Pittsburgh Pirates Minors: Brubaker, Kramer, and Cruz
The Pittsburgh Pirates Triple-A affiliate had a strong showing last night by a few players. Meanwhile, they have a prospect climbing up the prospect rankings.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are in the middle of trying to climb up the Wild Card standings. One of their biggest positions of need in terms of offense is to get Josh Bell and Corey Dickerson healthy. However, once they are healthy the next need on offense is possibly upgrading the middle infield. The other area that they could look to patch up is a new long reliever in the bullpen. The team traded away former multi-inning reliever Tyler Glasnow, and just two days ago demoted Steven Brault. One possible replacement had a dominant start in Triple-A last night.
The Pittsburgh Pirates Triple-A affiliate, the Indianapolis Indians, took on the Toledo Mud Hens last night. The Mud Hens are the Triple-A affiliate for the Detroit Tigers. Starting the game for the Indians was former sixth round pick JT Brubaker. Brubaker has quietly moved quickly up the system after being drafted in 2015. He showed why last night.
Against the Mud Hens, the 6’4” right-hander threw eight innings of shutout ball. He struck out six batters and only allowed three baserunners, all three being singles. Brubaker has now improved his earned run average to 3.24 on the year in Triple-A. With a mid 90s fastball and a plus slider, Brubaker might be an upside option to throw long relief down the stretch run at the big league level.
Meanwhile, Brubaker was backed up by a strong performance from second baseman Kevin Kramer. Kramer was the “other infielder” the Pittsburgh Pirates took in the 2015 draft class. He was a second-round pick out of UCLA and was overshadowed by first-round pick Kevin Newman that year. However, Kramer has become one of the top Pittsburgh Pirates prospects and top overall second base prospect.
However, on August 1st, Kramer left the game early after being slid into at second base. Of course, the immediate concern was that he may have suffered a serious injury. The good news is he was back in the lineup last night and posted a 2-4 game. Both of his hits were single, and he scored one of the team’s two runs. He is now batting .302 on the season. At this point, fans are ready to see him up at the big league level and his numbers show that he is likely ready to be promoted. Unfortunately, the team likely will not replace veteran Josh Harrison this season.
The last note is regarding rising prospect Oneil Cruz. Cruz currently ranks as the Pittsburgh Pirates fifth best prospect according to MLB Pipeline. Cruz was the centerpiece of the Tony Watson trade last summer with the Dodgers. He is a 6’6” and 180-pound shortstop who is currently playing in Low-A West Virginia. At just the age of 19, he is playing at a very advanced level especially considering that he is young for the minor league level he is playing.
On the year he is batting .294/.349/.504 with 46 extra base hits in 99 games. Furthermore, he has struck out 95 times with 33 walks in those 99 games. This puts him on pace for the first time in his career to strike out less than games played, which shows he is improving his discipline. Due to all this, Cruz has recently been ranked by MLB Pipeline as the 10th best shortstop in baseball. He moved onto the list after Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Willy Adames graduated from prospect status.