Consider this With Pirates Prospects Under Shelton and Marin, They're Getting Worse

Photo credit:  Charles LeClaire/USA Today Sports

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The month of May has been brutal for the Pittsburgh Pirates.  We knew this Pirates team was going to be bad, but they showed in April that they could at least hang in games.  Now, they are getting blown out of ballparks.  In the month of May the Pirates have lost 11-1, 8-2, 9-0, 7-0, and, just yesterday, 18-4.  This team is getting worse and so are the players.

I recently wrote an article about bringing up young players from the minor leagues so you can see what you have in your organization.  I'm not even particularly pointing to Oneil Cruz, although he deserves it.  I just believe that if you are going to lose anyway, why not lose productively and find some stuff out.  Cody Flavell shared a similar view today in his piece on Roansy Contreras and Yerry De Los Santos, who were called up just last night.  

However, I am starting to have concerns that players may actually suffer consequences just by simply playing for this coaching staff led by manager Derek Shelton.  

Yesterday's starter, Bryse Wilson, was not a great pitcher with the Atlanta Braves, who he started his major league career with.  He had a 5.55 ERA and a 1.58 WHIP in 116.2 innings with the Braves.  However, he was in his low 20's, having debuted at 20 years old.  Potentially a change of scenery and some more major league experience would see Wilson improve upon those numbers.

However, somehow the Pirates have made Wilson even worse.  After yesterday's start, Wilson has a 7.66 ERA with a 1.81 WHIP in 28.2 innings pitched this season.  Pitching coach Oscar Marin has taken a young Wilson that needed a new direction and pointed him in the wrong one, clearly.  

Mitch Keller has also continued to digress under this current regime.  With a 6.37 ERA and a 1.56 WHIP on the season, he has found his way out of the starting rotation, and serving a bullpen role for the first time in his career.  It seemed like something the Pirates were desperately staying away from, but they've finally given in to taking the pressure of starting a game off of Keller's shoulders.  It may not be a long-term plan for Keller, but the last time we saw him pitch was out of the bullpen.

Now, Wilson and Keller were already struggling before Derek Shelton and Oscar Marin got their hands on them.  The concern is they've taken many more steps back than forward, among other arms.  I don't want to completely ignore Jose Quintana revitalizing his career with the Pirates this season, however, helping a Cy Young winner find his game again is an easier task than developing young arms.  The latter is what Marin and Shelton were brought in to do.  However, it should be noted Quintana is a rare bright spot on their resume.

Then there are the young hitters not developing under Shelton and company.  Rodolfo Castro, Jack Suwinski, and Diego Castillo were all at one point Top 30 prospects for the Pirates, with Suwinski and Castillo still on the coveted list.  

Not only is Rodolfo Castro only batting .191 in his first 125 plate appearances with the Pirates, he has shown signs that the fundamentals are not being taught to him either.  In addition to committing errors in the field, Castro made an embarrassing baserunning mistake on Friday evening.  With two outs, he was standing on second base with Ke'Bryan Hayes at the plate.  After the pitch, Castro attempted a delayed steal of third base.

Delayed steal of third base, with two outs, with Hayes at the plate....what?  

Regardless of who is batting, there is no benefit to being on third base with two out versus second base.  Unless you're Daniel Vogelbach and you may not score on a single, but even then, I've never seen such a gaffe at the major league level.  And Castro is certainly fast enough to score from second base on a single.  So if you're not going to teach your players how to hit at the major league level, at least teach them fundamental baseball.

I worry the same for guys like Castillo and Suwinski.  While their sample sizes are smaller, they too are digressing.  Castillo has seen his batting average fall consistently since Opening Day.  Suwinski has just 77 plate appearances, so we cannot take much from that, however, he hasn't gotten it going at all.  It's frustrating to see guys like Alek Thomas for the Diamondbacks immediately come up and make a difference, while Suwinksi can't bat over the Mendoza line.

So while the callups of Contreras and De Los Santos are exciting, it worry about who is now molding them.  Marin and Shelton know nothing but losing and a losing culture.  Are they really the ones that we want teaching baseball to the last hope prospects of this rebuild?  If they fail, this process starts all over again.  See ya in 2033.