Pirates shortstop Kevin Newman left last night’s game due to left groin soreness, and the team’s director of sports medicine Todd Tomcyzk told reporters (including Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) this afternoon he’s been diagnosed with a strain. The issue is expected to keep him out for three-to-five weeks.
Newman will certainly be placed on the 10-day injured list, leaving the Bucs needing to fill in at shortstop. Newman has started 13 of the first 17 games there, with Hoy Park, Diego Castillo and Cole Tucker accounting for the other four outings. Tucker is on the COVID-19 injured list, so Park and Castillo figure to be in line for the bulk of playing time over the coming weeks. Manager Derek Shelton said it’ll be Castillo who gets the nod for tonight’s game against the Brewers (via Mike Persak of the Post-Gazette).
Castillo and Park both went to Pittsburgh from the Yankees in last summer’s Clay Holmes trade. Both players had solid numbers in the high minors last year, but they’re each already in their mid-20’s. Most public prospect evaluators don’t regard either as a long-term regular, although Castillo checked in 16th at Baseball America and 17th at FanGraphs during those outlets’ respective write-ups of the Bucs’ farm system this winter. Both noted that Castillo isn’t likely to be a long-term fit defensively at shortstop but praised his bat-to-ball skills and suggested he could be a useful bat-first utility type.
While a Castillo – Park pairing seems the likeliest outcome, the Pirates could look elsewhere to hold down shortstop in Newman’s absence. Ke’Bryan Hayes moved to the position from his customary third base spot for the final few innings last night, his first career action there. Hayes, widely regarded as a Gold Glove-caliber player at the hot corner, could probably hold his own at shortstop. It seems, however, the Bucs would rather leave him at third base, where they’re certain he can be a plus defender.
The Pirates also have top shortstop prospect Oneil Cruz on optional assignment to Triple-A Indianapolis. The 23-year-old made a brief big league cameo at the end of last year, but he was optioned to start this season. That seemed to be motivated, at least in part, by service time considerations. Cruz has now spent enough time in the minors that he wouldn’t automatically reach a full year of MLB service in 2022 even if he were called up for good today.
However, the new collective bargaining agreement grants a full season of service to top prospects who finish among their respective league’s top two in Rookie of the Year balloting. On the one hand, that’s a player-friendly provision; yet it can also disincentivize a team like the Pirates — amidst a full rebuild and not in position to compete in 2022 regardless — from calling up a player of Cruz’s talent level until deeper into the season to diminish the chances he compiles Rookie of the Year-caliber numbers to earn that bonus service year.
There’s also the simple matter of Cruz’s early performance in Indianapolis, which has not been good. He’s hitting .203/.288/.339 with just one homer through his first 66 plate appearances. It’s thus unsurprising Shelton didn’t sound as if the team were planning to bring Cruz up at this time. Asked if Cruz was an option to replace Newman, the skipper noted that “everybody in our system who’s on the roster at the upper levels will be given consideration” but added that “there’s still work (for Cruz) to be done. We’re focusing on what that work is” (Mackey links).
In other Pirates’ news, Shelton informed reporters that star outfielder Bryan Reynolds will be back on the roster tonight (via Persak). He hit the COVID list alongside Tucker yesterday, but it would appear he never tested positive and is currently asymptomatic.
Well the service time date is at the end of the week. Castillo is a good enough hold-over until he’s up. Might also see Rodolfo Castro, who’s been crushing Triple-A pitching.
Cruz isn’t coming up any time soon he needs a ton of work 2 more strike outs today. It’s going to be Tucker Castillo. Castro needs to continue playing every day once Vogelback and Yoshi are gone he will be up
I’m interested in seeing what any or all of Castillo, Park, and Rodolfo Castro can do at SS with some semi-consistent at-bats. Let’s start sorting through and prioritizing the pile of middle infield “might-be” prospects. Newman is not the future and Tucker seems to almost certainly not be either, so let’s see who is.
I don’t think these 3 are either. Pegureo is best bet for 2024 and on SS. Hopefully Gonzales can be at 2b.
If you mean the future everyday SS, I agree that it’s likely not anyone from the current group. But Castillo has pretty good contact skills and is at least passable defensively so far; I would argue that he has some sort of future, at worst as a utility type who won’t hurt the lineup when he’s in. Castro showed some pop last year although not so much defensively; in a lineup starved for power he might deserve a better look, although they might need to find a position for him.
They will put anybody anywhere. Castillo will play a lot. He will make most the plays that he gets to the ball. Tucker will get to more balls but make more errors. Castillo will stick around until arbitration at least.Maybe longer if they can teach him to take some walks.
Again with the service time thing. Cruz has looked like a complete klutz at SS, and totally hideous in LF. The real question is he qualified for AAA at this point, defensively. Offensively? The .202 doesn’t lie; he closes his eyes and flails. That might work for Rafe Devers, but not sure it holds for Cruz. He needs time.
Castilloisn’t bad at all; ya, he’s not Jeff Kent, but the defense/quick twitch are fine, and he makes contact. Under-rated INHO. Park can hit…end of story. Also clumsy with the glove.
Why any sane rational human would think of moving Hayes off 3B, on a “rebuilding” team, is beyond me. Take a quality (both aspects) player, and make him ordinary….now THAT’LL get you to the promissed land!
I’m not worried about Cruz. It’s a small sample size and a .190 average does lie in a small sample size. If he goes 7-15 in his next 3-4 games, he goes from a below-mendoza line hitter to a .244 hitter. Sure, that’s not great, but all it takes is one good week and he’s hitting .280+ again.
Also, if you remember back to last season, he was only hitting.227/.292/.394 through his first 72 PA’s. Right now, he has 70 plate appearances.
There isn’t any need to go into panic mode after 3 weeks, about Cruz or any other suspect. There also isn’t a need to worry about what to do with him once he bubbles up. IF he bubbles up. And that’s a huge IF.
Look, everybody ;. likes the kids. But MOST will turn out like Tucker; great guy, . personality plus, can’t hit anything with a wrinkle; the ceiling is a pop-less utility guy; with serious doubt he even gets there. The reality is if you take all their IF suspects together (and granted, they got ’em), and get a couple of average to below performers, your farm system is more productive than most.
Farm systems in MLB are like turnovers in football; it’s not the turnover, it’s what you do with them. And going into every NFL game with a plan just to get turnovers will make you a loser.
Ghost of ben
Yea why would anyone even suggest move Hayes to short. Also at 6’7. Why not put Cruz at first in the minors.
With the new CBA agreement that grants a full-season of service time based on ROY voting, I can picture Bob Nutting in his press box like the owner in MAJOR LEAGUE.
This “manipulating” service time thing is a myth that long ago got old……
1. Most players don’t make the 6 years, including the lauded “can’t miss” guys.
2. Many that do are traded from their teams before they get near the 6 years.
Most bogus, irrelevant talking point along with “Pitch Framing”.
Can you imagine thinking service time manipulation and pitch framing are myths?
It’s not a myth, but service time manipulation is perfectly ok, nothing wrong with it.
Probably be a lot of cole tucker. I seen enough of him but i don’t think the pirates have and this injury might have bought him another month. Pirates are only concerned about evaluating talent so anyone remotely capable can play there. Cruz isn’t a ss but he will play there short term eventually. Hayes would do fine but they like him at 3b. Castillo is solid enough to make the routine plays. Park not as much but wth.
It’s an interesting situation they find themselves in, for sure. They are heavy at prospects in the middle infield but not so much in the outfield. Pitching prospects seem to be years away
I know they are looking for alternatives. Tucker at this stage sure doesn’t look like an outfielder and over two seasons often seems to be overmatched at the plate. Now we’re reading about Cruz’s struggles at short.
I have to wonder about the overall philosophy that the team is using.
Bring up whomever seems “near-ready” and plug them in, wins and losses be damned?
Guess I worry about ruining young players in two ways: bringing them up too soon or moving them all over the field to find a spot.
There is also Nick Gonzales who can be called up. I think he would be a nice option at second if Castillo or Park plays SS. I guess it depends on who’s the better defensive player. Ideally, I’d like Park/Gonzales duo until Newman is back. Tucker should stick to the outfield. Castillo can DH and split start as the middle infield positions. It might be a blessing to Castillo to show what he can do with more ABs. He may not be a long term decision for a the Pirates, but he could hang around like Clint Frazier did with the Yankees. I could see him sticking around and get Josh Harrison type extension.
Gonzalez not ready either
If you see Gonzales it won’t be until September October.
Your right, I thought he was in AAA. He’s in AA according to FanGraphs
Please not Hot park, Just bring up Cruz the weather will eventually warm up and Cruz will start hitting and who knows maybe people will show at the park to see him.
And watch Cruz throw the ball into the stands. Pedro Aleverez 2.0
So Cruz is striking out an outrageous amount of time in AAA, but when the weather turns hot he should be called up because he’ll be able to hit ML pitching?
Yesterday I wrote who I thought had been the best SS in MLB in recent years. Posters here told me how full of it I was, and as proof noted that 7-10 SS’s had been selected before him in their rotisserie league.
If Shelton works hard enough at his lineup, he could conceivably start all 9 with guys hitting below .200. On any given night he has at least 4. Just saying…
I went to the game on Easter Sunday. No Reynolds, no Hayes…. it was frankly an atrocious-looking starting lineup. So of course they won.
I’m interested to see if he can get to the All Star break with his starting pitchers winning less than 10 games collectively. Of course, they have to be able to go 5 innings and that’s apparently a bridge too far
To be fair, I’m not sure I want to see most of their starters go more innings than they have to most nights…
Ghost of ben
I keep saying Shelton has to go. Today’s game 2-1 lead. Puts bednar, the closer in. Then puts in scrub to close and they lose
Mendoza Line 215
Ben- I think that he did that once before a week or so ago and Stratton put a couple of guys on before getting the final out.
Why he would not use his closer to close is anyone’s guess unless he was told to to inflate Stratton’s trade value.
He is a setup man and nowhere close to a closer.
When you control the mail, you control…INFORMATION!
I was thinking…if Indiana ever gets a team, they should be called the Fort Wayne Knights.
Imagine a team so horrible it would limit playing time because it’s possible the player might be good enough to be awarded ROY.
Imagine you know the business plan, thinking and discussions of the people in the Pirates front office.
I speak the truth
Imagine being so clueless to what’s really going on. If Cruz was really ready to be a starting shortstop in the majors he’d be with the Pirates. Go troll some other teams news.
This is what the article proposes not my original take. Now imagine that a team would withhold service time to prevent a player from winning an award. Sorry everyone got butt hurt about their Pirates.
That’s a terrible take, Thickie.
Thickie, hopefully you are not of legal voting age, of if so, too lazy to do so.
@thickiedon horrible as in their record? Or horrible on paper? With what I seen so far from the standings, they are “horrible” but not “best” team in baseball. Being a game under 500, isn’t as bad or horrible as it really could be. This time last year, pirates were dead last and 5 games under. I think it’s a step in the right direction. Any win they get this year, will be better than other teams in the league. Ugly win, good win, or even cheap win, they will come.
As for horrible on paper, that is a given. To be doing better than some teams who look solid on paper, it’s a heck of an achievement. Either way, it’s like a double headed quarter and the pirates are winning no matter what. They have been mediocre this year and I thought they would be the worst. It’s still early, but I am impressed with how they keep pulling wins out. Only 2-3 bad series and the rest of the series, they’ve won. They are making some of us believers right now. When another young prospect gets called up due to illness or injury, it gives us Pirates fan a bit of hope past this year. Next few weeks will see what the future holds for the Pirates. Tucker, Newman, and others are out for 10 to 20 days. Castillo and Park will be tested. Guys like Cruz and others, will get looks if Park and Castillo can’t be consistent. Pieces are starting to come together.
Are was meant to say are not
Go get Jordy
Just don’t give Tucker ABs
Moving Tucker to the OF is strategically one of the best ways to improve the collective hitting metrics of the infield. Kills the outfield, but hey, we’re looking for the positives here.
What’s up with all the superstars getting injured? Now I have to watch old guys past their prime like Trout and Betts. It’s going to be a long season…
Remember Sunday they will need to go down to 14 p 12 b. It could be 13-13, but with how they are wearing out the bullpen, almost a lock it’s 14/12. Currently at 13 position players with 2 being temporary fill ins. Vanmeter can easily be DFA IMO. Tucker should be available soon but he stinks anyways.
someone needs to walk up to cruz and say.. hey quit stinking it up and you’ll be in the show.
Cruz has having a rough time at the plate so far in the small sample.. 70PAs.. but he does have 6SBs in those 70PAs he bring it around for a week or two, i’d expect him up.
castilo will get a longer look but calling up Bae could also be an option to let cruz get those ABs in.