This is the time of year when teams release players from their minor league camps – those who are not going to fit into the organization’s plans. The Pirates have released these players:
Inf Adenson Chourio — West Virginia and Bradenton in 2010
Inf Christian Colonel — he’d just been signed at the beginning of the month
RHP Casey Erickson — Bradenton in 2010
C/ OF/ 3B Pat Irvine — State College and West Virginia in 2010
1B Gerlis Rodriguez — State College in 2010
LHP Mike Williams — West Virginia in 2010
2B Jose Solano (Luis?) — GCL Pirates in 2010
P Ramon Aguero has been designated for assignment, coming off the Pirates’ 40-man roster to make room for P Jose Veras. If he makes it through waivers, he could go to Altoona or Indianapolis.
RHP Tim Wood is also getting close to signing with the Pirates. He was the Marlins’ 44th round draft pick in 2002, and worked his way up through there system, reaching the majors in June 2009. he made 18 relief appearances in that season, for a total of 22.1 innings, with 7 runs on 22 hits, for a 2.82 ERA. He split last season between AAA New Orleans and the major league team. He began the season with the Marlins, then spent parts of May and June and the end of July with New Orleans. Wood pitched in 26 games for the Marlins, and earned an 0-1 record with 8 saves. In a total of 27 innings, he gave up 33 hits and 17 runs, for a 5.53 ERA. In New Orleans, he made 14 relief appearances, going 0-1 with 5 saves, and allowing 10 runs on 19 hits in 14 innings (6.43 ERA). He did not pitch after the end of July, and was granted free agency in November. Wood was signed by the Nationals six days later, but was released in spring training.
*UPDATE* — Wood signed a minor league contract with the Pirates. That could mean Indianapolis for him.
Moving on up, as we look at the Pirates’ minor league pitchers….
Aaron Pribanic – R/R, 6′ 4″, 200 lb
Pribanic came to the Pirates in July 2009, as a part of the trade with the Mariners for Jack Wilson and Ian Snell. He was assigned to West Virginia, where he made 6 starts and one relief appearance to finish the season, earning a 4-2 record and a 2.15 ERA. He didn’t walk many 5 (1.2 walks/ 9 innings), but didn’t strike out many either (18, 4.3 K/ 9 innings). Pribanic was promoted to A+ Bradenton to begin 2010, and he spent the whole season there. He was a starter for the whole season, making 27 appearances, and earning a 7-6 record with an overall 3.33 ERA. He began the season slowly, with 4 starts in April, in which he gave up a total of 12 earned runs in 17 innings (6.35 ERA). May was a little better, with 18 earned runs in 33.1 innings (6 starts), for a 4.86 ERA. He gave up 11 runs in his first three starts in June, but by the second half of the month, things were beginning to turn around. Pribanic gave up 4 runs over his last three starts in June (21 innings). July was even better: 5 earned runs in 30 innings for a 1.50 ERA. Pribanic finished up the season with 8 runs in 44.2 innings (1.61 ERA) in August/September. Again in 2010, he did not walk many (33, 1.9 walks/ 9 innings) and did not strikeout many (71, 4.2 K/ 9 innings). Pribanic was assigned to the Arizona Fall League, where he made 11 appearances, all in relief, for the Mesa Solar Sox. He threw 18 innings and allowed 4 earned runs on 18 hits (2.00 ERA), with 6 walks and 9 strikeouts. The low strikeout rate has been attributed to Pribanic not having particularly strong breaking pitches. He does get a lot of ground ball outs, though, which explains why he can allow 157 hits in 154 innings and still give up “only” 57 runs. Pribanic needs to work more on those breaking pitches, as the Pirates would really like to see more strikeouts. He should begin 2011, at age 24, as a starter for AA Altoona.
Brian Leach — R/R, 6′ 3″, 195 lb
Leach was chosen by the Pirates in the 25th round of the 2008 draft. He pitched as both a starter and a reliever in his first two seasons in the Pirates’ organization, but in 2010, Leach pitched almost exclusively as a starter, with just 2 relief appearances. He was promoted to Bradenton for the season, and like Pribanic, he got off to a slow start, leading the Marauders in earned runs (15) and walks (16) for the month of April, when he made one relief appearance and four starts, for 20.2 innings, for a 6.53 ERA. He cut back on the walks in May (9), and did a little better with runs, for a 4.70 ERA in 23 innings. Leach too turned things around in June, when he allowed 7 runs in 30 innings (2.10 ERA), with 7 walks. That ballooned up to a 4.75 ERA in July, though he kept the walks down to 6, and slid back to 3.26 ERA in August/Sept, with 9 walks. Overall, Leach earned a 9-9 record and a 3.85 ERA, with 144 hits in 138 innings. He walked 44 (2.9 walks/ 9 innings), and struck out 98 (6.4 K/ 9 innings). Leach also participated in the Arizona Fall League after the regular season. He made 10 relief appearances for the Mesa Solar Sox, and while he allowed 11 hits and 7 walks in his 10 innings, he did not allow a run. Leach has been somewhat on-again-off-again with his control — it was better during the second half of the regular season, and not so great during the AFL. He needs to work on that in 2011, when at age 25, he should be joining Pribanic in the Altoona starting rotation.
Two of the Pirates’ affiliates in playoff action:
Altoona Curve� 6,� Harrisburg Senators� 4 ….������ (box)
The Senators and the Curve battled back and forth, with errors and poor base running on both sides, but it was the Curve who came out on top to even the best-of-5 series at 1 game each.� The Curve scored their runs on 7 hits, 5 of which were doubles.� LF Andrew Lambo and 2B Chase d’Arnaud let the way with two hits each, and Lambo contributed 3 RBI.
Harrisburg scored first, with an unearned run in the top of the first.� With one out, Curve starter Jeff Locke walked two batters, then got the next batter to ground to short, for what should have been a double play.� SS Jordy Mercer made the throw to 2B Chase d’Arnaud for the force out at second, but d’Arnaud’s relay to first base was off-target.� The batter was safe, and the runner who had been on second base came around to score.
The Curve got the run back again in the bottom of the 2nd.� 1B Matt Hague led off with a double, moved to third base by tagging up on C Hector Gimenez’s fly out, and scored on Andrew Lambo’s RBI ground out.� The Curve managed only a double by 3B Josh Harrison in the 3rd, then scored again in the 4th.� Hague and Gimenez opened the 4th with back-to-back walks.� Lambo rocketed a line drive down to the right field corner, bringing in Hague to take the lead.� RF Miles Durham grounded to short, but a quick play by the Senators going to the plate, had Gimenez out at home.� Lambo moved up to third base on the play, and he scored on CF Anthony Norman’s sacrifice fly.� Curve up, 3-1.
The Senators came right back in the top of the 5th to tie the score again.� Jeff Locke had kept the Senators from scoring over three innings, despite having runners on base in both the 2nd (walk and single) and 3rd (double and walk).� Another double led off the 5th, then Locke got the next two batters out.� The next batter lifted a fly deep into the left-center field alley, which sailed beyond Norman’s leap and to the wall.� Lambo couldn’t get to it either, and the runner scored.� The Senators made it runners on the corners when a short fly ball skipped off d’Arnaud’s glove and bounced away.� That was all for Jeff Locke, who had pitched 4.2 innings and allowed 2 runs so far, one earned and one not, on 4 hits and 4 walks, with 5 innings.� Derek Hankins relieved Locke, but he threw a wild pitch, which allowed the runner from third to score, also charged to Locke.� Hankins ended the inning with a strikeout, but the score was tied again, 3-3.
Sunday’s action with the Pirates’ lower minor league affiliates… this is the season finale for the Spikes, and the regular season finale for the Marauders.
West Virginia Power� 4,� Hagerstown Suns� 3 ….��� (box)
Elevys Gonzalez was the hero in the bottom of the 10th inning with a blast over the right-center field wall for a walk-off homer.� The Suns had scored first with a solo home run off Power starter Eliecer Navarro to lead off the 2nd inning and another solo blast to begin the 4th inning.� Navarro scattered 5 more hits over the rest of the first 5 innings without allowing a run to score.� He began the 6th inning by giving up a walk, then an RBI double to give the Suns their third run.� Maurice Bankston relieved Navarro to finish the 6th inning, then went on to pitch 2 scoreless innings.
The Power got one run back in the bottom of the 4th, with the help of 3 consecutive walks.� CF Evan Chambers walked first, but was caught stealing second base.� Walks to 1B Aaron Baker and DH Jose Hernandez put two runners on base, then C Ramon Cabrera skipped a ground-rule double over the left-center field wall, scoring Baker.� A pop out ended the inning without any further scoring.
The bottom of the 7th began with the Power trailing 3-1.� Cabrera led off with a line drive single up the middle, then LF Rogelios Noris doubled, and 3B Andy Vasquez tripled, tying the score as both Cabrera and Noris scored.� Vasquez was cut down after rounding third base, on the throw in from the outfield.
Bankston hit a batter with a pitch in the bottom of the 8th, but left him stranded.� Jhonathan Ramos pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the 9th.� The Power went down in order in ther 8th.� Noris singled and stole second base in the bottom of the 9th, but could not come around to score, and the game went into extra innings.� Ramos gave up a one-out single in the top of the 10th, but then struck out the next two batters.� That set up the bottom of the 10th, when Elevys Gonzalez greeted the new Suns’ reliever with the game-winning homer.
Thursday’s action for the Pirates’ lower minor league affiliates:
West Virginia Power� 3,� Rome Braves� 0 …��� (box)
On July 24th, Power starter Phillip Irwin pitched 7 hitless and scoreless innings.� Tonight, he again threw 7 scoreless innings, though this time he scattered 3 hits.� Last time, he walked two batters, and tonight he did not walk any.� Both times, Irwin struck out 8 opponents.� Irwin’s toughest inning tonight was the 4th, when he gave up a double and a single, and hit a batter.� Luckily, the first runner was doubled off second base in a line-out double play.� The other two runners pulled off a double steal, but a strikeout ended the inning with them both still in scoring position.� Irwin retired the next 9 batters in order to finish his evening and earn his 6th win.� Zach Foster earned his 6th save with two scoreless innings of relief, allowing only a walk.
The Power were held to just 5 hits, but they also took advantage of three Rome errors in one inning.� In the 2nd, 1B Aaron Baker began the inning by reaching base on a fielding error.� He moved to second base on a passed ball, but was out at third when RF Andy Vasquez reached on a fielder’s choice.� Vasquez stole second base, and scored on LF Rogelios Noris’ RBI single.� Noris advanced to third base when the Rome pitcher made a throwing error on a pick-off attempt, then scored on C Jairo Marquez’s double, which was also complicated by a fielding error.� Marquez added another run in the 5th, with a solo home run, his second of the season.� Vasquez singled in the 4th inning, but was thrown out trying to steal second base.� SS Benji Gonzalez doubled to lead off the 8th inning, but was left stranded.