Jordan Luplow Promoted to Indianapolis; Logan Hill to Altoona

By Jason Shetler

Pirates Prospects has reported a pair of promotions. Outfielder Jordan Luplow is heading to AAA Indianapolis, while outfielder Logan Hill will take his place in AA Altoona. These promotions are a domino effect with Jason Rogers going to Japan.

The Pirates selected Luplow as a third round choice in the 2014 MLB Draft. The Altoona Curve have had a good number of breakout prospects this season, and Luplow has been no exception. His 16 home runs were tied for fourth most in the Eastern League, while his .903 OPS was good for seventh best. A few weeks ago, Luplow was named the EL Player of the Week.

Hill was drafted by the Pirates as a 25th round pick in 2015. The 24-year-old is also having himself a breakout year. In 71 games for High A Bradenton, Hill hit 16 homers, which led the Florida State League, and he put up the seventh highest OPS at .864.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Andrew McCutchen’s Time with the Pirates Appears to be Drawing to a Close

By Jared Lankes

p/c: Justin Berl – Getty Images

The Pirates drafted Andrew McCutchen what feels like a short 12 years ago, and since that moment, he has known nothing but playing in the Pirates organization his entire professional baseball life. Conversely, Pittsburgh Pirates fans over the years haven’t known a Pirates team that didn’t feature Andrew McCutchen.

The star center fielder has been the icon, the figure, the face of the Pirates. When you think about the Pirates, Andrew McCutchen is the guy that pops into your head almost immediately. It seems like, no matter what, he will be associated with Pittsburgh and vice versa.

However, baseball has to be a business at times and teams must transition their roster every so often in order to remain competitive and phase out the older players in exchange for the next wave of potential stars. This has lead to trade rumors swirling around him. This has become a sad reality, a cloud over the head of the superstar that helped bring winning back to the Pirates.

As we all know, the Pirates nearly traded McCutchen in the offseason before a deal reportedly fell through with the Nationals. For better or for worse, it happened. McCutchen started off 2017 even worse than 2016 as he fell to the Mendoza line (.200 batting average) and wasn’t producing for the better part of April and May. Since, however, he’s been possibly the hottest hitter in baseball and his stats look wonderful now. This, coupled with the fact the Pirates may sell a bit at the trading deadline depending on where they stand as well as a looming Austin Meadows, has lead to the inevitability that a McCutchen trade may happen within a month when MLB teams do their bi-annual swapping marathon (The Winter Meetings being the other one).

Many fans are clinging on the hopes that he isn’t traded and can remain a Pirate for life, an optimistic look but not one that dawns itself in this current reality. McCutchen, like so many others, just don’t stand a chance to stay with one team their entire careers. The same will seem to hold true for McCutchen, unfortunately. He will either be traded this July, in the offseason, next July, or walk as a free agent. Either way, his time with the Pirates will be reaching a conclusion much sooner than we think.

So, Pirates fans: I think we should enjoy potentially the very last month we have with McCutchen as a Pirate because his last game could be almost every game in July, so enjoy every one like it’s his last. Pirates fans will look back fondly on McCutchen no doubt as he has been one of the very special ones in Pirates history, and we can’t forget that. We truly got to witness a great player form right before our very eyes, and it was remarkable.

When the inevitable moment of McCutchen’s departure occurs, it is okay to cry (I know I will) because McCutchen left us all with lasting memories that will not be forgotten. He was a true great on and off the field, and we can’t thank him enough for what he brought to the Pirates.

But as the curtain begins to close on Andrew McCutchen’s Pirates career, it’s important to know that each end is a new beginning. A new beginning for McCutchen to play elsewhere, meet new people, and have a new city hopefully embrace him. And a new beginning for the Pirates who will look to continue to field greats that we will never, ever forget.

 

Why the Jason Rogers Trade Didn’t Make Much Sense

By Jason Shetler

p/c: David Hague – Pirates Prospects

In September of 2015, Jung-Ho Kang sustained a season ending injury, in which he tore his meniscus and fractured his tibia. With the uncertainty of Kang’s status heading into the 2016 season, who was going to take over as the Pirates third baseman for the time being?

That offseason, the Pirates acquired Jason Rogers from the Milwaukee Brewers for outfielder Keon Broxton and pitcher Trey Supak. During the 2015 season, Rogers had an .808 OPS and a 121 OPS+ with the Brewers, so he appeared to be the favorite to replace Kang as a short term solution. 

Midway through Spring Training last year, David Freese signed a one-year deal with the Pirates to be their third baseman. Freese not only came in with a proven track record, but it didn’t cost the Bucs a draft pick, since the Los Angeles Angels declined to make him a qualifying offer. Rogers was then in a battle for a spot on the bench, but lost out to Cole Figueroa. He spent most of last season playing at AAA Indianapolis, and his time with the Pirates was brief, receiving just 33 plate appearances. 

Rogers wasn’t really in the conversation for a bench spot in Spring Training this year, which was certainly odd. He went back to Indianapolis, where he split his games between first base and DH. There was a report that Rogers had been in negotiations with the Hanshin Tigers of the Japanese Central League. On Thursday, Brian Peloza, who covers the Indianapolis Indians for Pirates Prospects, mentioned that the signing was made official. 

The Rogers trade overall really didn’t make a whole lot of sense. First off, if the Pirates really wanted David Freese, then they should’ve tried to sign him during the offseason and not traded for Rogers in the first place. Second, Keon Broxton had the tools to become a quality fourth outfielder for the Pirates, but instead, has played a integral part as a regular in the Brewers lineup, with 13 home runs and an OPS of .810. Not to mention Trey Supak is becoming a superb strikeout pitcher, posting an 11.0 K/9 with two of the Brewers A ball affiliates this season. And third, the fact that Rogers wasn’t considered much of candidate for a bench spot this Spring showed that the Pirates had essentially given up on him. While this trade is by no means Neal Huntington’s worst as GM, it’s one that he certainly would like to have back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luis Escobar to Represent Pirates in Futures Game

By Jason Shetler

p/c: Tracy Proffitt

On Thursday, the U.S. and World rosters were announced for the 2017 MLB Futures Game. Pirates prospect Luis Escobar is one of the pitchers who will represent the World Team. The game is July 9th at Marlins Park in Miami, and will be televised on MLB Network. 

Escobar was signed by the Pirates out of Colombia in 2013. The 21-year-old right-hander entered this season as the 13th best prospect in the Pirates system according to MLB Pipeline. 

This year marks Escobar’s first full season of pro ball. In 71.2 innings pitched for the West Virginia Power, his ERA is 4.77, but he has more favorable metrics, with a 3.93 Fielding Independent Pitching and a 3.46 xFIP, while holding opposing hitters to a .223 average. Escobar has also racked up 97 strikeouts, which are currently most in the South Atlantic League. There’s a decent chance that he could be promoted to Bradenton before the season is over.

 

 

 

 

Bucco Nation Poll Question

By Jason Shetler

Pirates Sign Dylan Busby

By Jason Shetler

p/c: Joe Rondone – Tallahassee Democrat

The Pirates have announced that they have signed their third round selection Dylan Busby. MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis reported that the signing bonus was $575,000, well below the slot amount of $626,600. 

Busby was selected by the Pirates 88th overall out of Florida State. The 6’3 third baseman had a great season offensively this year, with an OPS of .996, along with 15 home runs to lead the Seminoles. Busby will begin his pro career in Morgantown for the West Virginia Black Bears.

 

 

 

Jason Rogers Reportedly in Negotiations with Japanese Team

By Jason Shetler

p/c: David Hague – Pirates Prospects

According to Brian Peloza of Pirates Prospects, Jason Rogers is in negotiations with the Hanshin Tigers of the Japanese Central League. 

Prior to last season, the Pirates acquired Rogers from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for outfielder Keon Broxton and pitcher Trey Supak. Rogers had brief playing time with the Pirates in 2016, posting just a .303 on base percentage in 33 plate appearances.

During Spring Training, Rogers wasn’t really in competition for a bench spot with the Pirates, which was certainly odd. In 68 games this season for AAA Indianapolis, he is hitting .278, along with a .773 OPS, while splitting his time between first base and DH. The trade has not looked good, especially now with Keon Broxton playing a vital role in the Brewers lineup.