Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
The Official Site of the Pittsburgh Pirates
news

Pirates Pipeline

Around the Horn: Cervelli leads Bucs behind plate

Veteran in final year of contract; Diaz, Stallings offer proven depth
MLB.com

With Spring Training approaching, it's time for an in-depth look at the Pirates' roster. This is the third part of a series checking in on their current and future options at each position. Next up: catcher.

Big question: How many games will Francisco Cervelli play?
In previous years, this would primarily be a question about Cervelli's health. It still is, to a certain extent, as he's coming off another season disrupted by concussions.

With Spring Training approaching, it's time for an in-depth look at the Pirates' roster. This is the third part of a series checking in on their current and future options at each position. Next up: catcher.

Big question: How many games will Francisco Cervelli play?
In previous years, this would primarily be a question about Cervelli's health. It still is, to a certain extent, as he's coming off another season disrupted by concussions.

But the question now is whether (or when) the Pirates will trade Cervelli. Pittsburgh isn't necessarily trying to move its starting catcher, but he is available entering the final season of his three-year contract. There aren't many logical suitors remaining, however, after the Dodgers filled their need behind the plate with a former Pirates catcher, Russell Martin, and not Pittsburgh's current catcher.

Cervelli will earn $11.5 million this year, making him the Bucs' highest-paid player. He improved across the board last season after overhauling his diet and exercise routine, but the Pirates have another viable option behind the plate in Elias Diaz. If they're both on the roster and performing at a high level, how will manager Clint Hurdle split the playing time?

Video: Hurdle addresses Cervelli trade rumors

The starter: Cervelli
Cervelli played only 104 games last year, but it was his most productive season since his Pirates debut in 2015. At 32 years old, Cervelli slashed .259/.378/.431 with a 125 wRC+, a career-high 12 homers and 57 RBIs. Despite his injuries, he was Pittsburgh's third-most valuable player according to Fangraphs' version of Wins Above Replacement.

Cervelli threw out 23 baserunners for a markedly improved 39 percent caught-stealing rate. His pitch-framing numbers have declined over the past few years, but pitchers still laud him for his game-calling and leadership behind the plate. Chris Archer said he bounced back in September by simply trusting Cervelli. To use a more specific example, Joe Musgrove credited Cervelli for his guidance -- and homemade arepas -- on Sept. 4.

The Pirates could keep both catchers in the lineup by occasionally using Cervelli as Josh Bell's backup at first base. But the key, as always, will be health. Cervelli has been on the disabled list four times over the past two years due to concussion symptoms, and he missed additional time in 2017 due to left wrist inflammation and a strained left quad.

Video: ATL@PIT: Cervelli nabs 2nd baserunner of the game

The backup: Diaz
This might be more of a 1-1A situation than a true starter-backup pairing. Hurdle spoke highly of Diaz at the Winter Meetings, and there was indeed plenty to like about Diaz's 2018 season.

Diaz, now 28 years old, slashed .286/.339/.452 with 10 homers and 34 RBIs in 277 plate appearances over 82 games. He continued to show a strong arm behind the plate, his game-calling improved, and he displayed durability by starting 14 straight games from June 22-July 7.

Cervelli and Diaz gave the Pirates arguably the Majors' most productive catching duo last year. No team -- not even the Marlins, with J.T. Realmuto -- accumulated more WAR from their catchers than the Pirates (5.3), according to Fangraphs. There's a lot of value in that tandem.

Video: PIT@CIN: Diaz hammers a solo homer to left field

The next man up: Jacob Stallings
Stallings is the only other catcher on Pittsburgh's 40-man roster, and he's out of Minor League options. So the Pirates must put him on their Opening Day roster or risk losing him on waivers, creating an interesting dilemma this spring.

Stallings, 29, looks like he's ready to be a Major League backup. Pitchers praise his preparation and work behind the plate. He hit .285 with a .749 OPS in Triple-A last year after batting .301 with a .789 OPS for Indianapolis in 2017. And it's prudent for the Pirates to have a capable third catcher on hand, especially considering Cervelli's recent injury history.

Unless the Pirates trade Cervelli and move forward with a Diaz-Stallings pairing, they will have to weigh the possibility of losing Stallings to another team against the drawbacks of carrying three catchers on their 25-man roster.

Video: KC@PIT: Pirates walk off on Stallings' single in 9th

Depth: Steven Baron, Christian Kelley
Baron will likely spend the season in Triple-A after signing as a Minor League free agent. The 28-year-old, a first-round Draft pick in 2009, hit just .213 with a .512 OPS for Triple-A Memphis last season. He's an experienced backstop, however, and the Pirates needed another upper-level option after losing Ryan Lavarnway early this offseason.

Kelley, 25, will be in big league camp for the third straight year. He played 90 games for Double-A Altoona last year, slashing .235/.308/.367 with eight homers and 38 RBIs. The Pirates like his defensive ability, and he should get a chance to work with the Triple-A pitching staff this season.

Video: Hurdle discusses Pirates' Florida minicamp

In the pipeline: Arden Pabst, Jason Delay, Deon Stafford
Pabst and Delay will be in big league Spring Training next month, while Stafford is the only catcher currently ranked among the Pirates' top 30 prospects, according to MLB Pipeline.

Pabst, a 12th-round pick in 2016, hit well in Class A Advanced Bradenton with a .281 average and .832 OPS. He struggled, however, after a mid-July promotion to Double-A. Delay, a fourth-round pick in 2017, could join Pabst in Altoona this year after hitting .247 with a .627 OPS in 67 games for Bradenton last season.

Stafford, Pittsburgh's No. 29 prospect, posted an identical .749 OPS each of his first two professional seasons after being selected in the fifth round of the 2017 Draft. The 22-year-old seems to be bound for Bradenton this season after making his pro debut for Class A Short-Season West Virginia then spending last year in the South Atlantic League.

Around the Horn: Bullpen strongest at the back end | Pirates counting on rotation

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and read his blog.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Steven Baron, Francisco Cervelli, Jason Delay, Elias Diaz, Christian Kelley, Arden Pabst, Jacob Stallings

Keller eyes 2019 callup after Triple-A lesson

Pirates' top prospect found renewed poise at Futures Game
MLB.com

PITTSBURGH -- Mitch Keller will report to big league Spring Training for the first time next month. The Pirates put their top prospect on the 40-man roster this winter, and the right-hander will start the season with Triple-A Indianapolis. He'll be one call away from Pittsburgh.

Keller's plan this spring is to forget about all of that. He learned the value of that approach last season, when he uncharacteristically struggled following a promotion to Triple-A.

PITTSBURGH -- Mitch Keller will report to big league Spring Training for the first time next month. The Pirates put their top prospect on the 40-man roster this winter, and the right-hander will start the season with Triple-A Indianapolis. He'll be one call away from Pittsburgh.

Keller's plan this spring is to forget about all of that. He learned the value of that approach last season, when he uncharacteristically struggled following a promotion to Triple-A.

"You definitely try harder because you want to be there so badly," Keller told MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo at the Rookie Career Development Program in Miami. "You just try not to do that, but it definitely creeps into everyone's mind that you are one phone call away. If you make things happen, then you can force their hand. You've just got to try not to do that and just worry about yourself."

Keller, 22, allowed 13 runs on 16 hits over 8 2/3 innings in his first two Triple-A starts last year. He struck out 13 hitters in those outings, but it was still a surprising stumble for MLB Pipeline's No. 16 overall prospect. Keller said his command was the issue. He was leaving pitches over the middle of the plate, and the International League's more experienced hitters took advantage of his mistakes.

Keller then got to break from his routine, step away from the grind of the Minor League season and start the All-Star Futures Game for the U.S. team. He struck out the first batter he faced, touched 99.5 mph on the radar gun and pitched a perfect first inning at Nationals Park.

Video: WLD@USA: Keller K's Basabe, retires the side in order

Keller returned to Triple-A and posted a 3.09 ERA with a strikeout per inning and a .668 opponents' OPS over his final eight starts. Coincidence? He doesn't believe so.

"I think I was trying to please people and not do what I'd been doing my whole career," Keller said. "Just getting to that Futures Game and letting it rip again, I got back into Triple-A and it was good from there."

Keller spent this week alongside a number of rising stars at the RCDP. The event is designed by MLB and the MLB Players Association to help young players learn about financial planning, dealing with the media, inclusion and more. The Pirates sent Keller, infielder Kevin Kramer, reliever Nick Burdi and super-utility man Pablo Reyes.

Kramer, Burdi and Reyes made their big league debuts last September. Keller could join them this summer. Until that day comes, he'll remember what he learned last year.

"Those failures that I had at the beginning are really going to help me, because I know what not to do now and how to handle that when it does come, maybe get out of that rut sooner than three or four games," Keller said. "That's just going to help me through Spring Training and into the season."

Video: Hurdle discusses Pirates' Florida minicamp

Minicamp concludes
The Pirates on Thursday wrapped up their four-day minicamp at the Pirate City training complex in Bradenton, Fla. A handful of big leaguers attended this year's voluntary workouts along with a number of top prospects who will be in big league camp this spring.

Right-handers Chris Archer and Joe Musgrove, both returning from offseason surgery, stopped by the pre-Spring Training camp. So did rehabbing right fielder Gregory Polanco, who hit off a tee for the first time since September shoulder surgery. Reliever Richard Rodriguez, lefty Steven Brault and shortstop Kevin Newman were among the other big leaguers in attendance.

Infield prospects Ke'Bryan Hayes and Will Craig, who will report to big league camp for the first time, joined shortstop Cole Tucker and other prospects to work with manager Clint Hurdle and the Major League coaching staff.

Tweet from @Pirates: Minicamp in January means Spring Training is right around the corner! Check out some pics from sunny Florida. 📸������ https://t.co/3GnzYr2r0w pic.twitter.com/d3ZANbkigx

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and read his blog.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Mitch Keller

Bucs invite 13 prospects to big league camp

Hayes, Craig headline group of youngsters reporting next month
MLB.com

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates on Saturday invited 13 of their top prospects and near-ready Minor Leaguers to big league Spring Training, a group headlined by first-time invitees Ke'Bryan Hayes and Will Craig.

Hayes and Craig will report to Major League camp when the Pirates arrive in Bradenton, Fla., next month. They will be joined by outfielder Bryan Reynolds; right-handers Tyler Eppler, Geoff Hartlieb, Alex McRae and Eduardo Vera; left-handers Elvis Escobar, Brandon Waddell and Blake Weiman; and catchers Jason Delay, Christian Kelley and Arden Pabst.

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates on Saturday invited 13 of their top prospects and near-ready Minor Leaguers to big league Spring Training, a group headlined by first-time invitees Ke'Bryan Hayes and Will Craig.

Hayes and Craig will report to Major League camp when the Pirates arrive in Bradenton, Fla., next month. They will be joined by outfielder Bryan Reynolds; right-handers Tyler Eppler, Geoff Hartlieb, Alex McRae and Eduardo Vera; left-handers Elvis Escobar, Brandon Waddell and Blake Weiman; and catchers Jason Delay, Christian Kelley and Arden Pabst.

The Pirates announced their internal non-roster invitees a day after officially inviting Minor League free-agent signees Tyler Lyons, Roberto Gomez, Steven Baron and Patrick Kivlehan to big league camp.

Hayes, the Bucs' top position player prospect and MLB Pipeline's No. 48 overall prospect, will report to Pirate City's Major League clubhouse after being named Pittsburgh's Minor League Player of the Year in 2018. An elite defender at third base, Hayes slashed .293/.375/.444 with seven homers in 117 games for Double-A Altoona last season and should begin this year with Triple-A Indianapolis.

"He became a complete offensive player. It's starting to catch up with his defense now," Altoona manager Michael Ryan said late last season. "It was a lot of fun to watch him grow offensively."

Craig slugged 20 homers, drove in 102 runs and earned team MVP honors last season in Altoona. Now a full-time first baseman, Craig followed up that performance by batting .304 with a .947 OPS in the Arizona Fall League. Craig, the Pirates' first-round pick in 2016, is their No. 16 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline.

Video: Will Craig on playing in Arizona Fall League

Reynolds, the Bucs' No. 8 prospect, will return to big league camp. Acquired from the Giants in the Andrew McCutchen trade, Reynolds overcame a fractured left hamate bone last year and hit .302/.381/.438 in 88 games with Altoona. The switch-hitter played all three outfield positions last season, then played both corner spots in the Arizona Fall League.

Eppler figures to be part of the Pirates' rotation depth again after posting a 3.59 ERA during his second season in Triple-A. Hartlieb put up a 3.24 ERA and 1.37 WHIP over 47 relief appearances for Altoona last year. McRae made his Major League debut last year and should return as a depth option capable of starting or pitching out of the bullpen.

Vera drew some interest before the Rule 5 Draft, but went unselected after going 11-5 with a 3.37 ERA and 1.06 WHIP over 26 starts for Class A Advanced Bradenton and Altoona. Waddell, the Pirates' No. 24 prospect, was also not selected after reaching Triple-A last season. Waddell could make his debut this year if the Pirates need to call up a left-hander from Indianapolis.

Escobar and Weiman will be two of the more interesting, if unheralded, arms in Spring Training. The 24-year-old Escobar moved from the outfield to the mound last season and went a combined 4-2 with a 3.56 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings for Class A West Virginia and Altoona.

Weiman, 23, put together a 2.42 ERA and 1.00 WHIP with 77 strikeouts and only nine walks in 67 innings over 39 appearances last season as he climbed from West Virginia to Altoona. The lefty has been compared to former Pirates reliever Tony Watson.

"[Weiman] just competes. He has the stuff to go along with the competitiveness," Ryan said. "He throws very hard from the left side. He's got such a bright future."

Delay, Kelley and Pabst will provide necessary catching depth in big league camp. Kelley, a well-regarded defender, should advance to Triple-A this year after spending all of last season in Altoona. Delay, Pittsburgh's fourth-round pick in the 2017 Draft, played in Bradenton last year. Pabst hit a combined .264 with 10 homers and 36 RBIs in 66 games last year for Bradenton, Altoona and Indianapolis.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and read his blog.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Four prospects added to fill out 40-man roster

MLB.com

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates added four upper-level prospects to their 40-man roster before Tuesday night's deadline, protecting them from the Rule 5 Draft and pushing them a step closer to their future in the big leagues.

Pittsburgh selected the contracts of right-hander Mitch Keller -- the club's top prospect, according to MLB Pipeline -- along with shortstop Cole Tucker, outfielder Jason Martin and right-hander J.T. Brubaker. The Pirates created one spot on their roster. which is again full, by trading right-hander Tanner Anderson to the A's for a player to be named or cash.

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates added four upper-level prospects to their 40-man roster before Tuesday night's deadline, protecting them from the Rule 5 Draft and pushing them a step closer to their future in the big leagues.

Pittsburgh selected the contracts of right-hander Mitch Keller -- the club's top prospect, according to MLB Pipeline -- along with shortstop Cole Tucker, outfielder Jason Martin and right-hander J.T. Brubaker. The Pirates created one spot on their roster. which is again full, by trading right-hander Tanner Anderson to the A's for a player to be named or cash.

Tuesday was the deadline for clubs to protect Minor League players from being selected in the Rule 5 Draft, which will take place on Dec. 13 at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas. Each pick in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft costs $100,000. If the selected player doesn't remain on the 25-man roster for the entire season, he must be offered back to his former team for $50,000. Among the top prospects left unprotected by the Pirates are Gage Hinsz, Brandon Waddell and Domingo Robles.

There was no doubt the Pirates would add Keller and Tucker, two of their first three picks in the 2014 Draft, to their roster before Tuesday's deadline. Nor is it particularly surprising that the Bucs protected Martin, one of four players they received from the Astros for Gerrit Cole. Brubaker has quickly advanced through the system. None of them are far away from making an impact in Pittsburgh.

Keller, MLB Pipeline's No. 16 overall prospect, should make his Major League debut at some point next season. The 22-year-old cruised through the Minors before struggling for the first time after a midseason promotion to Triple-A Indianapolis. Still, Keller bounced back to post a 3.09 ERA with 44 strikeouts in 43 2/3 innings over his final eight starts.

Tucker, the 24th overall pick in 2014, looks like the Pirates' shortstop of the future after a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League. Highly regarded for his leadership and intangibles, the switch-hitting 22-year-old hit .370 with an .899 OPS in the Fall League. Tucker struggled through a brutal slump in May then hit .281/.370/.407 with 15 steals over 53 games in the second half for Double-A Altoona. Pittsburgh's No. 5 prospect will begin next season in Triple-A.

Martin, 23, was left unprotected by the Astros in last year's Rule 5 Draft, but won't be up for grabs this year. The lefty-hitting outfielder put up a .913 OPS in Double-A, but struggled in his first taste of Triple-A, batting .211 with a .589 OPS. Martin will begin the season in Triple-A as upper-level outfield depth, which the club otherwise lacks behind its top three of Corey Dickerson, Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco. Martin is the Pirates' No. 13 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline.

Brubaker, who turned 25 on Saturday, was the Pirates' Minor League Pitcher of the Year last season. A sixth-round pick in the 2015 Draft, Brubaker posted a 3.10 ERA in 22 starts for Indianapolis this year after six dominant starts in Double-A. That success could make Brubaker an option for Pittsburgh's bullpen, but it more likely puts him in position to serve as necessary rotation depth if the Bucs shift out-of-options right-hander Nick Kingham to the bullpen on Opening Day.

Anderson, 25, made his big league debut this season and put up a 6.35 ERA in 11 1/3 innings over six relief appearances. A 20th-round pick out of Harvard in 2015, Anderson put together a 2.64 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in Triple-A last season.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Pirates' Tucker wins AFL sportsmanship award

MLB.com

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Throughout his life, shortstop Cole Tucker has always been able to relate well to a wide variety of people.

"For whatever reason I've always been that 'glue guy' that guy that's friends with everybody," Tucker said. "It's something I take pride in. I want to walk into every clubhouse and be that leader, that guy that the kid from Tennessee can hang out with but also the kid from the Dominican Republic can hang out with and be that bridge and ultimately just bring the team and everybody closer together."

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Throughout his life, shortstop Cole Tucker has always been able to relate well to a wide variety of people.

"For whatever reason I've always been that 'glue guy' that guy that's friends with everybody," Tucker said. "It's something I take pride in. I want to walk into every clubhouse and be that leader, that guy that the kid from Tennessee can hang out with but also the kid from the Dominican Republic can hang out with and be that bridge and ultimately just bring the team and everybody closer together."

:: Complete coveraege of the 2018 AFL championship game ::

The Pirates prospect was rewarded for his efforts Saturday before the Arizona Fall League Championship Game at Scottsdale Stadium when he was given the Stenson Sportsmanship Award, which was created in 2004 in memory of former AFL player Dernell Stenson, who died the previous year during the Fall League season.

The award is presented annually to the player who best exemplifies Stenson's character on and off the field: unselfishness, hard work and leadership.

Tucker, the Pirates' No. 5 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, hit .370/.442/.457 for Surprise this fall after spending the regular season with Double-A Altoona.

"I had good numbers, obviously, but it was cool because this was a good litmus test for who you are as a baseball player because there's a ton of guys here that have been in the big leagues and guys about to be in the big leagues," Tucker said. "So, to come out here and have success really gives me a lot of confidence going into Spring Training, going into next year."

Tucker grew up in the Phoenix area as a fan of the Arizona Diamondbacks, but his baseball idol was Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, who was also known for his ability to lead his teammates. That's not where the similarities end.

"Derek Jeter just has a spotless reputation in the league and in the [player's] union," Tucker said. "He's someone that I've always looked to. Obviously being a tall, lanky, bi-racial shortstop doesn't hurt, but I always looked up to him in how he carried himself on and off the field. I definitely always tried to model the way I carried myself after Jeter."

The shortstop made it a point throughout the Fall League season of staying after games to sign autographs and pose for photos with fans.

"He's a great guy," said Brewers prospect Keston Hiura, who won the league's Most Valuable Player Award. "I got a chance to know his this Fall League. He's from Arizona and just being able to see him out on the field and then talk to him, he's a great all-around player and good all-around guy. I'm happy for him and couldn't think of anyone better deserving."

Below is the complete list of Stenson award winners:

2018 -- Cole Tucker (Pirates), SS, Surprise Saguaros
2017 -- Eric Filia (Mariners), OF, Peoria Javelinas
2016 -- Austin Nola (Marlins), C, Mesa Solar Sox
2015 -- Yadiel Rivera (Brewers), SS, Surprise Saguaros
2014 -- Patrick Kivlehan (Mariners), 3B, Surprise Saguaros
2013 -- Garin Cecchini (Red Sox), 3B, Surprise Saguaros
2012 -- Cole Kimball (Nationals), RHP, Salt River Rafters
2011 -- Kevin Mattison (Marlins), OF, Surprise Saguaros
2010 -- Steve Lombardozzi (Nationals), IF, Scottsdale Scorpions
2009 -- Russ Mitchell (Dodgers), 1B, Peoria Javelinas
2008 -- Jason Donald (Phillies), IF, Mesa Solar Sox
2007 -- Sam Fuld (Cubs), OF, Mesa Solar Sox
2006 -- Kevin Frandsen (Giants), IF, Scottsdale Scorpions
2005 -- Andre Ethier (Athletics), OF, Phoenix Desert Dogs
2004 -- Mark Teahen (Royals), 3B, Phoenix Desert Dogs

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Pipeline names Bucs' Prospects of the Year

MLB.com

PITTSBURGH -- Right-hander Mitch Keller took another step toward the Majors this season. Infielder Kevin Kramer got the call every young player dreams of. Both learned through adversity at the next level, and both could play a role next season after being named MLB Pipeline's Pirates Prospects of the Year.

PITTSBURGH -- Right-hander Mitch Keller took another step toward the Majors this season. Infielder Kevin Kramer got the call every young player dreams of. Both learned through adversity at the next level, and both could play a role next season after being named MLB Pipeline's Pirates Prospects of the Year.

:: Complete prospect coverage ::

Keller, Pittsburgh's top prospect per MLB Pipeline, battled through 10 starts in Triple-A Indianapolis after a midseason promotion from Double-A Altoona. Kramer, the Pirates' No. 7 prospect, struck out in half of his big league plate appearances in September. But Keller and Kramer's initial success seems more indicative of what's to come, making both worthy of this recognition.

Each team's Hitting and Pitching Prospects of the Year were chosen by the MLB Pipeline staff. To receive consideration, players must have spent at least half the year in the Minors and appeared on the team's Top 30 Prospects list.

Keller, the No. 16 overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline, dominated in Double-A to start the season. The 22-year-old posted a 2.72 ERA and 1.12 WHIP with 76 strikeouts in 86 innings over 14 starts for Altoona. At the end of June, the Pirates front office moved Keller to Triple-A.

Video: Top Prospects: Mitch Keller, RHP, Pirates

In his first two starts for Indianapolis, Keller gave up 13 runs on 16 hits in 8 2/3 innings. To put that in perspective, he allowed 13 earned runs over his previous eight Double-A starts combined. Keller's next outing came in the Florida State League as a tune-up for the Futures Game. After he returned to Triple-A, the right-hander put together a 3.09 ERA while averaging a strikeout per inning over his final eight starts.

General manager Neal Huntington called it "a great learning year" for Keller, who is still refining his changeup to complement his high-octane fastball and hammer curveball. Pittsburgh must add Keller to its 40-man roster this offseason, and the right-hander likely will make his Major League debut sometime next year.

"He recognized that Triple-A hitters hit mistakes hard, and that changeup is going to be a really important weapon for him," Huntington said. "He learned that he's going to have to make pitches. He's going to have to attack the zone and stay ahead of hitters, and when he didn't, they made him pay for it. To see him battle back and finish fairly strong, that's going to be a great learning experience for him."

Counterintuitive as it may seem, the Pirates don't mind when their prospects struggle a little before they reach the Majors. No Major League player succeeds from start to finish without opponents exploiting a flaw in his game, so a slump at the plate or a skid on the mound is simply part of the development process. The key is how they bounce back.

That will be the case for Kramer next season, as his big league debut didn't go according to plan. Playing later in the year than ever before, the 25-year-old struck out 20 times and hit five singles in 40 plate appearances. Kramer still could lock down a utility spot on the bench next season given his ability to play three spots in the infield.

Video: MIA@PIT: Kramer's first career RBI ties game in 7th

In Triple-A, Kramer proved that his injury-shortened breakout in Double-A last year was no fluke. The lefty-hitting infielder batted .311/.365/.492 with 15 homers and 35 doubles in 129 games for Indianapolis. After struggling in May, Kramer said he stopped worrying about the mechanics of his swing and focused strictly on his timing at the plate.

"When I started doing that, it freed me up just to go out there and compete. There are still things that I need to work on, and I know that," Kramer said last month. "I know what those areas are, and that's something that I will look to do here and take that into the offseason, but I think that I gave myself more of a chance."

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Kevin Kramer

Bucs instructs: Lolo, Ogle, Hinsz trending up

MLB.com

Back in July 2015, the Pirates signed a small, speedy outfielder named Kevin Sanchez out of the Dominican Republic for $450,000. He was known as Lolo by the time fans in the United States got to see him in any fashion, and after a pedestrian debut in the Dominican Summer League in 2016, he started making it look like Lolo would be a household name in Pittsburgh eventually with a very strong U.S. debut in the Gulf Coast League a summer later.

The teenager added to his legend in big league Spring Training before the start of the 2018 season. It was just one appearance, but he raised his profile with a straight steal of home. Everyone was excited for what 2018 would bring, and the Pirates pushed him aggressively to the full-season South Atlantic League just shy of his 19th birthday.

Back in July 2015, the Pirates signed a small, speedy outfielder named Kevin Sanchez out of the Dominican Republic for $450,000. He was known as Lolo by the time fans in the United States got to see him in any fashion, and after a pedestrian debut in the Dominican Summer League in 2016, he started making it look like Lolo would be a household name in Pittsburgh eventually with a very strong U.S. debut in the Gulf Coast League a summer later.

The teenager added to his legend in big league Spring Training before the start of the 2018 season. It was just one appearance, but he raised his profile with a straight steal of home. Everyone was excited for what 2018 would bring, and the Pirates pushed him aggressively to the full-season South Atlantic League just shy of his 19th birthday.

Pirates instructional league roster, schedule

Instructional league rosters

That's where things started to go sideways for the young prospect. He hit just .163 out of the gate in April and while he did improve upon that with a .275/.362/.347 second half and finished with 30 stolen bases, it was a very up-and-down year for the Pirates' No. 10 prospect. He took those lessons with him into a very productive stint in instructional league play for the Pirates in Bradenton, which wrapped up late last week.

"A lot of guys, especially offensively, are starting to move some things forward," Pirates farm director Larry Broadway said. "Lolo had a rough year, but now he's staying behind the ball better with some better lower-half foundation. He seems to be grabbing a hold of it."

Some of Sanchez's issues were mental. Dealing with "playing under the lights" for the first time, against a much higher level of competition, got the better of him at times. The Pirates saw some positives, but will continue to work on his ability to figure things out more quickly.

"He handled it pretty well, not excellently," Broadway said of Sanchez's ability to deal with adversity. "He would've been able to make faster adjustments in a perfect world. There were some bright spots, there were times he had tough luck, and he had some spots when he just wasn't good at all. The league punched him in the mouth, he punched back, then the league punched again. Now he's making some advancements that are encouraging."

Many of those advancements are about his balance at the plate. Sanchez teed off on fastballs in the Gulf Coast League, and when he started seeing more and better breaking stuff, he got off-kilter in the box.

"His balance got exposed, got him on his front foot a decent amount," Broadway said. "We've hammered out his foundation, he's more adjustable in the box and he's committing to the approach with more conviction. He might work out with his winter ball team to continue his progress, but we're encouraged with his ability to stay balanced in the box.

Pitchers showing encouraging signs

Sanchez wasn't the only one moving in the right direction at instructs. A couple of sidelined young arms also have arrows pointing up. One is left-hander Braeden Ogle, the 2016 fourth-round pick who seemed primed to take a nice step forward with a solid showing in the Rookie-level Appalachian League in '17. But he made just four starts in April in the SAL, spanning 17 innings, in 2018 due to a shoulder issue. He threw side sessions and some simulated games in Bradenton, with Broadway and staff cautiously optimistic he's putting the injury behind him.

Then there's right-hander Gage Hinsz. The organization's No. 19 prospect was a project taken out of the Montana high school ranks in the 2014 Draft and was making slow but steady progress up the ladder. He had reached the Class A Advanced Florida State League in '17, though he scuffled there, and a scapula stress fracture ended his year a bit early.

The 22-year-old didn't throw a competitive pitch in 2018, but not because of that injury. It was discovered that Hinsz had a faulty valve in his heart, and while it wasn't impacting his ability to throw, it obviously was something he needed to get taken care of. But he's back on the mound and is now in the Dominican to get some game action in the Pirates' instructional league there after shaking off some rust in Bradenton.

"He looks good on the mound," Broadway said. "The ball is coming out well, it wasn't an arm injury. He's champing at the bit and isn't worried or hesitant. He'll pitch in Dominican instructs games, get a couple weeks worth of games there, then maybe some more innings after that in winter ball. He's trending up."

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Newman getting on-the-job training with Bucs

Rookie shortstop looks to benefit from Major League experience
MLB.com

ST. LOUIS -- At his home in Arizona, Pirates shortstop Kevin Newman keeps a handful of his most treasured baseball awards and accolades. He has an MVP award and a pair of batting titles from his time in the Cape Cod League, along with plenty of hardware he earned at the University of Arizona. This offseason, he'll add two glass-encased baseballs currently sitting inside his place in Pittsburgh: his first Major League hit and his first RBI.

"All that stuff is pretty important," Newman said on Monday. "None probably as cool as my first Major League hit."

View Full Game Coverage

ST. LOUIS -- At his home in Arizona, Pirates shortstop Kevin Newman keeps a handful of his most treasured baseball awards and accolades. He has an MVP award and a pair of batting titles from his time in the Cape Cod League, along with plenty of hardware he earned at the University of Arizona. This offseason, he'll add two glass-encased baseballs currently sitting inside his place in Pittsburgh: his first Major League hit and his first RBI.

"All that stuff is pretty important," Newman said on Monday. "None probably as cool as my first Major League hit."

View Full Game Coverage

While checking off those notable "firsts," Newman is also learning -- on the job -- his first lessons about life in the Majors. The rookie, who was called up on Aug. 16, entered Monday's series opener against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium with only five hits and 13 strikeouts in 43 plate appearances after hitting .302 for Triple-A Indianapolis this season.

Video: PIT@MIL: Newman doubles for 1st Major League hit

"The start here isn't how I would have liked to have started, but you come to the yard every day, getting better and learning more," Newman said. "The more you see guys, the more you learn from them. Going around and seeing these pitchers now is definitely going to help down the road."

Newman will continue to play on a regular basis over the final three weeks of the regular season as the Pirates look toward next year, and he believes he will benefit from his introduction to Major League pitching. Newman said he gathers more information from facing pitchers than watching them on video. This month, he'll get a chance to see the Bucs' National League Central rivals for the second time.

Shortstop Jordy Mercer will be a free agent at the end of the year, and Newman -- a first-round pick in the 2015 MLB Draft -- looks like his heir apparent. Mercer hasn't ruled out the possibility of returning to the club next year, but for now, he's serving as an example and sounding board for Newman as Clint Barmes once did for him.

"It makes all the difference in the world," Newman said. "Getting up here and being able to see how he works, what he does, how he prepares. He's an amazing guy and he's helped me along the way.

"It's great seeing these guys, how they work and everything. It's the big leagues; it's the big leagues for a reason. The guys up here are really good. It's a game of adjustments, and having to make those in-game adjustments against guys that are the best in the world is what it's all about."

Around the horn
• With Gregory Polanco out for the season due to left knee and shoulder injuries, the Pirates will use Adam Frazier, Jordan Luplow and Pablo Reyes in right field, manager Clint Hurdle said.

Jose Osuna could also be another option in right, but the club would prefer to see him work as a corner infielder. The Bucs also want to make sure that Frazier, who started in right on Monday, continues to get plenty of time at second base.

"I thought he was developing the best defense we've seen from him at second base, so I don't want to completely unplug him from that," Hurdle said of Frazier.

Video: PIT@STL: Hurdle on Harrison and Mercer's future

• Second baseman Josh Harrison on Monday made his first start since Aug. 31. Harrison has dealt with a left hamstring injury throughout the second half, and the Pirates decided at the beginning of the month to cut back on their veteran middle infielders' playing time -- perhaps limiting them to one start per series -- to get a better look at younger players like Newman and Kevin Kramer.

Harrison and Mercer started on Monday in part due to their experience against veteran Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Kevin Newman

Craig, Tucker highlight star-studded AFL rosters

MLB.com

ST. LOUIS -- The Pirates will send four of their top prospects, including former first-round picks Cole Tucker and Will Craig, to the Arizona Fall League this offseason.

The Arizona Fall League released its preliminary rosters on Thursday, and the Pirates are well represented on a star-studded Surprise Saguaros squad that includes Blue Jays phenom Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the No. 1 prospect in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline.

View Full Game Coverage

ST. LOUIS -- The Pirates will send four of their top prospects, including former first-round picks Cole Tucker and Will Craig, to the Arizona Fall League this offseason.

The Arizona Fall League released its preliminary rosters on Thursday, and the Pirates are well represented on a star-studded Surprise Saguaros squad that includes Blue Jays phenom Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the No. 1 prospect in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline.

View Full Game Coverage

Pittsburgh is sending Tucker, Craig, outfielder Bryan Reynolds, catcher Arden Pabst, left-hander Blake Weiman and right-handers Dario Agrazal, Geoff Hartlieb and Matt Eckelman. Tucker (No. 5), Reynolds (No. 8), Craig (No. 16) and Agrazal (No. 26) are all on MLB Pipeline's list of the Pirates' top prospects. All eight AFL-bound prospects are currently playing for Double-A Altoona.

Tucker, a switch-hitting shortstop, is hitting .256/.332/.350 with five homers, six triples and 33 steals this season. The 24th overall pick in the 2014 Draft, Tucker was invited to big league Spring Training this year and should return next season before advancing to Triple-A.

Video: Top Prospects: Cole Tucker, SS, Pirates

The Fall League, a destination for top prospects looking to take the next step and face high-level competition, will also be a homecoming for Tucker. The 22-year-old is a native of Phoenix who graduated high school from Mountain Pointe High School, which is about an hour away from Surprise Stadium.

The Pirates selected Craig 22nd overall out of Wake Forest University in the 2016 Draft. During his first two professional seasons, Craig hit for average and got on base, but lacked power. He's changed the narrative this year in Double-A, batting .245/.316/.448 with 20 home runs, 28 doubles and 98 RBIs in 128 games. Craig, 23, has spent the past two years at first base after being drafted as a third baseman.

Video: TB@PIT: Craig ropes a solo home run to center

Pittsburgh picked up Reynolds, a switch-hitting outfielder, along with Kyle Crick in the trade that sent Andrew McCutchen to San Francisco. The 23-year-old, a second-round pick in 2016, has made a smooth transition into the Pirates' system, as he entered Thursday batting .303/.382/.442 with seven homers, 40 walks and only 68 strikeouts in 83 games.

Video: Top Prospects: Bryan Reynolds, OF, Pirates

Reynolds and Agrazal will get a chance to make up for lost time in the Fall League. Reynolds missed more than a month due to a fractured hamate, while Agrazal was sidelined for two months with a strained right shoulder. Agrazal, who was in big league camp this year after being added to the Bucs' 40-man roster last offseason, has gone 5-5 with a 2.78 ERA in 16 games, including 15 starts.

Pabst, 23, has hit .271/.303/.484 with 10 homers in 63 games this season. The 2016 12th-round pick bounced from Class A Advanced Bradenton to Triple-A Indianapolis and back before arriving in Altoona last month.

Hartlieb, a 29th-round pick in 2016, owns a 3.42 ERA with 55 strikeouts in 55 1/3 innings over 44 relief appearances for Altoona. Eckelman, a 21st-rounder in 2016, put together a 1.99 ERA in 38 appearances for Bradenton and Altoona. Weiman was an eighth-round Draft pick just last year, but he has jumped from Class A West Virginia to Double-A this season while posting a 2.57 ERA and 1.00 WHIP with 73 strikeouts and only eight walks in 63 innings.

Around the horn
• Left fielder Corey Dickerson was not in the starting lineup for Thursday's series finale at Busch Stadium. After an outstanding July, Dickerson has hit just .212/.225/.235 in 23 games since returning from a strained hamstring.

Adam Frazier took Dickerson's place in left field on Thursday, and Kevin Newman made his fourth start at second base. Josh Harrison has started only one of Pittsburgh's last nine games.

Gregory Polanco has driven in 72 runs as a right fielder this season, the most by a Pirate at that position since Jose Guillen had 83 RBIs in 1998.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Bucs prospect Newman debuts at shortstop

Mercer to DL; Luplow recalled; Stallings optioned; Sadler DFA'd
MLB.com

PITTSBURGH -- With Jordy Mercer injured, the Pirates called up their potential shortstop of the future on Thursday.

The Pirates selected the contract of infielder Kevin Newman, their first-round Draft pick in 2015, amid a series of roster moves before Thursday's series opener against the Cubs at PNC Park. Newman made his Major League debut in the ninth inning of Pittsburgh's 1-0 loss, entering the game as a defensive replacement at shortstop.

View Full Game Coverage

PITTSBURGH -- With Jordy Mercer injured, the Pirates called up their potential shortstop of the future on Thursday.

The Pirates selected the contract of infielder Kevin Newman, their first-round Draft pick in 2015, amid a series of roster moves before Thursday's series opener against the Cubs at PNC Park. Newman made his Major League debut in the ninth inning of Pittsburgh's 1-0 loss, entering the game as a defensive replacement at shortstop.

View Full Game Coverage

"It's a dream come true. This is what every baseball player strives for and wants to get to," Newman said. "To be here and be in this clubhouse with these guys, it's really exciting. I look forward to it."

Video: Newman talks about being called up to the Pirates

Mercer was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a left calf strain, which he sustained Tuesday night in Minnesota. Putting Mercer on the DL allowed the Bucs to quickly recall outfielder Jordan Luplow, who was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis on Sunday.

With catchers Francisco Cervelli and Elias Diaz in good health, the Pirates also optioned catcher Jacob Stallings to Triple-A. Right-hander Casey Sadler was designated for assignment to make room for Newman on Pittsburgh's 40-man roster.

Newman learned of his promotion from Triple-A manager Brian Esposito after Indianapolis' doubleheader on Wednesday night. His first call was to his wife, Shayne, who caught a red-eye flight from California and arrived at PNC Park on Thursday along with Newman's parents, John and Tammy, and sister Fallon.

"Got a pretty good reaction out of her," Newman said, smiling. "She was really happy, screaming on the phone. It was great."

Newman was not in Pittsburgh's starting lineup on Thursday -- veteran Adeiny Hechavarria got the nod behind Ivan Nova -- but the 25-year-old will get a chance to play while Mercer is sidelined. Newman, the Bucs' No. 6 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, was hitting .302/.350/.407 with 30 doubles, four homers, 35 RBIs and 28 steals in 109 games this season for Indianapolis.

Newman heated up just before his promotion, batting .366 in his final 10 games for Indianapolis. That stretch included a 5-for-5 performance on Aug. 7 during which Newman and Stallings both hit for the cycle. Newman is regarded as a high-average hitter who makes consistent contact, and his steady middle-infield defense has improved this season.

"I think he's the most dependable shortstop that we could call up," manager Clint Hurdle said. "From Opening Day until now, he's improved every facet of his game. He hasn't blinked when other people have been called up."

But Newman made a fairly quick climb through the Pirates' system. A year and a half after being drafted 19th overall, he was invited to big league Spring Training camp. Last July, he made the leap to Triple-A. A little more than three years after his professional debut, Newman found his No. 27 jersey in the Pirates' clubhouse.

"It happened in its own time. It happened when it needed to happen," Newman said. "The Pirates felt that I was ready. I've worked hard, and thankfully they selected me and brought me up here."

Mercer will be a free agent at the end of the season, and Newman is in line to take over as the everyday shortstop as soon as next year. Assuming Newman remains in Pittsburgh the rest of the year, he can continue to learn from Mercer as Mercer once learned from Clint Barmes.

"This is another one of our own guys. Jordy was one of our guys. So there's a kindred spirit there, I believe, that's special as well," Hurdle said. "They've already spent some time together, and there'll be more dialogue with Jordy while he's here that will help. I know it will help."

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Jordan Luplow, Jordy Mercer, Kevin Newman

Bucs send Baz to Rays to cap Archer deal

Right-hander was Pirates' No. 4 prospect
MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- General manager Neal Huntington said on July 31 that the Pirates agreed to send a "significant" prospect to the Rays to complete their trade for Chris Archer, and his words proved to be true on Tuesday.

The Pirates completed their blockbuster trade for Archer by sending right-hander Shane Baz, their No. 4 prospect, to the Rays. Baz, a 19-year-old right-hander from Texas, was the Pirates' first-round Draft pick (12th overall) last year and signed for $4.1 million. He was ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 95 prospect in baseball.

View Full Game Coverage

MINNEAPOLIS -- General manager Neal Huntington said on July 31 that the Pirates agreed to send a "significant" prospect to the Rays to complete their trade for Chris Archer, and his words proved to be true on Tuesday.

The Pirates completed their blockbuster trade for Archer by sending right-hander Shane Baz, their No. 4 prospect, to the Rays. Baz, a 19-year-old right-hander from Texas, was the Pirates' first-round Draft pick (12th overall) last year and signed for $4.1 million. He was ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 95 prospect in baseball.

View Full Game Coverage

The Pirates gave up Baz along with outfielder Austin Meadows and right-hander Tyler Glasnow, but they felt that was the cost necessary to acquire a proven starter with top-of-the-rotation stuff like Archer.

"We're excited to have Archer, and we knew that Archer's price tag was going to be high," manager Clint Hurdle said on Tuesday. "We wish [Baz] nothing but good things. I hope it turns out to be a great trade for both sides. The other hard part is not every Minor League prospect ever pans out to be a great Major League pitcher. You just don't know. We love the kid. We love the development, the progress, the track that he was on -- just as we did with Glasnow, just as we did with Meadows."

Baz was 4-3 with a 3.97 ERA and 54 strikeouts in 45 1/3 innings over 10 starts this season for Rookie-level Bristol. His last two starts, both made since the Trade Deadline deal, were perhaps the best of his young career. Baz pitched 9 2/3 scoreless innings while striking out 12 batters over his last two outings to earn Appalachian League Pitcher of the Week honors.

"It's all part of organizational development and success," Hurdle said. "There's only two types of currency in today's game to go get players that you don't have and you're not raising: you either buy them, or you trade for them. This was the option that we were able to choose."

Video: Top Prospects: Shane Baz, RHP, Pirates

Baz may one day develop into a top-of-the-rotation starter, as scouts have projected after seeing him throw a fastball that touches 98 mph, a plus cutter and a curveball. But he is years away from the Majors, and while the Pirates aren't all-in on this season, they are confident in their current core. That group now includes Archer, who is under contract next season with club options for 2020 and '21.

Still, it was an unexpectedly aggressive move by Pirates general manager Neal Huntington. Glasnow and Meadows will be under club control for several more years, and both were once ranked among the game's top prospects. Meadows showed flashes of his potential during his first few weeks in the Majors this season, and Glasnow has harnessed his overpowering arsenal during his first three starts with the Rays.

"We believe in this team," Pirates president Frank Coonelly said at the time of the trade. "We believe in the young core that's here, the young core that will be here for several years as we move forward and the wave that's right behind them that we believe in. We wouldn't have paid the steep price that we paid today in terms of Major League players and prospects for a player who was here for two months. But we were able to bring in somebody who we believe can help push us forward this year and then help us in '19, '20 and '21. That was important."

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

Pittsburgh Pirates

4 Pirates among re-ranked Top 100 Prospects

Keller, Hayes, Swaggerty, Baz represent Bucs in midseason update
MLB.com

PITTSBURGH -- Right-hander Mitch Keller leads a group of four young Pirates players who landed on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects after a midseason re-ranking.

Keller, 22, ranks as the No. 14 overall prospect after beginning the season at No. 16. He began the year with Double-A Altoona, where he posted a 9-2 record with a 2.72 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 14 starts. He was promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis in July and has encountered growing pains, allowing 17 earned runs in 17 2/3 innings over his four starts with the club.

View Full Game Coverage

PITTSBURGH -- Right-hander Mitch Keller leads a group of four young Pirates players who landed on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects after a midseason re-ranking.

Keller, 22, ranks as the No. 14 overall prospect after beginning the season at No. 16. He began the year with Double-A Altoona, where he posted a 9-2 record with a 2.72 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 14 starts. He was promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis in July and has encountered growing pains, allowing 17 earned runs in 17 2/3 innings over his four starts with the club.

View Full Game Coverage

Keller remains the No. 1 prospect in the Pirates' organization.

Third baseman Ke'Bryan Hayes began the year outside of MLB Pipeline's Top 100, but he has leaped into the No. 55 spot thanks to his progression with Double-A Altoona this season. He also made a jump among the club's top prospects, sitting at No. 2 after being No. 4 in the preseason.

Video: WLD@USA: Hayes hammers a 2-run homer to left-center

Through 89 games, the 21-year-old has batted .285 with an .813 OPS. He's appeared to take a more patient approach at the plate, as his walk rate is up and his strikeout rate is down compared to years past.

First-round MLB Draft selection Travis Swaggerty, an outfielder out of South Alabama, is ranked No. 87 overall and No. 3 in the Pirates' organization. He's slashed .267/.345/.475 with four home runs and 12 RBIs in 26 games with Class A Short Season West Virginia.

Video: Top Prospects: Travis Swaggerty, OF, Pirates

Right-hander Shane Baz rounds out the list of Pirates in the Top 100 at No. 97, 30 spots below where he began the season. The 19-year-old has posted a 5.05 ERA in eight starts for Rookie-Level Bristol and ranks No. 4 in the Pirates' system. Meanwhile, shortstop Oneil Cruz made the biggest jump within the club rankings, bumping up from No. 14 to No. 5 after posting an .845 OPS with Class A Short Season West Virginia.

Video: Top Prospects: Shane Baz, RHP, Pirates

The Pirates recently dealt left-hander Taylor Hearn, who was listed as No. 7 in the Pirates' organization, as well as a pair of former No. 1 club prospects in Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows. Despite the moves, general manager Neal Huntington stated that the organization is confident with the level of depth their farm system provides.

"We've given up players of significance in these trades," Huntington said. "But because of the job our amateur scouting department has done, our player development group has done, our professional scouting department has done through trades, through minor acquisitions, through significant acquisitions, we like the depth of our system."

Injury updates
• Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang was originally scheduled to begin a rehab assignment in Bradenton on Tuesday, but he was shut down due to recurrent left wrist symptoms. The club has yet to set a timetable for when his assignment will begin.

Corey Dickerson is eligible to return from the disabled list on Saturday. He tested out his hamstring on Wednesday, and he will be assessed over the next few days to see if he will be able to stay on schedule for a return in the Cardinals series.

• Right-hander Chad Kuhl (right forearm strain) was moved to the 60-day disabled list, providing a more realistic timetable for his return, not because of any form of setback.

Josh Bell, who was placed on the 10-day disabled list on July 28 with a left oblique strain, remains in the early stages of his recovery. According to director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk, he continues to show "encouraging" signs of improvement every day.

• Right-handers Nick Burdi (recovering from Tommy John surgery) and A.J. Schugel (right shoulder discomfort) continue to take steps on their road to recovery. Burdi is continuing his rehab assignment with Double-A Altoona, while Schugel continues to throw simulated games in Bradenton.

Mason Wittner is a reporter for MLB.com based in Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Rays land Glasnow, Meadows in Archer deal

MLB.com

The Rays officially traded right-hander Chris Archer to the Pirates before Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, acquiring a talent-rich package that includes outfielder Austin Meadows, right-hander Tyler Glasnow and a player to be named.

Archer was one of few frontline starters available on the market at this Trade Deadline, and he shouldn't merely be a rental -- he is controllable through 2021, with team-friendly options of $9 million for 2020 and $11 million for 2021.

The Rays officially traded right-hander Chris Archer to the Pirates before Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, acquiring a talent-rich package that includes outfielder Austin Meadows, right-hander Tyler Glasnow and a player to be named.

Archer was one of few frontline starters available on the market at this Trade Deadline, and he shouldn't merely be a rental -- he is controllable through 2021, with team-friendly options of $9 million for 2020 and $11 million for 2021.

Do-Hyoung Park is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Chris Archer

Keller makes move up Pirates' pipeline

Top prospect set to make his first Triple-A start
MLB.com