Curve All-Stars Named; Alvarez Homers

Five Curve players have been named to the Eastern League /Western Division All-Star team.  RHP Aaron Pribanic, LHP Jeff Locke, 2B Brock Holt, 3B Jeremy Farrell, and OF Starling Marte.  Also, because the Curve won the Western Division last year, the Curve coaching staff will be coaching the division’s team :  manager PJ Forbes, pitching coach Wally Whitehurst, hitting coach Brandon Moore, and trainer Mike Zaino.  The game will be played on Wednesday July 13th at Manchester, NH (home of the Fisher Cats).  

Friday’s action for the Pirates’ lower minor league affiliates …. the GCL Pirates’ game was postponed.   

Bradenton Marauders  3,  Palm Beach Cardinals  2
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Rehabbing 3B Pedro Alvarez provided the firepower, while Brandon Cumpton earned his first win with the Marauders tonight.  The plan was for Joe Beimel, also on a rehab assignment, to pitch for one inning to begin the game.  Beimel retired the Cardinals in order in the top of the 1st, with two strikeouts and a fly out.  He then gave way to Cumpton, who pitched 6 scoreless innings, scattering 4 hits and 2 walks.  Cumpton had two runners on base in only one inning, the 3rd, when two singles and a wild pitch put both runners into scoring position.  Cumpton struck out the next batter to escape the jam.  

The Marauders put two runners on base in the 1st when both RF Robbie Grossman and Alvarez walked, then again put two on in the 2nd, on a single by DH Adalberto Santos and a walk to C Jairo Marquez.  2B Jarek Cunningham also singled in the 3rd, but none of those runners could make it around to score.  All of the Marauders’ runs came in the bottom of the 5th.  Marquez led off with a double lined into center field.  SS Benji Gonzalez dropped down a sacrifice bunt to move Marquez to third base.  Cunningham doubled into left field, and Marquez scored easily from third.  Then Alvarez blasted a 2-run homer over the left field wall to give the Marauders a 3-0 lead.  
Cumpton came back out to begin the top of the 8th.  He faced only two batters, though, giving up a single and a 2-run homer to bring the Cardinals within one run, 3-2.  Cumpton was relieved by Duke Welker, who ended the 8th with three ground outs.  

The Marauders would have liked an insurance run or two, but had only a walk by Grossman in the 7th, then a single by Cunningham and Santos reaching on catcher interference in the 8th.  It turned out to not matter, as Welker pitched a scoreless 9th to seal the win and earn his second save of the season.  

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Harrison’s 5-For-5 Sparks Tribe’s Come-From-Behind Win

Indianapolis Indians 9,  Pawtucket Red Sox  7
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IMG_56883B Josh Harrison (photo) went 5-for-5 at the plate to lead the Indians in a come-from-behind win over the Red Sox at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, Rhode Island tonight.  Harrison smacked two singles and three doubles, and contributed 2 RBI, as the the Indians scored 9 unanswered runs after trailing the PawSox 7-0.

Justin Wilson made the start for the Indians, but he lasted only two innings.  He was responsible for all 7 of Pawtucket’s runs (6 earned) on 5 hits and 3 walks, with no strikeouts.  Home runs were the beginning of the end for Wilson, who gave up 3 in his briefest start of the season.  

With two outs in the bottom of the 1st, Wilson gave up the first homer, a solo blast by DH Hector Luna.  The trouble really got going in the 2nd, when the first four batters reached base safely.  C Michael McKenry led off with another solo home run.  2B Tory Thomas singled, then  3B Brent Dlugach made the score 4-0 with a 2-run homer.  SS Jose Iglesias singled, and moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt by RF Matt Sheely.  Then Wilson walked three consecutive batters —  CF Che-Hsuan Lin on four pitches, LF Daniel Nava on a 3-2 count, and Luna on a 3-1 count.  Luna’s walk forced in Iglesias.  A grounder to 1B Matt Hague might have been an inning-ending double play, and Luna was forced out at second, but Harrison’s throw back to first was wild, allowing 1B Lars Anderson to reach first safely, and allowing Nava to score from third base.  The inning finally ended with a ground out by McKenry, but the PawSox had a 6-run inning, and led the Tribe 7-1.  

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Gallagher Loses #7 As Tribe Split Series

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees  5,  Indinanapolis Indians  1
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IMG_4968The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees won their second game in less than 24 hours, to earn a series split with the Indianapolis Indians.  Today’s game began at 10:35 am in Moosic, PA, and started on time, though a misty rain fell for a large part of the game.  For the second game in a row, the Yankees scored early, and for the second game in a row, the Indians were held to just one run.

Sean Gallagher (photo) suffered his 7th loss of the season.  The Indians’ starter pitched 6 innings in this start.  He surrendered 3 runs on 5 hits, 2 walks, and a hit batter, with 4 strikeouts.  The first two Yankees’ runs came in the bottom of the 1st.  With one out, SS Ramiro Pena singled through the hole and into left field.  A passed ball by C Wyatt Toregas let Pena move to second base.  Gallagher struck out the next batter, but then International League home run and RBI leader 1B Jorge Vazquez stepped to the plate and smacked a 2-run homer just in side the left field foul pole.  That increased his home run count to 17 and his RBI total to 43, and gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead.

Gallagher settled into a rhythm after the 1st inning.  He scattered 2 singles, a walk, and a hit batter over the next 4 innings, and kept all those base runners from scoring.  The Yankees did score another run off Gallagher in the 6th.  Vazquez began the rally with a walk.  A wild pitch by Gallagher moved him to second base, and LF Justin Maxwell’s single lined into left field advanced him to third.  3B Brandon Laird collected the RBI when his sacrifice fly plated Vazquez.  

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Meanwhile, Yankees’ starter Adam Warren was having a pretty easy time with the Tribe batters.  DH Dusty Brown was the only Indians’ batter to reach base in the first three innings — he singled to lead off the 3rd, but was left on base.  The Indians scored their only run against Warren and the Yankees in the 4th.  CF Gorkys Hernandez (photo) led off with a single lined along the right field line, then stole second base, sliding in ahead of a late throw from the Yankees’ catcher.  After a strikeout by LF Alex Presley, RF John Bowker grounded toward second base, where the ball skipped off the glove of 2B Kevin Russo for a single.  Hernandez advanced to third base, then scored on 1B Matt Hague’s sacrifice fly.  Hernandez crossed the plate standing when the CF Austin Krum’s throw to the plate was a little short.

That was the Tribe’s only run.  Warren walked Brown to lead off the top of the 5th, but then retired the next 12 batters he faced, taking him through the 8th inning.  

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Presley’s Inside-The-Park Homer Not Enough

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees  2,  Indianapolis Indians  1
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IMG_5603LF Alex Presley made the most exciting hit of the game, an inside-the-park home run, but that was the only run the Indians would score, as they lost to the Yankees at PNC Field in Moosic, PA this evening.   1B Matt Hague punched 3 hits for the Tribe, and starter Brad Lincoln struck out 7 batters in 6 innings, but even those were not enough.

The game got off to a late start, due to a nearly two-hour rain delay.  Lincoln (photo) got off to a bit of a shaky start in the bottom of the 1st, when he walked the first batter he faced, LF Austin Krum, then gave up a single to SS Ramiro Pena.  Then Lincoln got C Jesus Montero to bound to the newest Tribe player, SS Greg Picart, who started a 6-4-3 double play (Picart to 2B Josh Harrison to Hague).  A strikeout ended the inning without a run scoring.

Lincoln was not so lucky in the 2nd inning.  CF Justin Maxwell led off with an “oops” swing bunt along the third base line, which 3B Andy Marte was able to get to, but he did not have a play at first, and Maxwell was safe with a single.  Maxwell stole second base, then moved to third on 3B Brandon Laird’s ground out.  2B Kevin Russo grounded a slow roller to second, where Harrison made the scoop and fired back to the plate, but the ball reached the plate after Maxwell did, for the Yankees’ first run.  RF Dan Brewer walked, pushing Russo to second base.  DH Gustavo Molina grounded to second for what should have been an inning-ending double play.  Harrison got the ball to second base, for the force out on Brewer, but Picart was disrupted by Brewer’s slide, and his throw to first base was wide on the outfield side of the bag. That allowed Russo to round third and score on the error, giving the Yankees a 2-0 lead.  

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2011 Prospect Watching: Cunningham, Gonzalez, And Friends

Continuing to look at the middle infielders in the Pirates’ minor league organization:

Jarek Cunningham —  R/R,  6′ 1″,  185 lb
Cunningham was the Pirates’ 18th round pick in the 2008 draft.  After a solid debut with the GCL Pirates (.318 average with 5 homers and 22 RBI), he missed the entire 2009 season due to knee surgery.  He returned with a healthy knee in 2010, assigned to West Virginia.  Cunningham jumped right out to a good start, hitting .304 in April, with a homer and 5 RBI.  He slumped in May to just .194, with 2 more homers and 5 RBI.   Then he popped up again in June, with a .317 average, 3 homers, and a big 17 RBI.  The average slipped a little in July, to .279, though the power production continued, with 4 homers and 14 RBI.  The slip continued into August, as he dropped to .214 with 2 homers and 6 RBI.  He finished the season with a .258 average, and not much left-right difference (.265 against lefties and .256 against righties).  He had 37 doubles, 7 triples, 12 homers, and 49 RBI.  He struck out a lot — 132 times in 121 games (27%), and that rate was highest in July and August.  He walked just 30 times (5.6%), and that was best in June and July.  Cunningham played entirely at second base during the 2010 season (2008 was split between shortstop and third).  Now that there is less concern about his knee, and with his good range and arm, he could spend time at shortstop too.  The 21-year-old should be ready for A+ Bradenton for 2011.  He’ll need to work on plate discipline and cutting back on the strikeouts.  

Benji Gonzalez  —  R/R,  5′ 11″,  160 lb
Gonzalez was picked in the 7th round of the 2008 draft, coming out of the Puerto Rican Baseball Academy.  After two seasons in the GCL, Gonzalez was promoted to West Virginia for the 2010 season.  He had hit a solid .286 in the GCL in 2009, but that did not carry over to 2010 with the Power.  He hit .196 in the first half of the season, then he improved to .279 for the second half, for a .236 average overall.  Gonzalez has limited power, with just 12 doubles, one triple, one homer, and 35 RBI in 2010.  He stole 18 bases, but was also thrown out 14 times, so that needs some improvement.  Gonzalez was the main shortstop for West Virginia in 2010, and showed strong defensive play with good range and a strong arm.  He’ll need to work on cutting back on the errors (32) of course.  After the regular season, Gonzalez went back to Puerto Rico and played in 19 games for the Puerto Rican Winter League’s Gigantes de Carolina.  He did not hit well there either, just .184 with 2 doubles.   Despite the low hitting, Gonzalez will likely be assigned to A+ Bradenton for 2011, where his hitting will need to improve.

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