Q&A: The Off-Season Roster Decisions

In the last few weeks I’ve talked about the positional recaps for the Pittsburgh Pirates from the 2010 season, leading to my evaluation of the off-season needs heading in to the 2011 season.  That also brought on the 2011 40-man roster and payroll, which at this stage includes some predictions on how the Pirates will handle some of the off-season moves.  The 2010 recaps, the off-season needs, and the 40-man roster decisions have...

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Leach / Hunter Rematch Goes to Leach

Mesa Solar Sox� 7,� Scottsdale Scorpions� 6

Rematch:� Brian Leach vs. Bryce Harper –� strikeout.� Way to go, Brian.

The Scorpions jumped out to an early lead this afternoon in the Arizona Fall League, but the Solar Sox did not give up — they chipped away at the lead for a come-from-behind win.� RF Andrew Lambo and 2B Josh Harrison combined for 4 hits, with Harrison’s 3 hits further boosting his average to .333.

Mesa starter Robert Carson (Mets) zipped through the first inning, but ran into trouble in the 2nd, when the first four batters reached base safely:� a walk and three consecutive singles.� That brought in two runs and left runners on the corners.� Scorpions’ RF Harper (Nationals) struck out. � The next batter lined out, and the Solar Sox tried to catch the runner from first off base, but he was safe at second, and the runner from third scored.� A single scored the runner from second, and a home run by CF Charles Blackmon (Rockies) brought in the 5th and 6th runs of the inning.� Carson was relieved by David Cales (Cubs), who ended the inning with a fly out.

The Solar Sox started their comeback in the bottom of the inning.� Harrison led off with a double, and he scored on LF Kirk Nieuwenhuis’ triple.� Nieuwenhuis tried to tag up and score on a fly out, but he was thrown out at the plate.

Mesa took a big step forward in the 5th, when they began the inning with 4 straight hits. 1B Joshua Satin (Mets) singled, C Tim Kennelly (Phillies) and SS Andrew Romine (Angels) both doubled, and CF Brett Jackson (Cubs) also singled, and 3 runs came in.� Jackson stole second base, then scored on DH Matt Rizzotti’s (Phillies) single.� Two strikeouts (one by Harrison) and Lambo’s fly out ended the inning, but the Solar Sox had come within one run of the Scorpions, 6-5.

Cales pitched a scoreless 3rd inning for Mesa.� Chris Carpenter (Cubs) retired the side in order in the 4th, then got out of a jam (double and walk) with a timely double play in the 5th.

Brian Leach took the mound for the Solar Sox to begin the 6th.� He gave up a one-out bunt single, then Bryce Harper came to the plate.� Leach struck him out on three pitches — foul, foul, and swinging strike.� A fly out ended the inning.

Kyle Smit (Cubs), Justin De Fratus (Phillies), and Chris Kissock (Phillies) each pitched a scoreless inning to finish it up for the Solar Sox.� De Fratus walked the only Scottsdale batter to reach base over those three innings.

The Solar Sox rallied again in the bottom of the 7th.� With two outs, Lambo and Harrison hit back-to-back doubles, driving in Lambo with the tying run.� Then Nieuwenhuis lined a single in to right field, and Harrison raced around from second base to score the winning run.

Leach has now pitched in 5 games for the Solar Sox, for a total of 5 innings.� He has given up 8 hits and 5 runs, but all of those runs have been unearned.� He has walked one batter and struck out three.

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Pirates’ Pitchers Busy In Winter Leagues; Morton’s Debut

Wednesday’s winter league games with Pirates’ players and friends…

VENZUELAN LEAGUE

Bravos de Margarita� 6,� Leones del Caracas� 4 — Margarita starter Justin Thomas gave up 2 runs in the 2nd inning on a walk and a home run.� He zipped through the 3rd inning, then allowed a single and a walk in the 4th before being relieved, though both of those runners were left stranded.� Caracas scored 2 more runs in the 5th on three walks, a single, and an error.� Los Bravos had been scoreless for the first 4 innings, then exploded for 6 runs in the bottom of the 5th.� 3B Andy LaRoche followed a lead-off single with an RBI double.� Three consecutive walks by a new Caracas pitcher forced in LaRoche with the second run of the inning, leaving the bases loaded.� Another new Caracas pitcher was greeted by LF Frank Diaz’s grand slam, to give Margarita a 6-4 lead.� Former Pirate farmhand Ronald Belisario pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the 9th to earn the save.

Navegantes del Magallanes� 2,� Cardinales de Lara� 1 — Los Cardenales were held to just 4 hits in this game, while Los Navegantes posted 11 hits.� Magallanes scored their first run in the 3rd inning, on an RBI single by 1B Mark Trumbo (Angels).� Their starter Anthony Lerew (Royals) pitched 6 innings and allowed the 4 hits, one of which was a solo home run in the 6th inning, to tie the score and make Lerew ineligible for the win.� Corey Hamman came on in relief, and pitched a perfect 7th inning.� Jean Machi followed with a perfect 8th, and Yoel Hernandez retired the side in order in the 9th.� In the top of the 8th, DH Mike Ryan broke the tie with a solo home run, which became the game-winner.� That gave Hamman the win and Hernandez his 2nd save.� Ryan went 3-for-4 in the game, raising his batting average to .389.� SS Argenis Diaz went 1-for-4 for Magallanes.

Caribes de Anzoategui� 3,� Tigres de Aragua� 2� –� Brian Bass gave up 2 runs on 2 hits in his start for Los Tigres, and he was lucky that it wasn’t more runs, because he walked 5 batters.� He gave a free pass to 2 batters in each of the 1st and 2nd innings, and both times left them on base.� In the 3rd, he gave up a 2-out walk, and the next batter smacked a 2-run homer.� He gave up a single in the 5th, and was relieved after getting a ground out.� Aragua tied the game in the 5th inning when former Indy Indian LF Jorge Cortes walked, then a hit batter and a ground out pushed Cortes to third.� he scored on an RBI single.� The score remained tied until the bottom of the 10th, when Los Caribes got a lead-off single.� Adenson Chourio came in as a pinch-runner, and he stole second base.� A walk-off double plated Chourio with the winning run.� 1B Hector Gimenez singled and walked twice for Los Tigres, and C Raul Chavez singled and walked, but neither scored.

PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE

Criollos de Caguas� 2,� Senadores de San Juan 1 — San Juan scored one run in the top of the 1st on a walk, a stolen base, an error, and an RBI ground out.� Then they had only 4 hits for the rest of the game.� Caguas tied the score in the 5th inning on a walk, a single, and an RBI single by former Indy Indian SS Luis Figueroa.� A solo home run by DH Omir Santos gave Los Criollos the winning run in the 7th inning.� Figueroa had 2 more hits in the game — a double to lead off the bottom of the 1st inning, and a single after the homer in the 7th.� 3B Ramon Vazquez singled twice in the game, in the 6th and the 8th innings.

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Arizona Fall League Recap: 10/27

After a big day yesterday by the Pirates prospects, Josh Harrison returned to the lineup today for another big performance, leading the Mesa Solar Sox to a 7-6 win: -Josh Harrison (.333) started at second, batting sixth.  Harrison went 3-for-4 with two doubles, two runs, and an RBI.  Harrison is 7-for-9 at the plate over the last two games, with four doubles and a homer. -Andrew Lambo (.314) started in right field, batting fifth.  He...

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Interview with Jason Townsend

The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted Jason Townsend in the 31st round of the 2010 MLB draft, selecting him as a junior from the University of Alabama.  Townsend went to State College, where he served as the closer for the Spikes.  He works with a mid-90s fastball, and was recently named by Baseball America as being the best late round pick for the Pirates in the 2010 draft.  John Dreker of Pirates Prospects recently had a chance to sit down...

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