2011 Prospect Watching: Cain, Black, And More

Continuing to look at some of the pitchers in the Pirates’ minor league organization:

Colton Cain  –  L/L,  6′ 3″, 225 lb
Cain was the Pirates’ 8th round draft pick in 2009.  He began his pro career in 2010, after having had back surgery in the previous winter.  Cain began with 4 starts for the GCL Pirates, where he earned an 0-1 record and a 3.77 ERA.  In 14.1 innings, he allowed 6 runs on 12 hits and 5 walks, but struck out 15 batters.  He was promoted to State College in July, and appeared in 11 games (9 starts) there.  Two of those starts were very tough, as Cain gave up 6 runs in 2 innings on August 2nd, and 6 runs in 3 innings on August 31st.  The other 9 appearances were much better.  His best was 4 shutout innings on August 20th, when he gave up no hits and just one walk, while striking out 3 batters.  In those other 9 appearances, Cain allowed 7 runs over 29 innings (2.17 ERA), with 9 walks and 31 strikeouts.  Cain, who just turned 20 years old, should be ready to begin 2011 at West Virginia.  He’ll continue to work on fastball command, but also on his changeup.

Victor Black  —  R/R,  6′ 3″,  185 lb 
Black was chosen by the Pirates as a compensation pick between the first and second rounds of the 2009 draft.  He signed quickly and got down to business at State College.  In 13 appearances for the Spikes (7 starts), Black earned a 1-2 record and a 3.45 ERA.  He allowed 12 earned runs and 26 hits in 31.1 innings.  His walk rate was a bit high (15, 4.3 walks / 9 innings), but he also struck out 33 batters (15.4 K / 9 innings).  A shoulder injury and subsequent biceps problem plagued Black in the 2010 season, and he was able to make just 2 appearances for West Virginia in May.  Neither start was what Black would have hoped:  he gave up 3 runs on 2 hits and 2 walks in 4 innings in one, and 2 runs on a hit and 3 walks in 2/3 of an inning in the other.  The 22-year-old Black is healthy and ready to go in spring training for 2011.  He will likely be back to West Virginia, and the Pirates have indicated that they plan to have him pitch in relief, in hopes of limiting the stress on his arm.

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Marauders Win Second Half Title; Walk-Off Homer For Gonzalez

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.

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Owens Wins #12, Two Homers For Hague As Curve Clinch Title

Tuesday’s action for the Pirates’ lower minor leaguers….

Altoona Curve� 9,� Bowie Baysox� 1 ..���� (box)

The Altoona Curve clinched the Eastern League’s Western Division title tonight with a win over Bowie.� This is just the second time the Curve have won their division in their 12 years of existence, and it follows a 2009 when the Curve spent the season in the cellar.

Six different Curve batters had 2 hits in the game, and 1B Matt Hague’s two hits were both home runs.� The batters provided plenty of run support for starter Rudy Owens, who won his 12th game of the season.� Owens pitched 6 scoreless innings, and struck out 9 Bowie batters.� Owens allowing 2 singles in the 1st inning but kept the Baysox scoreless thanks to an on-target throw in from RF Miles Durham to C Hector Gimenez, to tag out the lead runner at the plate.� Owens retired the next 11 batters in order, then gave up back-to-back singles in the 5th.� A strikeout ended that inning — he struck out 3 batters in the 5th, and two more in the 6th to finish up his night.

Derek Hankins earned his 7th save with 3 innings of work.� He gave up a lead-off homer to the first batter he faced in the 7th inning, and that was Bowie’s only run of the game.� Hankins loaded the bases with three singles following the homer, but got out of the inning with a strikeout.� He allowed only one more hit over the next two innings and struck out a total of 5 batters.

Meanwhile, the Curve batters were steadily stacking up the runs, scoring in 6 of their 9 at-bats.� Bowie held them off in the 1st inning, despite loading the bases on singles by 3B Josh Harrison and SS Jordy Mercer, and a walk to DH Andrew Lambo. Two strikeouts strikeouts ended the inning without a run scoring.� After that, the Curve took off.� Durham singled and CF Anthony Norman tripled for one run in the 2nd inning (1).� Hague was hit by a pitch, then singles by Gimenez and 2B Jim Negrych brought in 2 runs in the 3rd (3).� Hague homered for the first time, a solo shot, in the 5th (4).� Two more runs came in during the 6th.� Norman walked, and LF Jose De Los Santos reached on a fielding error.� Harrison doubled, plating Norman (5), and Mercer’s ground out brought in De Los Santos (6).� In the 7th, Negrych singled and scored on Norman’s double (7).� Hague homered again in the 8th inning, this time with Mercer on base with a single (9).

Three Curve position players have been named to participate in the Arizona Fall League:� OF Andrew Lambo, INF Josh Harrison, and INF Jordy Mercer will be with the Mesa Solar Sox.� Joining them will be C Tony Sanchez. (Each team is allowed one A-level player.)� The Pirates are also allowed three pitchers, though those assignments have not yet been determined.� The Arizona Fall League begins play in mid-October.

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Curve Split Two, Owens Wins #11, Cain Wins #1

Lots of action for the Pirates’ minor league affiliates on Thursday….

Richmond Flying Squirrels� 9,� Altoona Curve� 6�� (Game 1)..� (box)

This was the wrap-up of a suspended game from… awhile back.� 2B Jordy Mercer had 3 hits in the game with an RBI, and LF Jim Negrych had a single, a double, and an RBI for the Curve.� The Curve scored first, with 3 runs in the bottom of hte 1st, on a double by 3B Shelby Ford, an RBI single by Mercer, walks to both C Kris Watts and LF Brandon Jones (back when he was still on the team), and a 2-RBI single by RF Miles Durham.

Richmond came back to tie the score with 3 runs in the top of the 2nd, on four singles and a throwing error by 1B Matt Hague. Then they took the lead with another 3 runs in the top of the 3rd, on a walk and three doubles.� Starter Tim Alderson was responsible for 6 runs (5 earned) on 7 hits and a walk over 3 innings.� Dustin Molleken took over for Alderson, and retired the side in the top of the 4th inning.� The Curve began the bottom of the inning with a walk to Durham, a single by CF Anthony Norman, and a sacrifice bunt by Molleken, to put both runners into scoring position.� That was when play was halted.� When the game resumed, SS Chase d’Arnaud singled, scoring Durham.� PH/3B Josh Harrison grounded to short, which let Norman score also.� Mercer singled again, but was left on base.� The Curve had closed the gap, 6-5

Derek Hankins took over for Molleken after the restart.� He pitched 5 innings, scattering two hits and a walk over the first four of those innings.� The Curve also put runners on base in the 5th, 6th, and 7th innings, but did not score.

In the top of the 9th, Hankins gave up a single and an RBI double, then three more singles, increasing Richmond’s lead to 9-5.� The Curve got one of the runs back in the bottom of the 9th, when Hague walked, and moved to third on a fielding error that also put Watts on base.� Jim Negrych singled into left field, bringing in Hague from third.� Watts also tried to score, coming from second base, but he was out at the plate on the throw in from left field, ending the game.

Curve� 5,� Flying Squirrels� 1�� (Game 2)..� (box)

The Curve turned the tables in the second game, which was scheduled for only 7 innings.� Rudy Owens buzzed through 6 scoreless innings, allowing only 2 hits and one walk, while striking out 5 batters.� He surrendered a single in the 2nd and a double in the 4th, then a walk in the 6th.� It was Owens’ 11th win of the season.� Daniel Moskos wrapped things up in the 7th inning.� He loaded the bases with two walks and a single.� A grounder force out brought in Richmond’s only run, but then Moskos ended the game with a strikeout.

2B Jordy Mercer’s bat was still hot, as he collected another 2 hits.� He and LF Jim Negrych both singled in the 4th, then C Hector Gimenez reached on a throwing error, which brought in Negrych with the first run of the game.� A walk to 3B Josh Harrison and singles by 1B Matt Hague and Mercer scored Harrison with another run in the 5th.� SS Chase d’Arnaud added three more runs with a 3-run homer in the 6th, also plating CF Anthony Norman, who had walked, and pinch-hitter Andrew Lambo, who had singled.

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Gonzalez’s Walk-Off Homer, Krol’s 30th Save

A busy Friday for the Pirates’ minor league affiliates:

Bradenton Marauders� 5,� Jupiter Hammerheads� 3 (box)

The Marauders posted 14 hits, with each member of the line-up collecting at least one.� C Eric Fryer had a perfect 4-for-4 night, with all four hits singles.� SS Greg Picart had 2 singles, and LF Quincy Latimore doubled and homered.� They scored only 5 runs on those 14 hits, though, leaving 13 runners on base.

Bradenton began scoring in the 2nd inning, on Fryer’s first single and an RBI double by 1B Calvin Anderson. Latimore’s double and a single by DH Jeremy Farrell to score Latimore added another run in the 3rd.� Latimore’s home run over the left field wall made it 3-0 in the 5th inning.� The Marauders took advantage of an error by the Hammerheads to score agin in the 6th.� With one out, Greg Picart singled and 2B Shelby Ford reached on a fielding error in left field, which let the speedy Picart score from first base.� Ford went to third base on the error, and he scored on RF Robbie Grossman’s RBI single.

Nate Baker earned his 2nd win with the Marauders, going 6 shutout innings and allowing only 2 hits, with 4 walks and 5 strikeouts.� Three of those walks came in the bottom of the 1st inning, but Baker got out of that bases-loaded jam with a pop out and two fly outs.� He had two more runners in scoring position in the 2nd, with a walk and a double, but got out of that jam too.� The other single he allowed came with two outs in the 3rd.� After that single, Baker retired the next 10 batters he faced, to finish his night.

Craig Hansen came on in relief of Baker to begin the 7th.� He kept Jupiter from scoring in the 7th, despite two runners in scoring position from a hit batter, a single, and a wild pitch.� The Hammerheads’ only runs came in the 8th, and only one of the three runs was earned.� A double and two walks loaded the bases, and a sacrifice fly brought in the earned run.� After a second out, Hansen was relieved by Duke Welker. The first batter Welker faced took a ball into center field, but an error by CF Starling Marte caused two unearned runs to score.� Welker finished that inning with a line out to short.

Noah Krol earned his 30th save of the season with a perfect 9th inning.� He leads the Florida State League in saves — #2 has 28 saves and #3 has 21 saves.� How many saves do you need to have before you get promoted?

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