This article is a follow up to an earlier post Bucs Dugout that highlighted the first half season offense leaders of the Greensboro Grasshoppers—the full-season class A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the South Atlantic League. Here I will introduce the pitchers that led the Grasshoppers pitching staff in one or more of seven traditional pitching statistic categories listed on the team’s official website.
As I also mentioned in that earlier post, it is quite interesting to look back at the players that led the pitching staff of the Greensboro Grasshoppers to identify the role they served in their team’s success during the first half of the 2019 SAL season. That is because as the season continues the pitching leaders group evolves and can change dramatically. One of the key reasons is that pitchers who had an excellent first half may get promoted within the Pittsburgh Pirates Minor League system. In fact, as you will see soon, that has taken place relative to key members of the Grasshoppers pitching staff.
*Requires a minimum of 55 2⁄3 innings pitched based on 69 games and an average of .8 inning/game
+Requires a minimum of 7 win/loss decisions based on 69 games and an average of 1 W/L per each 10 games
The first half of the South Atlantic League regular season ended on June 16th, which was the start of the league’s all-star break. The table of Figure 2 lists the Greensboro Grasshoppers pitchers that ranked number 1 at that point in the season in the seven traditional pitching statistics I chose to follow. The first six of those stats, wins (W), win-loss percentage (W-L%), innings pitched (IP), strikeouts (SO), earned run average (ERA), and walks plus hits per innings pitched (WHIP) are typically associated with the rating of a starting pitcher’s performance, while the last is a key stat for relief pitchers performing the closer role.
The information provided in the table includes the name of the player(s) that ranked #1 in each statistic, the value of his team leading stat, if he is a starting pitcher (SP) or relief pitcher (RP), whether he bats from the right or left side of the plate, throws right or left handed, and which year the 2019 season is of his Minor League career.
The figure’s caption shows that three of those stats, ERA, WHIP, and W-L%, have special qualification requirements. Earned run average and walks plus hits per innings pitched require a pitcher to have a minimum of .8 innings pitched per team game. Since Greensboro played 69 games during the first half season, to qualify as a team leader in them at that point in time a pitcher must have thrown a minimum of 55 2⁄3 innings. On the other hand, W-L% requires that a pitcher record at least one win or loss decision for each 10 games played by his team up to that point in the season. So to qualify as the leader of the Grasshoppers pitching staff in win-loss percentage at the end of the first-half of the South Atlantic League regular season the sum of a pitchers wins and losses must equal or exceed seven.
A look at the pitching leaders table above shows that four players, Osvaldo Bido, Brad Case, Braeden Ogle, and Logan Stoelke, were the leaders of the Greensboro Grasshoppers pitching staff during the first half of the 2019 season. Osvaldo Bido, who is shown in Figure 3 pitching in a game at First National Bank Field, is an International player from the Dominican Republic. Bido was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as a free agent in 2017 and began his professional baseball career that season playing in the Dominican Summer League (rookie class) with the DSL Pirates. Therefore, 2019 is the third season that he has pitched in the Pirates Minor League system.
Osvaldo Bido made his debut in the Greensboro Grasshoppers uniform on April 5, 2019 in game two of the new season. That day, he was the Grasshoppers starting pitcher; threw five complete innings of 1 hit shutout ball, and won his first game at the full-season A class level. By the end of the first half of the SAL season, Bido had made 14 starts and posted an 8W:4L record.
As shown in the pitching leaders table, Bido ended the first half ranked #1 on the Greensboro’s pitching staff in three of those seven traditional pitching statistic categories: wins (8), innings pitched (79.1), and strikeouts (69). However, those stats also ranked him as a South Atlantic League leader. At the mid-season break, Bido ranked #1 in the league in wins and #3 in innings pitched. As of July 11th in the second half, Osvaldo Bido leads the Grasshoppers pitching staff with with 17 start. Moreover, he has gone 2-1 in the second half to extend his record to 10-5 and remains the team leader in W, IP, and SO.
The other starting pitcher listed in the table, Brad Case, is a former Rollins College player that was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2018 First Year Player Draft. He was also a member of the 2019 Greensboro Grasshoppers opening day starting rotation. Case got off to an excellent start to the season and posted a 7-1 record in 11 starts. Note from the table that at the end of the first half, he also ranked #1 among all qualifying pitchers on the team in three stat categories: win-loss percentage (0.875), earned run average (2.45), and walks plus hits per innings pitched (0.77). In fact, he ranked #1 among all qualifying pitchers in the South Atlantic League in both WHIP and W-L% and #4 in ERA.
However, on June 8th Case was promoted to the Pittsburgh Pirates advanced A class team in the Florida State League—the Bradenton Marauders. Up to that point, he had only pitched 66.0 innings. Therefore, at this point in the second half of the 2019 season, he already no longer has enough innings pitched to qualify as a full season team or league leader in each of those three pitching statistic categories. Brad Case was selected to be a member of the 2019 Northern Division All-Star Team’s pitching staff, but did not appear in the game due to his promotion prior to the all-star break.
The pitching leaders table shows that two relievers were tied for the lead of the Greensboro Grasshoppers relief corps in saves at the close of the first half season. The photo of Figure 4 shows Braeden Ogle delivering a pitch in the game which he recorded his second save of the season. Ogle was selected out of high school by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 4th round of the June 2016 First Year Player Draft. Two thousand nineteen is the fourth year of his pro career and second during which he pitched for the Pirates A class team in the South Atlantic League.
On opening day of the new season, he was a member of the Grasshoppers bullpen. During the first half, Ogle made 19 pitching appearance, posted a 1-1 record, and recorded four saves in those outings. Note that he ended the first half tied with Logan Stoelke in that important relief pitching statistic. However, On June 22nd Ogle was promoted to the Bradenton Marauders (Florida State League, advanced A class).
Logan Stoelke, who pitched for the University of Louisiana prior to entering the 2018 First Year Player Draft, was selected by Pittsburgh in the 9th round and signed to a pro contract. He pitched briefly that season for the Pirates full-season A class team in the SAL—the West Virginia Power.
Stoelke was also a member of the Greensboro Grasshoppers opening day relief corps. In fact, he was the primary closer for their pitching staff. On opening day, he made his debut in the Grasshoppers uniform; closed out the game; and recorded his first save of the season. Over the next five weeks, he recorded four saves in four save opportunities. However, on May 9th, Logan Stoelke was promoted to the advanced A class (Braden Marauders, Florida State League). Even though he made just 11 relief appearances over that short stretch, Stoelke held on to end the first half tied with Ogle for the team lead in the saves pitching stat.
Note that three of the Greensboro Grasshoppers four first half season team pitching leaders have been promoted. As mentioned earlier, Brad Case no longer has enough inning pitched or win/loss decision to rank as the team’s end of season leader in the ERA, WHIP, and W-L% stats. Moreover, both Ogle and Stoelke have already been passed up in the saves category.
Walter Triebel spent 15 years as an adjunct faculty member at Fairleigh Dickinson University. He has had an extensive career in business and as a textbook and reference book author. Triebel’s “Road-Tripping the South Atlantic League: A Guide to the Teams, Ballparks and Cities” was published by McFarland in 2016. It’s available for purchase on their website as well as Amazon.