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Minors Matters: Pirates Minor League report - 6/15/2021

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It’s our weekly report card from the Minor Leagues!

Pittsburgh Pirates v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

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 15 prospects for the Pittsburgh Pirates (MLB Pipeline rankings are given) are doing after the first six weeks of play:

No. 1 - Ke’Bryan Hayes

Hayes endured a rough week in the big leagues, failing to touch base on a home run against the Dodgers Tuesday. A leading candidate for Rookie of the Year heading into the season, Hayes is hitting .302/.966 on the season and has hit safely in all 11 games he’s played in so far this season.

No. 2 - Nick Gonzales

Gonzales remains sidelined with a broken pinky finger and is expected to be out for another two weeks or so. The club’s top pick in the 2020 draft 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, is 2-3 with a 5.61 ERA in six starts so far for High-A Greensboro. In 25 2/3 innings, the 6-foot-3, 210-pound right-hander has given up 29 hits and walked 10 while striking out 22. In his most recent start, Priester gave up six hits and two unearned runs in 4 2/3 innings Wednesday against Hickory. He struck out five and did not walk a batter in throwing a season-high 89 pitches, 58 of which went for strikes.

No. 4 - Oneil Cruz

The talented Cruz is on a roll at Double-A Altoona, as he’s lifted his numbers to .303/.948. In 122 at-bats, Cruz has hit eight homers and driven in 26 – and even added seven stolen bases. So far in the month of June Cruz is hitting .386 with a 1.130 OPS, banging out 17 hits in 44 at-bats, including four homers and 10 RBIs. More good news: Cruz did not commit an error last week at shortstop; he has nine in 31 games on the season.

No. 5 - Liover Peguero

On the season, the 20-year-old shortstop is batting .263/.715 with two homers and 11 RBIs for High-A Greensboro. So far this month Peguero is batting .222/.558 with one extra-base hit and seven RBIs in 45 at-bats.

No. 6 - Hudson Head

The young outfielder, who came over from the San Diego Padres in the Joe Musgrove trade, finally pushed his batting average above the Mendoza line, as he’s hitting .204/.776 at Low-A Bradenton. The 20-year-old left-handed hitter stroked his fourth homer of the season Sunday and drew two more walks to help raise his on-base percentage to .394.

No. 7 - Tahnaj Thomas

The 6-4, 190-pound right-hander is 0-2 with a 4.58 ERA in six starts High-A Greensboro. In 19 2/3 innings, Thomas has given up 15 hits and 15 walks while striking out 26. In his most recent start, which came Friday against Hickory, Thomas was charged with four earned runs in 2 2/3 innings. He gave up six hits, walked four and struck out three.

No. 8 - Brennan Malone

The 20-year-old right-hander, who came over from Arizona along with Peguero in the Starling Marte trade, has been reassigned from Low-A Bradenton to one of the Pirates’ two teams in the Gulf Coast League. He appeared in three games for Bradenton, pitching a total of 3 2/3 innings. He allowed four hits and four runs – none of which were earned – while walking five and striking out two. Gulf Coast League play is scheduled to begin June 28.

No. 9 - Travis Swaggerty

The Pirates’ top pick in the 2018 draft, Swaggerty underwent surgery to repair a dislocated shoulder, which he sustained while diving back to first base in a game on May 18. The injury is expected to keep him out at least five months, which effectively ends his minor league season. 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, continues to be one of the brightest spots in the Bucs’ minor league organization. Pitching at High-A Greensboro, the 22-year-old right-hander is 1-1 with a 0.84 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP. In his most recent start Sunday, the 6-foot-2, 232-pound Mlodzinski worked five innings, giving up six hits and one earned runs while striking out six in a no-decision. He did not walk a batter.

No. 12 - Miguel Yajure

Yajure is currently sidelined after experiencing forearm tightness in a start with Triple-A Indianapolis on May 26. GM Ben Cherington said Yajure had been pitching through some discomfort but the club decided to shut him down. The 23-year-old right-hander, part of the Jameson Taillon trade, was 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.

No. 13 - Eddy Yean

The 19-year-old right-hander, who came over from Washington in the Josh Bell trade, had another rough outing last week for Low-A Bradenton. On the season, Yean is 1-1 with an 8.38 ERA. In 19 1/3 innings, Yean has allowed 21 hits and 18 earned runs. He has walked 12 batters and struck out 36. In his most recent start Thursday, Yean gave up five hits and three earned runs in 3 2/3 innings. He walked one and struck out seven.

No. 14 - Ji-hwan Bae

The 21-year-old middle infielder, who has played exclusively at second base at Double-A Altoona this season, is yet another victim of the injury jinx. Bae, who started slowly but began picking it up in June, was placed on the seven-day injured list after hurting his knee in a collision with outfielder Cal Mitchell on June 8. Bae was hitting .265/.679 in 25 games at Altoona after going 11 for 23 in his first six games in June.

No. 15 - Mason Martin

The power-hitting first baseman is hitting .230/.793 over 31 games for Altoona. He has five homers and 19 RBIs and has struck out 49 times in 113 at-bats.

OTHERS

Indianapolis: The Bucs’ top farm club is light in terms of prospects. Max Kranick, ranked No. 28 in the system, earned a promotion from Altoona and in his first three Triple-A starts he has allowed 12 hits and five earned runs over 14 1/3 innings to go with five walks and 16 strikeouts. In his most recent start Saturday, Kranick struck out nine and walked three while yielding just one hit in five scoreless innings. ... Bligh Madris, a 25-year-old outfielder/first baseman, started the year in Altoona and hit just .192 in 26 at-bats, but was promoted to the Triple-A Indians, where he is batting .270/.744 in 63 at-bats. ... Cole Tucker, the Bucs’ No. 1 pick in 2014, has picked it up a bit lately but is still hitting just .233/.766 in 73 at-bats. ... Anthony Alford, who was battling for the starting center field job in spring training only to be DFA’d in late April, has also found his stroke recently and is up to .272/.898 in 81 at-bats. Alford has five homers and 18 RBIs. No. 16 prospect Jared Oliva, who saw action last year at the big league level and who some believed could be a factor in the Pirates outfield this year, has finally returned to the active roster after being sidelined all season with an oblique injury.

Altoona: No. 18 prospect Cal Mitchell continues to hold his own, hitting .274/.800 in 106 at-bats. He has three home runs, 18 RBIs and four steals. ... No. 20 Roansy Contreras has looked a bit more mortal recently, but he still has a fine 2.18 ERA in six starts. Contreras has given up 21 hits and eight walks while striking out 47 in 33 innings. ... Starter Travis MacGregor is 1-1 with a 4.87 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP over six starts totaling 20 1/3 innings. He has struck out 29 and walked 10. He was roughed up in his most recent outing, giving up six hits and five earned runs in 1 2/3 innings, walking four. ... Infielder Rodolfo Castro is having a fine year offensively, hitting .295/.859 with six homers and 26 RBIs in 129 at-bats.

Greensboro: No. 22 Braxton Ashcraft is 1-0 with a 3.54 ERA in five starts spanning 20 1/3 innings. He has given up 15 hits and five walks while striking out 21. ... No. 24 Omar Cruz is 2-3 after six starts. The 6-foot, 200-pound left-hander, who came from San Diego in the Musgrove trade, has allowed 15 hits and 10 earned runs in 22 2/3 innings, walking 12 and striking out 33. ... No. 29 Michael Burrows continues to pitch well, as he has a 1.75 ERA and a 0.74 WHIP in six starts covering 25 2/3 innings. The 21-year-old right-hander has allowed just nine hits and 10 walks while striking out 38. ... Matthew Fraizer, a left-handed hitting outfielder, is off to a hot start for the Grasshoppers. The 23-year-old Fraizer, the Pirates third-round pick in the 2019 draft and No. 95 overall out of Arizona, is hitting .339/.965 with six homers and 17 RBIs. ... Fellow outfielder Lolo Sanchez, 22, is hitting .279/.944 with six homers and 17 RBIs. ... Fabricio Macias, another outfielder, is at .304/.792.

Bradenton: No. 17 prospect Jared Jones, the Pirates’ second-round pick in the 2020 draft, went three innings Saturday, giving up three hits and three earned runs while walking two and striking out five. He is 1-0 with a 3.38 ERA in 10 2/3 innings over four appearances. ... No. 21 Nick Garcia, last year’s No. 3 draft pick, is 3-1 with a 2.95 ERA over 21 1/3 innings spread out over seven appearances, all in relief. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound right-hander has struck out 26 and walked 13. In his most recent appearance Saturday, Garcia gave up two hits and one earned run while striking out six in four innings. ... No. 25 Jose Soriano, the top pick in this year’s Rule 5 draft, had his rehab from Tommy John surgery suspended after reporting discomfort in his