Kevin Kramer to Play Shortstop in the AFL

By Jason Shetler

p/c: Sean McCool – Pirates Prospects

Pirates prospect Kevin Kramer has been playing shortstop in the Fall Instructional League, and will continue to get reps there during the Arizona Fall League, this according to Jonathan Mayo of MLB Pipeline.

Kramer is currently ranked as the ninth best prospect in the Pirates system by MLBP. The former UCLA standout was putting up superb numbers this year with the Altoona Curve, hitting .297 and posting an OPS of .880, before a right hand fracture in June ended his season. 

The majority of Kramer’s games in his minor league career have been at second base. He has played shortstop only four times, all of which came in his first season of pro ball in 2015. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jose Osuna to Play Third Base in Winter Ball

By Jason Shetler

p/c: Mark Alberti – Icon Sportswire

According to news and notes from MLB.com Pirates beat writer Adam Berry, Jose Osuna is expected to play third base during Winter Ball in Venezuela. Osuna told Berry that he would like to play there four or five times a week. 

It doesn’t come as much of a surprise that Osuna will be playing third base in Winter Ball. He had been working out there with Pirates third base coach Joey Cora since July, and it was just a matter of when he would see live game action at the hot corner. Osuna has spent majority of his 2017 rookie season as a utility man, playing first base, right field and left field.

 

 

 

Drew Hutchison Clears Waivers; Removed from 40-Man Roster

By Jason Shetler

p/c: Adam Pintar

The Pirates have announced that Drew Hutchison cleared waivers and was outrighted to AAA Indianapolis. In the process, he has been removed from the 40-man roster. 

During the 2016 trade deadline, Hutchison was acquired by the Pirates from the Toronto Blue Jays as part of the Francisco Liriano deal. After arriving to Pittsburgh, he posted a 5.56 ERA in 11.1 innings of work. 

This past offseason, the Pirates signed Hutchison for $2.3 million to avoid arbitration. He appeared to have the inside track for the fifth spot in the rotation, but a poor showing caused him not to make the Opening Day roster. Hutchison spent the entire 2017 season with Indianapolis, posting an ERA of 3.56, while holding the opposition to a .248 average in 159.1 innings pitched. Because of his service time in the minors, he will be a minor league free agent once the World Series is over.

 

 

 

Starling Marte Says He Wants to Play Winter Ball

By Jason Shetler

p/c: David Hague

Starling Marte tells Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he would like to play Winter Ball in the Dominican Republic this offseason.

Marte was the Pirates best player in 2016, as he was named an All-Star for the first time, while capturing his second National League Gold Glove award as a left fielder. With Marte being the top defensive left fielder in the game, the Pirates made the decision to make him the center fielder, moving Andrew McCutchen to right field in the process for the 2017 season. 

In mid-April, a shocking development came about, as multiple reports had surfaced that Marte tested positive for Nandrolone, a performance-enhancing drug. He was given an 80-game suspension by MLB for the infraction. Since returning from the suspension, Marte is batting .240, along with an OPS of .634. The decision of him wanting to play Winter Ball would obviously make up for lost time, and perhaps a chance to get him back on track for next season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pirates Release 2018 Schedule

By Jason Shetler

Major League Baseball has released the 2018 schedules for all 30 teams. Here are some of the notables series the Pirates will have for next season. 

After opening this year in Boston, the Pirates open 2018 against another American League club, as they take on the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on March 29th. 

The Pirates home opener will be March 2nd, taking on the Minnesota Twins. 

As you might have guessed, the Pirates are facing AL Central opponents on their Interleague schedule. Here are the dates of those matchups.

April 24th-26th versus the Tigers in Pittsburgh. 

May 8th and 9th against the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field. 

They take on the White Sox again May 15th and 16th in Pittsburgh. 

July 23rd-25th versus the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. 

A two-game set against the Twins at Target Field August 14th and 15th. 

The Kansas City Royals come into Pittsburgh September 17th-19th.

The Pirates close out the 2018 season against the Reds in Cincinnati September 28th-30th.

 

 

 

 

 

Pirates Claim Jack Leathersich from Cubs

By Jason Shetler

p/c: Joe Lewnard

The Pirates have announced that they have claimed pitcher Jack Leathersich off waivers from the Chicago Cubs. He will report to AAA Indianapolis for the playoffs. 

Leathersich was a fifth round draft pick of the New York Mets in 2011. He made 17 appearances with the Mets in 2015, posting a 2.31 ERA, but a very high WHIP of 1.63. In July of that year, he underwent Tommy John surgery. 

Prior to the 2016 season, Leathersich was claimed off waivers by the Cubs. He spent most of last year working his way back from Tommy John. Leathersich put up a 2.84 ERA with AAA Iowa this season, which is impressive in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. He also appeared in one game for the Cubs. Leathersich has the ability to rack up strikeouts, but he does issue free passes quite frequently. 

 

 

 

 

Trevor Williams Should Have a Spot in Pirates Rotation for 2018

By Jason Shetler

p/c: John Bazemore – AP

Following the 2015 season, Pirates pitching guru Jim Benedict joined the Miami Marlins organization. As compensation, the Bucs received Trevor Williams. During 2015, Williams was a Top 10 prospect in a mediocre Marlins farm system, but was still considered a legit pitching prospect nonetheless. 

Much of the 2016 season for Williams was spent at AAA Indianapolis, where he posted a 2.53 ERA. His good work in the minors earned him a much deserved September call up. He struggled with the Pirates, posting an ERA of 7.82, albeit in a small sample size. 

Entering Spring Training, Williams was one of the Pirates pitchers who competed for a spot to be the fifth starter in the rotation. Although Tyler Glasnow was named the final starter, the Pirates added Williams to the Opening Day roster as a long reliever. 

In early May, Jameson Taillon was placed on the disabled list, this after being diagnosed with testicular cancer. The Pirates then inserted Williams into the rotation. His first start of the year did not go well, as he allowed eight runs (six earned) against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Despite the bad outing, Williams’ first half ERA as a starter was 4.04. The second half has been even better for him, with a 3.44 ERA since the All-Star break. 

The success for Williams this season has hinged on keeping the ball in the ballpark on a consistent basis. Among all qualified MLB starters since May 14th, Williams has the lowest HR/9 at 0.6. He also has a 2.1 WAR, which is a good enough mark to stick in the rotation. Trevor Williams has certainly been one of the most pleasant surprises for the Pirates in 2017, and should be a lock in the rotation for next season.