By Jason Shetler
Mitch Keller – p/c: Sean McCool – Pirates Prospects
As the regular season in the minor leagues is nearing its conclusion, here is a break down of each Pirates prospect who were given promotions this season, and how they’ve performed after being promoted.
Cole Tucker: The Pirates 2014 first rounder put up good numbers with the Bradenton Marauders, as he batted .285, while posting a .790 OPS. He was promoted to the Altoona Curve on July 20th. Tucker has struggled since the promotion, hitting just .198. He is however still young for the AA level, turning 21 a month ago. Tucker has been making an impact in the speed game this year, combining to steal 41 bases.
Dovydas Neverauskas: Since signing with the Pirates out of Lithuania in 2009, Dovydas Neverauskas quietly emerged through the system as a high upside reliever. After pitching five scoreless appearances with the Indianapolis Indians, he was called up to Pittsburgh on April 24th, becoming just the second Lithuanian born player to reach the Majors. Neverauskas has been up and down between AAA and the bigs this season, but he’s certainly an intriguing bullpen arm for the Pirates moving forward.
Edgar Santana: It’s not often that the Pirates, or any other organization, would promote a player across three levels of the minors in the same season, but that was the case last year with Edgar Santana. The 25-year-old righty had a 1.93 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP, before receiving his call up to the Pirates on June 10th. Santana’s big league stint contained really unfortunate luck, because despite a 5.87 ERA, his BABIP was .474, with a lower Fielding Independent Pitching of 4.05. He should be recalled by the Pirates in September.
Edwin Espinal: After spending all of last season with Altoona, Edwin Espinal returned there to begin 2017. The numbers were solid in his second go-around with the Curve, as he put up an OPS of .797 and hit 15 home runs. Espinal’s promotion to Indianapolis came on July 27th. Although he’s batting .292 for the Indians, he hasn’t walked much and the power has been non-existent.
Jake Brentz: The Pirates acquired Jake Brentz from the Seattle Mariners in the Arquimedes Caminero deal last year. The hard-throwing lefty reliever started off this season with Bradenton, posting a 3.81 ERA, while holding opponents to a .230 average. June 23rd was his promotion to Altoona. Brentz has now been experiencing control issues, walking 12 batters in 9.1 innings, which has led to an ERA of 7.71 for the Curve.
Jordan Luplow: The biggest breakout prospect in the Pirates system this year has been Jordan Luplow. He began the season with Altoona, and was very productive, putting up a .903 OPS. Luplow was then promoted to Indianapolis on June 30th. He was even better when he arrived there, as he posted an OPS of .975. On July 28th, Luplow got an unexpected promotion to the big leagues, albeit going hitless in nine plate appearances. He will likely rejoin the Pirates as a September call up.
Jose Osuna: Last year, Jose Osuna was one of a few Pirates prospects who broke through, to at least get noticed, if nothing else. 2017 was Osuna’s first big league camp, and he made quite an impression. So much so, that there was chatter about him actually being on the Pirates roster for Opening Day. He was sent back to Indianapolis, but it didn’t take long for him to come to Pittsburgh, as he was called up April 18th. Osuna has been with the Pirates ever since, posting a .765 OPS in his rookie season.
Kevin Newman: Currently the Pirates top shortstop prospect, Kevin Newman’s starting destination for 2017 was Altoona. The former first round selection didn’t really tear it up with the Curve, as he hit .259 and put up a .669 OPS. His promotion to Indianapolis was on July 20th. Newman’s average has gone back up in AAA at .312, but the OPS hasn’t been any better at .688. He will likely arrive to the North Shore at some point next year.
Logan Hill: The Pirates discovered Logan Hill in the 25th round of the 2015 draft. He showed off his power for Bradenton, clubbing 16 home runs, which is impressive considering that the Florida State League is pitcher friendly. Hill was promoted to Altoona June 30th. The success has carried over for him, putting up an .803 OPS for the Curve.
Mitch Keller: A year ago, Mitch Keller was the biggest breakout performer among Pirates prospects. Not only that, but he was also named the 2016 Pirates Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Keller is now the top pitching prospect in the organization. Although he dealt with back stiffness earlier this season, that hasn’t stopped the 21-year-old from being dominant, as he posted an ERA of 3.14, while limiting opposing batters to a .207 average in 15 starts for Bradenton. Keller was recently promoted to Altoona on August 4th. In his first three starts with the Curve, he has posted a 3.00 ERA.
Montana DuRapau: Just like Dovydas Neverauskas and Edgar Santana, Montana DuRapau is another homegrown reliever who has emerged in the Pirates system. A 32nd rounder in 2014, DuRapau is having another good season this year. He had a 1.49 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP for Altoona. DuRapau joined Indianapolis on July 14th. His ERA currently there is 3.86, but he’s actually done a better job of limiting baserunners, with a 0.86 WHIP.
Stephen Alemais: Drafted by the Pirates as a third rounder last year, Stephen Alemais is already one of the best defensive players in the organization. He began this season with the West Virginia Power, where he posted just a .266 on base percentage. Alemais was given a promotion to Bradenton on July 20th. The approach at the plate has all of a sudden been improving for him with the Marauders, as his on base is at .444. If Alemais is somehow able to show that he can hold his own offensively, combined with his excellent defense at shortstop, he will be a legit prospect.