8-2-22/8-12-22/8-16-22 By Craig W. Toth (aka @BucsBasement on Twitter)
420….No, not the day or time that first popped into your head. This was the attendance for the Sunday Matinee attended by myself and the family a couple of days ago at LECOM Park-I still call it McKechnie Field; sometimes by accident. And, if I am being honest 420 might seem a little generous, as it felt like the 10 of us made up half the crowd.
Every kid got at least one ball, one got a pair of batting gloves from Bubba Chandler and several of them got autographs-from Jase Bowen to Sergio Campana, to Integrated Baseball Performance Coach Casey Harms. Hell, even Marty The Marauder got in on the fun.
As we walked around the each staff member told us their stories; of how they landed in Brandenton, why they chose to say, and of course their love of baseball. One particular gentleman paid enough attention to know our entire group was at our seats, in order to preserve the memory.
Then after the game we all waited around to get a picture with Marauders Broadcaster Spenser Smith, to properly cap off the experience.
How did I know this was a great time, not just for me, but all the kiddos we crammed into the party bus for the ride from Madeira Beach to Bradenton?
Well, the next morning each and every one of them was still talking about; in awe of what that had experienced.
Just like I was in awe of the players on both sides; that poured everything they had onto the baseball field that afternoon. With a crowd no larger than some high school games I have witnessed. Their professional careers on the line. Playing a game that we all love.
Week of 7-26 to 7-31
1) Jase Bowen-2B/OF/DH (Bradenton)
Moved into MLB Pipeline’s Top 30 Pirates Prospects with the graduation of outfielder Cal Mitchell, Bowen has been on a tear. Over the past month, 24 games and 107 plate appearances, the Pirates former 11th Round Pick-and Michigan State Wide Receiver Commit-is slashing .309/.393/.553 with 5 homers, 11 total extra base hits and a 169 wRC+.
2) Endy Rodriguez-C/OF/2B (Greensboro)
Not many Pirates Minor Leaguers have been able to duplicate what Rodriguez is doing with the bat.
Currently riding a 27 game on-base streak-during which he batting .383, with a 1.234 OPS, 8 homers and a 21K to 13BB-ratio-Rodriguez is looking to shoot up the prospect rankings; as well as through the rest of the Pirates System.
3) Dariel Lopez-3B/SS
Lopez-like Bowen-also entered the Pirates Top 30 with Oneil Cruz’s graduation. And, like Endy he has streak of his own; a 14 game hitting streak, that would be 28 if it wasn’t for an 0 for 5 game back on July 12th.
Since June 25th-the day the streak would have started, he has been slashing .356/.379/.636 with 9 homers and a 166 wRC+.
4) Jauri Custodio-OF (FCL/Bradenton)
Originally signed by the Colorado Rockies for $150,000, Custodio eventually had his contract voided when a severe bone bruise was discovered on his entrance physical.
Later the Pirates would sign him in 2019 and immediately send him to the DSL. During his 17 and 19 year-old seasons-with 2020 being lost to the pandemic, the young Dominican outfielder would slash .314/.370/.456 with 5 homers and 21 total extra base hits.
Then to start this season he landed in the FCL; where in 15 games and 50 plate appearances he batted .357 with an 1.198 OPS and 2 long balls. Ultimately promoted to the Low-A Marauders just this past week, Custodio went 3 for 7 in two games played.
5) Po-Yu Chen-RHP (Bradenton)
Part of me may be a little biased since I saw him pitch in person, but man can Chen really pull the string on his curveball.
Across 7 scoreless, one hit innings this past Sunday, he struck out 5 and only walked one; improving his ERA to 4.33 and his WHIP to 1.16. On the year he has struck out 86 batters and walked 29 in an even 79 innings of work.
Bonus: Tucupita Marcano-2B/SS/OF (Indianapolis/Pittsburgh)
Yes, I understand that everyone knows by now that Marcano was promoted to the Pirates on August 3rd; however, I’m not sure everyone is aware that he had been slashing .362/.433/.500 with a 14.9% K to 11.9% BB and a 152 wRC+ during his most recent stint in Indianapolis.
Week of 8-2 to 8-7
For the majority of this week I was still on vacation with the family in sunny Florida, so I didn’t get to watch any of the Pirates Minor League games in real time; forcing myself to play catch-up over the past several days.
Although we did get to take in a game between the Tampa Tarpons and the Clearwater Thresher on Tuesday night, so not all was lost.
Now all I have to do is get back up to speed for the games this week.
Narrarator: He did not catchup on this week’s games on time while trying to complete analysis for the previous weeks 12 players (two bonuses).
1) J.C. Flowers-RHP (Altoona)
Over this past week, the former Florida State Outfielder turned starter-and now reliever-made two appearances, totaling 5.1 innings. In these two short-long relief outings-he allowed one earned run on 3 hits, while striking out 6 and walking a lone Seawolf.
On the year he has posted a 2.89 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP with 53 strikeouts and 23 walks in 62.1 innings out of the bullpen; or, twice as an opener.
2) Cody Bolton-RHP (Indianapolis)
Ever since Bolton reached 5 innings and 91 pitches back on June 2nd, he has regularly been used as an opener and long reliever/piggyback starter.
As most of you will remember Bolton had not pitched in a professional game in the past two years, so it is no surprise that the Pirates Development Team took their foot of the gas concerning this still young-only 24 year-old-righty.
During this past week he pitched only 3.2 innings in two appearances; not allowing a run in either. He also did not walk a single batter, while striking out 3.
On the season he had a 2.75 ERA, a 1.26 WHIP, a .193 AVG Against and 54 strike outs to an somewhat uncomfortably high 30 walks.
3) Tyler Samaniego-LHP (Altoona)
Talk about a breath of fresh air during the 2022 Minor League Baseball Season.
Over his last 4 appearances, across 6.2 innings, the former Jaguar of South Alabama has not allowed a run, given up only two hits, walked 2 and struck out 4.
For the year he has a combined 1.82 ERA and .78 WHIP across High-A Greensboro and Double-A Altoona.
4) Andres Silvera–RHP (DSL)
Signed by the Pirates at 16 years young out of David, Panama, in January of 2021; Silvera made his professional debut 5 days before his 17th Birthday that same year.
Still barely 18 years old, he has a .79 ERA and a .73 WHIP, with 41 strikeouts and only 6 walks in 34.1 innings of work.
5) Dariel Lopez/Endy Rodriguez
Over the past couple months of the season, I’m not sure I could I come up with a hotter duo in the Pirates Farm System-or even all of MiLB-than Lopez and Rodriguez.
Since June 1st, Lopez is slashing .332/.359/.559 with 13 homers and 23 total extra base hits. Although-as always-the walk to strikeout rate remains a concern as is at 4.6% to 26% on the season.
As far as Rodriguez is concerned, he has slashed .331/.433/.610 with 10 bombs and 27 extra base hits during that same time frame. Ultimately earning a call-up to Double-A Altoona on August 9th.
Bonus: Roansy Contreras-RHP (Indianapolis)
This will not devolve into a discussion concerning service manipulation, Super 2, development or innings management. It is just glimpse at his stats plain and simple.
Over his last 3 starts-2 IP, 3 IP and 4 IP-Contreras has a 3.00 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP, 16 strikeouts and only one walk.
There you have it! My Top 5 Pirates Prospect Performers for the last two-17th and 18th-weeks of 2022.
Now remember, let me know I missed, who your Top 5 is and be sure check back each and every Tuesday (or Wednesday Night/Thursday Morning) hopefully-during the Minor League Baseball Season!
Being behind on games isn’t alway a bad thing. I mean who doesn’t like binge watching baseball for a few days on end; making predictions concerning performances, and seeing how they play out hours later, instead of days or weeks.
Also, if you were wondering, I make my lists for each week, as soon as the “Sunday” games are over; and before I start the next week. Which is why you may see a guy who ended up having a poor week, following the one(s) I was judging him on.
It keeps things realistic, and it keeps me honest.
And speaking of being honest…
I didn’t get the chance to dictate all my notes and numbers into analysis, so you guys and girls get a giant three week recap of the Pirates Minor League System.
Week of 8-9 to 8-14
With the Major League Club scuffling out of the All-Star Break-6 wins and 16 losses-Pirates Fans have turned their eyes-more often-to the Minors; and of course roster and rotation projections for 2023.
1) Endy Rodriguez-C/2B/OF (Altoona)
He hasn’t skipped a beat on his trip from the Grasshoppers to the Curve; so much so that he has almost become a cut, copy and paste on the Top 5 Pirates Prospect Performers.
In 5 games and 22 plate appearances he has a .316 Average and two home runs.
And he is cutting runners down.
2) Luis Ortiz-RHP (Altoona)
For at least a few weeks in a row now I have been hearing rumblings of Luis Ortiz; culminating with his addition into the Fangraphs Top 15; as pointed out by @JV_PITT in his weekly Top 20 Prospect Update.
On the year he has a 4.79 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP and 108 strikeouts in 103.1 innings, including 13 in 10 innings this past week; good for a .90 ERA and a .80 WHIP.
One concern that does exist with Ortiz is his propensity to give up the long ball. On the year he has surrendered 18 homers in 21 starts; or an average of 1.57 per 9.
3) Aaron Shakelford-1B/2B (Altoona)
Yes he is 25; which is a full 1.1 years older than the average Double-A player. But, now he has 22 homers in back-to-back seasons in the Minors.
On the season he has batted a consistent .244, while striking out a slightly high 28.9% of the time; and, walking a somewhat low 8.7% of the time. Still, it’s not like his .280 ISO can be completely ignored.
4) Quinn Priester-RHP (Altoona)
Since his return from the IL, and more specifically since his return to Altoona, Priester has worked his way to a 2.49 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP with 46 strikeouts in 43.1.
Obviously there are a limited number of starts, and a limited number of innings before the end of the year; so I am unsure how much more can be expected of Priester this season.
Can you say Arizona Fall League?
5) Jack Brannigan-3B/RHP (Bradenton)
Ever since I first wrote and spoke about Brannigan-following his selection in the third round-my mind has been torn about his role as a two way player; especially after I read the scouting report concerning his desire to get a shot as a position player.
So far in his short professional career-and not surprisingly-he has only taken the field as a 3rd Basemen and DH for the Low-A Bradenton Marauders; after an extremely small sample size in the FCL.
In only 24 plate appearances-another SSS-the Notre Dame product has slashed .333/.417/.714 with 2 homers and 2 doubles.
Clearly, I haven’t given up on him taking the mound eventually-more than like next season. And, neither have the Pirates if I had to make a wager.
Bonus: Cal Mitchell/Diego Castillo/Jack Suwinski/Travis Swaggerty
Obviously there have been others that have been demoted back to the Minors, however, these are the guys that I hear being talked about the most; outside of Contreras. So, I thought I would take a look in on how each of them have been performing since their demotions.
Cal Mitchell is slashing .354/.400/.508 with a homer and a 144 wRC+ since returning to the Circle City.
Diego Castillo is batting .314 with an .846 OPS and 2 home runs during his first taste of the Minor Leagues this season.
Jack Suwinski has 5 homers, a 43.2% K-rate, a .221.AVG and a 91 wRC+ in 95 plate appearances.
Travis Swaggerty is batting .241 with 3 homers and 15 total extra base hits since his uneventful time in a Pirates uniform, back in the beginning of June.
Ok, now truthfully I am done and caught up; adding in the 19th week of Minor League Baseball for good measure.
Check back on Tuesday the 23rd, as the Pirates Farm System quickly approaches the last month of the season.