I couldn’t get to this last night, but here are some photos from Sunday’s game at Morgantown between West Virginia and Batavia.
The games over the weekend were encouraging because the Black Bears hadn’t been hitting much so far. A lot of their roster is made up of college position players from the recent draft. The Pirates went heavily for college hitters after their first four picks, more specifically for hitters with power potential, something I thought they badly needed to do. (Well, needed to do successfully, to be sure.) The fact that most of the draftees hadn’t been hitting much yet doesn’t mean much, as they’ve only been playing for a couple weeks now. Kevin Newman, Kevin Kramer and Will Craig all struggled for a month or so at first. Still, it was good to see a lot of hard contact, which there was on Sunday.
In particular, Bligh Madris (9th round), who didn’t play Saturday, had two doubles and one hard-hit out in five times up. Lucas Tancas (26) also hit a couple balls hard and went 2-3, while looking solid at first base (he’s an outfielder, but the Black Bears are overloaded in the outfield). The most polished hitter, based on two games, looks to be Tristan Gray (13), who’s currently batting .351 with more walks than strikeouts. He went 1-2 with three walks.
The most interesting of the pitchers were Pasquale Mazzoccoli, a 2016 draftee who pitched the seventh and eighth, and Joel Cesar, who pitched the ninth. Mazzoccoli had a rough time last year at Bristol, but so far this year has allowed just two hits and a walk in nine innings, with 13 Ks. The scoreboard radar gun in Morgantown requires some “interpretation,” but I’d guess Mazzoccoli was throwing in the mid-90s, maybe a bit higher, and he has a sharp curve. He retired six straight with three Ks. He’s already 25, so if he’s a real prospect I expect the Pirates will start moving him up rapidly very soon. Cesar had almost no experience before this year, so this is an ambitious level for him. He’s thrown 100 mph in the past, despite not being a big guy, but seems to work more comfortably around 94-95. He has a slider with some potential. In this game he missed on his first three pitches, then recovered for an easy 1-2-3 inning.