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Minors Matters: Pirates Minor League report - 6/1/2021

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Here’s what’s been happening in the Minor Leagues.

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

As you may already know, the top four levels of minor league baseball are playing six-game series this season, with Monday being the only scheduled off day. So let’s review how the top prospects for the Pittsburgh Pirates (MLB Pipeline rankings are given) are doing after the first month of play:

No. 1 - Ke’Bryan Hayes

Hayes is expected to return to the big league club Thursday after playing seven games on a rehab assignment at Triple-A Indianapolis, where he was working his way back from a wrist injury he sustained in the second game of the season. Hayes batted .250 with an .891 OPS in 24 at-bats at Indy, homering twice and driving in six runs.

No. 2 - Nick Gonzales

Gonzales remains sidelined with a broken pinky finger and is expected to be out for another three weeks or so. Gonzales was hitting .294 with two home runs and five RBIs at High-A Greensboro.

No. 3 - Quinn Priester

Priester, the club’s No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft and No. 18 overall, has rebounded nicely from two rough outings to start the season at High-A Greensboro. In his last two starts, the 6-foot-3, 210-pound right-hander has pitched 10 scoreless innings – five in each start — giving up seven hits and two walks while striking out seven. Overall he is 2-2 with a 3.18 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP. In 17 innings, he has allowed15 hits and seven walks while striking out 14.

No. 4 - Oneil Cruz

The big shortstop is hitting .256/.846 with four homers and a team-leading 16 RBIs in his first 78 at-bats for Double-A Altoona. He has struck out 23 times.

No. 5 - Liover Peguero

Peguero missed two weeks with a knee issue, but played in two games over the weekend for High-A Greensboro. He went 2 for 5 Sunday with a double and scored twice. On the season, the right-handed hitting shortstop is batting .323/.944 with two homers and four RBIs.

No. 6 - Hudson Head

Head, the young outfielder who came over from the San Diego Padres in the Joe Musgrove trade, continues to be challenged by Low-A pitching, as he is hitting just .203/.744 with three homers and six RBIs at Bradenton. He has struck out 26 times in 69 at-bats, but he has drawn 16 walks, which has enabled him to carry a .382 on-base percentage.

No. 7 - Tahnaj Thomas

The 6-4, 190-pound right-hander gave up just three hits and one run in his first two starts covering seven innings for High-A Greensboro, but his two most recent outings haven’t been as impressive. In two starts covering 6 2/3 innings, Thomas has allowed five earned runs and five hits while walking five and striking out five. Overall he is 0-1 with a 3.95 ERA in four starts covering 13 2/3 innings.

No. 8 - Brennan Malone

The 20-year-old right-hander, who came over from Arizona along with Peguero in the Starling Marte trade, has made three appearances for Bradenton, all in relief, pitching a total of 3 2/3 innings. He has allowed four hits and four runs, but none of those runs have been earned. He has also walked five and struck out two.

No. 9 - Travis Swaggerty

The Pirates’ top pick in the 2018 draft, Swaggerty is expected to undergo surgery to repair a fully dislocated shoulder, which he sustained while diving back to first base in a game on May 18. Although no final decision had been announced as of Monday, Bucs GM Ben Cherington said Swaggerty had experienced issues with the same shoulder in the past. He was hitting .220/.772 in 41 at-bats with Triple-A Indianapolis before his injury.

No. 10 - Cody Bolton

Bolton underwent knee surgery last month and is expected to be sidelined from four to six months.

No. 11 - Carmen Mlodzinski

Mlodzinski, chosen 31st overall in the 2020 June draft out of the University of South Carolina, had his best start as a pro Sunday at High-A Greensboro. The 6-foot-2, 232-pound right-hander went five hitless and scoreless innings in his third start of the season, striking out eight and walking just one. So far, he is 1-1 with an 0.79 ERA/WHIP. In 11 1/3 innings, he has surrendered just three hits and one earned run to go with six walks and 18 strikeouts.

No. 12 - Miguel Yajure

Yajure is 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA in two starts for the Pirates and 1-1 with a 3.71 ERA in three starts with Indianapolis. In 17 innings for the Indians, Yajure has allowed 12 hits and seven earned runs while walking five and striking out 17. In his most recent outing, which came on May 26, Yajure allowed five hits and five earned runs while walking three and striking out six in five innings.

No. 13 - Eddy Yean

The 19-year-old right-hander, who came over from Washington in the Josh Bell trade, has had two rough outings among his five appearances for Bradenton. In those two outings, which total 2 2/3 innings, Yean has been charged with 10 earned runs and has given up six hits and six walks. Overall, he is 1-1 with an 8.49 ERA; in 11 2/3 innings he has allowed 12 earned runs and 11 hits while striking out nine and walking 10. In his most recent outing, which came Thursday, Yean went four innings, giving up three hits and one earned run, walking two and striking out three.

No. 14 - Ji-hwan Bae

Middle infielder Bae has just 15 hits in 75 at-bats (.200) with an OPS of .514 for Altoona.

No. 15 - Mason Martin

The power-hitting first baseman is hitting .243/.860 over 21 games for Altoona, and he’s tied for the team lead in home runs with four. He’s driven in 14 runs and also has struck out 31 times in 74 at-bats.

No. 16 - Jared Oliva

Oliva, an outfielder, is currently sidelined with an oblique strain. He is expected to play at Indianapolis after he recovers. Not sure how long he’ll be out; Kevin Gorman of the Trib reported on May 6 that he was expected to return in four to six weeks.

No. 17 - Jared Jones

The Bucs’ No. 2 pick in the 2020 draft, Jones made his first professional appearance on May 25, pitching three scoreless innings in relief. He struck out six and walked one while giving up two hits.

No. 18 - Cal Mitchell

Mitchell, an outfielder, is hitting .288/.848 at Altoona with three home runs and 11 RBIs in 66 at-bats, and he’s currently on a nine-game hitting streak.

No. 19 - Sammy Siani

The left-handed hitting outfielder, the 37th overall pick in the 2019 draft, is hitting just .182 at Low-A Bradenton, as he has 12 hits in 66 at-bats. The 20-year-old Philadelphia area product has homered twice and driven in 14 runs. On the plus side, Siani has drawn 16 walks and his on-base percentage is .345.

No. 20 - Roansy Contreras

The 21-year-old right-hander, part of the Jameson Taillon trade, is 2-1 with a 2.08 ERA in four starts at Double-A Altoona. He has allowed just 11 hits in 21 2/3 innings and walked six while striking out 34.

No. 21 - Nick Garcia

Garcia, last year’s No. 3 draft pick, is 2-0 with a 3.14 ERA over 14 1/3 innings of work spread out over five appearances at Bradenton. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound right-hander has struck out 16 and walked nine. In his most recent appearance, which came Sunday, Garcia gave up four hits and a walk and no earned runs while striking out seven in four innings.

No. 22 - Braxton Ashcraft

Ashcraft is 1-0 with a 1.65 ERA in 16 1/3 innings over four starts for Greensboro. He has allowed nine hits and three earned runs while walking four and striking out 17 for a 0.80 WHIP. The 21-year-old right-hander was the Pirates’ No. 2 pick in the 2018 June draft.

No. 23 - Wil Crowe

Crowe has been a regular in the big league rotation since late April, but he has had his troubles. In his most recent start against the Cubs on May 26, the right-hander went just 1 1/3 innings, giving up five hits and three earned runs while walking two and striking out one. On the season, Crowe is 0-3 with a 5.67 ERA in seven appearances, six of which have been starts. He has yielded 30 hits and 15 walks in 27 innings while striking out 25. He is scheduled to start Tuesday against Kansas City.

No. 24 - Omar Cruz

Cruz is 0-3 after four starts at Greensboro. The 6-foot, 200-pound left-hander, who came from San Diego in the Musgrove trade, has allowed eight hits and five earned runs in 12 2/3 innings, walking three and striking out nine.

No. 25 - Jose Soriano

Soriano, the top pick in this year’s Rule 5 draft, began his minor-league rehab assignment as he works his way back from Tommy John surgery. His first outing, on May 20, went well as he gave up just one hit in three scoreless innings and struck out five while not walking a batter. But his last time out, on May 26, Soriano went just two-thirds of an inning and gave up five hits and six earned runs while walking three and striking out one.

No. 26 - Canaan Smith-Njigba

The outfielder, part of the Taillon trade, has seen his average drop to.217 with two homers and 11 RBIs in 60 at-bats at Double-A Altoona.

No. 27 - Endy Rodriguez

The young switch-hitting catcher has cooled off a bit over the past two weeks but is hitting .259/.831 with four homers and 13 RBIs in 81 at-bats at Bradenton.

No. 28 - Max Kranick

Kranick is 1-0 with a 4.02 ERA at Altoona. In three starts over 15 2/3 innings, the 23-year-old right-hander has allowed 14 hits and seven earned runs, striking out 16 and walking just two.

No. 29 - Michael Burrows

After giving up just one hit in eight scoreless innings over two starts to open the season at High-A Greensboro, the 21-year-old right-hander has yielded five hits and two earned runs in eight innings over his last two starts, striking out 10 and walking four.

No. 30 - Alexander Mojica

The right-handed hitting infielder is at .203/.714 in 59 at-bats for Bradenton. He has three homers and 11 RBIs.

Others

Shortstop Maikol Escotto, the last piece in the Taillon trade, is hitting .317/.904 with 15 RBIs in 63 at-bats at Bradenton. He’s also drawn a team-high 17 walks and his on-base percentage is .476. Teammate Jase Bowen, an 11th-round pick in 2019, is hitting .267/.857 with five homers and 17 RBIs as an infielder. Fellow infielder Dariel Lopez, a 19-year-old Dominican product, leads the team with 19 RBIs and is hitting .242/.764. ... At Altoona, reliever Yerry De Los Santos is 3-2 with a 2.13 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP in eight appearances totaling 12 2/3 innings. He has walked four and struck out 14. Fellow reliever Cam Alldred is 2-0 with a 1.32 ERA in six appearances. He has struck out 17 and walked three in 13 2/3 innings for a WHIP of 0.66. Starter Travis McGregor is 0-1 with a 2.63 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP over four starts totaling 13 2/3 innings. He has struck out 23 and walked just four. ... At High-A Greensboro, Aaron Shackleford continues to be productive, as he has seven homers and 15 RBIs for a .905 OPS in 76 at-bats. Teammate Lolo Sanchez is at .269/.904 with three homers and seven RBIs in 67 at-bats. Outfielder Fabricio Macias had a night to remember Sunday, as he smoked two grand slams in four at-bats for the Grasshoppers.