Elvis Escobar Joins West Virginia Roster

By Jason Shetler

According to John Dreker of Pirates Prospects, outfield prospect Elvis Escobar has joined the West Virginia Power roster today.

Escobar signed with the Bucs out of Venezuela in 2011 for a signing bonus of $570,000, which was the second highest bonus for a Pirates amateur signee that year behind outfielder Harold Ramirez, who was inked for $1 million.

The 19-year-old Escobar spent last season for Jamestown, as he batted .268 along with a .643 OPS and stole nine bases in 56 games. He has played all three outfield spots, but has played majority of the time in right field. That’s likely where he will play at mostly for West Virginia since Harold Ramirez is slated to play left with Austin Meadows in center, once both of them come back from their injuries.

The Pirates must be pretty high on Escobar as a prospect, as he played in the Venezuelan Winter League this past offseason, which Dreker says is pretty impressive considering that it consists mostly of AAA and some big league players.

 

 

 

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Bucco Nation Poll Question

By Jason Shetler

 

Bucs Prospects Report 4/29

By Jason Shetler

AAA: Indianapolis wins 3-2 over Syracuse. 

Andrew Lambo was 2-for-4 including his first home run of the season (.354 avg; .997 OPS) 

Jaff Decker went 1-for-3 with a walk (.203 avg; .559 OPS) 

Gregory Polanco did not play 

 

AA: Erie defeated Altoona by a final of 11-5.

Stetson Allie went 1-for-2 and drove in a run (.257 avg; .959 OPS) 

Mel Rojas goes 1-for-4 (.263 avg; .700 OPS) 

Elias Diaz was 0-for-3 with a walk and scored twice (.357 avg; .822 OPS) 

Alen Hanson went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts (.233 avg; .607 OPS) 

Willy Garcia did not play 

Nick Kingham had a rough start, as he pitched 3.2 innings, giving up seven runs (six earned) on eight hits, walked two and struckout a batter (74 pitches; 46 strikes) (3.46 ERA; 1.46 WHIP) 

 

High A: Fort Myers over Bradenton by a score of 7-1. 

Adam Frazier was 1-for-3 and drew a walk (.231 avg; .560 OPS) 

Jose Osuna went 1-for-4 (.269 avg; .707 OPS) 

Eric Wood was 0-for-4 with an RBI (.303 avg; .849 OPS) 

Josh Bell also goes 0-for-4 (.278 avg; .760 OPS) 

Jin-De Jhang did not play 

Jason Creasy threw five innings, allowing one run on four hits, walked none and had four strikeouts (3.16 ERA; 1.25 WHIP) 

 

Low A: Game 1 – Kannapolis shutout West Virginia 1-0. 

JaCoby Jones went 2-for-3 

Erich Weiss was 1-for-3 

Wyatt Mathisen went 0-for-3 

Buddy Borden tossed six scoreless on just two hits, didn’t walk anyone and struckout three (1.37 ERA; 1.12 WHIP) 

 

Game 2 (Makeup from April 18th) – West Virginia won the second game 5-2. 

Erich Weiss goes 2-for-4 including an RBI triple and scored a pair of runs (.329 avg; .854 OPS) 

Wyatt Mathisen was 2-for-3 (.240 avg; .559 OPS) 

JaCoby Jones went 0-for-3, as he walked and came around to score (.291 avg; .753 OPS) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Long Should the Pirates Stick With Jordy Mercer At Shortstop?

By Jason Shetler 

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Fans moaned over the fact that Clint Barmes was returning to be the Pirates regular shortstop in 2013. After all, he was an abysmal hitter at the plate in 2012, despite playing Gold Glove caliber defense. Last season was a carbon copy for Barmes, as he continued to display solid glove work, but again did hardly anything with the bat. Towards the second half of last year, Jordy Mercer began to receive more playing time at short and made the most of it. Mercer batted .285 along with a .771 OPS and a 118 OPS+. The Pirates hadn’t seen that kind of production out of a shortstop since Jack Wilson in 2004. 

Despite Mercer’s good performance in 2013, some Pirates fans weren’t completely sold on Mercer based on the fact that his defense wasn’t as good as Barmes’. Although we’re probably talking the same fans who complained that Barmes wasn’t doing anything on offense. In late November, the Pirates had expressed interest in veteran shortstop Rafael Furcal, which I found kind of strange since he’s been hampered with injuries and not being close to the same player he was five years ago. The Pirates decided to bring back Barmes on a one-year deal, but this time to serve as the primary backup to Mercer. 

The beginning of 2014 hasn’t been kind to Mercer, as he’s hitting just .167 and his OPS sits at .404 here in April. Not only is he not getting hits, but isn’t finding his way on in general. He has a .222 on base percentage, which is fifth worst in the National League. However, Mercer seems to be dealing with some really bad luck right now, as he currently has a very low .204 BABIP, so there’s a chance his numbers could get better in May. Not only that, but his defense has been above average, according to UZR. If Mercer continues to scuffle, the Pirates really don’t have any promising options behind him within the organization. Barmes obviously is a glove only shortstop, and his bat is worse than Mercer’s. Then there’s Josh Harrison, who can show a decent bat at times, but not enough to play on a regular basis. Also, Harrison’s defense is below average at shortstop, and the last thing you want is Pirates pitchers having to get extra outs. Alen Hanson is off to a slow start with Altoona, and will probably make his way to Pittsburgh as a September call up. Late in Spring Training, the Pirates were looking at Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Didi Gregorius, who lost out to Chris Owings for their shortstop job. Gregorius is batting .269 with a .773 OPS in 25 games for AAA Reno, so the Pirates could revisit him. Another idea is for them to go out and sign veteran Stephen Drew. The Pirates though would have to wait until after the draft, so they don’t lose their first round pick, and who knows if they will still be in contention entering June. If the Pirates continue to play bad and are out of it , they might as well keep Mercer at short, at least until Hanson arrives late in the year. 

 

Bucs Prospects Report 4/28

By Jason Shetler

AAA: Syracuse defeated Indianapolis by a final of 6-5 in 10 innings. 

Andrew Lambo went 2-for-5 with a pair of doubles, two RBI and a run scored (.347 avg; .957 OPS)

Gregory Polanco was also 2-for-5 with an RBI and scored a run (.400 avg; 1.089 OPS) 

Jaff Decker goes 1-for-4 (.197 avg; .546 OPS) 

 

AA: Altoona/Erie game was postponed due to rain. 

 

High A: Bradenton was blanked by Fort Myers 7-0. 

Josh Bell was 1-for-3 (.291 avg; .795 OPS) 

Jose Osuna goes 0-for-3 (.270 avg; .718 OPS)

Jin-De Jhang also went 0-for-3 (.196 avg; .514 OPS) 

Adam Frazier was 0-for-4 (.227 avg; .549 OPS) 

Eric Wood did not play 

Orlando Castro pitches 4.1 innings, allowing four runs on eight hits, didn’t walk a batter and struckout four (3.29 ERA) (1.13 WHIP) 

 

Low A: West Virginia had the day off. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where Does Andrew Lambo Fit In the Pirates Plans?

By Jason Shetler

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At the 2010 trade deadline, the Pirates dealt veteran reliever Octavio Dotel to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and in return received Andrew Lambo, who at the time was one of their top prospects. Lambo seemed to have fallen out of favor in the Dodgers organization, as he not only put up average numbers in 2010, but was also given a 50 game suspension for violating MLB’s drug policy. The Pirates gave Lambo a fresh start, and his numbers started to improve, as he posted a combined .794 OPS in 2011 and 2012. Lambo began 2013 with Altoona and was absolutely destroying the baseball, posting a .910 OPS along with 14 home runs. He was then promoted to Indianapolis and performed even better there where he put up a .933 OPS and hit 18 homers. He became the first Pirates minor leaguer to have at least 30 homers in a season since Steve Pearce in 2007, and was honored as the Bucs Minor League Player of the Year. Lambo arrived in Pittsburgh in August, but wasn’t given much playing time due to having Marlon Byrd and Justin Morneau anchoring right field and first base respectively. This past offseason, the Pirates brought back Gaby Sanchez to serve as a right-handed first base bat. Lambo was projected to be the left-handed hitting platoon partner to Sanchez, but a very poor Spring Training caused him to lose the job to non-roster invite Travis Ishikawa. Midway through April, the Pirates went out and acquired Ike Davis from the New York Mets and promptly let Ishikawa go.

So where does Andrew Lambo’s future stand now with the Pirates? – Barring injury, first base is set with Ike Davis and Gaby Sanchez. Then there’s right field, which the Pirates aren’t getting much production out of, as Jose Tabata and Travis Snider are posting a combined .635 OPS in the early going. If the Pirates wanted to, they could elect to recall Lambo to play right field until Gregory Polanco is ready to come up, which probably won’t be until June since the Pirates clearly want to avoid that ever-so dangerous Super 2 status. Another possibility is moving Lambo, but that’s only if the Pirates were to climb back into contention and are buyers at the trade deadline. If not, they should hang onto Lambo to give him playing time in August and September with nothing to really play for, or at the very least, keep him around for depth.

 

 

 

 

 

Bucs Prospects Report 4/27

By Jason Shetler

AAA: Indianapolis wins 2-1 over Syracuse.

Gregory Polanco was 1-for-3 with an RBI and a walk (.400 avg; 1.104 OPS)

Andrew Lambo went 1-for-4 and also drove in a run (.343 avg; .939 OPS)

Jaff Decker entered the game for Lambo as a defensive replacement

 

AA: Akron defeats Altoona by a final of 6-4.

Alen Hanson went 2-for-5 including an RBI triple (.244 avg; .635 OPS)

Elias Diaz goes 1-for-4 with an RBI double and a run scored (.377 avg; .856 OPS)

Mel Rojas was 0-for-3 and drew a walk (.263 avg; .710 OPS)

Stetson Allie went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts (.250 avg; .959 OPS)

Willy Garcia did not play

 

High A: Bradenton holds off St. Lucie by a score of 7-6.

Josh Bell was 2-for-4 with a two-run homer (2), a triple and five RBI (.289 avg; .799 OPS)

Eric Wood went 1-for-4 and scored a run (.345 avg; .958 OPS)

Jin-De Jhang was also 1-for-4 (.208 avg; .542 OPS)

Jose Osuna goes 0-for-2 along with an RBI and a walk (.282 avg; .747 OPS)

Adam Frazier did not play

John Kuchno pitched five innings, as he allowed three runs on six hits, walked two, struckout one and was able to get seven outs on the ground (4.64 ERA; 1.45 WHIP)

 

Low A: Hagerstown defeated West Virginia 5-2.

Wyatt Mathisen went 1-for-4 (.232 avg; .550 OPS)

Erich Weiss was 0-for-4 along with an RBI (.320 avg; .827 OPS)

JaCoby Jones did not play

Shane Carle goes 5.1 innings, giving up four runs on nine hits, walked one and had one strikeout (4.09 ERA; 1.41 WHIP)