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Showing posts from September, 2021

Pittsburgh Pirates: As 2021 Winds Down, Mitch Keller Continues The Search For Consistency

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Photo Credit: Getty Images  There was a time that Mitch Keller was one of the most exciting young prospects in the game reaching as high as 12 th  on Baseball America’s Top 100 prospects list, back in 2018 before the season started.  That has seemed forever ago, as Keller has struggled to establish himself as a major league regular, let alone a player that his prospect status would lead you to believe he'd become. As the 25-year-old righty from Cedar Falls, Iowa wraps up what was his first full year in the majors, Keller has put together quite the perplexing season and has left just as many questions about him when 2021 began. If there was one way to describe the start to Keller’s season, it would be by calling it consistently inconsistent. The righty alternated between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ starts all the way through June before back-to-back rough outings landed him in triple-A Indianapolis. In 12 starts before being sent to the minors, Keller posted a 7.04 ERA across 47 1/3 innings, a

Pittsburgh Pirates Minor League All Star 2nd Team

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Photo Credit: Jesse Kirkendall   After going over the Minor League position player and pitcher of the year for the Pittsburgh Pirates , Matt Fraizer and Quinn Priester , we now go over our system All-Stars, starting with the second team. The format went around the diamond for the position players, and then three starting pitchers and two relief. Catcher - Blake Sabol .310/.406/.551 13 HR, 45 RBI, 30 XBH, 6 SB Sabol got late start to the season, but he made up for it mashing his way quickly through Bradenton before settling in with the Greensboro Grasshoppers . While he was drafted as an outfielder, injuries forced Sabol to be regular behind the plate, a position he played at USC. The Pirates heavily invested in addressing the depth at the position, and Sabol was one of the most consistent power hitters to play there. First Baseman - Will Matthiessen .247/.335/.449 15 HR, 76 RBI, 33 XBH, SB The tall righty began the year in Bradenton before making his way to Greensboro after injuries f

Offseason Awards: Quinn Priester is Pittsburgh Pirates Minor League Pitcher of the Year

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 Continuing our post season recognition awards, we look at the Pitcher of the Year in the Pittsburgh Pirates system for 2021.   While it's been a rough season at the major league level when it comes to the starting pitchers, there is hope that is on the horizon. Several players emerged as legitimate starting pitching candidates this season, and now the Pirates are starting to show signs of actual depth in the system. That also made this decision hard, but in the end thanks to his progress throughout the year and the longevity he showed, the man expected to lead the next wave of pitching prospects, Quinn Priester earns the honor of being named our Minor League Pitcher of the Year in the Pirates system. Quinn Priester: Pirates Minor League Pitcher of the Year The minor leagues are all about learning and making adjustments and maybe no player better exemplified that more than the former first rounder out of Illinois. It wasn't and ideal start for Priester, who had plenty of hype

Offseason Awards: Matt Fraizer is Pirates Minor League Position Player of the Year

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Photo Credit: Pittsburgh Pirates It was an exciting year to follow the minor league teams for the Pittsburgh Pirates . In the process of their current rebuild, General Manager Ben Cherington has done a fantastic job of infusing a hurting farm system with talent all around. Not only has that made watching throughout the minors exciting again, the talent has really started to show through and there was several players who had great seasons worth recognition. There was one player that, despite the countless to make their own case, rose above the rest and gets this year's honor as Pirates 2021 Position Player of the Year. Matt Fraizer: Pirates 2021 Minor League Position Player of the Year Losing out on an entire season was a huge blow to a lot of prospects when it comes to their development. Due to that, we saw some players maybe hang on at levels that they may have moved on sooner in the season. #Pirates outfield prospect Matt Fraizer swing comparison, 2019 vs 2021. pic.twitter.com/

Pittsburgh Pirates Well Represented in Baseball America's 'Best Tools' Survey

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 Baseball America released their  'best tools' article yesterday , where they surveyed the managers at each minor league level to determined the best players at any given set of tools. Not surprising the Pittsburgh Pirates were fairly well represented, although there were some surprises at some of the players listed, and then who wasn't. Here's a breakdown of each Pirate that was mentioned. Matt Fraizer - High-A East 'Best Batting Prospect' Really not a surprise here, as Fraizer was one of the true breakout players in the minors this year, and not just in the Pirates' system. While in High-A playing for the Greensboro Grasshoppers , the 23-year old Fraizer slashed .314/.401/.578 with 20 home runs, 37 extra base hits and drove in 50 runs - all in 350 plate appearances. While he didn't keep the home run pace once he got to Altoona (three in 149 plate appearances) he still hit for extra bases at a higher rate in Double-A than he did with Greensboro. Oliver

Marque Matchup: Extended Triple-A Season Gives us Bobby Witt Jr. vs Oneil Cruz

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 While Triple-A won't be doing a playoffs, we are still getting some extra baseball this season at the highest level of the minor leagues. Instead of a best of five playoff series that the other levels are doing, Triple-A will instead play an additional 10 games over the next two weeks. To go along with Altoona's season ending and now Indianapolis getting an additional 10 games, the Pirates moved eight players from the Curve's roster up to finish out the season with the Indians. Among the eight players called up is shortstop Oneil Cruz , not only one of the best prospects in the Pirates system but in all of baseball. He won't be the only top shortstop prospect in attendance this week, as the Omaha Storm Chasers is home to one of the top players in all of the minor leagues, Bobby Witt Jr . No. 32 for Bobby Witt Jr. 🚀 pic.twitter.com/dNGlZVbOhm — MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) September 17, 2021 Drafted second overall by the Kansas City Royals , Witt has quickly emerged

Pittsburgh Pirates: What To Watch For With Altoona Call Ups

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With the Altoona Curve 's season over, the Pittsburgh Pirates have promoted eight players from the roster to the Indianapolis Indians . Instead of doing a playoff at the Triple-A level, they decided to extend the season out an extra ten games. With an 58-59 record this year, the Curve wouldn't qualify for the playoffs in Double-A and they have several noticeable players that they wanted to get an extra look at before heading into the offseason. Offensively, Canaan Smith-Njigba , Cal Mitchell , Oneil Cruz , Mason Martin , and Rodolfo Castro will be heading to Indianapolis to finish up the season. While on the pitching side of Roansy Contreras , Yerry De Los Santos and Osvaldo Bido round out the group. Castro is no surprise, as it was more of a shocker that he was continually sent down to Altoona after spending time in the majors. Cruz is one of the top prospects in the system, and Martin possesses some of the best power. You would have to figure this group specifically have

Pittsburgh Pirates: How Dylan Busby Brings Me Full Circle As Season Winds Down

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How does the saying go, 'it's a small world'? Or it's crazy how things come full circle, right? Ran into some customers at work the other day that I had helped years prior as they were upgrading to new phones. As the process continued I heard them mention a few familiar names, and come to find out they are family of family, or something like that. 'Small world, right?' Is what one of them said. Rewind back to 2015 I joined a website by the name of College Baseball Central, it was one of my first times actually 'covering' the game for an actual website. I wrote about the ACC for the site and that year a very hyped about freshman showed up on the Florida State campus by the name of Dylan Busby . Busby would start in 57 of the team's 65 games at third base that year, hitting .242 with nine home runs, 15 doubles and 45 RBIs, earning Freshman All-American honors in the process. His sophomore year he slugged .597% while leading the team in triples, home ru

Roansy Contreras: One Last #RoansyDay to Begin Final Week of Regular Season

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  It was a movement that brought life to the Pittsburgh Pirates system. Something that sparked excitement on your run of the mill Tuesdays, and for the last time this season we got to experience #RoansyDay. In what was his third start since returning from a forearm injury that forced him to miss two months of action, Roansy Contreras also made what is expected to be his final appearance of the season against the Bowie Baysox . The 21-year old right handed pitcher from the Dominican Republic pitched 3 1/3 innings in the first game of the Altoona Curve 's double header against the Baysox. Things didn't get off to the best of starts, as Contreras allowed the first three batters of the game to reach base safely, one hit being a two-run home run. He bounced back and only allowed one more hit the rest of his outing, striking out four before lifted from the game after a Gunnar Henderson double in the fourth inning. In all, Contreras was able to build his pitch count back up to 58 p

Dariel Lopez: Translating Intriguing Toolset into Successful Debut Season

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  This year has been a challenging one for some of the minor league players. After no having a season in 2020 due to the pandemic, many got off to a rough start and have had a hard time turning things around. Another overlooked factor for this season was the elimination of some of the short season levels, usually home to recent draft picks and college players still adjusting to life in the minors.  What happened as a result was three levels worth of players at different stages in their development were forced together, mostly at Low-A. While that has led to some entertaining baseball, it has also resulted in some players getting overlooked. It also led to some players facing a level of pitching (or hitting) that they haven't seen before. When it comes to the Pittsburgh Pirates , it hasn't just been the cut down on minor league teams that has led to talent pouring over at each level, but also their recent injection of youth and talent in their organization under Ben Cherington .

Josh Bell: Early Returns of Trade Not Favorable, But This Was Always About The Long Game

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Photo Credit: Pittsburgh Pirates  I was really torn on whether or not I should write this article. Seemed easy and lazy, as it was the obvious headline heading into the Pittsburgh Pirates weekend series against the Washington Nationals . But it's something I haven't' really touched on much here, and if there was a perfect time to do so figured it was when Josh Bell made his return to Pittsburgh. Over the last year Ben Cherington has torn down everything in hopes of rebuild the Pirates organization back into a playoff contender. It's pretty well noted on how that process goes, so we will just say that part of it was trading Bell. You can say what you will about the trade, it was something that was going to happen regardless. Was it rushed? Answering that now is more of a hindsight kind of thing, although I wasn't a fan of moving Bell when they did. He's hitting for power again, with 25 home runs and 80 RBIs, with a wRC+ of 111. I think the biggest thing was tra

Pittsburgh Pirates: After Brief Adjustment Period, Tucupita Marcano Starting to Flash Skill Set in September

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Photo Credit: K.C. Alfred/U-T  If there is one thing noticeable about Ben Cherington , it's that you can always tell when he likes a certain player. He brought in Michael Chavis from the Boston Red Sox , a player he drafted during his time there. After a trade that included Abrahan Gutierrez fell apart with the Philadelphia Phillies , Cherington circled back and snatched the catcher in a completely separate move. Then there's Tucupita Marcano , who Cherington tried to acquire in the Joe Musgrove trade during the offseason. He circled back, and when the San Diego Padres looked like they weren't going to include him in the trade for Adam Frazier , Cherington offered to pay the All-Stars salary for the rest of the year just to secure the young prospect. No pressure kid. While maybe the trade looks better now that Frazier hasn't hit the same way since going to San Diego, the Pirates' faithful won't soon forget about Frazier leading the league in hits when he lef

Aaron Shackelford: Two Game Stretch Small Sample of Giant Season

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Photo Credit: Michael Grennell/MiLB.com  It's another week, so that means we are in for another stretch of an offensive explosion by the Greensboro Grasshoppers . After putting up 21 runs in their Tuesday blowout victory, they took a step back and only managed to score 13 times in their win on Wednesday. In a game where the Grasshoppers were without their regular double play duo of Nick Gonzales and Liover Peguero , they were going to need someone to step up and produce. So it shouldn't have been a surprise that it was Aaron Shackelford coming through with the big hit(s) this week. He's done it all season. For your viewing pleasure I give you Aaron “Shack Daddy” Shakelford’s 2nd inning grand slam! pic.twitter.com/CkYJjH4F0n — Pirates Unrestricted (Rodolfo Stan) (@P_Unrestricted) September 9, 2021 The former 14th round pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2019, Shackelford isn't a player on the prospect radar, but that hasn't kept him from moving into a tie with Mat

Pittsburgh Pirates: Two Key Minor Leaguers Return To Respective Teams From Injury

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  A couple of the Pittsburgh Pirates lower level teams got a welcome addition back on to their roster, as two separate key players returned to their respective lineup. It was also #RoansyDay , so you know we are going to get to some highlights later on. When the roster was released for the Greensboro Grasshoppers , it was easy to get a little starstruck at some of the prospects that would be playing there on a nightly basis. From the team's middle infield tandem of Nick Gonzales and Liover Peguero , to a stacked starting rotation that included Quinn Priester and Tahnaj Thomas , Greensboro had no shortage of top prospects. One player that didn't get as much talk going into the season was Michael Burrows , though he quickly erased that. Not only did he pitch well, Burrows was arguably throwing better than anyone else on that rotation to begin the season. Then he left his July 13th start after just one inning with an injury and has missed time until Tuesday, where he returned t

Pittsburgh Pirates: Don't Forget About Prospect Sammy Siani

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Photo Credit: Flickr/BeGreen90  With the influx of talent, it's hard to keep track of all the players scattered across the minors for the Pittsburgh Pirates. It's even harder to do when that player isn't on the field at the moment, out currently with an injury. The Pirates have a long history of manipulating the draft slotting system, going under value on some picks to save up and take a big swing at another talented player who was going to be difficult to sign.  That was the case in 2019, when they were actually able to sign first round pick Quinn Priester for just under slot value and use some of that savings to go over on their next pick, a prep outfielder by the name of Sammy Siani. Entering the draft Siani was the 43rd ranked prospect on MLB Pipeline, the Pirates gave the outfielder a signing bonus of $2.15 million to forgo his commitment to Duke to start his professional career. Siani got things going right away, playing in 39 games in the Gulf Coast League and postin

First Look: Po-Yu Chen Shows Intriguing Pitch Mix, Leaves You Wanting More

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Photo Credit: fr.rti.org.tw  It's a very misleading narrative that the Pittsburgh Pirates refuse to spend money. Do they go out and pay for big time free agents? No, and they likely never will under the current structure of the MLB but that doesn't mean they aren't willing to give out money when they believe it can help them win. The Pirates aren't shy about pouring resources into the draft and international pools, and Po-Yu Chen is evidence of that. From Taiwan, Chen was given $1.25 million by the Pirates to sign with the organization. "Po-Yu Chen is an exciting young pitching prospect who has been a prominent part of the Taiwanese national program and in international competition," General Manager Ben Cherington said after signing Chen. "He has good size, moves well on the mound and has a quality pitch mix with the ability to keep getting better." With no minor league season last year due to the pandemic, 2021 offered Chen with the first opportu