Indians Postponed; McPherson’s First AA Win

The Indianapolis Indians’ game in Rochester was postponed today — because the Indians were not there!  The team was supposed to fly to Rochester this morning, but due to mechanical problems, their flight was delayed.  There were not any other flights available to get the team to Rochester in time for the game.  The Indians and the Red Wings will play two games on Saturday, the first at 1 pm, and the second at 7 pm.  Both will be 9-inning games.  

The Pirates have signed two more draft picks:  3B Dan Gamache from Auburn U. and OF Taylor Lewis from University of Maine- Orono.  My guess is that they will be heading to State College, but no definite word yet.

The State College Spikes begin their season tomorrow, on the road at Williamsport.  The GCL Pirates will begin their 2011 season on Monday.
 
Don’t forget to vote for the All-Stars:
Eastern League All-Star Voting is here
AAA (International and Pacific Coast Leagues) All-Star Voting is here
 

Thursday’s action:

Altoona Curve  3,  New Britain Rock Cats  1
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Kyle McPherson allowed the New Britain a solo home run in the top of the 1st, and then he and the bullpen shut the Rock Cats down for the rest of the game.  McPherson pitched 6 innings and scattered 3 more runs and a walk over the remaining 5 innings for his first win at the AA level.  Two singles came in the 3rd, but McPherson left runners on the corners.  He left two runners in scoring position in the 6th after a walk and a single.  McPherson also struck out 4 batters.  

The Curve came back with 2 runs in the bottom of the 1st.  LF Anthony Norman led off with a single lined into right field, and 2B Brock Holt followed with a grounder into right for a second single, moving Norman to third base.  Norman scored on a ground out by SS Jordy Mercer.  Holt came in on CF Quincy Latimore’s RBI single, to give the Curve a 2-1 lead.  

The Curve went down in order over the next three innings.  They added an insurance run in the 5th, when C Tony Sanchez and DH Jose Hernandez hit back-to-back singles.  Sanchez moved to third base on Hernandez’s hit, then scored on RF Brad Chalk’s sacrifice fly.  1B Matt Curry blasted a triple into right field in the 7th inning, but he was left on base.  The Curve threatened again in the 8th, when Chalk and Norman both singled, and Holt walked.  They left the bases loaded, though, when a strikeout and a ground out ended the inning.  

Matt McSwain pitched two perfect innings in relief after McPherson was done for the evening.  Anthony Claggett, who was moved back to the Curve when Jose Ascanio was assigned to Indianapolis, pitched the 9th inning.  The first batter of the inning reached on a fielding error by Norman in left.  After two fly outs, a single, a wild pitch, and a walk loaded the bases.  But Claggett got a tapper back to the mound to end the inning.  

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Power Shut Out ‘Hoppers; Curve Have A Hit-Fest In 10th Inning Win

The Indianapolis Indians have a scheduled day off today (Wednesday).  A few bits of news for an off-day:

P Jose Ascanio and C Wyatt Toregas have cleared waivers and both will be assigned to the Indians.   Anthony Claggett was returned to the Altoona Curve.

The Pirates have signed four of their recent draft picks:  
SS Brian Sharp (24th round) from California Baptist University
SS Kirk Singer (29th round) from Long Beach State
RHP Matt Benedict (30th round) from Western Carolina University
C Derek Trent (31st round) from East Tennessee State

Here’s the list of all the draft picks, which will be updated with the signings as they occur.   

Sharp, Singer, and Trent are listed on the State College roster.  The State College Spikes begin their season on Friday.

The Pirates also signed LHP Robbie Kilcrease, an undrafted free agent from Texas Tech.  The redshirt junior made 12 starts this year for Texas Tech.  He had a total of 63.1 innings, with a 5.97 ERA. 

On to Wednesday evening’s action:

West Virginia Power  3,  Greensboro Grasshoppers  0
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The Power did all the scoring they needed in their first at-bats, as three Power pitchers combined for a shutout.  With one out in the top of the 1st, 2B Andy Vasquez lined a single into center field, then stole second base.  He scored on RF Dan Grovatt’s double lined into right field.  Grovatt stole third base, and he scored on 1B Justin Howard’s RBI ground out.  CF Mel Rojas added one more insurance run for the Power in the 4th inning with a solo home run.  

After the homer, the Power lost some of their power.  They managed only 3 hits over the rest of the game — a single by Rojas in the 6th, a double by DH Jairo Marquez in the 7th, and a single by 3B Eric Avila in the 9th.  

Brandon Cumpton worked around a walk and a single in the bottom of the 1st, then gave up two more singles in the 3rd, but got out of that jam too, partly due to a double play.  Cumpton also gave up lone singles in the 4th and 5th, but still did not let the runners come around to score.  He began the 6th with a walk and a double play, then loaded the bases with a single, a hit batter, and a walk.  Kevin Decker came on in relief of Cumpton, and Decker ended the inning with a fly out, still not letting a run score.  

Decker pitched 2 more scoreless innings, though he gave up a walk and two singles in the 7th, and another single in the 8th.  Jason Townsend pitched the 9th, also giving up a walk and erasing the runner with a double play.  Cumpton earned his 7th win of the season, and Townsend earned his 6th Save.  

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Homers For Cunningham, Mort, and Howard In Sunday Wins

Big hitting in the Pirates’ minor league affiliates’ Sunday action:

Altoona Curve  13,  Reading Phillies  4  (conclusion of suspended game)
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The Curve were way out in front when rain halted play on Saturday evening, leading 11-1 in the middle of the 3rd.  When play resumed today, Matt McSwain took over on the mound for starter Aaron Pribanic.  McSwain gave up a solo home run in the bottom of the 3rd, to make it 11-2.  McSwain retired the R-Phils in order over the next three innings, until he gave up another solo homer, followed by two singles, in the 7th.  

CF Starling Marte singled for the Curve in the 4th but did not score.  The Curve went down in order for the next two innings, then they rallied again in the top of the 7th.  RF Anthony Norman led off with a walk, and Marte singled again. A throwing error by the R-Phils third baseman let Norman score.  Marte advanced to third base, and he scored on SS Jordy Mercer’s sacrifice fly.  

Aaron Thompson came on in relief in the 8th inning.  He gave up a single and a walk, but retired the next three batters for a scoreless 8th.  Reading scored one more time in the bottom of the 9th, on a single, a walk, and an RBI double, but it was way too little and way to late, and the Curve had the win.  

Reading Phillies  2,  Altoona Curve 1   (scheduled game)
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The Curve should have saved a few hits and runs for this game.  They posted 6 hits, with 2 each by CF Starling Marte and RF Brad Chalk, and one each by SS Jordy Mercer and C Tony Sanchez.  Their only run came in the top of the 1st, on a single by Marte and Mercer’s RBI double.  

The Curve put at least one runner on base in all but one of the rest of the innings, but could not bring anyone around to score.  Sanchez and Chalk hit back-to-back singles in the 2nd, and that was their biggest threat.  A strikeout and a ground out ended that rally.  

Jeff Locke pitched 5 innings in his start.  He gave up one single over the first two innings, then gave up a solo home run with two outs in the 3rd to tie the game.  Two singles and a walk loaded the bases after the homer, but a fly out got Locke out of that jam.  Locke also gave up a single in both the 4th and the 5th.  

Donnie Veal relieved Locke to begin the 6th inning.  He also gave up a 2-out solo home run for the go-ahead run, and was charged with the loss.  The Curve had one last chance in the top of the 7th, when Sanchez led off with a walk, then went to second base on a bunt by Chalk, but he was left stranded when the game ended.  

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Curve Game Suspended With 10-Run Lead; Marauders And Power Need Extras

Saturday evening action for the Pirates’ minor league affiliates:

Altoona Curve  11,  Reading Phillies  1  (Suspended)
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After rain delayed the start of this game, the Curve must have decided that they needed to score a lot and quickly, in case the rain cut the game short.  The rain did come again, but too early for a complete game.  Instead, it was suspended in the 3rd inning, with the Curve leading by 10 runs.  R-Phils starter Juan Ramirez could not get through the 1st inning.  The first four Curve batters reached base safely:  a lead-off triple by RF Anthony Norman, a double by CF Starling Marte (one run), a walk by SS Jordy Mercer, and a single by LF Quincy Latimore to load the bases.  After a fly out, 3B Jeremy Farrell drove in both Marte and Mercer with an RBI single (runs 2,3).  C Travis Scott singled, loading the bases again.  2B Greg Picart grounded to first, and the R-Phils’ first baseman returned the ball to the plate, forcing out Latimore for the second out.  Pitcher Aaron Pribanic singled into right field, bringing in Farrell (run 4), and a walk by Norman forced in Scott with the 5th run of the inning.  That was the end for Ramirez, and the new reliever, Tyson Brummett, struck out Marte to end the inning.  

But the Curve came right back at Brummett in the 2nd.  With one out, Latimore singled, and 1B Matt Curry doubled him in.  A walk by Scott and a single by Picart brought in Curry, and the Curve extended their lead to 7-0.  

Pribanic retired the R-Phils in order in the bottom of the 1st.  He gave up one run in the 2nd, on two singles and two ground outs.  Then the Curve came roaring right back in the top of the 3rd.  Norman led off with a walk, and a fielding error put Marte on first and Norman on second.  Mercer singled, plating Norman.  After one out, Brummet threw two wild pitches, scoring Marte and leaving Mercer on third base.  Curry walked, then Farrell doubled, driving in Mercer.  Curry went to third base, and he scored on Scott’s sacrifice fly.  A ground out ended the top of the inning, and at that point, the game was halted, with the Curve ahead 11-1.  The game will resume at 1:30 pm on Sunday, and the regularly scheduled game will follow, but that game will be only 7 innings long.  Hope the Curve didn’t use up all their hits in those first three innings.  

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2011 Prospect Watching: Latimore, Durham, Norman

More outfielders in the Pirates’ minor league organization, as we get closer to the start of spring training games:

Quincy Latimore  –  R/R,  5′ 10″,  175 lb
Latimore, who just turned 22 years old a few weeks ago, was the Pirates’ 4th round pick in the 2007 draft.  He’s progressed up one level each of the past four seasons, reaching A+ Bradenton for the 2010 season.  He had an up-and-down-and-up-again year, but that means that he worked around a mid-season slump and finished up stronger.  He started with a .298 average in April, dropped down to .245 in May, and worked his way back up, so that he ended up with .266 overall for the season.  That included 31 doubles, 19 homers (highest he’s had in a season), and 100 RBI.  On the downside, Latimore has continued to have a high strikeout rate in his three full seasons in the organization, with 136 strikeouts in 134 games for the Marauders in 2010.  He walked only 30 times all season, which means he’s not taking many pitches.  He has some speed, which gave him 11 stolen bases (caught only once), but is not enough to make him great in center field.  He played most of his games in left field in Bradenton, and just a few in right and center.  Latimore spent the winter in Australia playing for the Adelaide Bite in the latest iteration of Australian Baseball League.  A big fan favorite in Adelaide, Latimore’s time there mirrored his Bradenton season — started off hot, slumped, then had some big hits for the Bite in the playoffs.  He finished the regular season with a .313 average over 31 games, with 8 doubles, 2 triples, 5 homers, and 25 RBI.  The strikeout problem continued in Australia, where he struck out 32 times in those 31 games.    Latimore’s power numbers are propelling him along, and he should begin the season in AA Altoona, but his upward momentum is going to come to a halt if he can’t get the strikeout numbers down and the patience at the plate up.

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