Results tagged ‘ bryan morris ’
Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington chatted with Jim Duquette and Jody McDonald of MLB Network radio’s Baseball Today on Sunday. He discussed: Clint Hurdle’s energy, the impact by the new Veterans, the closers role, young prospects who could make their debuts, and a possible long term extension with Andrew McCutchen.
On Clint Hurdle’s energy: “It’s great to know that we got Clint leading this group and the excitement, the enthusiasm, knowledge, the passion, and the intensity he brings, it’s going to be different for our players. We felt like we needed a new voice, new direction and not only with Clint but with our staff. We got a great staff in place. Our guys are excited. They are looking forward to this year. Looking forward to surprising some people.”
On the reason Huntington sough out Veterans Matt Daiz and Lyle Overbay: “Obviously, coming off a tough season, we wanted to get better. We knew we needed to upgrade our rotation, try to upgrade our bullpen, wanted some offensive ability. We wanted to improve our defense. When you win 57 games you pretty much need to improve everywhere. We had a lot of great young players who we’re excited about. This group of 25 and under both at the major league level and through our system is going to be the foundation of our future success. We are hoping we can have some current success. Guys like [Kevin] Correia, [Scott] Olsen, can add some veteran presence to our rotation. We got some guys that are competing to make our bullpen whether, it’s [Joe] Beimel or [Jose] Veras, that can help out [Joel] Hanrahan and [Evan] Meek, who were so good for us last year. Overbay, we upgrade defensively at first base with Garrett Jones in a platoon situation in right field…We put Garret in a position to be successful. Then we added Matt Diaz and all of a sudden we have a very productive right field…You talk to the people that were around that Atlanta [Braves] club, whether it’s front office people, people in the dugout, people around that club, Matt was one of their leaders last year. Lyle is a constant professional. And we needed to help Neil Walker and Jose Tabata and Andrew McCutchen, take some of the pressure off them. Let them go play and provide some of that veteran leadership to help them mature both on the field and off.”
On what Huntington is looking for this spring, compared to last: “I think our guys believe that we’re ready to start taking a huge step forward. In the past we hoped. And we kind of looked around and wondered who the guy was, that was going to put the team on his back and carry it. Now, we got a handful of guys that are capable of doing that…Talking with our guys, reading their quotes in the papers, they believe we can take a huge step forward this year. Clint’s only going to foster that. Our staff is only going to help that. There’s no question; we need to take a big step forward this year.”
On if there is an open competition between Hanrahan and Meek for the closers role at spring training: “We are going to go with one guy. We have not announced it publicly first. We honestly spent more time trying to see if there was a veteran closer, as we have with Octavio Dotel last year. That would come in here and close out some games, and allow Clint to use meek and Hanrahan anywhere through the sixth through the eighth. That worked out really well for us…We weren’t able to do that. Our energy and our focus has been on preparing for spring training. It’s been on trying to recruit some guys to try to come in here and step forward. We will meet as a staff, Clint, and Ray Searage and I will sit down and we will identify who is going to be our closer. No it won’t be an open competition at spring training. It’s too tough…It’s not like we got a bad choice. Whichever guy we go with, we believe can close games at the major league level and believe will do a nice job for us…We will commit to somebody and over an extended period of time and they will get the opportunity to show us that they can hold the job. The other guy is going to be getting big outs for us in the seventh or the eighth inning.”
On what young prospects could make their debuts this year: “Any of that rotation that was in Double-A last year that led that club to the Eastern League Championship. Whether it’s Rudy Owens, Justin Wilson, or Bryan Morris, Jeff Locke, there may be some of the guys out of the bullpen that get here quicker. Danny Moskos has great stuff from the left side, we just got to build that confidence that allows him to feel like his stuff can compete. There may be a couple guys that kind of surprise some people. Position player wise, there are some guys moving up from that group. Gorkys Hernandez, Andrew Lambo that are probably a little ways away. There is a good wave of talent coming through…If those guys don’t show up instantaneously, it’s not Sidney Crosby or Lebron James, that show up at the highest level on the day that they sign. It takes years. For Pedro Alvarez to get here in essentially in two calendar years is quick decent. We are looking forward to that next group of guys from the ’08 draft and ’08 signing class getting here.”
On Chris Snyder’s key to getting back to past years: “We traded for Chris to help our pitching staff. To stabilize the game calling, to stabilize our young starters, to help them get through tough innings, to help them get through tough outings. Whether it was the pitching coach change or Chris Synder traded for in late July, it did that. Our starting pitchers really threw the ball much better in August and September…He’s excited to get a full offseason of workouts. He’s coming, from what we’ve been told, in very good shape….In last offseason, his offseason was impacted by the back surgery and this is his first real healthy offseason in a while. He’s fired up to come in and help us.”
On potentially doing a long term deal with Andrew McCutchen: “They key to any of those situations is; One: the club wants it to happen, and we do. Two: the player wanting it to happen and that doesn’t always happen. Contracts take a willingness to share a risk of these type of situations. In some cases the club isn’t willing to take on that risk and other cases the player isn’t willing to compromise his potential future earnings value. He’s not interested in the security, he’d rather go out and see how much he can make year in and year out. Or, he doesn’t feel it’s the right time…It is something we absolutely intend to do. But the only way these deals get done is if two sides are interested in it.”
On what starter needs to step up this year: “…We need a multitude of guys to step forward. We need Paul Maholm to do what Paul Maholm did, whether it’s in ’08 or at least in ’09 and not what he did in ’10…Kevin Correia, we are looking forward for him to bounce back two what he was in ’09 given a very tough 2010 season both on and off the field. Charlie Morton has got tremendous stuff, yeah we need Charlie to take a step up. We need Ross Ohlendorf to stay healthy the whole year. We need to give him some run support. James McDonald. Can he do what he did for us the last two months of the season? Can he do that over the course of the season? Scott Olsen. Can we get that stuff to play on a consistent basis and get him back healthy. Can we get Brad Lincoln back to where he was? The nice part is, here comes that Owens, Wilson, Locke, Morris group that if we have some struggles, we’ve got some depth. Jeff Karstens did a nice job through five innings, as pretty much as anybody in baseball, just seemed to hit a wall in that sixth and seventh inning. The reality is, there isn’t just one person that needs to step forward for us to go where we believe we can go. We are going to need a couple guys to step up.”
Triple-A Indianapolis Indians sent out a press release on Wednesday stating those players “likely to be on it’s roster this season”.
Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune reported:
Among the players who are “projected to begin their 2011 campaigns” at Indy are eight top prospects: Bryan Morris, Rudy Owens, Andrew Lambo, Alex Presley, Daniel Moskos, Pedro Ciriaco, Matt Hague and Josh Harrison. All of them are ranked among the top 30 prospects in the Pirates’ farm system, according to Baseball America.
Presley, Moskos, Bryan Morris, Ciriaco, are on the 40-man roster and Owens, Lambo are non-roster spring training invitees.
As I pointed out on Wednesday, ESPN’s Keith Law ranked the Pirates system No. 21 out of the 30 major league clubs.
On Thursday, Law delivered his Top 100 list, and two Buccos made the list.
Pitcher Jameson Taillon was named No. 30, and catcher Tony Sanchez was named No. 63.
Law mentions Taillon’s tendency to overthrow and the need for a changeup as the critiques in his write-up.
“[Sanchez has] above-average raw power and would have a chance to hit for average at the same time, making him a fringe All-Star at that position. He’s an extremely hard worker who ended up at Boston College without a scholarship but improved his body to the point where he not only made the team, but became its best player. I wouldn’t bet against him at this point.”-Keith Law on ESPN Insider Top 100 Prospects
Law’s Top 10 in the Pirates minor league system:
1) Jameson Taillon, RHP (30)
2) Tony Sanchez, C (63)
3) Luis Heredia, RHP
4) Stetson Allie, RHP
5) Rudy Owens, LHP
6) Jeff Locke, LHP
7) Justin Wilson, LHP
8) Bryan Morris, RHP
9) Starling Marte, OF
10) Zach Von Rosenberg, RHP
Law on the Pirates minor league system: “This system consists of a few high-end prospects, including three teenage power arms, followed by a dropoff. The big investment in prep arms in 2009 hasn’t yielded any major prospects yet, although it’s early.”
Law’s thoughts on Luis Heredia, who just missed the list: “will sit in the low 90s (mph) already with a good feel for the fastball. He’s very well-developed physically for a 16-year-old, with a big frame and the potential to get heavy, which is more of a long-term concern.”
- The Tampa Bay Rays have eight players in the top 100. The Toronto Blue Jays and Kansas City Royals each have six. The Houston Astros have only one player and The Milwaukee Brewers have zero, zilch (YIKES!). Every other team has at least two in the top 100.
General Manager Neal Huntington is in his final year of his current contract and the performance from the team this season could determine whether he will have a job in October.
In the three years Huntington has been GM, the Pirates have gone: 67-95 in 2008, 62-99 in 2009 and 57-105 in 2010. We have seen fan favorites traded away, but even more talent acquired.
Huntington discussed his future with the Trib’s beat reporter Rob Biertempfel.
How would you assess the job you’ve done to this point? Will your contract be extended beyond 2011?
The simple answer is, we’ve won fewer games in each of my three years here. That’s not acceptable. We have to get better. We have to win more games. But I wasn’t brought here only to manage the 25-man roster. I was brought here to overhaul the baseball operations department. I am proud of what we’ve done in scouting on the pro and amateur side and on the international side, with the talent we’ve flooded the system with, with the way we develop players. I am tremendously proud of all of that. The depth and talent system, both on the field and in the scouting arena and coaching arena … we’ve taken huge steps forward. Because we have so many at the major league level, our prospect depth may not be (ranked) in the top 10, but we don’t focus on that. We focus on how do we win games at the major league level — and not just for one year. How are we going to do it, year in and year out? The complicated answer to your question is, I am very proud of everything we’ve done except for the won-loss record at the major league level. I get that (wins and losses) are all that people care about. It’s only been three years. We think we’ve made a significant impact on creating the foundation and building the first level of the house that will allow us to be a consistent championship-caliber organization. As far as my job, I’m going to do it to the very best of my ability until they tell me not to do it anymore. My contract is irrelevant. The day I start making moves to save my job is the day I should be man enough to resign. That’s not what I’m about; that’s not what I’m here for. I’m here to put a championship team back on the field in Pittsburgh, and that doesn’t happen with quick fixes.
What are your expectations for manager Clint Hurdle this season?
The expectation for Clint are for him to be the manager, the voice in the clubhouse, the one who comes in and makes an impact. We’re going to be better this year; it’s just a matter of how much better. It’s an exciting time. We expect there to be a lot of energy in spring training. It’s going to be a fun camp but also a camp where there are a ton of decisions to make, which isn’t ideal. Our guys are going to have to be ready to go from day one. Clint’s personality, energy and communication skills will make players comfortable, but at the same time, with a little bit of edge. We’ve got to go. We’ve got to get better and win some games this year.
Some of the younger players, Andrew McCutchen in particular, are reaching the point where contract extensions might be in order. What are the risks in that process?
It takes two parties to reach a deal. Both sides have to compromise. The club takes on a tremendous amount of risk because, as we’ve experienced here already, it doesn’t always work out to the club’s benefit. The player takes the risk that he might be underpaid for three or four years. But if he is underpaid, he’s about to make $60 million, $80 million, $130 million, so the player really has almost no risk in a multiyear contract. He just doesn’t want to be underpaid for years four and five of his arbitration eligibility, but then he’s going to be rewarded as a free agent. The club takes on most of the risk, but there is cost-certainty and hopefully some savings. Maybe we (buy out) a year or two of free-agent (eligibility) for a player who we believe is going to have a quality career. It is part of the plan. It is part of what we hope to do going forward. But it’s always going to require a compromise on both sides
Can the Pirates compete with the other starting rotations in the NL Central?
There’s no question it’s a pitching-strong division. The nice part is most of those guys aren’t here for three, four or five years unless their clubs extend them and commit significant resources. In terms of this year, there’s no doubt we need guys to step up. We’ve got to figure out how to score some runs for Ross Ohlendorf, who last year was the best 1-11 pitcher I’ve seen in a long time. Is James McDonald for real? We need a bounce-back year from Paul Maholm. Looking at Kevin Correia, the numbers behind the numbers gave us comfort that he’s going to come back this year closer to the pitcher he was in ’09. To go through what he did last year, losing his brother, I can only imagine how tough that must’ve been for him. His strikeout-to-walk ratio, his ground ball rate … we feel there’s a good chance he bounces back. For the No. 5 hole, can Scott Olsen, Charlie Morton or Brad Lincoln step up? Looking down the road, there’s Rudy Owens, Justin Wilson, Bryan Morris, Jeff Locke — and that doesn’t include all the arms we drafted (in 2009 and 2010). We believe we need to be strong in pitching. But we’re not prepared to give up our absolute best prospects for guys who might only be here a couple of years. We’re in the process of building something for the longer term. We’ve got to develop our own starting pitching because it’s just so expensive on the free agent market.
Baseball America ranked the Pirates Top 10 Prospects of 2011:
1. Jameson Taillon, rhp
2. Tony Sanchez, c
3. Stetson Allie, rhp
4. Starling Marte, of
5. Luis Heredia, rhp
6. Bryan Morris, rhp
7. Rudy Owens, lhp
8. Jeff Locke, lhp
9. Zack Von Rosenberg, rhp
10. Chase d’Arnaud, ss/2b
I asked Tony Sanchez how it feels to be the #2 ranked prospect in the Pirates system. He said, “pretty damn good. still lots of work to be done tho.”
Minor league baseball.com ranked the top 20 Pirates prospects for 2011. Although most of the players received C’s, John Sickle’s says, “I like the trends here and I think they are on the right track.”
1) Jameson Taillon, Right hand pitcher, B+
2) Stetson Allie, Right hand pitcher, B
3) Tony Sanchez, Catcher, B
4) Rudy Ownes, Left hand pitcher, B
5) Luis Heredia, Right hand pitcher, B-
6) Jeff Locke, Left hand pitcher, B-
7) Diego Moreno, Right hand pitcher, B-
8) Zach Von Rosenberg, right hand pitcher, B-
9) Justin Wilson, Left hand pitcher, B-
10) Starling Marte, Outfielder, C+
11) Bryan Morris, Right hand pitcher, C+
12) Colton Cain, Left hand pitcher, C+
13) Brock Holt, Infielder, C+
14) Nick Kingham, Right hand pitcher, C+
15) Tony Watson, Left hand pitcher, C+
16) Evan Chambers, Outfielder, C
17) Zach Dodson, Left hand pitcher, C
18) Gorkys Hernandez, Outfielder, C
19) Mel Rojas, Jr., Outfielder, C
20) Chase d’Arnaud, Shortstop, C
Some other honorable mentions: Tim Alderson, RHP; Eric Avila, 3B; Nate Baker, LHP; Jorge Bishop, 2B; Victor Black, RHP; Exicardo Cayonez, OF; Jarek Cunningham, 2B; Matt Curry, 1B;Brian Friday, INF; Robbie Grossman, OF; Josh Harrison, INF; Phil Irwin, RHP; Andrew Lambo, OF; Qunicy Latimore, OF; Kyle McPherson, RHP; Jordy Mercer, INF; Quinton Miller, RHP; Daniel Moskos, LHP; Alex Presley, OF; Trent Stevenson, RHP.To find out why the received the grades they did, read here.
Pirates President Frank Coonelly had his monthly online chat with fans on Wednesday. Here are some highlights:
You can read the entire chat transcript here.
Coonelly opened his chat by saying, “I want to congratulate former Bucco Bert Blyleven, an integral part of our 1979 World Series club, on just being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.”
If the Pirates have the capacity to make a meaningful increase the payroll, why not offer long-term contract extensions to [Andrew] McCutchen and [Pedro] Alvarez like the Rays have done with [Evan] Longoria?
Coonelly: Reaching long-term contracts with core players such as Andrew McCutchen and, we believe, Pedro Alvarez is an important component to building a sustainable winner. It, of course, takes two parties to reach an agreement but this is a contracting approach that we have implemented.
A year ago at this time we were looking forward to [Pedro] Alvarez and [Jose] Tabata call ups (not anticipating the surprise of [Neil] Walker). Who could we see come up this year? Maybe Gorkys [Hernandez], [Bryan] Morris, [Jeff] Locke, [Jim] Negrych?
Coonelly: You are right that we were anxiously awaiting the arrival of Alvarez and Tabata last year while hoping that Neil Walker could also be a part of our future this time last year. It was exciting to watch these three young players become three of the best rookies in the National League in 2010. For us to be successful over the long term, it is critical that we continue to bring such talent to the Major League level from our minor league organizations. From our other players who we believe to have a shot to make a meaningful impact in Pittsburgh this year are Rudy Owens, Bryan Morris, Justin Wilson, Jeff Locke and Alex Presley. The development of other players may, and probably will, surprise us in 2011.
How do you feel about Charlie Morton going forward?
Coonelly: We continue to feel that Charlie has all of the tools necessary to be an effective starting pitcher in the Major Leagues. Charlie obviously struggled mightily last year but seemed to find a level of confidence during the last month of the season. He continued to make progress during a brief winter league stint and will be given an opportunity to win the 5th starter spot in the rotation.
How is Steve Pearce recovering from knee surgery?
Coonelly: Steve Pearce has been working hard in his rehabilitation and should report to spring Training ready to compete for a job on the Major League club. Steve’s injury last year was unfortunate because he had worked extraordinarily hard to get in the best shape of his career, and that extra work was evident in his play.
Coonelly also went on to say that the Pirates are not done this offseason. “Neal [Huntington] is continuing to work to improve the club and, in particular, is looking to add a bullpen piece or two. Neal continues to talk to representatives for free agents and attempt to identify trades that will improve the club.”
The Pirates are holding a mini-camp starting on Monday in Bradenton, Florida. The camp this year will be focused on conditioning and will run four days.
Those expected to attend (according to Jenifer Langosch) are:
Pitchers – Michael Crotta, Joel Hanrahan, Kevin Hart, Jeff Karstens, Brad Lincoln, Jeff Locke, Daniel McCutchen, James McDonald, Kyle McPherson, Evan Meek, Bryan Morris, Charlie Morton, Daniel Moskos, Ross Ohlendorf, Chris Resop, Aaron Thompson, Tony Watson
Catchers – Jason Jaramillo
Infielders – Pedro Ciriaco, Lyle Overbay, Steve Pearce, Josh Rodriguez, Neil Walker
Outfielders – Matt Diaz, Gorkys Hernandez, Garrett Jones, Andrew McCutchen, Alex Presley, Jose Tabata
Non Roster invites – Dusty Brown, Brian Burres, Josh Fields, Fernando Nieve, Justin Thomas, Cesar Valdez, Corey Wimberly
Pedro Alvarez and Chris Leroux are currently listed as maybes to attend.
With a start of a new year, it’s a clean slate for the Bucs, who endured 105 losses. The new season is right around the corner: Only 41 days until Pitchers and catchers report and 88 until opening day.
Here is a list of 11 things to look forward to in 2011:
11) Interleague series against the Boston Red Sox at PNC Park – Some of the die hard Pirates fans may not like the idea of facing the potent lineup of the Red Sox, but baseball fans in general will enjoy seeing the All-star lineups. Stars like Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Jon Lester and Josh Beckett (the list goes on and on) will be in Pittsburgh –a glimpse of a possible 2011 playoff contender.
10) The new offseason acquisitions and how they impact the ball club – The Pirates made several signings this offseason in hopes to improve the team in 2011. Lyle Overbay will be the new everyday first baseman and Matt Diaz will platoon in right field with Garrett Jones.
Other signings include: Third baseman Andy Marte, short stop Josh Rodriguez, center fielder Corey Wimberly, left handers Scott Olsen, Kevin Correia and Aaron Thompson.
9) A better pitching rotation – The Pirates starters went 34-84 with a 5.28 ERA last season. The Bucs are hoping Ross Ohlendorf, and Paul Maholm will perform much better in 2011. New Pirate Kevin Correia also helps to improve the staff and James McDonald, who had great success since being acquired by the Dodgers, will round out the top four. Scott Olsen, Charlie Morton and Brad Lincoln will be fighting for the fifth spot.
8) Number one draft pick- The Pirates lost 105 games last season, sealing the first pick in the 2011 draft. Third baseman Anthony Rendon is considered to the be the top talent. He finished 2010 at Rice University batting .394 with 26 home runs and 85 runs batted in.
7) Young prospects making their way through the system – Players like Tony Sanchez, Josh Harrison, Jordy Mercer and Andrew Lambo (to name a few) are getting closer to making their major league debuts while adding more young talent to the Pirates ball club.
6) Glimpes of solid arms in late 2011 – Rudy Owens, Justin Wilson and Daniel Moskos (reliever) could make their debuts as early as July. Bryan Morris and Jeff Locke are also two more starters that will make a impact on the Pirates rotation but it’s more likely to be in 2012.
5) Debuts of young aces- Jameson Tallion and Stetson Allie will be making their Pirates debut at Low-A West Virginia in 2011.
Tallion was selected second overall by the Bucs in the 2010 draft. The 6’7, 230 pound right hander’s fastball already reaches 94-99 on the gun and has “explosive movement” according to scouts. Tallion also has a plus curve (81-85) and breaking ball (84-88).
Allie has an even stronger arm. The 6’4, 225 pound right-hander throws both a two-seamer and four-seamer fastball that clocks regularly at 98. He also has an above average slider (87-91) and a change, with very good sink at 85-87.
4) Clint Hurdle managing the Bucs – Hurdle is exactly what the young Pirates need in a new skipper. He is very charismatic and passionate about baseball, smart, motivational and has past success in managing a young team. Hurdle is aware of the changes ahead and has said, “I’m all in.”
3) Ending the 18 year consecutive losing streak? -While it may be a long shot –the Pirates would need to have a 24 game improvement to finish .500– it still is possible. Example: The 2007 Tampa Bay Rays went 66-96, in 2008 they finished 97-65 –a 31 game improvement as well as a American League Championship title. The1991 Braves went 94-68 after finishing 65-97 in 1990. Tough, but not impossible.
2) The young Bucs continue to improve – Andrew McCutchen, Jose Tabata and Neil Walker (all under 25) will continue to get better and better with more major league experience. Tabata and Walker finished their rookie seasons better than expected. Tabata had 121 hits in 102 games, Walker with 126 in 110 games. Both hit most of the season over .300 and finished .299 and .296 respectively. McCutchen in his first full major league season continued to be a hitting and running machine. He finished .286 while adding 94 runs, 16 home runs, 56 RBIs and 33 stolen bases.
1) Pedro Alvarez to become a superstar- Pedro finished his rookie campaign with a .256 average, 16 home runs and 64 RBI’s. If Alvarez’s month of September is a glimpse of what’s to come (.306 avg, 10 doubles, six home runs and 27 RBI in 29 games) Pirates fans should be excited for years to come. He has an ability to change the game with one swing –the three-run walk-off bomb against the Rockies made highlights and one of MLB Network’s top moments of the season. There’s no doubt he is a superstar in the making.
- The Pirates have not decided on a starting rotation for Triple-A system for 2011. Those players who do not make the major league roster could be factored into the Indians rotation. The candidates include: Rudy Owens, Justin Wilson, Bryan Morris and Jared Hughes (who could begin trickling into the Pirates rotation after July).
- Infielder Josh Harrison finished the finished well in the Arizona Fall League where he hit .330 in 22 games and finished with a .516 slugging percentage. He could be a candidate to start the season in Triple-A.
“He’s a guy that’s going to continue to challenge people to think that he’s better than what they think,” farm director Kyle Stark said. “He went out there and played very well.”
- Andrew Lambo also finished well in the AFL, batting .274 with 23 RBIs in 28 games (The 22-year-old outfielder was acquired by the Dodgers in the Octavio Dotel trade). Lambo is also a starting candidate for Triple-A.