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Pirates Prospect Watch: Strikeouts in Altoona, Power in Bradenton, and Termarr Hitting

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We’re now two months into the 2024 minor league season. By this point, a reliable sample size has formed around the season stats. There are some players who have been given enough time to reverse their slow starts. Other players have been performing all season, and this is the time to really take note of that.

Traditionally, the time between the end of May and the end of July is when most minor league promotions take place. The Pirates have already started moving up some of their more consistent performers. There are still some candidates to move up, and a few of them are highlighted below for their performance over the last week.

Below are the top performers in the Pittsburgh Pirates system from June 4th-10th, featuring a standout week from the Bradenton Marauders.

INDIANAPOLIS

TOP HITTERS

  • Gilberto Celestino, CF – .375/.524/.688, HR, 2 2B
  • Jake Lamb, 1B – .333/.429/.556, HR, 2B
  • Mike Jarvis, INF – .350/.391/.500, 2B, 3B

Indianapolis was led by three players who are age-25 or older, with different amounts of upper-level experience. Gilberto Celestino is in his age 25 season, and has 409 plate appearances in the majors. He’s only managed a .592 OPS in that span, and has a .752 OPS this season in Indianapolis. He’s hitting for average and getting on base, but there hasn’t been much power outside of this week. The 33-year-old Jake Lamb continues to hit, but with Rowdy Tellez hitting in Pittsburgh, his opportunities are being reduced. Mike Jarvis is new to Triple-A, and the 26-year-old has done nothing but hit the ball hard since he’s arrived. The 2021 sixth rounder has a .744 OPS since being promoted to Indianapolis.

TOP PITCHERS

  • Nick Dombkowski, LHP – 4.2 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
  • Chris Gau, RHP – 3.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
  • Jose Hernandez, LHP – 2.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K

Indianapolis didn’t have the best pitching this week, with a depleted staff due to promotions to the majors and injuries. Their top performers were all relievers, with Nick Dombkowski moving to the rotation for a 4.2 inning start where he allowed one run. Chris Gau and Jose Hernandez each pitched twice out of the bullpen.

ALTOONA

TOP HITTERS

  • Tsung-Che Cheng, SS – .304/.333/.696, 2 HR, 3 2B
  • Kervin Pichardo, INF – .316/.316/.474, HR
  • Carter Bins, C – .250/.438/.333, 2B

Tsung-Che Cheng has been part of a common story in this system this year. He’s one of the better pure hitters in the system, but hasn’t been hitting this year. His season average is .230, with a .343 OBP. His hitting has been improving since the second half of May, and he started the month of June not only hitting, but hitting for power. Kervin Pichardo hit his fourth homer of the year for Altoona, after coming over in the Jackson Wolf trade earlier in the season. Carter Bins reached base at a .438 rate this week while behind the plate.

TOP PITCHERS

  • Po-Yu Chen, RHP – 8.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K
  • Bubba Chandler, RHP – 8.0 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K
  • Braxton Ashcraft, RHP – 7.0 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 12 K

Altoona had the best pitching this week, with a lot of strikeouts. That might be an indication of their opponents, but the results are good to see. Po-Yu Chen led the way, going eight innings in his lone start, while striking out nine batters. Bubba Chandler made two appearances, combining for eight innings with three unearned runs. He didn’t issue a walk, which is good to see after control issues in the past. Braxton Ashcraft struck out a career-best 12 batters in his latest start, before getting promoted to Indianapolis.

GREENSBORO

TOP HITTERS

  • Charles McAdoo, INF – .318/.423/.591, 2 HR
  • Termarr Johnson, 2B – .300/.400/.500, HR, 2B
  • Nick Cimillo, C/1B – .250/.294/.500, HR, 2B

Charles McAdoo has been the most consistent hitter in Greensboro this year. The 22-year-old from San Jose State has a .322/.407/.546 line with eight homers this year. He added two this past week. Termarr Johnson is starting to heat up. Since homering in the second game of a double header on May 18th, Johnson has a .299/.407/.582 line with four homers and seven doubles. He turns 20 years old today. Nick Cimillo hit his eighth home run of the season.

TOP PITCHERS

  • Dominic Perachi, LHP – 5.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K
  • Patrick Reilly, RHP – 5.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K
  • Alessandro Ercolani, RHP – 3.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K

Dominic Perachi has been working between the rotation and bullpen in Greensboro this year, getting multiple innings regardless of the role. After five shutout innings in a start this week, the 2022 11th rounder has a 1.76 ERA in 30.2 innings. Patrick Reilly, drafted in the fifth round last year, has some of the best stuff at the level. His five innings this week was highlighted by zero walks, eliminating his biggest issue for one start. The Pirates have moved 20-year-old Alessandro Ercolani to the bullpen as a long reliever over his last few outings. He went three shutout, no-hit innings this week, with five strikeouts. This was one of his best outings in any role in almost a month.

BRADENTON

TOP HITTERS

  • Javier Rivas, 3B – .563/.588/1.188, 2 HR, 2 2B, 3B
  • Esmerlyn Valdez, 1B/OF – .467/.619/1.067, 2 HR, 2B, 3B
  • Braylon Bishop, OF – .250/.308/.750, 2 HR
  • Axiel Plaz, C – .278/.350/.611, 2 HR

Javier Rivas and Esmerlyn Valdez had the two highest OPS totals in the entire system this past week. Both players have consistently hit the ball hard this season. Valdez has seen his hard hits translate to results in a consistent way, leading to an .811 OPS. This is one of few weeks that Rivas has seen his hard contact falling in for hits. He’s got a .615 OPS on the year. Braylon Bishop has been hitting well over the last month, bumping his home run total to four after this past week. He’s got an .866 OPS at the level on the season. Axiel Plaz hit two homers, and now has four on the year, which matches his combined total from rookie ball the previous two seasons.

TOP PITCHERS

  • Carlson Reed, RHP – 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 9 K
  • Antwone Kelly, RHP – 5.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K
  • Khristian Curtis, RHP – 5.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K
  • Carlos Jimenez, RHP – 4.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K

Carlson Reed had one of his best starts as a pro, striking out nine in five shutout innings. Reed only walked one batter, with control being his weakness this year. He has a 2.22 ERA in 44.2 innings, with a 56:27 K/BB. Antwone Kelly has been one of the hardest throwers at this level all year, but the results are only recently starting to pick up. After 5.2 strong innings this week, Kelly has a 1.84 ERA in 14.2 innings over his last three starts. He has a 16:5 K/BB in that stretch. Khristian Curtis allowed one run in five innings. He has control issues, with 26 walks in 43.1 innings this year. He’s also difficult to hit, which was the case this week. Carlos Jimenez had his best outing of the season, throwing four shutout innings in relief, striking out eight, limiting walks, and hitting 99 MPH.

FCL PIRATES

TOP HITTERS

  • Richard Ramirez, C – .294/.429/.706, 2 HR, 2B
  • Miguel Sosa, OF – .462/.533/.539, 2B
  • Jhonny Severino, INF – .211/.304/.579, 2 HR, 2B

Richard Ramirez has been one of the best hitters for the FCL Pirates this year, spending a lot of his time behind the plate. At age 18, he’s making the jump from the DSL, after hitting .252/.361/.476 at the lower level last season. He’s hitting .324/.448/.521 this year with three homers. Miguel Sosa is in his second year in the FCL, and has a combined .500 OBP after 166 plate appearances. Jhonny Severino added his fifth and sixth homers of the season this past week.

TOP PITCHERS

  • Carlos Castillo, RHP – 4.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K
  • Alexis Torres, RHP – 3.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K
  • Inmer Lobo, LHP – 3.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K

Carlos Castillo made his debut in the DSL last year, with a 1.70 ERA in 37 innings as a starter. The Pirates moved him up to the FCL for his age 18 season, and he has a 3.32 ERA in 19 innings so far. Castillo has struck out 16, walking ten. Alexis Torres spent two years in the DSL before moving up to the FCL as a reliever. The 21-year-old had his best week of the season in a single long relief appearance. Inmer Lobo was acquired for Hoy Park, and the lefty allowed one run in three appearances last week, striking out five.

DSL PIRATES

TOP HITTERS

  • Angel Aquino, OF – .364/.429/.455, 2B
  • Isaias Dipre, OF – .214/.267/.571, HR, 2 2B
  • Kendrick Herrera, INF – .333/.467/.333

Kendrick Herrera was signed by the Pirates this January, and has been the best of the rookie hitters in the opening week. Angel Aquino had the best week in the DSL, with the 19-year-old playing in his second season. Isaias Dipre is in his third season since 2021. At age 21, Dipre hit his first homer of the year, and fourth of his career.

TOP PITCHERS

  • Brandison Polanco, RHP – 4.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 10 K
  • Jonawel Valdez, RHP – 4.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 9 K
  • Adrian Aray, RHP – 5.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 7 K

Brandison Polanco has spent three years at this level, and had two good relief outings with better control in the past to open his age 21 season. This is the second year in the DSL for Jonawel Valdez, who pitched four innings in his first start. Adrian Aray is new to pro ball, and pitched two relief appearances to begin his age 17 season.

MONDAY ROOKIE BALL RECAP

THE FCL Pirates beat the Rays 7-2.

Yerry De Los Santos went 2-for-5 with a triple and two RBIs from the shortstop position. Second baseman Carlos Caro went 2-for-3 with a double, a triple, and a walk, plus two RBIs. Jose Garces got the start, giving up two unearned runs in three no-hit innings. The 20-year-old Garces walked four and struck out two.

The DSL Pirates Black lost 2-0.

Catcher Javier Acevedo had two of the four hits, with one double. First baseman Yosmar Gimenez went 1-for-1 with a double. RHP Angel Herrera, who signed with the Pirates this January, pitched 3.2 innings, allowing two runs on four hits, with no walks and one strikeout.

The DSL Pirates Gold won 10-9.

Right fielder Isaias Dipre went 1-for-3, hitting his first homer of the year, a two run shot in the first inning. Center fielder Cristian Jauregui went 1-for-5 with a double, two RBIs, and a stolen base. Designated hitter Angel Aquino went 2-for-2 with a walk.

TUESDAY’S SCHEDULE

  • Triple-A: Indianapolis, 7:05 PM – TBD
  • Double-A: Altoona, 6:00 PM – RHP Thomas Harrington (0-0, 4.15)
  • High-A: Greensboro, 7:00 PM – TBD
  • Single-A: Bradenton, 6:30 PM – RHP Hung-Leng Chang (2-3, 3.66)
  • Rookie: FCL Pirates, 12:00 PM – TBD
  • Rookie: DSL Pirates Black vs DSL Pirates Gold, 11:00 AM – TBD
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Tim Williams
Tim Williams
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.

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