Jose Osuna Has Been Promoted to Altoona

By Jason Shetler

According to Pirates Prospects Tim Williams, the Pirates have promoted outfielder/first baseman Jose Osuna to AA Altoona.

Osuna has been one of the more underrated prospects in the Pirates system. The 22-year-old native of Venezuela began the season with a High A Bradenton squad that’s been loaded with top prospects. In 44 games for the Marauders, Osuna hit .282 while posting an OPS of .764 and played majority of the time in right field. 

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Francisco Cervelli Looking Like a Servicable Replacement for Russell Martin

By Jason Shetler

p/c: Rich Schultz - Getty Images

p/c: Rich Schultz – Getty Images

Russell Martin was a huge part in helping the Pirates contend in 2013 and 2014. Based on his significant contributions both offensively and defensively during those two years, Martin was far and away the best catcher on the free agent market this past offseason. The Pirates chances of re-signing the veteran catcher was going to be very difficult, especially with having multiple teams looking to make substantial offers. The Toronto Blue Jays made Martin an offer he couldn’t refuse, as he signed a five-year deal worth $82 million. 

Shortly before the Jays inked Martin, the Pirates found their new catcher by acquiring Francisco Cervelli from the New York Yankees in exchange for Justin Wilson. Cervelli had spent parts of seven seasons as the Yankees backup catcher. Most thought Cervelli to be a major downgrade based simply on Martin’s impact in Pittsburgh. During the offseason, I considered Cervelli to be the Pirates version of a “Moneyball” player for 2015, because of having decent numbers for a backup and looking for an opportunity to play regularly. Not to mention he was due to make under $1 million in the process. Cervelli has played 35 games for the Pirates, and here are his numbers to this point.

.308/.377/.393, 113 OPS+, 1.0 WAR, 27% caught stealing (29% league average) 

Cervelli has been above average offensively so far hitting over .300. Coming into this season, Cervelli’s career on base percentage was .348. He’s been terrific in that department thus far, posting a .377 on base, which is second best among all Major League catchers right now. Behind the plate, Cervelli has been slightly below average throwing out runners, but it’s not as if teams are running at will on him. His 1.0 WAR currently makes him a valuable asset. No one should have expected Cervelli to be an upgrade over Martin, but to Cervelli’s credit, he’s certainly looking like a very serviceable replacement. 

Nick Kingham Undergoes Tommy John Surgery

By Jason Shetler

The Pirates have announced that Nick Kingham has undergone Tommy John surgery. 

Kingham came into 2015 as the Pirates sixth best prospect according to MLB.com. The 23-year-old right-hander experienced elbow discomfort a few weeks ago during an outing against AAA Rochester. Before the injury, he posted a 4.31 ERA, a 1.31 WHIP and a K/9 of 9.2 in six starts this season for the Indianapolis Indians. Kingham was expected to join the Pirates at some point this year, but instead won’t pitch again until the latter part of 2016. 

Jung-Ho Kang Performing at an All-Star Level

By Jason Shetler

p/c: Gene J. Puskar - AP

p/c: Gene J. Puskar – AP

Times have certainly changed for the Pittsburgh Pirates the past two seasons, as they’ve finished above .500 both times and found themselves in the National League Wild Card Game, advancing to the NLDS in 2013. In an effort to make the team better without Russell Martin, Pirates general manager Neal Huntington went completely outside the box and won the bidding for Jung-Ho Kang, eventually signing the Korean born infielder to a four-year deal worth $11 million in January. 

As expected, Kang was slated to be on the Pirates bench on Opening Day. He was used mostly as a pinch-hitter the first couple weeks of the season. Since the early part of May, Kang has been getting regular playing time at both third base and shortstop, more so the latter with Jordy Mercer’s continued struggles. Kang is certainly playing at an All-Star level, hitting .329 along with a .931 OPS during the month of May. He’s also been doing a terrific job of creating runs, with a 133 wRC+. Kang currently has a 1.5 WAR, which is the best of any Pirates position player right now. Before joining the Pirates, Kang was considered average defensively, but so far has been above average, posting a .969 fielding percentage with a 4.0 UZR/150 at shortstop. He’s been just as solid at third base, putting up a 42.5 UZR/150 and has yet to commit an error. It remains to be seen how long Kang can keep up his hot hitting, as he has a .372 BABIP, which indicates a certain degree of regression. If Kang is able to sustain his strong numbers through June, there’s no reason to think why he can’t be in the Midsummer Classic.

Tyler Glasnow Ranked in Keith Law’s Top 10

By Jason Shetler

p/c: Mark Olson -MiLB

p/c: Mark Olson -MiLB

Earlier today, Keith Law of ESPN.com came out with his updated Top 25 prospect rankings, and had Tyler Glasnow ranked in his Top 10 at #9.

Glasnow entered 2015 as the Pirates top prospect from every baseball publication. The 6’8, hard-throwing right-hander to this point has made six starts with the Altoona Curve, posting a 2.76 ERA, a 1.02 WHIP and striking out batters at an 8.9 ratio. Glasnow is currently on the DL with an ankle injury.

Deibinson Romero to Play in the KBO

By Jason Shetler

According to the Yonhap News Agency, infielder Deibinson Romero has agreed to terms with the Doosan Bears of the Korea Baseball Organization. Doosan will need to buy out his contract with the Pirates to make the deal official.

The Pirates signed Romero this past offseason as a minor league free agent. He was putting up strong numbers with AAA Indianapolis, hitting .302 along with a .950 OPS in 38 games. With the Pirates improved infield depth this year, it would have been difficult for Romero to be called up. His best shot of being with them probably would have been as a September call up. In addition, Romero will likely make more with Doosan than he would have with his Pirates minor league deal.

Pirates Activate Charlie Morton; Radhames Liz DFA’d

By Jason Shetler

Charlie Morton has officially been activated from the disabled list. In a corresponding move, Radhames Liz has been designated for assignment, the team announced.

Morton struggled mightily in Spring Training, as he was recovering from hip surgery he had late last year. The 31-year-old right-hander made three rehab starts prior to joining the Pirates rotation. In 2014, Morton posted a 3.72 ERA, a 1.27 WHIP and a 56% groundball rate in 26 starts.

Liz signed with the Pirates on a one-year deal worth $1 million back in December to be a multiple inning arm out of the bullpen. A once highly touted pitching prospect of the Baltimore Orioles several years back, Liz had an ERA of 3.63, but allowed a ton of batters to reach base with a 1.73 WHIP in 11 appearances.