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Pirates Minor League Updates: Johnson, Cheng Break Out; Ashcraft K’s 12

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Termarr Johnson, Pittsburgh Pirates, Pirates prospects

This is one in a weekly update on the Pittsburgh Pirates’ top 10 prospects.

Pittsburgh Pirates position player prospects have largely struggled this season, but Termarr Johnson and Tsung-Che Cheng broke out with big weeks.

On the mound, Braxton Ashcraft racked up 12 strikeouts and earned a promotion.

Full updates on the top 10:

1. RHP Paul Skenes (Pittsburgh Pirates)

  • Weekly stats: 1-0, 5.40 ERA, five innings, three runs, six hits, one walk, eight strikeouts, one appearance/one start
  • 2024 stats (MLB): 3-0, 3.00 ERA, 27.0 innings, nine runs, 21 hits, six walks, 38 strikeouts, five appearances/five starts

It wasn’t the best start of his career, but Skenes got the win in his lone start of the week against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He’ll be on the mound on Tuesday night against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium.

2. INF Termarr Johnson (High-A Greensboro)

  • Weekly stats: .300/.400/.500, 6 for 20, one double, one home run, two RBIs, six games
  • 2024 stats: .213/.385/.360, 38 for 178, nine doubles, one triple, five home runs, 22 RBIs, seven steals, 54 games

Johnson continues to improve as the season goes on and had another strong week of play. Despite a dreadful start, Johnson still has a 121 wRC+.

3. RHP Bubba Chandler (Double-A Altoona)

  • Weekly stats: 1-1, 0.00 ERA, eight innings, three runs (no earned), no walks, seven strikeouts, two appearances/one start
  • 2024 stats: 2-5, 4.42 ERA ERA, 36.2 innings, 21 runs (18 earned), 29 hits, 19 walks, 40 strikeouts, 11 appearances/nine starts

Chandler made two appearances this week, one as a starter and one in relief. He was strong in both outings, an encouraging sign after a brief stint on the injured list.

4. LHP Anthony Solometo (Double-A Altoona)

  • Weekly stats: 0-1, 4.50 ERA, four innings, two runs, two hits, two walks, four strikeouts, two appearances/two starts
  • 2024 stats: 0-4, 6.00 ERA, 30 innings, 20 runs, 29 hits, 20 walks, 21 strikeouts, 12 appearances/nine starts

Solometo was limited to two innings in each of his two starts during the week. Though there are still things he will need to continue to work on, his performance was at least a step in the right direction.

5. RHP Thomas Harrington (Double-A Altoona)

  • Weekly stats: 0-0, 9.00 ERA, five innings, six runs (five earned), eight hits, no walks, six strikeouts, one appearance/one start
  • 2024 stats: 0-0, 3.65 ERA, 24.2 innings, 12 runs (10 earned), 21 hits, two walks, 26 strikeouts, six starts

Harrington scuffled in his latest outing, giving him back-to-back shaky starts after a brilliant start to the season. The right-hander has continued to miss bats while showing excellent control.

6. RHP Braxton Ashcraft (Double-A Altoona)

  • Weekly stats: 1-0, 5.14 ERA, seven innings, four runs, six hits, no walks, 12 strikeouts, one appearance/one start
  • 2024 stats: 2-2, 3.69 ERA, 53.2 innings, 24 runs (22 earned), 51 hits, eight walks, 63 strikeouts, 11 appearances/10 starts

Ashcraft recorded an eye-popping 12 strikeouts without issuing a walk. Though he allowed four runs, his efforts were enough for his second win of the season. The Pirates promoted Ashcraft to Triple-A Indianapolis, according to MLB.com’s Alex Stumpf.

7. INF Mitch Jebb (High-A Greensboro)

  • Weekly stats: .227/.280/.273, 5 for 22, one double, one RBI, six games
  • 2024 stats: .199/.261/.290, 37 for 186, three doubles, one triple, four home runs, 29 RBIs, nine steals, 47 games

Jebb had another lackluster week for the Grasshoppers. His first full professional season has not gone as planned.

8. INF Tsung-Che Cheng (Double-A Altoona)

  • Weekly stats: .304/.333/.696, 7 for 23, three doubles, two home runs, four RBIs, one steal, six games
  • 2024 stats: .230/.343/.385, 40 for 174, six doubles, seven home runs, 26 RBIs, 10 steals, 50 games

As has been the case with many of the other position player prospects in the Pirates’ organization, Cheng got off to a slow start this season. He broke his slump with a very strong week at the plate, notably in the power department.

9. INF Jack Brannigan (High-A Greensboro)

  • Weekly stats: .286/.500/.429, 2 for 7, one double, one RBI, three games
  • 2024 stats: .217/.357/.394, 38 for 175, eight doubles, one triple, seven home runs, 21 RBIs, nine steals, 48 games

Brannigan had a solid three games before he was placed on the seven-day injured list.

10. RHP Mike Burrows (Triple-A Indianapolis)

  • HAS YET TO PITCH IN 2024 (RECOVERING FROM TOMMY JOHN SURGERY)
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William R. Maloni

Ouch, too many hitters flirting wiht the “Mendoza line.”
Of course, these kids may get confused thinking that’s what Cherington wants, when they see Rowdy, Taylor, Suwinski, Grandal, et al.

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