The Pittsburgh Pirates are just 2.5 games out of first place in the National League Central. How are the minor league affiliates doing so far in 2019?
Coming out of the All-Star Break, the Pittsburgh Pirates have two very important series that could determine their season. First they travel to play the Chicago Cubs for three games, then they will go and face off against the St. Louis Cardinals. When it is all said and done, the Bucs could be in first place by the end of the two series. Even with a record below .500 at 42-44, the team has a shot at the post season.
While the focus is on the Major Leagues, it is just as important for the Pittsburgh Pirates minor league teams to be performing too. If the Bucs want to have continued success in the National League, then they need to have prominent success in the minor leagues as well. So how are the top four minor league affiliates doing this season?
Triple-A Indianapolis arguably had the most talented team heading into the 2019 season. They started the year with multiple Top 10 prospects including the Bucs top two prospects in Mitch Keller and Ke’Bryan Hayes. However, that team has had a lot of roster turnover due to all the injuries that the Pittsburgh Pirates have had this year. Still, the Indians are managing to stay afloat and are still in the playoff hunt. The team has a record of 44-44 as they prepare for the final stretch on the Triple-A schedule.
On the flip side, the Altoona Curve were viewed as the weakest team in the Pittsburgh Pirates system. The team only had one top 20 prospect, Jared Oliva, entering the 2019 season. Despite that, the Curve have received some really strong pitching this year and are currently in first place in their division with a record of 47-38.
Meanwhile, the Bradenton Marauders had to deal with some adversity early in the season. The High-A affiliate lost their top power bat when Oneil Cruz fractured his foot. Also, 2018 first round pick Travis Swaggerty got off to a slow start in his first full season. Now, Cruz is back in the lineup and Swaggerty is starting to perform like a top pick. The Marauders have a solid record of 36-30, but are three games out of first place in their division.
The last full season minor league team is the Low-A Greensboro Grasshoppers. This is the first year that the Pittsburgh Pirates have an affiliate in Greensboro. They are having a really impressive first season. They currently have the second most wins in the South Atlantic league and have an overall record of 54-33. Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Mason Martin leads the league with 23 home runs while starter Osvaldo Bido leads the league in wins.
While the Pittsburgh Pirates are in the middle of the National League Central race, so are all of their minor league affiliates. All four of their full season teams are playing good baseball and this is positive news for the future of the Pittsburgh Pirates.