Recapping the 2017 Gulf Coast League Pirates

(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /
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 The Pittsburgh Pirates Gulf Coast League affiliate concluded its 2017 season. Taking a look back on how the season went.

Overall the team seemed to struggle a bit.  They posted a 26-34 recorded, finishing in third place in the GCL  Northeast division and seven games out from the first-place GCL Yankees.  They had the third worst winning percentage in the league at .433 despite that small deficit in the standings. On the road, they went 10-20 a rather unimpressive mark. At home, they went a respectable 16-14. An 18-12 division mark was another positive. The GCL Pirates ended the year with a win, as well, as a 7-3 finish in their last ten games.

Hitters

The top hitter for the GCL Pirates this year was first baseman Mason Martin. He hit .307 with a team   11 home runs and 22 RBI in 39 games. His 11 homers topped the team and the GCL.  A promising start for the 2017 17th round pick.

Rodolfo Castro contributed a good bit to the offense as well. Castro hit .277 with six home runs and 32 RBI in 53 games. His RBI mark was the best on the team.  At 18, this season featured a lot of statistical improvement for Castro.

Lolo Sanchez was another hitter to watch. He swung the lumber to a .284 average with 4 home runs and 20 RBI. Sanchez led the team and league in runs scored with 42. He also swiped a team-best 14 bases. Sanchez is another 18-year-old talent in the system to keep an eye on.

Jeremias Portorreal, an outfielder contributed solid offense as well. A .263 average accompanied five home runs and 31 RBI. This was Portorreal’s second run through in the GCL after an eight game stint during which he struggled at the plate. He’s looking like an organizational guy at this point, but maybe a breakout season or two moves him to prospect status.

Pitchers

Brian Sousa led the staff in wins this season with five. Starting in 13 games and pitching 39.1 innings. Sousa struck out 26 and walked 27 while hitters hit  .250 average against him. He sported a 3.66 ERA for his time in the GCL. Also made two appearances for the Bristol Pirates. Those did not go well, as in just 1.2 innings of work Sousa gave up eight runs, for a 37.80 era. Hitters took batting practice off him to the tune of .571 during his stay in Bristol. The demotion seemed to help with stats, but Sousa isn’t a prospect to keep an eye on, or give up on yet.

Yeudry Manzanillo was the staff work horse. In 12 games, with seven starts, Manzanillo pitched a team high 46 innings. He sported a 4.11 ERA  with a 3-4 record. A two to one strike out to walk ratio is a good sign, but his .311 average against isn’t so hot.

Roger Santana led the staff in strikeouts with 31. He paired that with a 2-4 record and 4.83 ERA in 12 appearances, making nine starts.

Next: Curve Win Second Eastern League Championship

Top Pirates Prospects

Several of the Pittsburgh Pirates top 30 prospects saw time at this level. Number three ranked prospect Shane Baz started ten games and finished with a 3.80 ERA in 23.2 innings pitched. Baz struck out more than he walked, but the average against him needs to come down a bit. Not to bad a start for this years first round pick though.

2017 Second round Pick Steven Jennings also made ten starts for the GCL team. Jennings had a 4.10 ERA in 26..1 innings. Should have lots of upside after this first season of professional baseball adjustment.

Number 13 ranked Calvin Mitchel hit .245 with two home runs and 20 RBI this year, after being a second round pick in the most recent draft.

28th ranked prospect Max Kranick had a short stop over before a promotion to Bristol. During his time in the GCL Kranick made three starts without allowing a run in 12.2 innings of work.

Overall the season had some upside as far as prospect development, even if the team struggled to win games.