Marte Homers, Three Hits For Grovatt

A few roster moves before we get to the games:
The Pirates have signed 1B Gerlis Rodriguez to a minor league contract.  Rodriguez, a Dominican native, played for State College in 2010.  He played about half of his 48 games at first base, and did some DH’ing.  Rodriguez hit .201, with 8 doubles, one triple, one homer, and 24 RBI.  He walked 11 times and was struck out 34 times.  Rodriguez will probably be back with the Spikes when their season begins next month.

Two minor league pitchers have been released:  RHP Gabriel Alvarado and RHP Maurice Bankston.  Alvarado was with the West Virginia Power for the past two seasons, mostly as a starter in 2009 and then as a reliever in 2010.   Bankston also spent most of the last two years with the Power, and he also started in 2009 then moved to the bullpen in 2010.

 
Richmond Flying Squirrels  5,  Altoona Curve  3
(box

Jeff Locke gave up 4 hits and 4 walks in 5 innings, but got out of jams with timely double plays in his start for the Curve.   Unfortunately, the bullpen gave up 4 more runs and the Squirrels took the win.  The only run Locke gave up came in the bottom of the 1st.  After a lead-off single, Locke got two fly outs, then gave up a walk and an RBI single.  Another walk followed, before Locke ended the inning.  A double play ended the 2nd inning with two runners left stranded (walk and hit batter), and a second double play eliminated a lead-off single in the 3rd.  Locke also worked around a double and a walk in the 4th, then retired the side in the 5th.  

 The Squirrels’ starter retired the first 10 Curve batters in order.  The first hit he gave up was a big one — a solo home run over the left field wall by CF Starling Marte.  The Curve took a 2-1 lead in the 5th inning, on a line drive double by 3B Jeremy Farrell, a passed ball, and an RBI single lined into center field by C Tony Sanchez.  

The lead lasted only one inning.  Tom Boleska relieved Locke to begin the bottom of the 6th  He allowed the first three batters he faced to reach base — two walks and a single back to the mound.  Boleska struck out the next batter, then a grounder force out at second (but not the double play) let the tying run score.  An RBI single gave Richmond a 3-2 lead.  Boleska pitched a scoreless 7th inning, then Matt McSwain took over for the 8th.  The first two batters McSwain faced both smacked solo home runs, and Richmond was up 5-2.

The Curve scratched out one more run in the top of the 9th.  With two outs, LF Quincy Latimore worked a walk, then SS Jordy Mercer and Farrell hit back-to-back singles, plating Latimore.  But that was all they were able to get, as Sanchez’s line out ended the game.  

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Really Last Minute Roster Moves

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. 

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2011 Prospect Watching: Trinidad and Rodriguez

Looking at the Pirates’ prospects as spring training continues…  Today we’ll begin with the first basemen, moving up from the lower levels to the upper levels of the organization.

Michaelangel Trinidad  –  L/L,  5′ 11″,  232 lb
Trinidad is a 22-year-old Curacao native who has been in the Pirates’ organization since the 2006 season.  He played in the Venezuelan Summer League for three years.  In the third season, 2009, Trinidad hit .318, with 14 homers and a .604 SLG.  He made the move to the US and the GCL in 2010, but the start of his season was delayed by injury.  Once he got going, at the end of June, Trinidad hit .267 in July with 3 homers and 10 RBI.  That dropped to .211 in August, with one more homer and 6 RBI.  Trinidad’s upside is his power, especially since it was not accompanied by a ton of strikeouts (14 strikeouts in 27 games in the GCL, 16%).  His downside is his size.  He could get to State College for 2011, where he will need to continue the power surge but also make sure he stays in shape.

Gerlis Rodriguez  –  Bats: both/ Throws L,  6′ 2″,  185 lb
Rodriguez is also 22 years old, a Dominican Republic native.  Like Trinidad, he also spent 3 seasons in the VSL, where he bumped his batting average up to .291 in the third year.  Rodriguez spent 2009 with the GCL Pirates, hitting .266 with little power.  He moved up to State College for 2010, where he played first base and did some DH-ing (plus one game in left field).  He made 6 errors at first in 26 games.  At the plate, Rodriguez hit .201, with just 8 doubles, one homer, and 24 RBI in 48 games.  His walk rate dropped (11 walks, 6%) and his strikeout rate climbed (34 strikeouts, 21%) in 2010.  He should probably return to State College to work on some plate discipline and get the errors down. 

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Marauders Clinch Playoff Spot

On Friday night, all of the Pirates’ minor league affiliates lost.� On Saturday night, all but State College won….

Bradenton Marauders� 4,� Charlotte Stone Crabs� 2 …���� (box)

The Marauders assured themselves at least a spot in the playoffs with this win tonight.� Nate Adcock won his 11th game of the season with 2 runs allowed in 5.2 innings of work.� He gave up a run in the bottom of the 1st, with a 2-out walk, a wild pitch, and two singles.� He surrendered another run on a walk and a double to lead off the 3rd inning.� He scattered 4 more hits, but left two stranded and erased two with double plays.� In the top of the 6th, Adcock got two outs and gave up a single, then that runner stole both second and third base.� He was relieved by Kyle McPherson, who finished that inning with a strikeout, then gave up just one hit over the next 2 innings, including 3 more strikeouts.� Noah Krol earned his league-leading 34th save of the season with a scoreless 9th inning, working around a missed catch error.

Bradenton picked up one run in the 2nd inning, when C Eric Fryer singled, then moved to second base on a groundout.� 3B Adam Davis’ RBI single brought in Fryer.� The Marauders were on the receiving end of several walks over the next few innings — one in the 3rd to SS Shelby Ford, one in the 4th to Fryer, three in the 5th to DH Jordan Newton, 2B James Skelton, and RF Robbie Grossman to load the bases — but all were left on base.� They did score again in the 6th, when LF Quincy Latimore led off with a single.� He was forced out at second on Fryer’s grounder, leaving Fryer at first.� Davis singled again, advancing Fryer to third bse, then Newton doubled in both Fryer and Davis, to take a 3-2 lead.� They added an insurance run in the 4th.� Grossman singled with one out, then scored on CF Starling Marte’s double.� The Marauders threatened again in the 8th, as Davis was hit by a pitch and Newton walked, then Skelton bunted them both into scoring position.� A strikeout and a ground out ended the inning, but it turned out to not matter, and the Marauders season is going to continue beyond the weekend.

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Spikes’ Walk-Off Win; Welker Makes A+ Debut

Bradenton catcher Eric Fryer, who was hit in the face by a pitch on Thursday night, has broken facial bones around his eye. �That will require surgery to fix — get the bones properly aligned and stabilized. �He’s going to be out of action for at least several weeks and possibly for the rest of the season. �This is the same type of injury that Paul Maholm had years ago, though his injury occurred when he was hit in the face by a line drive while on the mound.

Friday night’s action:

State College Spikes �5, �Williamsport Crosscutters �4 (box)

Late inning rallies gave the Spikes the walk-off win over Williamsport. � The Spikes got on the scoreboard in the 3rd inning when C Matt Skirving singled and SS Gift Ngoepe blasted his first home run of the season, a 2-run homer. �Williamsport tied it up in the top of the 5th. �The first run, off starter Tyler Waldron, came on a double and a single. �A throwing error and a sacrifice fly brought in an unearned run to tie the score.

Waldron pitched 5 innings and allowed the two runs (one earned) on 6 hits, no walks, with 3 strikeouts. �He was relieved by Trent Stevenson, who pitched the next 3 innings. �He gave up a run in the 6th, on a single, a stolen base with a throwing error, and a double, to give the Crosscutters the go-ahead run. �The Spikes caught up and tied the score again in the bottom of the inning. �Singles by Ngoepe and LF Adalberto Santos and a walk to 3B Chase Lyles loaded the bases. �1B Gerlis Rodriguez drove in Ngoepe with a sacrifice fly.

Williamsport took the lead yet again in the top of the 7th with an unearned run. �A throwing error by Stevenson put the lead-off runner on base, and he scored on a triple. �Rodriguez tied it up again in the bottom of the 8th with a solo home run.

Justin Ennis took the mound for the Spikes for the 9th, and he mantained the tie with a scoreless inning, allowing only a walk while striking out two batters. �That gave the Spikes the chance in the bottom of the inning. �The first two Spikes’ batters struck out. �CF�Kyle Saukko kept the inning going with a line drive into left field for a single. �A passed ball put Saukko on second base. �Ngoepe worked a walk, and a wild pitch put both runners into scoring position. �2B Walker Gourley grounded towards first base, and when he was safe on a fielding error, Saukko scored to win the game.

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