Four Pirates minor leaguers made ESPN analyst Keith Law’s top 100 prospect list, which was released today.
Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows, Kevin Newman and Josh Bell were all ranked. You can find the list and write-ups (which is ESPN Insider content, behind a paywall) here. Keith does a great job with these, drawing from his own scouting reports, and conversations with scouts and executives.
Law also ranked all 30 farm systems earlier this week. He had the Pirates eighth.
Root Sports announced today that the network will broadcast 12 spring training games. The schedule:
Friday, 3/4 vs. Twins, 1:05 p.m.
Sunday, 3/6 vs. Astros, 1:05 p.m.
Monday, 3/7 vs. Phillies, 1:05 p.m.
Wednesday, 3/9 vs. Red Sox, 1:05 p.m.
Friday, 3/11 vs. Rays, 1:05 p.m.
Sunday, 3/13 vs. Tigers, 1:05 p.m.
Thursday, 3/17 vs. Yankees, 1:05 p.m.
Wednesday, 3/23 vs. Orioles, 1:05 p.m.
Saturday, 3/26 vs. Rays, 6:05 p.m.
sunday, 3/27 vs. Orioles, 6:05 p.m.
Monday, 3/28 vs. Twins, 1:05 p.m.
Wednesday, 3/30 vs. Red Sox, 1:05 p.m.
Most everyone, it seems, was caught off-guard Wednesday by news of former Pirates beat writer Tom Singer’s recent death. Singer, 67, died suddenly Monday in his home in Scottsdale, Ariz. Here is his obituary, but there were so many heartfelt reactions poured out that it seemed worthwhile to add them all together here for readers who remember Tom’s good work the past four years here in Pittsburgh.
Tom grew up in Pittsburgh, so the Pirates were his childhood team. He also spent many years in Los Angeles covering the Angels, so his Twitter bio is a lovely final act: ”From Pirates to doing it all for MLB.com. The season after I left the Angels beat, they won the World Series. Plan the parade, Pittsburgh.” He had “retired” to Scottsdale to become a national writer for MLB.com.
First, here are thoughts from his former colleagues:
Jen Langosch, MLB.com St. Louis Cardinals writer who covered the Pirates before Tom: ”When Tom stepped in to replace me as MLB.com’s Pirates beat writer in 2012, I had no reservations about his ability to provide the comprehensive coverage that the Pittsburgh fan base deserved. He was there to document the team’s first winning season in two decades and to bring readers behind the scenes when the Pirates became postseason participants once again. Tom covered the organization’s renaissance with a fervor unmatched by others in this business. Having spent his formative years growing up in Pittsburgh, he offered a unique perspective in his role as the Pirates’ beat writer. He cherished the Pirates teams of his youth, but also appreciated the city’s new generation of stars. Tom was an eccentric man with a vast knowledge of pop culture, and that made him unique in this business. In an industry where so much news is being offered in 140 characters or less, Tom had a gift for storytelling and for seeing the game through a different lens. He loved baseball dearly and cherished his time in Pittsburgh. I am confident in saying that the only thing missing from Tom’s professional portfolio was covering the day the Pirates bring a World Championship back to Pittsburgh. Nothing would have made him happier.”
Adam Berry, MLB.com’s current Pirates writer: ”It's obviously an incredibly sad day personally and for the entire MLB.com family. Tom was one of the first journalists hired at MLB.com, and it wasn't hard to see how much he loved working here. (And not just because it was literally on his license plate.) ... He was a one-of-a-kind person. He had a unique sense of style and humor. He looked at the game differently than a lot of other reporters, and he was a master of obscure baseball trivia and history. He was a gifted writer and storyteller -- and the man had a ton of stories to tell about his life and time covering baseball. It was a pleasure to spend the last year working closely with Tom, learning about the beat and the city. ... Tom loved his family, colleagues, co-workers and friends. He loved the Pirates. He loved Pittsburgh. And man, did he love baseball like no other. He never lost his passion for the game. ... Before he left Pittsburgh, we gave Tom a framed picture of the view from the PNC Park press box to take home -- a gift on behalf of Pittsburgh's baseball writers. The first game we covered together last season, he caught me staring out at the downtown skyline and said, "It's a view you never get tired of." That stuck with me, because it was just so Tom. He never got tired of that view, of this city, of watching the Pirates, of his job, of his co-workers and colleagues, of this company and especially not of baseball. He's going to be missed by a lot of people.”
Frank Coonelly, Pirates team president: ”We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former Pirates reporter Tom Singer. Tom was an ultimate professional and a passionate reporter who was very proud of his Pittsburgh roots. Tom covered his childhood team extraordinarily well over the last four seasons. Tom will be deeply missed by all of us and our thoughts are with his family during this difficult time.”
And many more thoughts from players and media members ...
Saddened to hear of the passing of MLB's Tom Singer. Great representation of what covering Baseball should be. Prayers go out to his family.— Neil Walker (@NeilWalker18) February 10, 2016
I feel lucky to have known Tom Singer. He was a uniquely wonderful man with a gift for story telling. So sad to hear of his passing.— Jared Hughes (@locatejared) February 11, 2016
Mike Scioscia on Tom Singer, who spent a lot of time covering baseball in Southern California ... pic.twitter.com/eERauhKLDX— Alden Gonzalez (@Alden_Gonzalez) February 10, 2016
tom singer is trending in US. loved working beside him on angels beat in '80s https://t.co/gLmwNiD5OO— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 10, 2016
Joe Strauss, Juan Rodriguez, Tom Singer. Just a heartbreaking off-season. RIP. https://t.co/V5zBcf6Wu7— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 10, 2016
Saddened to hear the news that my former colleague Tom Singer passed away. A true gentleman. Thinking of my https://t.co/uEMJm1ZPs1 family.— Mark Feinsand (@FeinsandNYDN) February 10, 2016
Rest in peace, Tom Singer. A good baseball guy, a good colleague, a good man.— Rob Biertempfel (@BiertempfelTrib) February 10, 2016
Tom Singer had stories for years. Total throwback. Made you smile on a daily basis with all his anecdotes. Rest easy, friend.— Dan Zangrilli (@DanZangrilli) February 10, 2016
Tom had some great stories, and he thought about the game differently than most reporters. Really enjoyed sharing the beat with him.— Bill Brink (@BrinkPG) February 10, 2016
Prayers to the family of Tom Singer, the fabulous baseball writer for https://t.co/wPlWI8xrsw, who died this week.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) February 10, 2016
We've lost Tom Singer, a great friend & teammate at https://t.co/jRpRTs8esg. A sharp-dressed man & an idea man who truly loved the game. RIP— Anthony Castrovince (@castrovince) February 10, 2016
Tom Singer and I were driving around NYC after covering game last summer. He started talking baseball, as only he could. I kept driving. RIP— Dejan Kovacevic (@Dejan_Kovacevic) February 11, 2016
We know how much baseball meant to Tom Singer. Today's messages remind us how much he meant to many in baseball https://t.co/pgHPKOpzSx— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) February 10, 2016
On Tuesday, the Pirates announced the addition of a March 21 home game against the Atlanta Braves. They already had a road game scheduled against the Minnesota Twins in Fort Myers, Fla., so it’ll be a split-squad day. Both games are at 1:05 p.m.
Spring training season-ticket holders can purchase tickets to the extra game at a discounted rate and have until March 2 to make that purchase. If you haven’t bought spring-training season tickets yet but still intend to, the extra game will be included in your ticket package. The updated prices are $402 for box/reserve, $355 for baseline box and $217 for grandstand/LF bleachers.
Single-game tickets are available at pirates.com/springtraining.
Also announced Tuesday was the Pirates spring-training promo schedule. Here’s info from the release:
Feb. 26 — 7th Annual Pirates Pep Rally: Featuring live music by Yesterdayze, autograph signings, kids games, photo booth, giveaways and more. 6:30-9 p.m. Downtown Bradenton (Old Main St.)
Feb. 28 — 9th Annual Pirates Charities Spring Training Golf Classic: Golf with a Pirates celebrity and support the efforts of Pirates Charities in the Bradenton region. 1 p.m. Stoneybrook Golf Club
Feb. 29 — Black vs. Gold Game: All tickets $8. All ticket proceeds benefit the Manatee Education Foundation, Wakeland Elementary School and G.D. Rogers Garden Elementary School. 12 p.m. McKechnie Field
March 2 — Pirates Rally Towel Giveaway Sponsored By Pepsi: First 1,500 fans.
March 3 — Military Appreciation Day.
March 4 — Pirate Fest: Fan festival inside McKechnie Field from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Early admittance for season ticket members. Event features player autographs, games, prizes, music and more. Game ticket required for entry. Also Manatee Community Foundation Day; Pirates donate $1 per ticket purchased to the foundation.
March 6 — United Way Day: Pirates donate $1 per ticket purchased to the United Way of Manatee County.
March 7 — Baseball America Magazine Giveaway: first 3,000 fans.
March 9 — Pirates vs. Red Sox Sponsored by Pier 22 Restaurant
March 11 — 5th Annual Senior and Caregiver Expo: eco-friendly bag giveaway provided by Manatee Memorial hospital; first 2,500 fans.
March 13 — Pirates Tumbler Giveaway Sponsored By Pepsi: first 1,500 fans.
March 17 — St. Patrick’s Day Celebration Sponsored By Brand Story Experts
March 19 — Pirates vs. Twins Sponsored By Omega Office Systems
March 23 — Boys & Girls Club Day
March 26 — Pirates Toothbrush Giveaway Sponsored By Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine: first 1,500 fans.
March 27 — Easter Night Game Sponsored By Herald-Tribune Media Group
March 28 — Baseball America Magazine Giveaway: first 3,000 fans.
I found it surprising that the Pirates weren’t more interested in retaining Bastardo (or if they were, they kept it quiet; I personally didn’t hear much of anything going on between them this winter and didn’t see many reports linking the two), especially on that reasonable contract. (Update: The Pirates, we found out tonight, reportedly offered Bastardo $8 million over two years). Bastardo struck out 10 batters per nine innings and had a 129 ERA+ in 66 games, during which he had a 2.98 ERA in 571/3 innings.
The Pirates don’t have many proven lefty relievers other than Tony Watson. Kyle Lobstein might be in the Class AAA Indianapolis rotation.They like non-roster invitee Robert Zarate but even GM Neal Huntington said recently that he was something of an unknown commodity. Huntington said the team could go with six righties if that was their best bullpen, rather than forcing in a sub-par lefty, but Clint Hurdle is a proponent of at least two lefties, if not three.
But their approach has always been to get lefties who can pitch to both sides -- they aren’t big on LOOGYs (lefty one-out guys, like Randy Choate). So if they can’t find someone who can do that, they’ll go with the six best guys in addition to Watson.
In addition to the 40-man roster, teams usually bring another 20 or so players to major league spring training as non-roster invitees. The Pirates currently have 18, and will probably add another few before pitchers and catchers report a month from now.
Here’s a look at who’s coming:
Wilfredo Boscan, RHP, 26
Boscan made 25 starts in the Pirates’ system in 2015 and had a 3.07 ERA for Class AAA Indianapolis. Three times the Pirates recalled him to help with a short bullpen or injury, but he never got in a game, and has yet to pitch in the majors. He struck out only 86 batters in 126 innings, but kept the ball in the park (only three homers). He will probably return to the Indy rotation this season.
Steven Brault, LHP, 23
Brault joined the Pirates in the Travis Snider trade. In 1552/3 innings across 28 starts for high-A Bradenton and Class AA Altoona in 2015, Brault had a 2.43 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP. He could also open the year in Indy’s rotation.
Jim Fuller, LHP, 28
Fuller has spent eight seasons in the minors, with the Mets, Twins and A’s. He had a 4.40 ERA in 2015 between AA and AAA with Oakland, pitching 43 innings in 32 relief appearances. The season before, at Class AA New Britain, his ERA was a full two runs lower and he struck out 10.9 batters per nine.
Guido Knudson, RHP, 26
The Pirates claimed him off waivers, then released him, then re-signed him to a minor league deal, keeping him in the organization without having him occupy a 40-man spot. He has five innings of major league experience, with the Tigers in 2015, and struck out more than a batter per inning between Class AA Erie and Class AAA Toledo last year.
Chad Kuhl, RHP, 23
Kuhl is a Pirates ninth-rounder out of the University of Delaware in 2013. In 26 starts at Altoona, he had a 2.48 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP. Kuhl has pitched at least 150 innings in each of the past two minor league seasons.
Kelvin Marte, LHP, 28
Marte has been in the minors for nine seasons, all in the Giants farm system. In 26 games, 19 starts, with Class AA Erie in 2015, Marte had a 2.63 ERA. He doesn’t strike anyone out, but he doesn’t walk anyone either, and cut down on his homers allowed (five in 130 innings in 2015 after giving up 14 in 1231/3 innings in ’14).
Curtis Partch, RHP, 28
Partch has 301/3 innings of major league experience with the Reds in 2013-14. Last year at Class AAA Sacramento, the first of his nine minor league seasons away from the Cincinnati organization, he had a 3.53 ERA in 48 relief appearances, striking out 81 batters in 631/3 innings.
Trevor Williams, RHP, 23
A second-rounder out of Arizona State in 2013, Williams came to the Pirates in a trade with the Marlins, one that was compensation for the Marlins hiring Jim Benedict. Williams was hittable in 131 innings between Class AA and AAA in 2015, but had a 3.85 ERA. He had a 2.89 ERA and 8/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 91/3 innings in the Arizona Fall League.
Robert Zarate, LHP, 28
The Pirates are high on Zarate, whom they think could compete for a spot in the major league bullpen as a second lefty. He doesn’t have much experience stateside, but in 2015, he struck out 10.8 batters per nine in the Rays’ minor league system.
Ed Easley, C, 30
Easley had a cup of coffee with the Cardinals in 2015. The former Diamondbacks supplemental first-rounder hit .251/.345/.337 with four homers in 323 plate appearances at Class AAA Memphis, his third go-round at that level.
Reese McGuire, C, 20
McGuire, one of two Pirates first-rounders in 2013, reached Bradenton last season, where he hit .254/.301/.294 with no homers and 15 doubles. His defense is well ahead of his offense, but he is young and has time to develop. His pitch-calling and arm are his strengths. Baseball America ranked him as the Pirates’ No. 6 prospect after the 2015 season.
Jacob Stallings, C, 26
The Pirates took Stallings in the seventh round as a senior in 2012 and gave him signing bonus well under slot to save some pool money. He hit .275/.313/.370 at Altoona in 2015 and threw out 37 percent of runners attempting to steal.
Juan Diaz, SS/3B, 27
Diaz has played mostly shortstop in his career, but can play second and third. In 396 PAs with Class AAA New Orleans in the Marlins organization last year, Diaz hit .272/.315/.373 with five homers.
Cole Figueroa, 2B/3B, 28
Figueroa has 57 major league plate appearances, with the Rays in 2014 and the Yankees in ’15. He performed well at Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last season, hitting .292/.355/.359 in 507 plate appearances. He also walked 44 times compared to 27 strikeouts. He can play shortstop in addition to second and third.
Adam Frazier, SS, 24
Frazier, a Pirates sixth-round pick out of Mississippi State in 2013, hit .324/.384/.416 with 21 doubles for Altoona in 2015.
Dan Gamache, 2B, 25
Gamache reached Indianapolis in 2015, a season during which he hit .312/.355/.413.
Danny Ortiz, OF, 26
Ortiz is the only one in the bunch who has showed much power. He hit 17 homers at Class AAA Rochester in 2015, with a .248/.295/.430 line in 526 PAs. He has five other minor league seasons with 10 homers or more.
Antoan Richardson, PR/OF, 32
Richardson reached the majors in 2011 and again in ’14. He’s a speedster. He stole 26 bases in the minors in 2014, his previous full season, and had 39 in ’13.