michael Kennedy (fourth round). Barco is still rehabbing from his Tommy John surgery last season. Kennedy is a toss up right now.
We saw Bubba Chandler and Anthony Solometo join Bradenton mid-season last year. While Kennedy isn’t as high profile as that pair, he was considered to be polished for a high school pitcher. Maybe his debut comes later this spring/summer in Bradenton, as part of a plan to keep his innings at a reasonable amount during his first season of pro ball. Otherwise we will see him in the FCL.
Australian pitcher Brandan Bidois has received strong reports this spring as well. He was injured for the entire 2022 season. It will be interesting to see if he does the same thing I just mentioned for Kennedy, or if he spends the season in the FCL.
Antwone Kelly is another interesting name. He made an appearance in the World Baseball Classic this year. While he wasn’t specifically mentioned during a very recent conversation I had about pitchers excelling in Spring Training, he has received strong reports in the past.
Hung-Leng Chang, the 21-year-old from Taiwan, is another young pitcher with upside. There’s a reason why he got a $500,000 signing bonus.
I mentioned that 66 players were there at Pirates City. A total of 41 are pitchers. It involves a lot of players who are/were injured. That group includes Blake Cederlind, who is on the 7-day injured list.
That list is better news than being on the 60-day list, which means the player is missing at least two full months. That group includes Brennan Malone, Drake Fellows, Jose Maldonado, Geronimo Franzua, and the aforementioned Hunter Barco.
The “it could be worse” group is the players who are on the full-season injured list. That group includes Scott Randall (TJ surgery), Wei-Chieh Huang, Nathan Webb and Daniel Rivero. Adrian Florencio is also on that list, which is a new development, as he was just pitching about two weeks ago
Carlos Jimenez (pictured up top), Kelvin Disla and Jacob Sweeney are doing rehab work, and at last check, they were nearing a return.
Out of the 25 position players, you have Dariel Lopez out for the year due to a knee injury. Solomon Maguire, Lonnie White Jr, Jack Herman and Josiah Sightler are on the 60-day lists. Termarr Johnson and Rodolfo Nolasco are in the short-term injury category.
Some injured players are with their teams, instead of rehabbing at Pirate City. Jared Triolo and Shalin Polanco are two names in that category, though Triolo might eventually end up down there. Pitcher Luis Peralta is also with Bradenton, but not ready for games yet.
Francisco Acuna is there (unpaid) while serving the rest of his suspension from late last year.
By my count, there are at least 20 injured players among the 66 at Pirate City.
The healthy (at last check) group of position players includes familiar names in Sergio Campana, Juan Jerez, Jasiah Dixon and Deion Walker.
Who Is Making the Jump to the U.S.?
The big interest in this article each year usually comes from the group of players making the jump from the Dominican Summer League. I’ll note that the Pirates seem to be doing something different more recently.
There are DSL Pirates players who appeared in Spring Training, but they are not there now. The Pirates have been bringing players over early, then sending them back to the Dominican for Spring Training there, which is going on now. We saw top international prospect Yordany De Los Santos appear in a big league Spring Training game, but he’s not at Pirate City now.
The old way of knowing who is going to make the jump to the U.S. no longer applies, as this happened last year too, and not everyone who was in the U.S. early, was back there when the FCL started playing games.
The DSL players who remain there now usually fall in one of three groups. Catchers is one group, because you need plenty of catchers for all of the pitchers. Injured players is another. Depending on their injury, Pirate City might be a better place to be for their rehab. The third group is Venezuelan players who stay due to the turmoil in their country.
So right now the group of 2022 DSL players is very small. It includes Axiel Plaz, the high upside catcher, who hit so well last year. Power-hitting outfielder/first baseman Ewry Espinal is there. Miguel Sosa is also there, another catcher of note.
On the pitching side, the group includes Darlin Diaz, Isaias Uribe and a trio of pitchers who were injured last year, Juan Santos, Francis Olantilo and Luis Rodriguez.
They will definitely have more players than this group over from the DSL, but we will have to wait to see that entire group. It’s highly possible that decisions are still being made.
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.
Ugh a whole lot of talent on the injury list in our system right now
Name I just thought of, AJ Graham. Any updates on him, even if it’s just he’s in EST?
He’s just in EST
Why would they send Yordany back to the DSL?
To go through Spring Training in his home country. Happened to a few players this year and last year, he’s just the only one I named.
Thanks. Does that mean he’d come back for rookie league or essentially play all of 23 in DSL?
Should we just rename the 60 day IL the Brennan Malone list?
Really appreciate this overview John. This is the level (levels?) that is hardest for me to remember who are considered the higher level prospects knowing that may change by the end of the year. Between International signings, DSL stats that can be very misleading, and later round draft guys, there is a lot of weeding out at this stage.
Yes, this is just FCL players now, but Extended ST has always covered multiple levels in the past. You would have a mix of guys going to either the GCL, Bristol or Morgantown. Getting rid of two levels made the competition level in the FCL better, but it also made it harder to make the jump from the DSL. It the same idea, it means it’s not bad to repeat the FCL for a prospect.
Just watched the Bae home run again, he did a toe tap and not the high leg kick that I normally see, do he always do a toe tap with two strikes and I never noticed or is that new?
Fingers crossed Shim becomes a starter not a reliever. I would love to see Pirates version of Hunter Greene (with better fastball I hope)
Pirates version of HG, we call him Luis Ortiz.
Honestly I had Ortiz throwing 98mph in my mind. Completely forgot about the triple digits. Fair enough!
Great stuff. Appreciate the comprehensive info
Any more injury updates on Lonnie White Jr, and Termarr Johnson?
Read the bottom part;
The team gave an update on White Jr yesterday https://www.piratesprospects.com/2023/04/injury-updates-jt-brubaker-mike-burrows-jared-triolo-lonnie-white-jr.html
Didn’t see anything on Johnson, which is usually good news. He should be back next month