Why the Pirates Should Avoid Signing Travis Wood

By Jason Shetler

p/c: Kelley L. Cox - USA Today Sports

p/c: Kelley L. Cox – USA Today Sports

On Friday, MLB Network insider Jon Morosi tweeted that Travis Wood is drawing interest as a starter, and has received at least one Major League offer from a team to use in their rotation. 

Wood last pitched primarily as a starter as recent as 2014 with the Chicago Cubs, and struggled to the tune of a 5.03 ERA. His best work as a rotation arm came in 2013 for the Cubs, posting an ERA of 3.11 and compiling 200 innings for the first time in his career. He was also named to the NL All-Star team that year as well. 

Last season, Wood was used exclusively in relief with the Cubs and made 77 appearances. Despite pitching as a starter before, manager Joe Maddon utilized him as more of a lefty specialist, as he pitched 61 innings. 

Even with the Pirates signing Ivan Nova this offseason, they still could look to address the rotation. However, here’s why I think they should avoid trying to sign Travis Wood. 

Although Wood posted a 2.95 ERA last year, the metrics weren’t encouraging, as his FIP and xFIP were 4.54 and 4.83 respectively. He also benefited from a .215 BABIP, which isn’t sustainable. Wood is an extreme flyball pitcher, posting groundball rates below 40% in each of his seven big league seasons. 

I certainly would be in favor of the Pirates adding another arm to the rotation, but bringing in a possible regression candidate like Wood may not be the best decision. Personally, I’d like to see the Pirates re-visit the possibility of trading for Jose Quintana from the Chicago White Sox. If they choose not to, then I’d rather see one of their internal options be the fifth starter as opposed to signing Travis Wood.



Re-Visiting the Mark Melancon Trade

By Jared Lankes 

In 2016 at trade deadline time, the Pirates were, for lack of a better term, a fringe contending team. This lead to some tough decision-making on the part of the Pirates as to whether to sell-off and go for next year or trade pieces to propel the team to the playoffs. In the end, the Pirates did a little bit of both. One of the tough trades made was the Mark Melancon trade. The Pirates sent two months of closer Mark Melancon for 5+ years of lefty reliever Felipe Rivero and big-arm lefty pitching prospect Taylor Hearn. The trade was highly scrutinized and criticized at the time because there were no “big-name prospects” coming back like Giolito, Lopez, Fedde, or Lopez, but looking back at the trade now, it’s easy to see that the Pirates got immense value back in the trade and actually even won the trade by a landslide.

Firstly, we’ll start with Taylor Hearn. The consensus on Hearn is that he has a huge arm but needs work on control, like many youngsters in his situation. Before some circumstances in the Nationals organization, the left-hander was a rising prospect through a deep Nationals system. He came into the Pirates organization and was flat-out dominant, asserting himself once again as a breakout prospect to watch. He could easily be a top prospect in the Pirates organization very soon; sooner than we think, in fact.

Now, to Rivero. Felipe Rivero is a lefty reliever with dominant stuff that people salivate over. He was, at one point, a projected option for the Nationals at closer. But instead the Nationals wanted to go experience to try to compete with the Cubs in the postseason, so they shipped him off to the Pirates and took the chance on losing him, even if he ends up being a top reliever and reaches his ceiling. Now, what makes Rivero so popular and coveted is his mix of pitches. He has a big-time fastball that sits 98-100 MPH, a fastball that ranks as the second fastest among lefties in the league (of course Chapman is first and we cannot dispute it). Then, he has a devastating changeup to boot. This changeup has been raved about by many to be one of the most dominant pitches in the entire league. This mixture of pitches from a lefty is absolutely insane, and it’s no wonder why people salivate over this arsenal he has. Also, as a side note, Rivero has the tools and the pitch arsenal that Ray Searage loves to work with, and we started to see the fruits of that partnership last year, and there’s no reason to think he will not continue to improve. I wouldn’t be shocked if Rivero became one of the best relief pitchers in the National League in a few short years or less.

Essentially, the Pirates traded two months of a closer that was bound to walk in free agency on a team unlikely to make the playoffs into 5+ years of a reliever with immense talent and only getting better, as well as a rising pitching prospect with a huge arm that can end up reaching his limit with some refinement. When you re-visit the results of this trade, the Pirates did not get a top-of-the-line prospect or a big name back in return. However, they got two guys that carry with them a vast amount of talent and value, and the Pirates have the necessary tools and systems that can maximize each guys’ value and help them reach their ceilings. I say that this was a very good deal for the Pirates.

Bucco Nation Top 25 Pirates Prospects for 2017

By Jason Shetler

With MLB Pipeline doing their annual prospect rankings this month, I am doing the same, as it of course relates to the Pirates. Here now is my list of the Top 25 Pirates prospects entering the 2017 season.

Prospect              Position     Draft Class       2017 Starting Destination 

1. Austin Meadows   OF        2013 (1st round)       Indianapolis

2. Tyler Glasnow    RHP       2011 (5th round)     Pirates or Indianapolis

3. Josh Bell                 1B         2011 (2nd round)    Pirates 

4. Kevin Newman    SS         2015 (1st round)     Altoona or Indianapolis

5. Mitch Keller       RHP       2014 (2nd round)    Bradenton 

6. Ke’Bryan Hayes  3B         2015 (1st round comp)  West Virginia Power 

7. Will Craig              3B         2016 (1st round)      Bradenton 

8. Cole Tucker         SS          2014 (1st round)     Bradenton or Altoona

9. Elias Diaz              C       Undrafted (Venezuela)  Indianapolis

10. Nick Kingham RHP     2010 (4th round)      Indianapolis

11. Yeudy Garcia   RHP   Undrafted (Dominican Republic)  Altoona

12. Taylor Hearn  LHP    2015   (5th round)      Bradenton 

13. Alen Hanson  IF/OF  Undrafted (Dominican Republic)   Pirates 

14. Steven Brault  LHP   2013   (11th round)    Pirates or Indianapolis

15. Luis Escobar   RHP   Undrafted (Colombia)  West Virginia Power

16. Clay Holmes   RHP   2011    (9th round)         Altoona or Indianapolis

17. Gage Hinsz      RHP   2014   (11th round)       Bradenton 

18. Kevin Kramer  2B     2015   (2nd round)        Altoona 

19. Brandon Waddell  LHP  2015 (5th round)    Indianapolis

20. Trevor Williams  RHP   2013 (2nd round)   Pirates or Indianapolis

21. Jose Osuna   1B/OF  Undrafted (Venezuela)  Indianapolis

22. Max Moroff     IF             2012 (16th round)      Indianapolis

23. Barrett Barnes   OF       2012 (1st round comp)  Indianapolis

24. Travis MacGregor RHP  2016 (2nd round)    Bristol 

25. Braeden Ogle  LHP         2016  (4th round)     Bristol 





Austin Meadows Ranked Third Best Outfield Prospect

By Jason Shetler

 p/c: Laura Wolff

p/c: Laura Wolff

MLB Pipeline released their list of the Top 10 outfield prospects. Austin Meadows was ranked third on the list, behind only Andrew Benintendi (Red Sox) and Victor Robles (Nationals). 

Meadows’ ranking is one spot higher from where he was last year. The former first round selection didn’t start off 2016 well, as he underwent surgery for an orbital fracture he sustained in Spring Training. 

The injury however had virtually no affect on Meadows’ performance at the plate, as he put up a .976 OPS in 45 games with the Altoona Curve, thanks in part to a very impressive slugging percentage of .611. He was promoted to the Indianapolis Indians in June where he posted a .757 OPS in 37 games played. Meadows enters 2017 as the top prospect overall in the Pirates system, and should arrive to Pittsburgh at some point this season.




Ke’Bryan Hayes Ranked Ninth Best Third Base Prospect

By Jason Shetler

p/c: Tim Williams - Pirates Prospects

p/c: Tim Williams – Pirates Prospects

On Tuesday, MLB Pipeline came out with their list of the Top 10 third base prospects. Making the Top 10 was Ke’Bryan Hayes, who was ranked at #9. 

In the 2015 MLB Draft, the Pirates received a first round compensation pick, this after Russell Martin rejected their qualifying offer and subsequently signed with the Toronto Blue Jays. With that pick, the Bucs chose Hayes out of Concordia Lutheran High School in Tomball, Texas.

Hayes spent the entire 2016 season with the West Virginia Power. He was off to a terrific start, as he posted an .826 OPS in April, but tailed off the rest of the year with an OPS of .626. It should be noted that he was just 19 playing Low A ball, which is young for the level. While Hayes does have upside at the plate, he also possesses a strong throwing arm, so he still has the potential to become a solid, all-around third baseman.