Tyler Glasnow Promoted to Indianapolis

By Jason Shetler

p/c: Mark Olson -MiLB

p/c: Mark Olson -MiLB

According to Sean McCool of Pirates Prospects, Tyler Glasnow has been promoted to AAA Indianapolis.

Glasnow entered 2015 as the Pirates top prospect from every baseball publication. Despite an ankle injury, which placed him on the disabled list in May, Glasnow was terrific in his 12 starts with AA Altoona, posting a 2.43 ERA, an 0.95 WHIP, a .182 batting average against and a K/9 of 11.7. Perhaps the most encouraging thing from Glasnow this year has been his command, as he’s put up just a 2.7 BB/9 compared to a 4.1 BB/9 last season.

Mitch Keller Could Make His Season Debut this Weekend

By Jason Shetler

Pitcher Mitch Keller could make his season debut this weekend for the Bristol Pirates, this according to Tim Williams of Pirates Prospects.

Keller was taken by the Pirates in the 2014 MLB Draft as a second round pick, signing for $1 million (above slot money). The 19-year-old right-hander already throws a mid-90’s fastball with good movement to go along with a curveball, which has the makings of being an above average pitch, as well as a changeup. Keller has been recovering from a forearm strain that he sustained in Extended Spring Training.

Rob Scahill to Begin Rehab Assignment Next Week

By Jason Shetler

p/c: Jeff Curry - USA Today Sports

p/c: Jeff Curry – USA Today Sports

According to Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, pitcher Rob Scahill will begin his rehab assignment next Thursday with the Bradenton Marauders.

Scahill was acquired from the Colorado Rockies this past offseason. He was one of the biggest Spring Training surprises when he beat out Stolmy Pimentel for the final bullpen spot, despite Pimentel being out of options. Scahill has been impressive so far this year, posting a 2.08 ERA. He has allowed plenty of batters to reach base with a 1.50 WHIP, but his strong 62% groundball rate has definitely helped him limit damage. Scahill has been on the disabled list since late June with right forearm tightness.

JaCoby Jones Promoted to Altoona

By Jason Shetler

p/c: Tiffany Tompkins-Condie - Bradenton Herald

p/c: Tiffany Tompkins-Condie – Bradenton Herald

The Pirates have announced that shortstop JaCoby Jones has been given a promotion to the Altoona Curve.

Jones was the Pirates third round selection in the 2013 MLB Draft. The former LSU standout began the season with the Bradenton Marauders. Jones hasn’t been as productive at the plate as he was last season, hitting .253 along with a .708 OPS, but does have 10 home runs, which is still a good total for a shortstop. Defensively, he’s really made strides at short, posting a .969 fielding percentage so far this season compared to a .948 fielding percentage a year ago. Entering this year, MLBPipeline.com ranked Jones as the 13th best prospect in the Pirates system. Recently, Keith Law of ESPN.com had Jones in his Top 10 Pirates prospects rankings.

Do the Pirates Need to Add a Starting Pitcher?

By Jason Shetler

The Pirates statistically this season have boasted one of the best rotations in baseball, thanks in large part to the emergence of Gerrit Cole, a career year from A.J. Burnett and the continued solid contributions of Francisco Liriano. Then there’s the 4th and 5th starters, Charlie Morton and Jeff Locke. Morton started off well, but has struggled some lately. Locke has been the opposite, scuffling early on, but pitching better as of late. Given the rotation as a whole, do the Pirates need to add a starting pitcher? 

Morton and Locke have been hurt by lack of commanding pitches, but when they’re right, both of them can be above average starters. Since both haven’t been pitching significantly bad to this point, there shouldn’t be a desperate need to acquire a starter before or at the trade deadline. In my opinion, the Pirates would be inclined to wait until after the deadline to trade for a starter, if Morton or Locke start to really struggle. Because of the excellent work provided by Cole, Burnett and Liriano, the Pirates don’t need to make a huge splash for a Cole Hamels or David Price. Going after someone like Dan Haren or Jeff Samardzija would be more realistic. Again, if the Pirates want to upgrade the back of the rotation, then it should be considered, but only if it’s absolutely necessary. 

Pirates Acquire Aramis Ramirez

By Jason Shetler

p/c: Mike McGinnis - Getty Images North America

p/c: Mike McGinnis – Getty Images North America

The Pirates have acquired third baseman Aramis Ramirez from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for pitcher Yhonathan Barrios. Craig Calcaterra of NBC Sports was the first to report the deal. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported that the Pirates will pay $3 million of Ramirez’s remaining salary. 

Ramirez was signed by the Pirates as a highly touted amateur prospect out of the Dominican Republic way back in 1994. He was called up by the Pirates in 1998 as a 20-year-old. A week before the 2003 trade deadline, former Pirates general manager Dave Littlefield pulled off arguably the worst trade in club history by dealing Ramirez along with former All-Star outfielder Kenny Lofton to the Chicago Cubs for a very mediocre package that included infielders Jose Hernandez, Bobby Hill and pitcher Matt Bruback, who never reached the Majors. Ramirez had been with the Brewers since 2012. This season, he’s hitting .247 with a .725 OPS. Defensively, Ramirez has still been steady, as he’s committed just five errors. 

Barrios signed with the Pirates in 2009 out of Colombia. He was originally an infielder, but made the conversion to pitcher in 2013. Barrios possesses a mid-to-upper 90’s fastball. In 33 appearances this season for AA Altoona and AAA Indianapolis, he’s posted a 2.68 ERA along with a 1.31 WHIP. 

The Pirates of course will have Ramirez at third base until Josh Harrison makes his return from the disabled list.

Potential Trade Options for the Pirates Bullpen

By Jason Shetler

Here are some potential trade options the Pirates could look to acquire should they decide to upgrade the bullpen.

Daniel Hudson: After two separate Tommy John surgeries, Daniel Hudson has now been pitching primarily as a reliever for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Hudson this season has posted a 3.32 ERA with a 1.25 WHIP and a 9.1 K/9 in 35 games for the Dbacks. He’ll be under team control for next season as well. 

Jim Johnson: The Atlanta Braves signed Jim Johnson to a one-year deal this past offseason, and he’s pitched very well this year after struggling mightily last season with the Oakland A’s and Detroit Tigers. Johnson is posting a 2.15 ERA along with 1.22 WHIP and a 62% groundball rate in 47 appearances. He is currently the Braves closer following Jason Grilli’s season ending Achilles tendon injury.

Junichi Tazawa: Junichi Tazawa has been a reliable fixture in the Boston Red Sox bullpen the past few seasons, and this year has been no different, as he’s posted a 2.68 ERA, an 0.99 WHIP and K/9 of 9.1 in 41 appearances. The Japanese right-hander doesn’t become a free agent until after next season. 

Neal Cotts: With the possibility of the Pirates bringing in a lefty reliever to replace Antonio Bastardo, Neal Cotts could be an option. Cotts has made 39 appearances this year for the Milwaukee Brewers, posting a 3.46 ERA and a 9.2 K/9. He’ll be a free agent after the season. 

Oliver Perez: Another left-handed trade option for the Pirates to consider is Oliver Perez. The Bucs acquired Perez from the San Diego Padres as part of the Brian Giles deal back in 2003, and a return to Pittsburgh for the 33-year-old southpaw can’t be ruled out. Perez this season has posted a 3.46 ERA and a 10.7 K/9 in 43 appearances. He’s a free agent after this year. 

Shawn Kelley: The Padres acquired Shawn Kelley from the New York Yankees last offseason. The 31-year-old right-hander this year has put up a 3.18 ERA along with a 1.09 WHIP, a 10.3 K/9 and a 2.54 Fielding Independent Pitching in 30 appearances. Kelley will be a free agent after this season. 

Steve Cishek: Steve Cishek entered 2015 in his fourth season as the Miami Marlins closer. Cishek struggled in the first half, in which he posted a 4.65 ERA and lost the closers role. However, his Fielding Independent Pitching of 3.45 indicates his numbers should be better. He also has a .361 BABIP, which should trend in a positive direction. Given those metrics, Cishek could be a good “buy low” option for the Pirates to consider.