Baseball America Names Pirates as the 2015 Organization of the Year

By Jason Shetler

Baseball America has named the Pirates as the Organization of the Year for 2015. This marks the first time that the Bucs have won the BA honor since it was introduced back in 1982.

The Pirates won 98 games this year, which were their most since 1991, and they also had the second best record in all of baseball. BA credits the fact that they had a core foundation in place, and were able to make the right transactions, such as signing A.J. Burnett and Jung-Ho Kang, as well as acquiring Francisco Cervelli to replace Russell Martin. Not to mention the moves made around or at the trade deadline with J.A. Happ, Joakim Soria, Joe Blanton and Michael Morse, who each played vital roles down the stretch. In addition to the Pirates having a strong farm system, they also have arguably the best analytical staff in all of baseball. All of those factors certainly made for a very well-rounded organization in 2015.

Trevor Cahill Reportedly is Considering the Pirates

By Jason Shetler

Free agent pitcher Trevor Cahill is considering the Pirates as an option to sign with on a one-year deal, this according to ESPN’s Buster Olney.

Cahill spent 2015 with the Chicago Cubs and the Atlanta Braves where he combined for a 5.40 ERA in 43.1 innings. Despite the poor ERA, he put up a 3.92 Fielding Independent Pitching along with an impressive 63% groundball rate. Based on getting a ton of groundballs, as well as not being an above league average pitcher since 2012, Cahill definitely fits the Pirates reclamation project qualifications.

Why Allen Webster is an Interesting Reclamation Project for the Pirates

By Jason Shetler

p/c: Casey Sapio - USA Today Sports

p/c: Casey Sapio – USA Today Sports

On Wednesday, the Pirates obtained Allen Webster from the Arizona Diamondbacks as part of their continuous trend of taking on reclamation projects. Just recently, he was one of the better pitching prospects in baseball, ranking as high as the 44th best overall prospect by prior to 2014. Webster’s time in the big leagues to this point has been a real struggle, posting a 6.13 ERA along with a 1.60 WHIP in 120.1 innings pitched. His walk rate and home run ratio of 4.9 and 1.5 respectively make for obviously a real bad recipe for disaster. Despite the struggles, here’s what makes Webster an interesting pitcher for the Pirates to turn around.

This past season with the Diamondbacks, Webster threw the two-seam fastball more than he did the four-seam fastball. The result was a decent groundball rate of 47%. He also got batters to make weak contact, as he posted a soft contact percentage of 22.3%, which was about 7% better than he had in 2013 and 2014 with the Boston Red Sox. In his debut season with the Red Sox a couple years ago, Webster’s average fastball velocity was impressive at 94.4 mph. The velocity this year was down to 91.5 mph. Since he wasn’t hurt, it might have just been a case of adding and subtracting velocity for deception. He also throws a slider, which can be a good pitch if he’s able to command it. Webster will be 26 entering the 2016 season, so it’s not as if he’s in his 30’s where the velocity would start to decline. If pitching coach Ray Searage is able to get Webster to make a mechanical adjustment to improve his control, then there’s a good chance the velocity may increase.

What makes Webster different from the other reclamation projects that the Pirates have taken on the last few years, is that he’s still a young pitcher who has yet to prove himself in the Majors where as A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano and Edinson Volquez were veteran pitchers who had past success, but just hit a bump in the road. With Liriano and Gerrit Cole in front of the rotation, as well as having Tyler Glasnow and Jameson Taillon on the horizon, the Pirates don’t need Webster to pitch like an ace type. If he’s able to perform decent enough while being an innings eater as a backend starter, the Pirates will more than take that for a pitcher making the league minimum until 2018.





Which 2015 Pirates Draft Picks Could Become Legitimate Prospects?

By Jason Shetler

The 2015 MLB Draft for the Pirates was highlighted by a couple players with last names connected to characters on the hit show Seinfeld while the other is the son of a former big leaguer. Kevin Newman, Kevin Kramer and Ke’Bryan Hayes were the first three picks chosen by the Bucs. Since those three already have the upside of being top tier prospects in the system, here are some other players from that draft who could become legitimate prospects. 

Brandon Waddell: The Pirates selected Brandon Waddell as a fifth round pick. He didn’t sign with the Bucs until mid-July due to Virginia making it to the College World Series. Waddell posted a 5.75 ERA with the West Virginia Black Bears, but the sample size was small with 20.1 innings pitched. His strikeout ratio however was impressive for a left-hander at 8.1. Waddell throws a low-90’s fastball with a chance to still add some velocity moving forward. 

Jonathan Brubaker: With their sixth round choice, the Pirates took right-hander Jonathan Brubaker out of Akron University. He put up impressive numbers for the Black Bears, as he posted a 2.82 ERA along with a 0.94 WHIP and a batting average against of .216 in 73.1 innings. Brubaker can reach up to 94 mph with his fastball while also throwing a plus slider. 

Mitchell Tolman: In the seventh round, Mitchell Tolman was picked by the Pirates out of the University of Oregon. The left-handed hitting second baseman played in 63 games with the Black Bears where he put up a solid .407 on base percentage, which was fourth highest in the New York-Penn League. Tolman also displayed good gap power with 16 doubles. 

Seth McGarry: The Pirates chose Seth McGarry with their eighth round selection. The former Florida Atlantic right-hander had himself a good season in Morgantown with the Black Bears, posting a 3.88 ERA with a 1.22 WHIP and held opponents to a .208 average. McGarry possesses a 97 mph fastball, but scouts say his secondary pitches aren’t impressive. Even if McGarry doesn’t pitch in the rotation, at the very least he can be a power-arm reliever who could possibly hit triple digits on the fastball. 

Logan Hill: Perhaps the biggest diamond in the rough for the Pirates in the 2015 MLB Draft was their 25th round pick Logan Hill out of Troy University. The 22-year-old outfielder had very strong numbers for the Black Bears in 60 games, as he posted an on base of .402 and put up an .881 OPS, good for second best in the NYPL. In addition to the great offensive production, Hill also showed off good speed with 16 stolen bases. 




Pirates Acquire Allen Webster

By Jason Shetler


p/c: Casey Sapio – USA Today Sports

The Pirates have announced that pitcher Allen Webster has been acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks for cash considerations.

Webster was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers as an 18th round pick in 2008. The-25-year-old righty was dealt to the Boston Red Sox in August of 2012 as part of a blockbuster trade that sent Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett to the Dodgers. Webster was traded again last offseason to the Diamondbacks in the Wade Miley deal. 

Both Baseball America and rated Webster as a Top 100 prospect from 2012 to 2014. However, he’s had definite struggles at the big league level, posting a 6.13 ERA with a very high 4.9 BB/9 in 120.1 innings pitched. The Pirates could have Webster compete for the fifth starter spot. He will be out of options, but even if he doesn’t perform well in Spring Training, he should be able to clear waivers and provide depth with AAA Indianapolis.



Pirates Sign Jake Goebbert

By Jason Shetler

First baseman/outfielder Jake Goebbert has signed with the Pirates on a minor league deal, and has been placed on the 40-man roster, this according to the Pirates Twitter account.

Goebbert was a 13th round selection of the Houston Astros in the 2009 MLB Draft. The 28-year-old was traded by the Astros to the Oakland Athletics in 2013. He was on the move again in 2014 to the San Diego Padres as part of the Kyle Blanks deal. Goebbert played in 51 games that year for the Padres, but posted just a .631 OPS. He spent all of 2015 playing for the Padres AAA affiliate El Paso where he posted the sixth best on base percentage in the Pacific Coast League at .392. Pirates GM Neal Huntington told Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Goebbert will compete for a spot on the Pirates bench in Spring Training. 

Tim Lincecum: Pirates Next Reclamation Project?

By Jason Shetler


p/c: Peter G. Aiken – USA Today Sports

Five years ago, the Pirates would have had absolutely zero chance of signing Tim Lincecum if he were a free agent. The two-time NL Cy Young winner had been riding high as one of the best pitchers in baseball. The last few years however have been a different story for the slender right-hander. After putting up a 3.05 ERA between 2007 to 2011, Lincecum has posted an ERA of 4.61 since 2012. Fielding Independent Pitching has him more favorable at 4.13, so going by that, he’s been more decent than subpar. 

In his first five seasons, Lincecum had a 9.8 K/9. This past season, the K/9 was a career low at 7.1. The main contributing factor would be decreased fastball velocity at just 87.5 mph, which was about four mph slower than his career average prior to this year. Despite the slow velocity, Lincecum’s swinging strike percentage was still above average, as he got hitters to swing and miss at a 10.7% clip, which has to do with the fact that his changeup still remains a very good secondary pitch. 

It’s been reported that Lincecum has been recovering well from hip surgery, and plans to have a showcase for teams in January. The Pirates have obviously become the poster child of the reclamation projects. If Lincecum is healthy enough and throws well, the Pirates should really give him a look, not just because of the favorable metrics, but also that he could be an upgrade to any back of the rotation options they currently have right now.