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First Pitch: Bubba Chandler and Charles McAdoo Are June’s Players of the Month

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Bubba Chandler and Charles McAdoo were the top performers in the Pittsburgh Pirates system during the month of June.

Chandler had a 2.49 ERA in 25.1 innings across five appearances, with a remarkable 35:3 K/BB ratio. The 35 strikeouts led the system, finishing six higher than the next best pitchers. The more impressive thing was the reduction in walks. Chandler ran into trouble in his May 17th start, walking five, before being removed for precautionary reasons for a forearm issue. He returned to the mound on May 29th, and has only walked four batters in 29.1 innings since that point, after 18 walks in his first 24.2 innings. Chandler has only had one bad outing since that return. He followed that bad start by striking out 21 batters in 13.2 innings over his next two starts, with two combined runs allowed.

McAdoo has been the best hitter in the Pirates’ system this year, and was promoted to Double-A Altoona during the middle of June. He hit .339/.435/.610 with three homers in Greensboro during June, prior to the promotion. That was followed with eight games in Altoona where he hit .286/.444/.750 with three homers. McAdoo combined for a .322/.438/.655 line with six homers in 105 plate appearances across both levels. In his time with Greensboro, McAdoo hit .336/.415/.561 with nine homers in 258 plate appearances. This followed a .302/.412/.510 line last year in Greensboro, after being drafted out of San Jose State in the 13th round.

Below are the top performers at each level in the Pirates system during the month of June.

INDIANAPOLIS

TOP HITTERS

  • Joshua Palacios, OF – .370/.431/.522, HR, 4 2B, 51 PA
  • Andres Alvarez, INF – .299/.382/.463, 2 HR, 3 2B, 3B, 78 PA
  • Matt Gorski, OF – .240/.313/.507, 4 HR, 8 2B, 83 PA

Joshua Palacios returned to Triple-A this month, after being out nearly two months with an injury. He was the best hitter at the level since his return, and with the Pirates needing outfield production in the majors, Palacios could be putting himself in line for a promotion. Andres Alvarez has been good in the past in Double-A, including putting up the first 20/20 season in Altoona Curve history in 2022. He hasn’t hit yet in Triple-A, but started heating up this past month. Matt Gorski continues hitting for power as his main tool, with four homers and eight doubles on the month, giving him 14 and 15, respectively, on the season.

TOP PITCHERS

  • Braxton Ashcraft, RHP – 0.59 ERA, 10:4 K/BB, 15.1 IP
  • Jake Woodford, RHP – 2.08 ERA, 21:0 K/BB, 17.1 IP
  • Nick Dombkowski, LHP – 4.43 ERA, 18:11 K/BB, 20.1 IP

The Pirates promoted Braxton Ashcraft to Triple-A, and in his first three starts he posted an 0.59 ERA. Ashcraft is currently out with an injury, but his continued performance at the higher level makes him one of the best depth options for the Pirates in the second half. The Pirates signed Jake Woodford this month to provide depth. The 27-year-old was one of the best pitchers in Triple-A, with a 2.08 ERA, 21 strikeouts, and zero walks in his organizational debut. With the Indianapolis pitching depth being rebuilt this month, the Pirates turned to Nick Dombkowski often for long relief and spot starts. The lefty probably works best as a shorter-term reliever, but handled the extended innings well.

ALTOONA

TOP HITTERS

  • Yoyner Fajardo, OF – .324/.400/.351, 2 2B, 8 SB, 85 PA
  • Carter Bins, C – .222/.382/.389, 2 HR, 3 2B, 68 PA
  • Tsung-Che Cheng, INF – .265/.323/.434, 2 HR, 8 2B, 5 SB, 95 PA

Altoona didn’t have the best month at the plate, though they did receive two boosts to their team. One came from the promotion of McAdoo at the end of the month. The other came from the addition of Yoyner Fajardo, who was brought back to his original organization, after being lost in the 2022 Rule 5 draft. Fajardo hit for power and got on base, while adding eight steals on the base paths. Carter Bins got on base at a .382 rate, and added some power with two homers and three doubles. Tsung-Che Cheng had eight doubles and two homers on the month, along with five stolen bases.

TOP PITCHERS

  • Bubba Chandler, RHP – 2.49 ERA, 35:3 K/BB, 25.1 IP
  • Po-Yu Chen, RHP – 2.95 ERA, 29:11 K/BB, 36.2 IP
  • Thomas Harrington, RHP – 3.46 ERA, 25:3 K/BB, 26.0 IP

Chandler led the system in strikeouts, and had the best numbers in Altoona. Not far behind was Po-Yu Chen, who had a 2.95 ERA in 36.2 innings across six starts. I’ll be honest, I was about to downgrade Chen in the prospect rankings prior to this month, due to his lack of strikeouts. He increased those totals this month, including a nine strikeout game on June 7th, when he allowed one run in eight innings. Thomas Harrington had a rough start to the month, after just getting up to the five inning total following a delayed start to his season. He finished the month strong, allowing five earned runs in 21 innings, with a 19:3 K/BB over his final four starts.

GREENSBORO

TOP HITTERS

  • Shawn Ross, C – .302/.464/.755, 8 HR, 69 PA
  • Charles McAdoo, 3B – .339/.435/.610, 3 HR, 3 2B, 2 3B, 4 SB, 69 PA
  • Nick Cimillo, 1B – .231/.390/.585, 7 HR, 2 2B, 82 PA

McAdoo got promoted to Altoona for his continued hitting. The other two top performers in Greensboro have been hitting for impressive power all season, and both are promotion candidates. Shawn Ross hit eight home runs this month, and now has 16 on the season. He’s a three outcomes hitter throughout his career, but did a great job in June of hitting for average and getting on base at a high rate. Nick Cimillo hit seven homers, putting his total at 14 on the year. The 24-year-old has taken a step forward this year, with increased power and better plate patience.

TOP PITCHERS

  • Patrick Reilly, RHP – 2.16 ERA, 25:10 K/BB, 25.0 IP
  • Dominic Perachi, LHP – 2.25 ERA, 25:8 K/BB, 24.0 IP
  • Jaycob Deese, RHP – 0.77 ERA, 6:0 K/BB, 11.2 IP

Patrick Reilly has emerged as one of the best arms in Greensboro, with a mid-90s fastball and breaking stuff that currently lead the minor league system in strikeouts. He had a 2.16 ERA and struck out 25 in 25 innings this past month, while showing improved control. Dominic Perachi is a lefty who has gotten a few outings in Double-A this year. He’s since returned to Greensboro to be one of the better pitchers at the level, with a 2.25 ERA in the month of June. Jaycob Deese hasn’t had great numbers in the bullpen during his pro career, since being drafted in the 17th round in 2022. He had a good month in June, in a month where most of the Greensboro pitching struggled.

BRADENTON

TOP HITTERS

  • Javier Rivas, INF – .342/.400/.646, 6 HR, 5 2B, 3B, 91 PA
  • Esmerlyn Valdez, OF – .260/.379/.562, 4 HR, 8 2B, 3B, 87 PA
  • Keiner Delgado, INF – .262/.367/.488, 4 HR, 3 2B, 2 3B, 98 PA

Javier Rivas has been consistently one of the hardest hitters at this level. Until this month, that wasn’t leading to results in the stat line. During the month of June, Rivas turned those hard hits into power, with one of the best overall stat lines in the system, led by six homers and five doubles. Esmerlyn Valdez is also a hard hitter, who added four homers and eight doubles this month. He leads Bradenton with 14 doubles, and is tied for the team lead in homers with nine. Keiner Delgado was added in the JT Brubaker trade this year. He’s got a .240/.316/.404 line in Bradenton, but had much better numbers in his first full month in June.

TOP PITCHERS

  • Carlson Reed, RHP – 1.69 ERA, 29:7 K/BB, 21.1 IP
  • Antwone Kelly, RHP – 1.96 ERA, 25:6 K/BB, 23.0 IP
  • Khristian Curtis, RHP – 2.91 ERA, 25:7 K/BB, 21.2 IP

Carlson Reed has been the best pitcher in Bradenton this year. Last year’s fourth round pick had a 1.69 ERA in 21.1 innings during the month of June, giving him a 2.21 ERA in 61 innings this season. Antwone Kelly has been breaking out since the start of May. The 20-year-old had a 1.96 ERA this month, with 25 strikeouts and improved control results. He’s got a 2.15 ERA in 46 innings since the start of May, with 48 strikeouts. Khristian Curtis had a good month, and most encouraging was the overall reduction in control. Curtis has good stuff with an advanced six-pitch mix, but has been held back by walks, with 21 in 33 innings prior to this month.

FCL PIRATES

TOP HITTERS

  • Jhonny Severino, INF – .273/.338/.561, 4 HR, 3 2B, 2 3B, 74 PA
  • Richard Ramirez, C – .300/.364/.517, 2 HR, 3 2B, 2 3B, 66 PA
  • Tony Blanco Jr., 1B – .341/.408/.568, 2 HR, 2 2B, 3B, 49 PA

The Pirates added Jhonny Severino last year at the trade deadline for Carlos Santana. The infielder has eight homers and a .941 OPS in the FCL this year, looking like one of the most consistent players at the level. A surprise for me has been Richard Ramirez, an 18-year-old catcher signed in 2022. After an .837 OPS in the DSL last year, Ramirez is batting .297/.386/.468 with three homers in the FCL this year. Tony Blanco Jr. is 6′ 7″, 243 pounds and has some of the best power at this level. He hit two homers and two doubles, and now has four of each in 95 plate appearances this year.

TOP PITCHERS

  • Zander Mueth, RHP – 0.98 ERA, 21:8 K/BB, 18.1 IP
  • Carlos Castillo, RHP – 2.84 ERA, 10:8 K/BB, 12.2 IP
  • Alexis Torres, RHP – 3.27 ERA, 10:10 K/BB, 11.0 IP

The Pirates drafted Zander Mueth 67th overall last year out of the prep ranks. He got up to full five-inning starts this month, and is looking advanced for the rookie levels. Mueth has a fastball that can reach the upper 90s from a lower, deceptive arm slot. Carlos Castillo was signed by the Pirates in 2023, and after one season with the DSL team, he’s pitching well in the FCL rotation. Castillo has a 2.92 ERA this year in 24.2 innings, following a 1.70 ERA in 37 innings last year. Alexis Torres has dealt with control problems this year, but had a much better month of June than his start to the season.

DSL PIRATES

TOP HITTERS

  • Samuel Escudero, C – .345/.474/.690, 2 HR, 2 2B, 3B, 39 PA
  • Isaias Dipre, OF – .327/.455/.654, 4 HR, 3 2B, 3B, 66 PA
  • Cristian Jauregui, OF – .267/.460/.333, 2B, 3B, 10 SB, 63 PA

Samuel Escudero highlighted the DSL offense with a cycle to close out the month of June. He was acquired in 2021 for Troy Stokes Jr. and Jandel Gustave, and is in his age 20 season. Isaias Dipre is in his third DSL season in four years, after missing all of 2023 with an injury. He’s returned this year as the best hitter at the level, with four homers during the first month of the season. Cristian Jauregui stole ten bases, while getting on base at a .460 rate at the top of the order.

TOP PITCHERS

  • Jonawel Valdez, RHP – 3.00 ERA, 20:3 K/BB, 12.0 IP
  • Brandison Polanco, RHP – 0.77 ERA, 20:4 K/BB, 11.2 IP
  • Dariel Francia, RHP – 0.87 ERA, 14:5 K/BB, 10.1 IP

The Pirates promoted Jonawel Valdez to the FCL after striking out 20 in 12 innings in the FCL. Valdez then threw four shutout innings in his first FCL appearance. Brandison Polanco is in his third pro season, while Dariel Francia is in his second. Both relievers are having their best results in pro ball to start this season.

Pirates Prospects Daily

There was a full slate of minor league action on Monday, with Mitch Jebb going 2-for-2 with a homer and two stolen bases to lead the day. Check out the full results in the latest Pirates Prospect Watch.

Pirates Prospect Watch: Big Day From Mitch Jebb Leads Greensboro to Win

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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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