The day we’ve been (sort of) waiting for has arrived; the Pittsburgh Pirates will play a (sort of) meaningful baseball game after an excruciatingly long winter. At 12:05, the pre-season officially gets underway as the annual beatdown of Manatee Community College takes place at McKechnie Field. According to Dejan in the Post-Gazette, “most of the 12 pitchers and 20 position players used in the scrimmage [yesterday] will...
Another pitcher who could be with the Indianapolis Indians in 2007 –
LHP – starter
born: 9/17/1982 in Dunedin, Florida
Ht: 6′ 1″�� Wt: 190 lb��������� B: Left�� T: Left
Burnett was the Pirates’ first round draft pick in 2000.� He had outstanding seasons in 2001 with the Hickory Crawdads and in 2002 with the Lynchburg Hillcats.� He was named the Pirates’ Organizational Pitcher of the Year in both 2001 and 2002, and the Carolina League’s MVP in 2002.�� He advanced to the Altoona Curve in 2003, where he led the Eastern League with 14 wins and was named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year.� Burnett started 2004 with the (AAA) Nashville Sounds, and in May made his MLB debut with the Pirates.� He started 13 games for the Pirates, and earned 5 wins and 5 losses, pitching 71.2 innings with a 5.02 ERA and 1.60 WHIP, with 28 walks, and 30 strikeouts.� His season ended early, though, and was followed by Tommy John surgery on his left elbow and then surgery on his left shoulder.� He spent all of the 2005 season rehabbing.
Burnett returned in 2006 to pitch for the Indianapolis Indians.� He began the season with two back-to-back wins, giving up 9 hits and 4 walks with 3 strikeouts in 10 innings.� His next two starts were total turn-arounds, though.� He gave up 13 hits and 10 earned runs in 5 innings, with 5 walks and one strikeout.� He continued to struggle as the season went on, throwing both excellent starts and starts he’d probably rather forget.� Burnett finished the season with 8 wins and 11 losses, in 24 starts and one relief appearance.� He pitched 120.1 innings, the most for any of the Indians’ pitchers, with a 5.16 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 46 walks, and 46 strikeouts.�
�An outstanding spring training could earn Burnett a spot on the Pirates’ roster.� A less-than-stellar spring training, or the desire of the Pirates’ staff for him to get more starts rather than sit in the bullpen, could bring him to Indianapolis to begin 2007.
A quick rundown of what’s being said about the Bucs around the Web: On MVN’s Outsider Radio, Brandon and Dan talked about Freddy Sanchez’ 2006 (and his possible position change), whether or not the Pirates will be decent this year, Pittsburgh’s baseball sanctuary (PNC Park) and Skyblast. I even made a quick call in to provide the black and gold side of the discussion. You can listen to the show in podcast form....
A list of the ten most pressing Pirates-related Spring Training issues, according to me: 1. Can Adam LaRoche hit left-handed pitching? Like it or not, a manager bound for Cooperstown thought it best to sit Adam down against southpaws for the majority of 2006. The Pirates acquired Lefty McThump to be their everyday first baseman; if he struggles, though, it might behoove Jim Tracy to start Bautista in right and shift Nady to first...
Hello everyone! I’m Nancy, and I’ll be writing about the Indianapolis Indians, the AAA affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. I’ve been an Indy Indians fan for many years, and I’m looking forward to telling you about the Indians’ players and games and generally what’s going on here at Victory Field.
While we’re still looking at snow here, the Pirates have started spring training in Bradenton, Florida. The Pirates’ 40-man roster and the list of non-roster invitees include players who will be with us in Indianapolis this year. The remaining minor league players will be reporting to camp soon. The Indians’ first spring training game is scheduled for March 15th. While we’re waiting, let’s look at some of players who we might see with the Indy Indians this year. (These won’t be in any particular order.)
RHP – starter
born 9/30/1980 in Indianapolis, Indiana
ht: 6′ 5″ wt: 220 lb B: Right T: Right
Bryan Bullington is something of a hometown hero in Indianapolis. He grew up right here in the Indy area, and graduated from Madison High School in 1999. He was Indiana’s “Mr. Baseball” in 1999 — this is an award given to the top high school baseball player in the state. Bryan attended Ball State University in Muncie, and he was the Pirates’ first round draft pick in 2002. In 2003, he pitched first in Hickory, where he won 5 and lost 1, with a 1.39 ERA in 45.1 innings, with 11 walks and 46 strikeouts. He moved up to Lynchburg, where he continued his winning ways with 8 wins and 4 losses, and a 3.05 ERA in 97.1 innings, with 27 walks and 67 strikeouts. He spent all of 2004 in Altoona, where he won 12 and lost 7 games, with a higher 4.10 ERA in 145 innings, 47 walks and 100 strikouts. He led the Curve in wins, and was second in the Eastern League in wins for the season.
Bullington started the 2005 season in extended spring training to fully recover from shoulder tendinitis, and first appeared with the Indy Indians in May 2005. He had a solid season, with 9 wins and 5 losses in 18 starts. He pitched 109.1 innings, with a 3.38 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. In July he was named Indians’ Player of the Month, for his performance in 5 starts, when he earned 3 wins and only one loss, with an 2.40 ERA, 25 strikeouts, and only 4 walks. When the Indians advanced to the International League playoffs, Bullington started two of the games, both no-decisions. He made his MLB debut with the Pirates on Sept. 18, 2005, pitching 1.1 innings in relief and allowing one hit, 2 earned runs, walking one and striking out one. However, he developed right shoulder soreness, and in October 2005 had surgery on that shoulder. He spent 2006 rehabbing, and though he had hoped to be able to return by late s ummer, that was not to be. He has continued rehab over the winter, including work during the instructional league last fall. The early reports from Spring Training sound encouraging.
Given the length of time he’s been on the DL, it’s rather unlikely that Bullington will make the Pirates’ roster out of spring training. If he struggles during spring training, then he could be restarted in Altoona. Here’s hoping for a good spring for Bullington, so that he can start 2007 here at home with the Indians.
Just over 5 weeks until the season starts….
The biggest piece of off-season news for fans of the Pirates at the major-league level was the acquisition of Adam LaRoche. The hot stove deal with the Braves sent Mike Gonzalez to Atlanta in exchange for our Lefty McThump. Added in as sweetners, though, were Brent Lillibridge (then the #3 prospect in the Pirates’ system) and Jamie Romak, a Canadian Lumberjack from Atlanta’s Single A Rome affiliate. We’ve been showered in LaRoche coverage, so there’s a good chance that you know all about him. But Jamie Romak? Who’s he?
At first glance, you see a .233 career batting average and start cursing out Dave Littlefield. The next column over, though, shows that our young Canadian may have some promise. He doesn’t hit for quite as much power, but you could draw a comparison between Romak and Adam Dunn. Their averages are low (and strikeouts are a concern), but they take enough walks to mitigate the damages. And they’re big guys that can hit the ball a long way.
Mr. Romak’s vitals (courtesy of his Baseball Cube profile):
D.O.B.: September 20, 1985
Weight: 220 lbs.
Draft: 4th round (2003) by the Atlanta Braves
Perhaps the most crucial tidbit in his background is his high school, A.B. Lucas in London, Ontario. Why?
This chunk from Batter’s Box Interactive Magazine explains:
An interesting question that the Suomi cases raises is whether or not Canadian prospects tend to develop slower than Americans. When trying to gauge if there was any way to determine if Suomi?s offensive improvements seemed more likely to be permanent or temporary, this question came to mind. When I?m talking about Canadian players here, I?m not talking about Cody McKay who went to high school and university in Arizona, but rather Canadians like Suomi or Votto who attended Canadian educational institutes until they went into professional baseball.
Because players like Suomi and Votto can?t play baseball the entire year, like kids growing up in the American south can, they are at a disadvantage. Additionally, playing in a Canadian baseball program at their local high school is not going to be as intense as one in the United States would be, and the level of instruction is likely to be noticeably different, as is the amount of money put into the program. I know that Canada has select baseball programs for top prospects where they?ll play for provincial teams and in other tournaments, but I don?t believe that this compares to equivalent programs set up in American states for their top prospects. I think over several years in one?s mid-to-late teens these extra months of playing time and the superior level of instruction could make a noticeable difference to development, and could put American prospects several steps ahead of their Canadian counterparts.
To make a long story short, it’s safe to assume that Romak is a year or two behind the typical 21-year-old (American) prospect in development. He probably hasn’t reached his full potential yet because all winter long, he was playing with snowballs instead of baseballs.
Here’s what an old Scout.com profile has to say:
[Romak] was originally a third baseman, but the Braves believed he would eventually become an outfielder. Injuries have kept him from developing over the past few years. He had only 158 at bats in 2004 at Danville, and when he returned to the Appy League last season he had only 124 at bats. Now healthy, Romak is in the Rome outfield. He has tremendous power, but he must make better contact to develop offensively.
And, an expert on the Pirates’ minor-league system, WTM:
Romak is a risky prospect with power potential, something almost entirely missing from the Pirates’ system. He had trouble getting out of rookie ball, but had a good season in the SAL in 2006. He was still only 20, which is a good age for the level. He finished the season strongly, hitting 10 HRs in July and August after hitting only five and struggling badly the first three months. His skills are the opposite of what the Pirates usually look for, as he gets on base and hits for power, but not for average.
Wilbur goes on to guess that Romak will start 2007 at the Pirates high-A affiliate in Lynchburg. With a potentially crowded outfield in Altoona, I’ll agree. Perhaps when Andrew McCutchen is ready for Indianapolis, Romak will get a shot at Double A. If Jamie puts the bat on the ball, he’s assured of a promotion by mid-season, I’d think.
I’ll leave you with a snippet from a Baseball America question and answer chat:
Q: Doug from Georgia asks:
The Braves seem to be high on big Canadians…Scott Thorman, Jamie Romak, Cole Armstrong and Adam Parliament, all of which are at least 6’2″ and 220 lbs. What does the future hold for these lumberjacks?
A: Bill Ballew:
They’re all big boys, no doubt. If they can avoid swinging as if they’re trying to cut down a tree with one swing of the ax, they could lose a lot of balls over the fences at the game’s highest levels.