McSwain’s AA Debut; Latimore Homers Twice

Pirates’ lower minor league action for Thursday:  the Curve had an early game, and the Marauders and the Power play in the evening

Harrisburg Senators  6,  Altoona Curve  2
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Matt McSwain made his AA debut today with the Curve, after being promoted from A+ Bradenton to fill the roster spot opened when Bryan Morris went on the DL (oblique strain).   Unfortunately, it was not as happy a debut as McSwain and the Curve would have liked, as the Senators scored 4 runs over their last two at-bats to take the win.

Mike Colla made the start for the Curve, and retired the first 11 batters he faced in order.  Then he gave up back-to-back solo home runs in the 4th.   

The Curve batters were getting on base during those innings, but they weren’t scoring either.  CF Starling Marte and RF Eric Fryer both singled, and 3B Jeremy Farrell and C Kris Watts both doubled, but all were left on base. LF Quincy Latimore put the Curve onto the scoreboard in the 6th, when he led off the inning with a solo home run over the left field wall.  Then he gave the Curve their only other run with another solo home run (to left-center field) in the 8th.  

McSwain came on in relief of Colla to begin the 5th.   He retired the Senators in order in the 5th and 6th innings, then gave up a run in the 7th on a walk, a single, and an RBI double.  With two runners in scoring position, McSwain ended the inning with a ground out and a fly out.  He got into trouble again in the 8th, with a walk, a sacrifice bunt, and an RBI double, to bring in one run.  The next batter, 1B Tyler Moore, homered for the second time in the game, adding another 2 runs.  Colla was charged with his first loss of the season.  

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Indians Rained Out; Curve Lose In Extras

The Indianapolis Indians and the Columbus Clippers were rained out in Columbus tonight.  They will try for two on Monday, beginning at 5 pm.  Sunday’s game is scheduled for 4 pm.
Infielder Pedro Ciriaco was optioned back to the Indians, after just a brief visit to Pittsburgh.  The Pirates’ new shortstop Brandon Wood got himself to Pittsburgh very quickly, so no need for Ciriaco to fill in.  Jose Ascanio, who was hit in the head by a line drive on Thursday, has been diagnosed as having “just” a contusion (a bruise).  He’s doing better today.

Kannapolis Intimidators  8,  West Virginia Power  7   (Game 1) 
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 The Pirates were able to fight back after Kannapolis scored 6 runs in the 2nd inning, but 2 runs in the bottom of the 7th gave Kannapolis the win.  The Power had  the early lead with one run in the 1st and 2 more in the 2nd. CF Mel Rojas walked, and 1B Matt Curry singled.  LF Rogelios Noris’ fly out moved Rojas to third, and then Rojas scored on RF Justin Howard’s single through the hole into left field.  C Kawika Emsley-Pai walked to load the bases, but a ground out ended the inning without any more runs scoring.  With one out in the top of the 2nd, back-to-back doubles by DH Jairo Marquez and SS Drew Maggi brought in one run, then a wild pitch and a fielding error allowed Maggi to score, giving the Power a 3-0 lead.

Starter Colton Cain had retired the Intimidators in order in the 1st, but got in trouble in the bottom of the 2nd, when the first 6 batters who came to the plate reached base safely.  A single, a double, and a walk loaded the bases, then a hit batter forced in the first run.  A double plated two more, and a single added another two.  Another double made it 6 runs in the inning, and the Power were behind 6-3.  

The Power battled right back in the top of the 3rd.  Walks to Howard and 3B Andy Vasquez both walked, and Emsley-Pai was hit by a pitch to load the bases again for the Power.  An RBI ground out drove in Howard, then Marquez’s single scored both Vasquez and Emsley-Pai to tie the score at 6-6.  The Power took the lead in the 4th on Curry’s lead-off home run.  

Trent Stevenson relieved Cain to begin the 3rd inning, and he pitched 3 scoreless innings.  He allowed 3 hits and struck out one.  The Power bats suddenly went quiet after the 4th, with no more hits until the 7th, when Howard tripled.  Emsley-Pai and Marquez both walked, but two ground outs and a strikeout left all three on base.  Jason Townsend pitched the 6th inning for the Power, allowing just one hit.  Casey Sadler came on to pitch the 7th, and with one out, Sadler gave up three consecutive singles.  The third hit went to Howard in right field, and Howard’s throw back to the plate was right to Emsley-Pai, who tagged out the lead runner at the plate.  But the next batter doubled to tie the score again, and the fourth single of the inning drove in the winning walk-off run.  

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Cunningham Homers Twice; Power Hold On For The Win

Monday evening’s games in the Pirates’ lower minor leagues

Harrisburg Senators  6,  Altoona Curve  2
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The Curve were able to put runners on base but not push them across the plate tonight.  Starter Bryan Morris worked around a double in the 1st and a pair of walks in the 3rd to keep the Senators scoreless in the first three innings.  He got into trouble in the 4th, with a lead-off triple, followed by a walk and an RBI double.  A single drove in 2 more runs for a 3-0 Harrisburg lead.  The Curve had left CF Starling Marte stranded on third base in the 1st, after his single, stolen base, and a throwing error.  2B Brock Holt also singled in the 3rd and was left on base.  SS Jordy Mercer answered the Senators’ 3-run inning with a solo homer to lead off the bottom of the 4th, but LF Quincy Latimore singled in that inning, and he was also left stranded.  

Tim Alderson took over for Morris to begin the 5th inning, and he pitched 2 scoreless frames.  He loaded the bases in the 6th with a single and two hit batters, but ended the inning with a ground out.  Mike Colla allowed a triple in his scoreless 7th.  Then Noah Krol came on for the 8th, and gave up 3 more runs on a single, an RBI double, an RBI triple, and a wild pitch.  

The Curve put two runners on base in the 7th, when 1B Miles Durham singled and 3B Jeremy Farrell walked, but both were left on base.  Marte singled again in the 8th, and again could not come around to score.  The final Curve run scored in the 9th, when Durham tripled, then scored on Latimore’s sacrifice fly.  

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2011 Prospect Watching: Ramos, Baca, Sadler, And Ennis

Continuing to work our way up through the pitchers in the Pirates’ minor league organization:

Jhonathan Ramos  –  L/L,  5′ 8″,  156 lb 
Ramos is a 21 year old Venezuelan native, who split the 2010 season between State College and West Virginia.  After some time in extended spring training, Ramos began the season in West Virginia in June.  He made two starts and five relief appearances, and at first did well, with 5 scoreless innings over his first two games.  He gave up 6 hits in those two games, but after that, he just kept giving up hits and runs.  In 15 innings for the Power in June, Ramos allowed 14 earned runs and 28 hits, though just 2walks, and 13 strikeouts.  He earned a 0-1 record and an 8.40 ERA.  Ramos was sent to State College for July and most of August, and he did well there, with a 3-1 record and a 1.62 ERA in 16 relief appearances.  He threw 33.1 innings and allowed 22 hits and 4 walks, with 28 strikeouts.  Ramos returned to the Power at the end of the season for 2 more games.  He pitched a total of 4 scoreless innings and allowed one hit, no walks, with 5 strikeouts.  Ramos spent the winter pitching in the Venezuelan Winter League for Los Bravos de Margarita.  He made 18 relief appearances for 13.2 innings, and earned a 3-2 record and a 2.63 ERA.  He still gave up hits (13), but only 4 earned runs and 5 walks, with 9 strikeouts.  Ramos is another reliever who should be in the mix for a bullpen spot in West Virginia, but that bullpen is going to be crowded.  Ramos could return to State College for a part of the season, or possibly get a try in A+ Bradenton.

Marc Baca –  R/R,  6′ 2″,  220 lb
Baca was the Pirates’ 42nd round pick in the 2009 draft.  He’s pitched entirely in relief for the Pirates, beginning at State College in 2009, where he made 18 appearances for 18 innings, and earned a 1-3 record and a 3.00 ERA.  Baca was promoted to West Virginia for 2010, where he ran hot and cold.  He began the season with a 2-0 April, with one save and a 5.59 ERA.  He pitched 9.2 innings and allowed 6 earned runs with 13 hits, 4 walks, and 5 strikeouts.  The next two months went very well, with a 1-1 record and 2 saves, and a 0.98 ERA.  He pitched 27.2 innings and allowed 3 earned runs, with 24 hits, 10 walks, and 27 strikeouts.  Baca had some tough outings in July, and allowed 16 runs on 18 hits in 8 games.  He also walked 9 batters and his strikeouts dropped to 6.  August/September were not a lot better.  He pitched 18.2 innings in 9 games, and allowed 13 runs (6.27 ERA) on 20 hits.  He walked 8 and struck out 13.  Overall, Baca earned a 5-3 record and a 5.26 ERA for the season, with 4 saves.  In 65 innings, he allowed 75 hits and 38 earned runs, with 31 walks and 51 strikeouts.  The strikeout rate (7.1 K/ 9 innings) was better than in 2009 (5.0 K/ 9 innings), but the walk rate (4.3 walks/ 9 innings) was a little worse than in 2009 (3.0 walks/ 9 innings).  Baca’s fastball velocity is in the high 80′s.  At age 24, he doesn’t appear to be ready for A+, but he could get squeezed out by all of the other prospects who are also going to try to fit into the West Virginia bullpen.  

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Jakubauskas Begins Rehab (Again); Power Get Over-Powered

Action for the Pirates’ lower minor affiliates on Tuesday…� The Bradenton Marauders were rained out.� They’ll play a double header against Palm Beach today.

GCL Phillies� 5,� GCL Pirates 0 (box)

The Phillies dominated the Pirates for the second day in a row, adding 12 hits today to their 19 hits yesterday.� Righty pitcher Chris Jakubauskas made his first appearance in a game in months but suffered the loss with a 3-inning start for the Pirates.� He gave up one run on 3 hits and 2 walks.� The run scored in the 3rd inning. on a single, a wild pitch and an RBI ground out.� Kevin Kleis also gave up one run in his 2 innings of work, on two singles with a stolen base in the 5th.� Rinku Singh made his longest appearance to date, going 4 innings and allowing 3 runs on 6 hits.� Two runs scored in the 6th, on two doubles, a hit batter, a walk, and a wild pitch.� A single and a double added another run for the Phillies in the 8th.

The Pirates were held to 5 hits — a double by DH Justin Howard, and singles by CF Junior Sosa, 3B Eric Avila, C Elias Diaz, and 1B Dylan Child. The Pirates came closest to scoring in the 6th, when Howard doubled and Avila followed with a single into left field.� Howard tried to score from second on the throw, but was tagged out at the plate.� That was also the only inning in which more than one Pirate was on base at the same time.

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