GREENSBORO, NC – Wednesday night was a light night in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ minor league system. It did feature continued hitting from Nick Gonzales. I’m in Greensboro this week, and had a chance to see Bubba Chandler for the first time last night. Today’s Prospect Watch is heavy on player reports from the High-A level.
Player of the Day
NICK GONZALES, 2B, INDIANAPOLIS
Gonzales went 4-for-5 on the day, hitting his seventh homer of the year for Indianapolis. Since going back down to Indianapolis, Gonzales has posted a .364/.488/.515 line in 41 plate appearances. His strikeout issues from the big leagues, and Triple-A earlier in the year, have been reduced. This has been a good step forward for Gonzales, and hopefully something he can take back to the majors.
Ten More to Follow
JARED JONES, RHP, INDIANAPOLIS
Jones pitched 5.1 innings on Wednesday night, striking out nine batters. The nine strikeouts were the most he’s had this year, exceeding the eight strikeouts he posted on July 2nd. His career high was ten strikeouts on May 28th last year.
JOHN O’REILLY, RHP, INDIANAPOLIS
O’Reilly entered the game for Jones in the sixth inning with two on and one out. He allowed one run to score, but closed out the frame and pitched two more scoreless, allowing just a walk and a hit. O’Reilly took the loss on June 1st, providing a nice arbitrary endpoint. Since then, he’s posted a 1.23 ERA in 29.1 innings, with a 23:14 K/BB ratio. He’s been getting more multi-inning appearances over the last few weeks, and has handled those just as well. He could be an option for the bullpen by the end of the year, especially if the Pirates go with more bullpen games.
JUSTIN MEIS, RHP, ALTOONA
Meis allowed one run on two hits and two walks in four innings, striking out five. He has a 4.95 ERA in Altoona this year, splitting between the rotation and the bullpen. He’s been much better since the start of July, with a 1.78 ERA in 25.1 innings, and a 31:13 K/BB.
BUBBA CHANDLER, RHP, GREENSBORO
Chandler pitched six innings last night for Greensboro, allowing five runs on four hits and four walks. His damage came in two innings of work — two runs off a home run in the third and three runs in the sixth. The sixth inning included back-to-back home runs to the second and third batters, after Chandler walked the leadoff hitter. The Pirates kept him in.
The next two pitches were 96, high inside and a slider mid-80s outside. He recovered by pounding the zone with his fastball, getting a swinging strike on a 96, before getting a ground out on an 88 MPH cutter. Chandler struck out the next two hitters, once on an 82 slider in the dirt, and another on an 88 MPH cutter that was called a strike at the top of the zone.
Chandler was working mid-90s with his fastball, hitting upper 90s. His cutter is his best breaking pitch, sitting around 88 with good, late armside cut from the right-hander. He can throw that pitch for strikes more consistently than the slider, which sits mid-80s and is more of a chase pitch at this point.
There were times where Chandler let the outcome of the game speed him up. His movements on the mound were more rushed and less controlled. That was especially the case during the third inning, and early in the sixth. This video of Chandler fielding a grounder might be the perfect microcosm of his night and performance.
The athleticism from Bubba Chandler pic.twitter.com/WLBVJVtUR9
— Tim Williams (@TimWilliamsP2) August 16, 2023
Just like his start, he stumbled a few times, but he got back up more times, allowing him to finish off his night. You want to see him reducing those moments in the game where he gets knocked off his game plan. That would reduce runs. It’s important to remember that this is Chandler’s first year as a pitcher only, and he’s largely trying to pare down an all-out athletic approach to a very controlled, specific focus. He showed his lack of present day experience last night, but showed more positives to get excited about long-term.
JACK BRANNIGAN, SS, GREENSBORO
Brannigan picked up two hits on Wednesday, and really stood out with his defense at shortstop. Early in the game, he ranged to his right and made a great throw to first from deep in the hole for an out. He showed good awareness the last two days on the field. He struck out twice — once chasing high and the other chasing outside.
SHAWN ROSS, C, GREENSBORO
Ross had one hit on Wednesday, a double, but it was easily the hardest hit of the night. A solid knock to the wall in left field, the undrafted free agent out of Clarendon JC now has four doubles and ten homers. The 23-year-old is all power at this point, batting .197/.327/.437 in 142 at-bats in his pro debut.
TRES GONZALEZ, RF, GREENSBORO
Gonzalez has stood out to me in Greensboro after two games, due to his patient approach at the plate. He went 0-for-2 on Wednesday, drawing two walks. He makes early decisions on bad pitches, and can react late with a defensive swing for a foul ball. Gonzalez was drafted in the fifth round last year out of Georgia Tech. His quick reactions at the plate, on both extremes, easily explain his .285/.395/.417 line at the top of the Greensboro lineup.
JACK CAREY, RHP, GREENSBORO
Carey entered the game in the seventh inning, pitching two scoreless frames. He allowed two hits and no walks, pounding the strike zone with a fastball that sat around 93, and stayed down. The pitch induced a few swinging strikes, leading to three strikeouts on the day.
TERMARR JOHNSON, 2B, GREENSBORO
Johnson broke his streak of three straight games with a home run, having a hitless night. His approach at the plate was sound, displaying an advanced eye and laying off some close pitches. He missed a catch on what would have been a caught stealing attempt at second, which extended an inning for Chandler. Johnson has shown some issues with his glove work the last two days. His approach at the plate has been strong enough to not be concerned about the defensive work at the moment.
LUKE BROWN, LF, GREENSBORO
Brown picked up two hits last night, showing a good line drive approach and some heads up base running. He stole second base, then took third on a wild pitch. Brown scored two of the three runs on the night. He did have a chance to tie the game in the eighth inning, with runners at second and third and two outs. Brown swung at the first pitch, which was low, and grounded out easily. Greensboro allowed five runs in the next frame.
Wednesday’s Home Runs
- Nick Gonzales, 2B, Indianapolis (7)
Wednesday’s Minor League Results
INDIANAPOLIS (50-57) AT St. Paul
Score: Indianapolis 4, St. Paul 3
Indianapolis Starter: Jared Jones, RHP (5.40)
–Line: 5.1 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 9 K, 0 HR
Player of the Game: Nick Gonzales, 2B (4-for-5, HR )
- John O’Reilly, RHP (2.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 0 HR)
- Ji Hwan Bae, CF (2-for-4, 2B, BB)
- Aaron Shackelford, DH (2-for-4, 2B)
ALTOONA (51-56) AT Bowie
Score: Bowie 5, Altoona 1
Altoona Starter: Justin Meis, RHP (4.95)
–Line: 4.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 1 HR
Player of the Game: Meis
- Connor Scott, LF (2-for-3, 2B)
- Jackson Glenn, 2B (2-for-4)
- Tsung-Che Cheng, SS (1-for-3)
GREENSBORO (57-50) VS Bowling Green
Score: Bowling Green 10, Greensboro 3
Greensboro Starter: Bubba Chandler, RHP (5.27)
–Line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 5 K, 3 HR
Player of the Game: Jack Carey, RHP (2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 0 HR)
- Luke Brown, LF (2-for-4, 2 R, SB)
- Jack Brannigan, SS (2-for-5)
- Brenden Dixon, 3B (2-for-4, 2B, RBI)
- Shawn Ross, C (1-for-4, 2B)
DSL PIRATES GOLD (32-12) VS DSL Red Sox Blue
Score: Pirates 3, Red Sox 0
Pirates Gold Starter: Inmer Lobo, LHP (1.54)
–Line: 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 0 HR
Player of the Game: Alexis Torres, RHP (5.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 0 HR)
Tim is the owner, producer, editor, and lead writer of PiratesProspects.com. He has been running Pirates Prospects since 2009, becoming the first new media reporter and outlet covering the Pirates at the MLB level in 2011 and 2012. His work can also be found in Baseball America, where he has been a contributor since 2014 and the Pirates' correspondent since 2019.