As bad as the first half has been for the big league squad the minor league system is VERY encouraging. First, it has seen the return from injury of some who could help the Pirates. Brandon Crumpton and Casey Sadler are long shots, but they are back and that is good. Nick Kingham is looking like his old self and that is very good.
Indy was loaded with talent and their record shows it. In fact, it is not as good as it ought to be because of how much the Pirates have had to raid it. Max Moroff was on fire and is not sitting the bench in Pittsburgh. Osuna looked good, and is looking okay in Pittsburgh. Diaz has made several trips as have many bullpen pieces. Some non-prospects have been hitting the cover off the ball, Bostick and Ortiz. That always is nice. But it is the prospects that make us happy. Meadows had a slow start but a .300 May removed real concern. It is the injury that worries now. The pitching prospects are out of sight. Glasnow has been great since his demotion. Brault has been amazing. Clay Holmes has good showings, and probably ought to be considered as the ground ball bullpen guy. Drew Hutchinson is starting to look like someone who could be a major leaguer, and Edgar Santana has looked very good out of the pen.
Prospects at Altoona have also done well. Again Newman started slow, but has come on. But the power of Kramer has been a revelation, and Luplow earned a promotion with his strong hitting. Suiter is a lower type of prospect, but .313 is good. Connor Joe is the only one that might be considered disappointing at .251. Pitching is equally as exciting. Austin Coley’s win-loss leaves something to be desired but his 67 Ks does not, nor does allowing fewer hits than innings. J.T. Bruebaker is also striking out over 60 people, and Alex McCrae is not exactly failing with his 7 wins. Yeudy Garcia has been disappointing, but hopefully a move to the pen will help him find his hard throwing way to the majors. I am not sure how much we are supposed to be paying attention to Montana DuRapu, but he has a 1.16 WHIP with 14 saves. Not mind blowing, but not awful. And Tate Scioneaux has put together a good season out of the pen with a .98 WHIP.
Bradenton has propsects showing great potential again. Out of no where Logan Hill earned a promotion through his bat. But the big prospects of Cole Tucker and Ke’Bryan Hayes have delivered in some surprising ways. Hayes is hitting .267 in a non-friendly hitting league, but is showing good defense at the corner. He also has stolen 22 bases. That would be astounding if Cole Tucker had not stolen 34. Tucker is also hitting .292. The other name of real interest is Will Craig, last year’s first round pick, and he is hitting .291. Kevin Krause has been derailed off the prospect track with injuries, but his .275 AVG with 6 HRs might help his cause. It was the pitching that was always the exciting point of this team and while Gage Hinz has showed a lot of inconsistency, he has shown enough to keep one excited about him. Mitch Keller’s .91 WHIP in 11 starts is competing with Taylor Hearn’s 96 Ks and a 1.16 WHIP for most exciting thing. Daniel Zamora’s bullpen ability is also something to not neglect.
West Virginia was expected to be awful, and they are not great, but playing better than expected. This is partly because of Ty Moore, who earned a promotion. Carlos Munez, who started off in extended spring training, hit well. He has cooled off as of late, but a .257 AVG is something to be happy about. Valerio and Alemais cannot stay healthy enough to get a good read, but Valerio has looked impressive. This leaves really only Hunter Owen as a hitting prospect. And he has delivered with a .280 AVG and a team leading 9 HRs. The pitching here is what really exceeds expectations. The futures games just got a taste of Luis Escobar. But he is not alone in showing real promise. Cam Vieaux earned a promotion (and has yet to lose in 3 starts in Bradenton). He ought to be climbing onto some of the larger prospect lists as at least a possible lefty-bullpen arm in the future. Oddy Nunez and James Marvel are both pitching rather well showing strikeout ability as starters. And Eduardo Vera has a 62/8 K/BB rate, which was done in some starts and some bullpen appearances. Cenderlind has been a disaster, but one such disaster should not take away from the others.
That is a really nice look to our prospects in a fairly nice system. It is top heavy, but the emergence of Escobar, Nunez, and Vera along with the stable hitting of Cole Tucker, Hayes, and Hunter Owen makes the bottom not quite as awful as it was thought to be. If either Valerio, Alemais, or Munez can develop into something then the Pirates system is very deep and good. And we have yet to look at this year’s draft.