Pirates Activate Jared Hughes; Rob Scahill Optioned to AAA

By Jason Shetler

The Pirates have announced that Jared Hughes has been activated from the disabled list. Rob Scahill meanwhile has been optioned to AAA Indianapolis as the corresponding move.

Hughes sustained a left lat muscle strain during Spring Training and was placed on the DL prior to Opening Day. He was then put on a rehab assignment with Indianapolis where he made four appearances. Hughes has emerged as one of the top sinkerball relievers in baseball, posting a groundball rate of better than 55% in each of his five big league seasons. 

Scahill was recalled to the Pirates after Cory Luebke was put on the DL with tightness in his right hamstring on April 14th. In eight appearances, Scahill posted a 6.00 ERA, but had a much better Fielding Independent Pitching of 3.41. 

 

 

 

Pirates Minor League Report 4/29

By Jason Shetler 

AAA: Indianapolis defeated Norfolk 3-0. 

Wilfredo Boscan threw five shutout innings, didn’t walk a batter and had five strikeouts. (71 pitches; 49 strikes) (2.05 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 7.8 K/9) 

Cory Luebke goes three scoreless innings, walked one and struckout four. (47 pitches; 31 strikes) 

Adam Frazier had two hits including a triple, a stolen base and a run scored. (.323 avg, .846 OPS) 

Josh Bell collected a pair of hits, one of which was a double. (.312 avg, .931 OPS)

Cole Figueroa was 2-for-4 and scored a run. (.500 avg, 1.375 OPS) 

Jung-Ho Kang went 0-for-3 with a sac fly RBI. 

 

AA: Akron defeated Altoona 6-2.

Jason Creasy allowed four runs (three earned) in four innings while walking three and striking out two. (77 pitches; 42 strikes) (4.85 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 4.5 K/9) 

Barrett Barnes went 3-for-4 with a two-run double. (.255 avg, .667 OPS) 

Stetson Allie was 2-for-4 and came around to score. (.273 avg, .821 OPS) 

Harold Ramirez goes 1-for-2 with a walk and a run scored. (.222 avg, .620 OPS) 

 

High A: Bradenton defeated Jupiter 10-0. 

Brandon Waddell tossed six shutout innings with no walks and seven strikeouts. (80 pitches; 50 strikes) (0.93 ERA, 0.52 WHIP, 8.1 K/9) 

Chase Simpson was 3-for-5 with an RBI and scored three times. (.233 avg, .699 OPS) 

Pablo Reyes had a two-run double and walked twice. (.246 avg, .727 OPS) 

Tomas Morales goes 2-for-3 along with three RBI’s, two walks and a run scored. (.375 avg, .903 OPS) 

Kevin Kramer went 2-for-5 with an RBI and a free pass. (.253 avg, .637 OPS) 

Connor Joe also had two hits with a walk and scored a pair of runs. (.208 avg, .570 OPS) 

 

Low A: West Virginia defeated Asheville 7-3.

Logan Sendelbach pitched 6.1 scoreless innings, didn’t allow a walk and struckout two. (86 pitches; 60 strikes) (1.32 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 4.6 K/9) 

Tito Polo went 2-for-4 including a grand slam. (.288 avg, .802 OPS) 

Daniel Arribas was also 2-for-4 with an RBI and scored a run. (.242 avg, .824 OPS) 

Alfredo Reyes collected two hits with an RBI and came around to score. (.276 avg, .812 OPS) 

Ke’Bryan Hayes goes 1-for-4 with a run scored. (.343 avg, .826 OPS) 

 

 

 

Pirates Minor League Report 4/28

By Jason Shetler

AAA: Norfolk defeated Indianapolis 6-5.

Jameson Taillon allowed just one run in seven innings, walked two and fanned seven. (89 pitches; 58 strikes) (1.54 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 8.9 K/9)

Alen Hanson had a two-run double. (.328 avg, .805 OPS)

Max Moroff hit his third homer of the year. (.250 avg, .855 OPS) 

Dan Gamache and Pedro Florimon went 1-for-3 and each drove in a run. (Gamache: .333 avg, .883 OPS) (Florimon: .429 avg, 1.286 OPS) 

Josh Bell also goes 1-for-3 and drew a walk. (.301 avg, .914 OPS) 

Jung-Ho Kang was 0-for-1 as a pinch-hitter.

 

AA: Altoona had a scheduled day off.

 

High A: Palm Beach defeated Bradenton 3-0 in 10 innings.

Alex McRae tossed six shutout innings, walked three and struckout a pair. (84 pitches; 50 strikes) (2.88 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 3.2 K/9) 

Logan Hill collected two hits. (.190 avg, .451 OPS) 

Kevin Kramer goes 1-for-4. (.243 avg, .619 OPS) 

Taylor Gushue was also 1-for-4. (.291 avg, .824 OPS) 

Kevin Newman went 0-for-4. (.357 avg, .832 OPS) 

 

Low A: Rome defeated West Virginia 4-2.

Jonathan Brubaker gave up four runs (three earned) in six innings of work, issued one walk and had eight strikeouts. (82 pitches; 57 strikes) (2.67 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 11.0 K/9) 

Tyler Filliben was 1-for-2 and drove in a run. (.216 avg, .601 OPS) 

Tito Polo went 1-for-3 with a pair of stolen bases and scored twice. (.275 avg, .748 OPS) 

Ke’Bryan Hayes goes 0-for-3 with a sac fly RBI. (.348 avg, .845 OPS) 

 

 

 

 

Will 2016 be a Breakout Year for Jordy Mercer?

By Jason Shetler

p/c: Justin Edmonds- Getty Images
p/c: Justin Edmonds- Getty Images

During this past offseason, pretty much all baseball publications and bloggers, including myself, chose Gregory Polanco to be the Pirates breakout player for 2016. Polanco has been off to a hot start the first month of the season. So much so, that he’s currently Top 10 in the Majors in on base percentage at .433. Another Pirate who’s been very good in the early going is Jordy Mercer. While Polanco is looking to breakout this year, could the same also be said for Mercer?

In the second half of 2013, Mercer replaced Clint Barmes as the Pirates regular shortstop, and performed very well, posting a .772 OPS along with a 117 OPS+. For the past two seasons however, he’s really struggled against right-handed pitching with a .619 OPS. His numbers versus left-handers are much better with an OPS of .771. While Mercer’s offense as a whole looks inconsistent, the defense has been steady, particularly  in 2014, when he had nine Defensive Runs Saved, a 1.6 dWAR and was rated the sixth best defensive shortstop that year by the Fielding Bible. 

As mentioned, Mercer is off to a terrific start to begin 2016. His .380 OBP right now is second best among all big league shortstops, and he’s being used as the Pirates leadoff batter against lefty pitching. Mercer has done a good job of controlling the strikezone, as he’s posted a 9.5% walk rate along with a strikeout rate of 13.7%. Those figures have contributed to him creating runs consistently with a 112 wRC+. It remains to be seen whether or not Mercer can keep up the early success, as he’s put up a .343 BABIP, which indicates the possibility of regression. Even if Mercer isn’t able to sustain his strong numbers and become an All-Star caliber shortstop this season, I think the Pirates would settle for him being above league average offensively, and to show vast improvements compared to the last two years.

 

 

 

 

Pirates Minor League Report 4/27

By Jason Shetler

AAA: Norfolk defeated Indianapolis 7-6 in 12 innings. 

Steven Brault tossed six scoreless innings, walked one and struckout a career high 11 batters. (90 pitches; 58 strikes) (1.83 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 11.8 K/9) 

Jared Hughes gave up three runs in two innings of work. (31 pitches; 19 strikes) 

Cole Figueroa was 3-for-6 and hit his first home run of the season. (.500 avg, 1.500 OPS)

Josh Bell goes 3-for-6 with an RBI and a run scored. (.300 avg, .917 OPS)

Adam Frazier also had three hits including a double and scored two runs. (.305 avg, .781 OPS) 

Willy Garcia collected two hits, both of which were triples. (.219 avg, .635 OPS) 

Jung-Ho Kang went 0-for-4. 

 

AA: Erie defeated Altoona 10-4.

David Whitehead pitched just 3.2 innings, as he allowed three runs and six walks while striking out one. (78 pitches; 34 strikes) (4.08 ERA, 1.70 WHIP, 6.3 K/9) 

Stetson Allie had a two-run triple. (.258 avg, .811 OPS) 

Harold Ramirez was 2-for-3 with an RBI, a walk and scored a run. (.214 avg, .589 OPS) 

Eric Wood goes 1-for-3 with an RBI double and a walk. (.228 avg, .753 OPS) 

 

High A: Bradenton defeated Palm Beach 6-1. 

Austin Coley threw 5.1 innings, giving up one run, walked four and struckout one. (88 pitches; 43 strikes) (5.40 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 6.0 K/9) 

Jerrick Suiter delivered a two-run double. (.169 avg, .447 OPS) 

Kevin Kramer went 2-for-2 and drove in a run. (.243 avg, .625 OPS) 

Kevin Newman was 2-for-4 and came around to score. (.379 avg, .879 OPS) 

 

Low A

Game 1 (Suspended game from Tuesday): Rome defeated West Virginia 4-2. 

Dario Agrazal pitches three innings, allowing three runs (all unearned) didn’t walk a batter and had three strikeouts. (51 pitches; 38 strikes) (2.37 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 5.2 K/9)

Alfredo Reyes provided the only runs for the Power with a two-run homer. 

Daniel Arribas was 1-for-2 with a double and drew a free pass.

Tito Polo went 1-for-4. 

 

Game 2: Rome defeated West Virginia 2-1.

Mitch Keller pitched six innings, as he gave up a pair of runs, walked one and struckout five. (0.86 ERA, 0.62 WHIP, 12.0 K/9) 

Ryan Nagle had an RBI double. (.282 avg, .709 OPS) 

Ty Moore went 1-for-3 with a run scored. (.182 avg, .487 OPS) 

Ke’Bryan Hayes also goes 1-for-3. (.365 avg, .889 OPS) 

 

 

Pirates Minor League Report 4/26

By Jason Shetler

AAA: Indianapolis defeated Durham 9-0. 

Tyler Glasnow put up six shutout innings, walking one and striking out 11. (87 pitches; 56 strikes) (2.57 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 12.9 K/9) 

Alen Hanson was 3-for-4 with a two-run home run. (.368 avg, .891 OPS) 

Jung-Ho Kang and Willy Garcia also hit two-run blasts. (Garcia: .203 avg, .542 OPS) 

Pedro Florimon went 2-for-4 with a solo homer in his season debut for the Indians.

Adam Frazier goes 2-for-2 with a double, a walk and scored a run. (.283 avg, .740 OPS) 

 

AA: Altoona defeated Erie 9-5. 

Cody Dickson threw four innings, allowing five runs, walked a batter and had one strikeout. (76 pitches; 47 strikes) (6.23 ERA, 1.96 WHIP, 5.3 K/9)

Frank Duncan pitches five scoreless innings of relief, didn’t allow a walk and struckout three. (60 pitches; 40 strikes) (0.77 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 9.6 K/9)

Edwin Espinal had three hits including his first home run of the season. (.273 avg, .713 OPS) 

Eric Wood was 2-for-4 and hit his second homer on the year. (.222 avg, .728 OPS) 

Jose Osuna goes 2-for-3 with a two-run blast, his fourth. (.281 avg, .874 OPS) 

Barrett Barnes went 2-for-3 with one of his hits being an RBI double. (.233 avg, 

Austin Meadows also had two hits, which included a double, a walk, a stolen base and pair of runs scored. (.375 avg, .944 OPS) 

 

High A: Palm Beach defeated Bradenton 4-3.

Yeudy Garcia recorded just one out while giving up three runs (one earned). (29 pitches; 15 strikes) (5.40 ERA, 2.10 WHIP, 11.0 K/9)

Jerrick Suiter and Michael Suchy each had an RBI double. (Suiter: .164 avg, .427 OPS) (Suchy: .177 avg, .485 OPS) 

Kevin Kramer went 1-for-4 with a double and came around to score. (.221 avg, .591 OPS) 

Kevin Newman was also 1-for-4 and had a double. (.371 avg, .864 OPS) 

Connor Joe goes 1-for-2 with a double, a walk and scored a run. (.200 avg, .539 OPS) 

 

Low A: Rome leads West Virginia 3-0 in the third inning. Game was suspended due to rain and will resume on Wednesday.

 

 

 

Pirates Minor League Report 4/25

By Jason Shetler

AAA: Indianapolis defeated Durham 12-1.

Chad Kuhl pitched five innings, as he allowed one run, didn’t walk a batter and struckout six. (85 pitches; 56 strikes) (1.84 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 8.9 K/9) 

Max Moroff goes 3-for-5, including his second home run of the year. (.255 avg, .854 OPS)

Danny Ortiz went 3-for-5 and also hit his second homer of the season. (.263 avg, .714 OPS) 

Cole Figueroa had three hits and was a home run shy of the cycle. (.500 avg, 1.500 OPS) 

Alen Hanson was 2-for-4 with two RBI’s, a walk and a run scored. (.340 avg, .790 OPS) 

Jake Stallings also went 2-for-4 with a double, an RBI, a walk and scored a run. (.229 avg, .527 OPS) 

Jung-Ho Kang did not play.

 

AA: Erie defeated Altoona 3-0. 

Tyler Eppler pitches 6.1 innings, giving up three runs, no walks and had three strikeouts. (77 pitches; 57 strikes) (3.33 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 6.3 K/9) 

Chris Diaz was 2-for-3. (.222 avg, .616 OPS) 

Jose Osuna went 1-for-2 and drew a pair of walks. (.262 avg, .783 OPS) 

Austin Meadows goes 1-for-4 in his season debut.

 

High A: Bradenton had a scheduled day off.

 

Low A: West Virginia also had the day off.

 

 

 

 

Pirates Release Antoan Richardson

By Jason Shetler

According to the Indianapolis Indians official Twitter account, Antoan Richardson has been released from the organization in order to make room for Pedro Florimon. 

Richardson signed as a minor league free agent with the Pirates back in December. The native of the Bahamas had brief playing time in the big leagues with the Atlanta Braves in 2011 and the New York Yankees in 2014. Richardson began this season as a reserve outfielder for Indianapolis, and struggled out of the gate, hitting .063 in six games.

Why the Pirates Should Consider a Six-Man Rotation Later in the Season

By Jason Shetler

Tyler Glasnow - p/c: Jonathan Dyer - USA Today Sports
Tyler Glasnow – p/c: Jonathan Dyer – USA Today Sports

When the Pirates signed Juan Nicasio this past offseason, the original plan was to use him in the bullpen as a long reliever. That plan changed however when Ryan Vogelsong faltered in Spring Training, and Nicasio dominated, which resulted in Nicasio being named the fifth starter in the rotation. This season will mark the call ups of top pitching prospects Tyler Glasnow and Jameson Taillon. With the potential of those arms coming to Pittsburgh later on this year, should the Pirates go with a six-man rotation? – Here’s why I think they should at least consider that option.

The three mainstays in the rotation will be Gerrit Cole, Francisco Liriano and Jon Niese. Nicasio could also stay there, unless he doesn’t perform well, or the Pirates acquire another starter at the trade deadline, if they’re still in the thick of the pennant race. Between the two rookies, Glasnow is most likely to be called up first since Taillon has missed two full seasons because of injury, and would need a little more time in the minors before he’s ultimately ready. In all likelihood, Jeff Locke will probably be the odd man out once Glasnow arrives, assuming Locke can pitch half decent until at least June.

Like pretty much with all clubs in baseball nowadays, Glasnow and Taillon are expected to have their innings limited down the stretch, so a six-man rotation would make sense, in regards to not just limiting the innings, but to be used out of the bullpen, if another starter doesn’t pitch deep. Right before the season began, Francisco Liriano said his goal for 2016 is to pitch at least 200 innings for the first time in his career. While that would be a nice accomplishment, Liriano does have an injury history, which is why having six pitchers in the rotation can allow him to receive an extra day of rest, or even a skipped start. The Pirates have a couple off days in August, so they could always reshuffle the rotation to give themselves the best pitching matchups for a crucial series. Given those reasons, I personally think a six-man rotation would be a very good idea.

 

 

 

 

Josh Bell Named International League Batter of the Week

By Jason Shetler

p/c: MiLB.com
p/c: MiLB.com

Josh Bell put up terrific numbers this past week for AAA Indianapolis, and it was good enough for him to be named the International League’s Batter of the Week.

Bell hit .400 along with three doubles, two home runs, a triple and nine RBI’s. The Pirates #3 prospect had his most notable game on Friday against the Louisville Bats when he not only hit a grand slam, but also completed the cycle. He became the first player for Indianapolis to hit for the cycle since Jeff Clement in 2012. Bell currently is batting .321 and has a 1.014 OPS in 15 games played.