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Showing posts from August, 2021

Pittsburgh Pirates: Where Would Endy Rodriguez Rank Among The System's Outfielders

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 Entering the season, the Pittsburgh Pirates didn't have much in terms of catching prospect depth. It took the trade of Joe Musgrove to add in their first real one in Endy Rodriguez . While still young, he gave the best hopes for a 'catcher of the future' that the organization was sorely lacking. Throughout the season the Pirates added several players to the position, most notably first overall pick Henry Davis to the mix, and all of a sudden Rodriguez had company within the organization. While Rodriguez's athleticism and arm makes him a legit prospect behind the plate, his versatility also allows him to play elsewhere on the field. With the New York Mets he played not only catcher but also first base and each spot in the outfield. The Pirates had been rotating Rodriguez from behind the plate to first base, as well as being the DH to get him extra at bats. Recently he has played two games in left field, his first taste of the outfield since coming over to the Pirate

Altoona Curve: Crafty Lefty Omar Cruz a Throwback in the Making

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Photo Credit: Altoona Curve Pittsburgh Pirates' fans are going to have a blast watching Omar Cruz once he makes the majors, if only for one thing in particular. The 22-year old lefty is a throwback in a sense, with a funky delivery that's a joy to watch each time he goes to pitch. The lefty doesn't have overpowering stuff, and isn't a highly ranked prospect for the Pirates but he is showing his advanced approach on the mound that allowed him to be the first player from the vaunted Greensboro rotation to get promoted to Altoona. After an extremely rough 1st inning, Omar Cruz had gotten it together and has gone 3.0 IP, 5 hits, 2 ER’s, 1 BB, and 5 K’s. pic.twitter.com/hIKjjlOrJG — Pirates Unrestricted (Rodolfo Stan) (@P_Unrestricted) July 17, 2021 Cruz started seven games for the Grasshoppers, pitching 28 2/3 innings in that span and posting a 3.45 ERA. He struck out an impressive 11.93 batters per nine innings pitched (K/9) and held hitters to an .615 OPS. Not a bad st

Pittsburgh Pirates: The Little Things That Remind Us Why We Love The Game

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Photo Credit: Justin K Aller/Getty Images  There's a reason why so many people gravitate towards sports, and we got a little bit of a taste of that on Thursday. They have real life storylines that turn into real life drama that you would usually need to watch a movie to see. Other times they provide the kind of feel-good outings, uplifting and inspirational. Sometimes it's everything all wrapped into one. Now there will be plenty of people talking about this, because it's worth it to talk about it. This just happens to be one of the many reasons I love the game, so I really wanted to share. Even the best of Hollywood movie writers couldn't have scripted this story much better than it actually played out in real life. A story of, for however brief it ends up being, redemption. Not even 24 hours before today's game, Gregory Polanco misplayed a ball in the outfield that eventually led to the Pittsburgh Pirates surrendering a lead and a chance to complete their first

Pittsburgh Pirates: Duane Underwood Jr.'s August Reminder of His Value to Team

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Photo Credit: MLB.com  I heard something interesting when watching Tuesday's Pittsburgh Pirates game, said by former closer Matt Capps . It came at the beginning of the sixth inning, when Duane Underwood Jr. entered the game replacing JT Brubaker . "In my opinion, (Underwood Jr.) has been one of the bigger pickups this year for the Pirates ball club." I was driving home at the time, but remember hearing that and thinking "Really? Underwood?". You generally don't have to go far on the internet to find people documenting the struggles of the now 27-year old Underwood, so I thought it was an interesting statement to make. To an extent, the criticism has been fair. There was a good stretch of the season where you could have made a legitimate claim for the Pirates to move on from Underwood, which was a far cry from the beginning of the season when he was easily one of the best relievers on the team. So, not only what happened but maybe more importantly, what wa

Pittsburgh Pirates: Diego Castillo Paying Immediate Dividends For Altoona Curve

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Photo Credit: Rob Lynn/Altoona Curve  Sometimes it's the small trade that no one thinks of that can make the biggest impact. For the Pittsburgh Pirates during this past trade deadline, it's the deal that no one saw coming that has paid the most immediate impact. With the high demand on relief pitchers, it wasn't a surprise that the Pirates traded as many of them as they could afford to move which included Clay Holmes . What was surprising was his return, as the righty had far from a consistent season. Coming back in exchange for Holmes was Hoy Jun Park and Diego Castillo , two middle infielders for the New York Yankees that were enjoying good offensive seasons but stuck in a log jam in their previous system at their position. Park was raking in Triple-A and got the call to the majors and has been playing a super utility role with the Pirates, getting time all over the diamond. For all the players that the Pirates acquired over the trade deadline that is still working the

Bradenton Marauders Notebook: Jackson Glenn, Leadoff Hitter? The Brilliance Behind it Going Forward

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The Bradenton Marauders wrapped up their week long series against the Clearwater Threshers with an unfortunate 22-5 drubbing on Sunday. Still, the home team was able to take five of the seven games played this past week (one was a continuation of a game from July). With seven games played, there was plenty of things happening, including the debut of 2021 fifth round pick Jackson Glenn , who didn't waste any time making his presence known. The product of Dallas Baptist University , Glenn hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th inning in a game that actually started before he was a part of the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. His first official game? Two doubles in a Marauders win. Easy stuff for a guy who had an OPS of 1.169 his final year in college slugging 21 home runs along the way. He's done a lot of that hitting in his first week with Bradenton, with an even higher OPS of 1.307, three doubles, three RBIs and a five walk to one strikeout ratio.  3B Prospect, Jack

Adrian Florencio: Righty Dominating Low-A For Bradenton Marauders

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He may be a stranger to some who aren't familiar with the Pittsburgh Pirates system, but Adrian Florencio has been one of the better pitchers in the lower levels of the organization. If you've read this site , then his name should be familiar, as he was featured once already this season. With the month he is having in August, it's worth mentioning his name once again. Towering at 6'6", the Dominican righty has been a force in the Bradenton Marauders rotation this season, and after his stellar start on Thursday is riding a 16 inning scoreless streak. In game two of the double header against the Clearwater Threshers , Florencio pitched five shutout innings, allowing two hits and two walks, while striking out nine batters total. Clearwater has been a dream matchup for him this month, as in his two appearance against the Phillies farm team Florencio has 18 strikeouts in 11 shutout innings. Altogether in the month of August, he has 23 strikeouts in 14 innings pitched

Walk it Off: Bradenton Marauders Win Fourth Straight on Last At Bat

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 Thanks to the doubleheader, Eddy Yean was moved up from his usual piggyback role to getting the start for the first game on Thursday. It did not go great. Control has always been an issue with he 20-year old righty from the Dominican Republic as he currently owns a walks per nine innings (BB/9) of over five on the season. August has been a particular struggle for Yean, as after Thursday start he has posted a BB/9 of 11.88. When it comes to walks, Yean had perhaps the worst start of his career, walking six in 3 2/3 innings pitched. Overall in the month of August Yean has walked 11 in 8 1/3. Despite not being able to find the strike zone, Yean was able to fight his way into not letting the game away from him. Along with the six walks, Yean also hit a batter as well as allowed five hits. That's a total of 12 baserunners in 3 2/3 innings and only allowed one run. He also struck out five batters. So yea, the start wasn't ideal, but it also had the potential of being that much wors

Bradenton Marauders Notebook: Jackson Glenn's Debut, Herman Slugging in August, Endy Rodriguez Leaves Game

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Photo Credit: Dallas Baptist Patriots There was no shortage of action and suspense on Tuesday for the Bradenton Marauders . They finally wrapped up a game from July in dramatic fashion, which seemed like so much fun for them they decided to do it a second time on the same day. Jackson Glenn Makes Bradenton Debut It was quite a day for the Pittsburgh Pirates 2021 fifth round pick out of Dallas Baptist . After briefly tearing up the Florida Complex League , Glenn got the call to Bradenton for his first taste of Low-A action. What made things so interesting is that the first bit of action he actually got into was a continuation of a game that started before he was officially with the organization. The Pirates drafted Glenn in the fifth round, which took place on Monday July 12th. This game started on that Sunday the 11th, and was suspended due to weather. No matter, Glenn had a handle on things, hitting a walk off single that might have been good for more should the Marauders had needed

Finishing Strong: Will Matthiessen Continues Offensive Explosion Down Stretch For Grasshoppers

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Photo Credit: Stanford Athletics   There aren't many players who have had as an interesting month as Greensboro Grasshopper Will Matthiessen . Not only has he been on a tear in August offensively, he earned his first professional win on the mound in a wild and crazy game against Hickory. It won't take you long to notice the former Stanford Cardinal on the diamond, as he stands a towering 6'7" - one of the tallest position players in all of baseball. His performance during the month of August has him near the top as one of the best performance in the High-A East conference. Matthiessen was part of that 2019 draft class for the Pittsburgh Pirates that feature over ten players on the current Greensboro roster, as well as the recently promoted Matt Fraizer . Before that, Matthiessen spent three years at Stanford as a two-way player. He was recognized as an All-American Honorable mention by Perfect Game/Rawling, and was a finalist for the John Olerud award in 2019. Upon a

Game Story: Jase Bowen Walks off Marauders in Extra Innings against Fort Myers

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If you are a creature of habit, this week's series between the Bradenton Marauders and Fort Myers Mighty Mussels probably wasn't for you. Rain delayed the start multiple days during the week, and the pending landfall of Tropical Depression Fred pushed the start time of Saturday's contest up as well as postponed Sunday's game. So even though Sunday is his regular spot in the rotation, Jared Jones got the start for the Marauders. The 20-year old Jones has been fantastic in the month of August, posting a 0.82 ERA in 11 innings, striking out 15 batters in two starts. It wasn't the prettiest of outings, but Jones pitched three shutout innings, bringing his ERA for the month of August down to 0.64. Jones allowed a lead off double, but quickly erased it by way of a fielder's choice. After a ground ball was hit by to the pitcher, Jones was able to catch the runner on second leaning and threw to Francisco Acuna to get the out. Jones would walk the next batter, but th

Minor League Notebook: Miguel Yajure Rehab, Bubba Chandler Debuts

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Photo Credit: MLB.com There was plenty of going on Friday night inside the Pittsburgh Pirates system, which was good because the major league team was rained out. They will make up the game on Saturday as part of a doubleheader.  Miguel Yajure makes second rehab start As the Pirates continue to search for arms to finish out the season, one of their more promising major league ready prospects took another step closer to being an option for the rest of the year. Acquired in the Jameson Taillon trade, Yajure is the fifth ranked prospect in the Pirates system according to Fangraphs. In two starts in the majors this year with Pittsburgh, the 23-year old Yajure has posted a 3.86 ERA in 9 1/3 innings, striking out eight while walking three. He's been shutdown since May with a forearm injury, but began his rehab assignment this past week in Bradenton with the Marauders. After throwing 31 pitches last week over 1 2/3 innings, Yajure saw his pitch count upped to 45 this past outing. Miguel

Breakdown: Henry Davis Debut For Greensboro, Collect First Hit

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Photo Credit: AP Photo - Gene J Puskar After just a couple of games in the Florida Coast League , first overall pick Henry Davis got the call to Greensboro on Thursday, sliding into the fifth spot of the lineup as the designated hitter. He started things off with a bang, drilling a ball off the wall in his first at bat, later getting thrown out at home while trying to leg out an inside the park home run.  On the night, Davis went 1 for 3 with a triple (thrown out at home) a strikeout and a walk. He eventually scored on a Will Matthiessen two run double in the eighth inning. When Blake Sabol struck out in the ninth inning, it left Davis at the on deck circle and denied him a fifth plate appearance. Henry Davis’ first at bat with the Grasshoppers ⁦ #LetsGoBucs pic.twitter.com/E1gUi7WCAv — Anthony Murphy (@__Murphy88) August 13, 2021 In his first plate appearance, as you can see Winston-Salem kept their pitches as far away as they could from Davis, after the first pitch was kind of a

Game Story: Will Matthiessen Powers Grasshoppers to Victory in Henry Davis' Debut

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Photo Credit: Greensboro News and Record  The Greensboro Grasshoppers got a boost in their lineup before the game, as 2021 first overall pick Henry Davis was promoted from the Florida Complex League and slotted into the fifth spot in the lineup as the designated hitter. It was Will Matthiessen coming in big for the Grasshoppers, with a bases loaded walk in the sixth inning that gave his team the lead for good. He added a two-run double in the eighth inning to make sure there were no doubts. For Davis, he didn't wait long to make some noise, putting a jolt into the ball in his first at bat. The ball ended up bouncing against the wall, and when the outfielder wasn't able to make a clean play, Davis attempted for an inside the park home run. A great throw got him at the plate, but he showed the pop in his bat from the get go. C Prospect, Henry Davis #Pirates First at bat with Greensboro was almost an inside the park home run 👀😳 pic.twitter.com/bNvbzrNhXM — Kody Duncan (@Tal

Pittsburgh Pirates: Evaluating Early Sample Sizes on Kyle Keller, Nick Mears

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Photo Credit: MLB.com There isn't any denying that the Pittsburgh Pirates have a lot of areas of opportunities across their roster. It would also be hard to deny that through all the struggling pieces, the bullpen has been one of the biggest areas of concern, especially of late. It shouldn't really come as a surprise, especially since they traded their closer ( Richard Rodriguez ), and another regular in Clay Holmes . While the returns early on have produced positive results, it has left a hole in the bullpen Derek Shelton is still trying to figure out. Two of the players that are going through the 'evaluation' stage is Kyle Keller and Nick Mears . While the Pirates traded for Keller at the beginning of the season, Mears - who was underrated - came up through the system. He's actually ranked as the Pirates 42nd ranked prospect according to Fangraphs. Even though Mears appears to have more of a long term upside, the fact that Keller is still in Pittsburgh right no