Feature Photo: Josh Bell, 1B, Pirates
Short and sweet. Short and sweet. I always say my intro will be short and sweet and it never is, but this time I promise. And I promise because NEXT week’s intro will NOT be short and sweet (am I starting to sound little bit like I’m channeling my inner Tina Turner on “Proud Mary” here?). NEXT week’s intro, since we’ll be dealing with a short week, will take a look back at the first half of the season in debutante ball-land. Numbers crunching. Stats-delving. Fun-having.
This week, though, we know you all want to think about the All-Star voting and who got hosed and who’s going to win the Home Run Derby (and while we’re at it, PLEASE be sure to check your local cable provider to find out where you can watch the Triple-A All-Star Game because that is always super fun as well!!!!) SO … without further ado … here’s a look at the dozen players who joined the list that now totals (deep breath) 140 guys who have made their MLB debuts so far in 2016! Who did the bell toll for this week? Well, for starters, it tolled for Bell and Toles (sorry, gotta keep getting these literary allusions into my debuts to stay sharp!)
ACQUIRED: Signed as a minor league free agent on November 23, 2015. Originally drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 13th round of the 2009 MLB First-Year Player Draft (J.W. Mitchell H.S. in New Port Richey, FL).
CURRENT SEASON STATS: 1-0 with a 1.30 ERA with five saves in 28 games at Nashville (Triple-A), striking out 37 and walking 12 while allowing 26 hits in 34.2 IP.
PROMOTED: Contract purchased from Nashville July 4 when RHP Andrew Triggs was recalled, RHP Fernando Rodriguez was placed on the 15-day DL and LHP Daniel Couloumbe was sent down. OF Andrew Lambo was moved from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL to clear a spot on the 40-man roster.
DEBUT: July 5, in an 11-4 loss to the Minnesota Twins. The third of four pitchers, he allowed three runs on two hits in one inning of work, walking one and striking out one. Of 22 pitches, 14 were for strikes. Coming on with two outs and no one on in the seventh inning in relief of Andrew Triggs, he quickly struck out the first batter he faced, Max Kepler, on three pitches. In the eighth, he retired the first bater, Danny Santana, on a ground out to second base before Kurt Suzuki singled to left field. After advancing to second base on a passed ball while Byron Buxton was batting, Buxton’s ensuing groundout to second moved Suzuki to third, from where he scored on an RBI single to right field by Eduardo Nunez. After Robbie Grossman followed by drawing a walk, reliever Liam Hendricks was brought in for Schuster. He gave up a three-run homer to the first batter he faced, Miguel Sano, which scored Nunez and Grossman to account for the rest of the runs on Schuster’s record.
PLAYER NOTES: Schuster’s name came into major prominence well before he signed his first pro contract. Back in high school he threw four no-hitters in a row (no, that is not a typo), a pretty neat accomplishment at any level. Ironically (or maybe it’s coincidentally? I always confuse those two!), in his 286 games since then, he’s made just 31 starts and has never thrown a complete game as a pro. His 52 outings between two Double-A stops last summer (Mobile/Diamondbacks and Pensacola/Reds), however, gave him a share of the Southern League lead in that category, as he combined between the two teams to go 2-2 with a 3.33 ERA, striking out 45 batters in 54 innings, walking 26 while giving up 50 hits. After spending his first five seasons with the Diamondbacks, Schuster found himself on a strange paperwork journey starting in December of 2013. Chosen with the first overall pick in the Rule 5 Draft on December 12 by the Houston Astros, who then dealt him in a pre-arranged trade to the San Diego Padres to complete and earlier deal for right-hander Anthony Bass, he was once again waived, this time by the Padres, during spring training of 2014. Still operating under Rule 5 rules, he was claimed by the Kansas City Royals but then returned to the Diamondbacks two days later. He remained in the Arizona system for another season and a half before being traded to the Cincinnati Reds on June 24, 2015. Finally, he declared minor league free agency on November 5, shortly after which he inked with Oakland. Got that? There will be a test on this later.
ACQUIRED: Drafted in the 12th round of the 2009 MLB First-Year Player Draft (Huertos Junior College in Puerto Rico).
CURRENT SEASON STATS: 0-1 with an 0.59 ERA in 13 games at Columbus (Triple-A), striking out 14 and walking eight while allowing four hits in 15.1 innings.
PROMOTED: Recalled from Columbus on July 7 along with RHP Austin Adams when RHP Mike Clevinger was sent down and RHP Zach McAllister was placed on the 15-day DL.
DEBUT: July 8, in a 10-2 win over the New York Yankees. The last of two pitchers, he came on for starter Corey Kluber in the top of the ninth and threw one inning, allowing one run on two hits and striking out one. After fanning Jacob Ellsbury, the first big-league batter he faced, Carlos Beltran hit a double to left field and after moving to third on a wild pitch, scored on Brian McCann’s RBI double to left. Austin Romine then popped out in foul territory to the catcher and Starlin Castro flew out to center to end the game.
PLAYER NOTES: Colon had actually just been added to the Indians’ 40-man roster five days prior to his recall, making at least a little bit of the paperwork easier when the call came. Coming off of a 2015 season during which he combined to go 3-0 with a 3.13 ERA in 33 games between Akron (Double-A) and Columbus, striking out 46 batters and walking 14 in 48 2/3 innings, he got a late start to the 2016 season as he was serving a 50-game suspension for testing positive for a “drug of abuse.” The Indians moved him from a starting role to the bullpen in 2015 after six seasons as a starter (counting 2010 which was almost completely erased by injury) and overall he’d posted a 3.50 career ERA coming into 2016, yet had not reached Triple-A until the very end of the ’15 campaign. At Akron in 2014 he went 8-7 with a 3.39 ERA in 25 starts, fanning 96 while walking 55 in 138 innings.
ACQUIRED: Via trade from the St. Louis Cardinals for cash on April 7, 2016. Originally signed as an international free agent (Dominican Republic) by the Colorado Rockies on May 29, 2010.
CURRENT SEASON STATS: 4-7 with a 3.25 ERA in 14 games, 13 of them starts including one complete-game shutout, at Bowie (Double-A), striking out 55 and walking 22 while allowing 84 hits in 80 1/3 innings.
PROMOTED: Recalled from Bowie July 4 when LHP Ariel Miranda was sent down.
DEBUT: July 4, in a 7-5 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The last of four pitchers, he tossed two-thirds of a perfect inning to finish off the night, needing just nine pitches, four of them strikes. He inherited one runner from previous reliever Odrisamer Despaigne, Howie Kendrick who had doubled, but got Chase Utley to fly out to center and dangerous Corey Seager to line out to shortstop with a full count to end the inning.
PLAYER NOTES: We may use the word “well-traveled” too often when we talk about minor league veterans, but Aquino’s travels have virtually all occurred in a crazy 15-month span (even if some of the travels were “virtual” — occurring on paper if not in real life — so, kind of the more boring kind where he didn’t even get frequent flier miles or cool sight-seeing opportunities). After spending five seasons with his original organizations, the Rockies, he technically traded hands among six organizations between when he was designated for assignment by the Rockies on January 30, 2015, and signed with the Orioles as a minor league free agent on April 7, 2016. A quick timeline: DFA’d by Colorado January 30, 2015. Traded to Toronto for LHP Tyler Ybarra February 4. Designated for assignment by Toronto May 5. Traded to Pittsburgh for cash May 10. Designated for assignment by Pittsburgh July 22. Traded to Cleveland for cash July 29. Designated for assignment by Cleveland December 7. Claimed on waivers by St. Louis December 9 (we’re still in 2015 here, folks). Designated for assignment by St. Louis April 2. Traded to the Orioles for cash April 7. And now — ta da — pitching in the major leagues! Aquino has collected a 2.98 ERA during all of those stops combined coming into his debut with 111 starts in 113 games. He got his career off to a blazing start in short-season action when he combined to go 22-6 in 42 starts with a 1.39 ERA and 249 strikeouts in his first 259.2 IP, walking 51 and allowing just 167 hits. His lone “rough line” came in 2014 between Modesto (High A) and Tulsa (Double-A) when he combined to go 5-10 with a 5.13 ERA in 18 starts over 95 innings, but recovered nicely in 2015 to combine among three teams in three organizations — Lynchburg (High A/Cleveland), Dunedin (High A Toronto) and Bradenton (High A/Pittsburgh) — to go 5-11 with a 3.28 ERA in 24 starts striking out 86 while walking just 30 in 137.1 IP. Aquino was sent back to the minors on July 6.
ACQUIRED: Signed as an international free agent (Dominican Republic) on November 20, 2010 (TEX).
CURRENT SEASON STATS: 1-5 with a 2.64 ERA in 22 games, two of them starts, between Frisco (Double-A) and Round Rock (Triple-A), striking out 50 and walking 23 while scattering 27 hits in 44.1 IP and limiting opposing hitters to a .179 BAA.
PROMOTED: Recalled from Round Rock July 5 when LHP Michael Roth was designated for assignment.
DEBUT: July 6, in an 11-6 loss to the Boston Red Sox. The second of three pitchers, he tossed 2.2 innings of one-hit shutout ball, walking two and striking out four. Coming on to start the fifth inning in relief of starter Martin Perez, he showed that he could pitch out of a jam in that first frame. After striking out the first big-league batter he faced, Ryan Hanigan, swinging, he then surrendered a double to left field to Mookie Betts and walked Dustin Pedroia. After striking Xander Bogaerts out swinging, he walked David Ortiz to load the bases but got Hanley Ramirez to ground into a force out at second base. He then retired the next five batters in a row, including both Bryce Brentz (in the sixth) and Betts (in the seventh) swinging before giving way to reliever Tony Barnette with two outs and no one on in the seventh.
PLAYER NOTES: With a repertoire that includes a fastball in the mid-90s, a curveball and two different changeups, it’s not surprise that the Rangers tried LeClerc out as a starter last summer, but he struggled in the starting role, going 6-8 with a 5.77 ERA in 26 games at Frisco. It appears that despite the loaded arsenal, he is just better suited in the big picture to a relief role, which is where he has sparkled, and that seems to be where the Rangers are keeping him now. In six seasons, he’s combined for a 3.63 career ERA but that includes the 2015 campaign. In 2014 as a reliever at Myrtle Beach (High A) he posted a 3.30 ERA with 14 saves and 79 strikeouts in 57.1 IP with a .193 average against, coming after his first full season at Hickory (Class A) in 2013 when he was 3-4 with a 3.36 ERA and 77 strikeouts against 21 walks in 59 innings.
ACQUIRED: Drafted in the 13th round of the 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft (Cal State-Fullerton).
CURRENT SEASON STATS: 1-2 with a 2.81 ERA with seven saves in 30 games at Durham (Triple-A), striking out 38 while walking eight and allowing 51 hits in 48 innings.
PROMOTED: Contract purchased from Durham July 6 when LHP Dana Eveland was designated for assignment.?
DEBUT: July 7, in a 5-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels. The third of four pitchers, he allowed one run on three hits over 1.1 IP, striking out two without walking a batter and allowing both of his inherited runners to score. He came on in the eighth inning with one out and two on in relief of Ryan Garton. After giving up a single to the first batter he faced, Albert Pujols, to load the bases, C.J. Cron hit a sacrifice fly to score Kole Calhoun, and advancing his other inherited base runner, Mike Trout, to third. With Todd Cunningham at the plate, the Angels then executed a successful double steal as Trout stole home and Pujols stole second, before Cunningham struck out swinging to end the inning. In the ninth, Floro retired the first two batters, getting Gregorio Petit on a pop out to first base and striking out Carlos Perez swinging before Andrelton Simmons doubled and then scored on an RBI single to center by Yunel Escobar. At that point, the Rays brought in reliever Enny Romero to replace Floro, and Romero struck Calhoun out looking to end the inning.
PLAYER NOTES: The Rays REALLY wanted this guy, as they also drafted him in the 20th round of 2009 out of Buhach Colony H.S. (Atwater, CA), before he headed to Cal State-Fullerton. In 2015 at Durham, he went 9-12 with a 5.02 ERA in 25 games, 22 of them starts, fanning 81 while walking just 21 in 132 .2 IP and allowing 160 hits. In 2014, he was 11-13 with a 3.48 ERA at Montgomery (Double-A), posting a 3.48 ERA in 28 starts and striking out 112 while walking just 24 in 178.1 IP, allowing 209 hits. A starting pitcher until this season, who clearly can be a workhorse, he just as clearly has found his niche in the bullpen and earned a spot on the International League staff for the upcoming Triple-A All-Star Game. Google up his name to find a video of Bulls manager Jared Sandberg announcing Floro’s promotion to a group of kids at a baseball camp at which Floro was one of the players helping out.
ACQUIRED: Via trade from the Pittsburgh Pirates on December 8, 2011, along with 3B Diego Goris, for 3B Yamaico Navarro. Originally drafted by the Pirates in the second round of the 2009 MLB First-Year Player Draft (Temecula Valley H.S., Temecula Valley, CA).
CURRENT SEASON STATS: 4-1 with a 2.80 ERA in 19 games, seven of them starts, with Omaha (Triple-A), striking out 78 while walking 28 and allowing 51 hits in 64 .1 IP and limiting opposing hitters to a .216 average.
PROMOTED: Contract purchased from Omaha July 5 when RHP Wade Davis went on the 15-day DL and LHP Tyler Olson was designated for assignment to clear a place on the 40-man roster.
DEBUT: July 5, in an 8-3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. The third of four pitchers, he allowed one run on three hits in two innings, walking one and striking out three. He also committed one balk and of 41 pitches, 30 were for strikes. He came on in the sixth inning and the first batter he faced, Devon Travis, singled to center field but was erased quickly when Josh Thole struck out swinging and catcher Salvator Perez gunned down Travis trying to steal second for a 1-2-6 double play. Ezequiel Carrera struck out swinging to end the inning. In the seventh, Josh Donaldson led things off with a single to center. After Edwin Encarnacion struck out swinging, Michael Saunders singled to center field and was replaced by pinch-runner Junior Lake, and Troy Tulowitzki followed by drawing a walk to load the bases. Kevin Pillar’s sacrifice fly to left field scored Donaldson, and, though Pounders’ balk moved Lake and Saunders to third and second respectively, Justin Smoak made the final out by flying out.
PLAYER NOTES: Pounders, who definitely lives up to his name with his physique, had been named to pitch for the Pacific Coast League squad in the upcoming Triple-A All-Star Game thanks to his fine numbers so far this season with the Storm Chasers. The third member of that Omaha team to make his big-league debut this season (following INF Whit Merrifield and OF Brett Eibner), he was leading the league in average against and strikeouts per nine innings when promoted. Carrying a career 3.75 ERA in 159 games, 81 of them starts, and a .245 average against coming into his debut, he’s coming off of a 2015 season part of which was missed due to injury in which he combined to make 15 starts scattered among four spots — the Arizona League (Rookie), Idaho Falls (Short-Season A), Wilmington (High A) and Northwest Arkansas (Double-A), going 3-5 with a 2.50 ERA and 51 strikeouts against 23 walks in 68.1 IP.
ACQUIRED: Signed as a minor league free agent December 18, 2015. Originally drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 15th round of the 2003 MLB First-Year Player Draft (Lethbridge Community College, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada).
CURRENT SEASON STATS: 1-3 with a 3.45 ERA in 26 games, five of them starts, at Toledo (Triple-A), striking out 40 while walking 26 and allowing 34 hits in 44.1 IP.
PROMOTED: Recalled from Toledo July 4 when RHP Jordan Zimmermann was placed on the 15-day DL.
DEBUT: July 4, in a 5-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians. The second of six pitchers, he allowed one run on three hits in two innings of work, walking one and striking out two. Molleken came on in the third inning with one runner, Rajai Davis, on and no one out when starting pitcher Daniel Norris injured his ankle. The first big-league batter Molleken faced, Jason Kipnis, doubled to right field to move Davis to third, and he scored on a sacrifice fly by Francisco Lindor. Molleken then recorded his first big-league strikeout when he got Mike Napoli swinging and walked Carlos Santana before getting Jose Ramirez to pop out to third base to end the threat. In the fourth inning, he had a 1-2-3 inning as Yan Gomes grounded out to third, Juan Uribe grounded out to first and Abraham Almonte was caught looking at strike three. Molleken started the fifth but after giving up back-to-back singles to the red-hot Davis and Kipnis, Alex Wilson came on in relief for him and allowed Molleken’s lone run to score as Lindor once again hit a sacrifice fly to bring home Davis.
PLAYER NOTES: May we please give the Tigers a nice, resounding slow golf clap for their promotion of Molleken? That is not a typo up there in the year he was drafted. If they gave frequent flier miles for every city (and town and berg) played, points for every night spent in a road motel room that all start to look alike after a while, Molleken might have already given up baseball and just embarked on an all-expenses-paid world tour. But they don’t, and he didn’t, and now here he is in the big leagues and for that every single baseball fan should be celebrating right now. There may not be enough space on the Internet to list his entire pro baseball resume, so just check it out here at Baseball Reference.
And please note, if you’re looking carefully at that transaction list, that this is not Mr. Molleken’s first trip to join the Tigers. On June 20, he got the call, or “The Call,” or, if you will, “THE! CALL!” when Tigers 3B Casey McGehee was designated for assignment and joined the club from Toledo for two days before being sent back down without getting into a game as LHP Daniel Norris joined the club (and yes, there is cool irony in the fact that in his actual eventual debut he came on in relief of Norris). You’ll see that little note in the breakdown we’ve done here for the first half of season debuts … but you can also read my personal rant here.
So, a little back info on Molleken though obviously there is WAY too much to fit into one capsule. Now in his 13th pro season, he’s pitched in 349 games. The well-traveled Canadian native has seen time in more American cities and towns than most U..S residents (deep breath here): Bradenton, Florida; Williamsport, Pennsylvania; State College, Pennsylvania; Hickory, North Carolina; Lynchburg, Virginia; Altoona, Pennsylvania; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Colorado Springs, Colorado; Nashville, Tennessee; Columbus, Ohio; and Toledo, Ohio. Oh, and also he pitched for parts of two summer seasons in Japan with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. His numbers haven’t been what’s kept him from the big leagues – in 2015 at Columbus he was 5-3 with a 3.25 ERA in 40 games, striking out 52 batters in 52.2 IP and walking 27 while allowing 45 hits. But, hey, he’s here now so everyone – everyone – should raise a toast and salute one of the most newly-minted Major League Baseball Players, Dustin Molleken.
ACQUIRED: Signed as a minor league free agent December 12, 2014. Originally signed by the Los Angeles Angels as an international free agent (Dominican Republic) on January 19, 2005.
CURRENT SEASON STATS: .281 with 13 RBIs in 39 games at Memphis (Triple-A).
PROMOTED: Contract purchased from Memphis July 6 when C Brayan Pena was placed on the 15-day DL.
DEBUT: July 9, in an 8-1 win over the Milwaukee Brewers. Pinch-hitting for catcher Yadier Molina in the ninth inning, he went 1-for-1 with an RBI and stayed in to catch the bottom of the ninth. With the Cardinals up 3-1 coming into the top of the ninth, a solo homer from Tommy Pham and three-run shot from Aledmys Diaz gave them some breathing room. With two outs and Stephen Piscotty at third base, Rosario pinch-hit for Molina against reliever Jhan Marinez, singling to right field to score Piscotty. On defense, he caught a 1-2-3 inning from the Cards’ final reliever of the night, Seth Maness, to end the game.
PLAYER NOTES: A career back-up catcher known for his defense, the well-traveled Rosario is now with his fourth organization after spending his first eight seasons with the Angels before seeing time with the Red Sox, Dodgers and, now, the Cardinals. A career .238 hitter in 663 games over 11 seasons, he has played in over 100 games in a single season just once, that coming in 2009 at Rancho Cucamonga (High A) when he batted .232. As might be gleaned based on his long career despite his less-than-stellar offense, Rosario boasts excellent defense behind the plate, twice earning the nod as the Angels’ best defensive catcher.
ACQUIRED: Signed as a minor league free agent on September 23, 2015. Originally drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the third round of the 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft (Chipola College, Mariana, FL).
CURRENT SEASON STATS: .330 with six homers, 37 RBIs and 23 steals in 73 games between Rancho Cucamonga (High A), Tulsa (Double-A) and Oklahoma City (Triple-A), with 25 doubles and a .507 SLG.
PROMOTED: Contract purchased from Oklahoma City July 8 when RHP Carlos Frias was sent down and INF Cole Figueroa was designated for assignment to clear room on the 40-man roster.
DEBUT: July 8, in a 10-6 win over the San Diego Padres. Starting in center field and batting eighth, he went 1-for-4 with a double. His hit came in his first at-bat as he led off the second inning against Padres starter Andrew Cashner by doubling to center field. In his subsequent three at-bats in the third, fifth and seventh innings, he flew out to center, left and left, respectively.
PLAYER NOTES: Don’t go looking for Toles’ numbers from 2015 because there weren’t any. After being released by the Rays at the end of 2015 spring training, after a 2014 campaign in which he hit .265 with one homer, 15 RBIs and 24 steals in 52 games between the Gulf COast League and Charlotte (High A) clubs, Toles did not play in 2015. While a two-week stint at the local Kroger’s in Atlanta briefly took on a life of its own as his “story,” the son of former NFL linebacker Alvin Toles is the first to put that to rest. The young man has dealt with anxiety issues that have affected his life on and off the field, including during his freshman year of college at Tennessee and then at Chipola, but he hopes that his current treatment has helped him turn the corner — and so do the Dodgers, given his talent when he’s healthy. His calling card is his outstanding speed and instincts, both on the bases and in the outfield. In 2013, his last full season, at Bowling Green (Class A), he’d hit .326 with two homers, 57 RBIs and 62 steals along with 16 triples in 121 games. Here’s an excellent background info article about Toles’ return to the game from Jacob Unruh of the Oklahoma City Oklahoman.
2080 NOTES: Check out what Dave DeFreitas had to say about Toles in a 2080 Prospect Report found here:
ACQUIRED: Drafted in the second round of the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft (Dallas Jesuit College Prep High School, Dallas, TX).
CURRENT SEASON STATS: .324 with 13 homers and 53 RBIs at Indianapolis (Triple-A) along with 19 doubles and a .535 SLG.
PROMOTED: Recalled from Indianapolis on July 8 when RHP Tyler Glasnow was sent down.
DEBUT: July 8, in an 8-4 win against the Chicago Cubs. Pinch-hitting for pitcher Neftali Feliz, he went 1-for-1 with a run scored. He came to bat in the seventh inning with Adam Frazier on base and no outs and singled to right field on the first pitch he saw from Cubs ace Jake Arrieta. After moving to second on a single by John Jaso, he scored when Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo made a throwing error on a ball hit by Gregory Polanco. As a side note, the next night, Bell pinch-hit once again against the Cubs in a 12-6 win, this time coming up in the fifth against reliever Adam Warren with one out and the bases loaded and unloaded them in a hurry with a grand slam to right field. Give this guy a start!
PLAYER NOTES: It’s been a fun week for Pirates fans who got to see the big-league debuts of three top prospects in the space of four nights, bringing the total of Pirates’ debuts this season to nine. One of the most highly-anticipated hitters in the organization, Bell had posted a combined .309 average in his pro career coming into his debut, hitting a combined .317 with seven homers, 78 RBIs, 24 doubles and nine steals in 131 games in 2015 between Indianapolis and Altoona (Double-A) and .325 with nine homers, 60 RBIs and nine steals in 108 games between Altoona and Bradenton (High A) in 2014. The converted outfielder, who made the move to first base, gave up a scholarship to Texas to sign with the Pirates for a $5 million bonus – a record for a non-first-round draftee.
2080 NOTES: Bell checked in at No. 74 on 2080’s Preseason Top 125 Prospect Ranking List where we had this to say about him: “There’s always a premium put on hitting, and hitting for power at first base. While Bell’s power has yet to show up in HR totals, he has shown that he has some pure bat-to-ball skills and a plus hit tool ceiling. Hitting at the high minors is difficult, but Bell has proved he can, putting his MLB ETA right around the corner.”
ACQUIRED: Via trade from the Baltimore Orioles on February 20, 2015, as the player to be named later in a January 27, 2015 deal that saw LHP Stephen Tarpley come to the Pirates for OF Travis Snider. Originally drafted by the Orioles in the 11th round of the 2013 MLB First-Year Player Draft (Regis University in Denver, C)).
CURRENT SEASON STATS: 2-3 with a 2.31 ERA in nine starts between West Virginia (Class A) and Indianapolis (Triple-A), striking out 44 and walking 15 while allowing 35 hits in 35 innings.
PROMOTED: Contract purchased from Indianapolis July 5 when RHP Jameson Taillon was placed on the 15-day DL and C Jacob Stallings was designated for assignment to clear a spot on the 40-man roster.
DEBUT: July 5, in a 5-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. The starting pitcher, he did not qualify for the win, pitching only four innings but allowed two runs, one of them earned, on four hits, walking two and striking out five. He also singled to center field in his first big-league at-bat against Mike Leake. In his first inning of work, the first batter he faced, Matt Carpenter, grounded out to second base. Aledmys Diaz drew a walk but was erased when Matt Holliday lined into an unassisted double play at first base. In the second, Stephen Piscotty reached base on an error in right field and, after Jhonny Peralta struck out looking, scored an unearned run on Jedd Gyorko’s RBI single to left field. After Tommy Pham struck out on a foul tip, Brayan Pena grounded into a force out to end the inning. In the third, opposing pitcher Leake and Carpenter both struck out swinging before Diaz drew another walk, stole second base, and scored on Holliday’s single to center field before Piscotty ended the threat with an infield pop out. In the fourth and final inning of work for Brault before he was removed for a pinch-hitter in the fifth, Matt Adams lined out to left field before Gyorko reached on a pop up to first base that fell for a single. Pham followed with a fly out, though, and after Pena singled to center, Leake struck out swinging to end the threat and Brault’s debut.
PLAYER NOTES: Brault came into his debut sporting a 2.51 career ERA as he’s stealthily put himself onto the prospect watch scene. Between Altoona (Double-A) and Bradenton (High A) in 2015 he combined to go 13-4 with a 2.43 ERA in 28 starts, striking out 125 while walking 40 and giving up 134 hits in 155.2 IP The previous summer, in the Orioles system, he combined at two Class A stops, Delmarva and Frederick, for an 11-8 record and 2.77 ERA, fanning 124 in 146 .1 IP while walking just 30 and scattering 114 hits. He’d made his pro debut at Aberdeen (Short-Season A) in 2013 where he posted a 2.09 ERA in 12 starts. And in case you’re wondering how he ended up at little-known Regis University, not a baseball powerhouse, it’s because he attended one of the few schools that offered a major in vocal performance — he can not only pitch, he can sing too. Brault was sent back to the minors on July 6.
ACQUIRED: Drafted in the fifth round of the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft (William S. Hart High School in Santa Clarita, CA).
CURRENT SEASON STATS: 7-2 with a 1.78 ERA in 17 starts at Indianapolis (Triple-A), striking out 113 while walking 52 and allowing 57 hits in 96 innings.
PROMOTED: Recalled from Indianapolis July 7 when LHP Kyle Lobstein was sent down.
DEBUT: July 7, in a 5-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. The starting pitcher, he took the loss, allowing four runs on three hits in 5.1 IP, walking two and striking out five while also throwing a wild pitch. Of 87 pitches, 55 were for strikes. Glasnow also went 1-for-2 at the plate, hitting a two-out single in the fifth. Glasnow walked the first batter he faced, Greg Garcia, before retiring the next nine, including strikeouts of Aledmys Diaz, Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright, before Diaz collected the first hit off of Glasnow to lead off the fourth inning, a triple to center field which came on an 0-2 count. Matt Holliday followed with a groundout to third base which held Diaz at third and Stephen Piscotty struck out swinging, but with Matt Adams at the plate, Glasnow threw that wild pitch which allowed Diaz to score to tie the game at 1-1 before Adams lined out to end the inning. In the fifth inning, Molina popped out to first base before Randal Grichuk hit a solo homer to left-center field. Glasnow escaped further damage that frame as Kolten Wong grounded out to second and Wainwright struck out. In the sixth, though, Garcia led things off with a double to center, moving to third on Diaz’s sacrifice bunt. When Holliday walked on four pitches (not intentional though — that came later), the Pirates brought in Arquimedes Caminero to relieve Glasnow, and the reliever gave up a three-run homer to Piscotty, a shot that had first been called to be off of the top of the wall but was overturned by an umpire and ruled a homer.
PLAYER NOTES: Ranked by no less an authority than Baseball America as the Pirates’ top prospect coming into 2016, Glasnow certainly did nothing to dispel that status in his Indianapolis showcase prior to his promotion. Boasting a career 2.01 ERA in five minor league seasons during which time he’d limited opposing hitters to a .172 average, he’d fanned 614 in 479.1 IP, walking just 230 while scattering 285 hits. In fact, he has never, in his five seasons, allowed an opposing batting average over .200. In 2015, he combined to go 7-5 with a 2.39 ERA in 22 starts among West Virginia (Class A), Altoona (Double-A) and Indianapolis, striking out 136 in 109 .1 IP and walking 43 while allowing 77 hits. He’d been stellar in his 2014 turn at Bradenton (High A), posting a 12-5 record and 1.74 ERA in 23 starts, striking out 157 in 124.1 IP and walking 57 while giving up just 74 hits, after making his full-season debut at West Virginia in 2013 with a 9-3 record and 2.18 ERA in 24 starts, striking out a career-high 164 in just 111.1 IP, scattering 54 hits and walking 61. Glasnow, who reportedly grew an entire foot in height during high school (which can traditionally throw off a young man’s coordination), missed a month in 2015 with a sprained ankle but still basically kicked butt with the other foot. He was sent down July 8 to make room for first baseman Josh Bell on the roster.
2080 NOTES: Checking in at No. 10 overall in 2080 Baseball’s Preseason Top 125 Prospect Ranking List, we had this to say about him then: “Glasnow is arguably the most uncomfortable at-bat for any hitter in the minor leagues. His high-90s fastball comes to the plate on an extreme downhill plane with armside movement. It’s a borderline elite-level pitch. Along with his tight 11-to-5 shaped curveball and developing changeup, the profile gives him a chance to be a quality #2/3 starter.” You can also take a look at Chaz Fiorino’s pair of 2080 Prospect Spotlights on Glasnow here and here. and as well as Fiorino’s full scouting report.