Saturday’s action in the Pirates’ minor league organization began with a double header sweep in the Gulf Coast League, making up for yesterday’s rain out:
GCL Pirates 3, GCL Blue Jays 2 (Game 1)
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Luis Heredia pitched 3 scoreless innings to begin this game, facing only one batter over the minimum. After retiring the side in order in the 1st, Heredia hit a batter in the 2nd inning but promptly erased that runner with a double play. He walked a batter with two outs in the 3rd, but C Ryan Hornback threw that runner out trying to steal second base.
The Pirates scored their first run in the 1st inning. CF Junior Sosa singled and stole second base, then moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. 1B Jose Osuna’s RBI single plated Sosa. LF Ping-Hung Chi led off the 3rd inning with a walk, and Sosa bunted him to second. A ground out moved Chi to third, and he scored on DH Gregory Polanco’s line drive single into right field.
David Jagoditsh relieved Heredia to begin the 4th. He pitched a scoreless 4th, then gave up the Jay’s first run in the 5th, on a single, two stolen bases, and an RBI single. The Pirates got the run right back in the bottom of the inning. 3B Francisco Aponte walked, and both Polanco and Osuna singled, to load the bases. Aponte scored on Hornback’s ground out to third. RF Gavi Nivar also grounded to third, but the fielder’s choice had Polanco out at the plate. The Pirates were up 3-1.
Jagoditsh began the top of the 6th with two outs, and then was relieved by Miguel Mendez. The first batter Mendez faced smacked a home run, to make the score 3-2. Mendez walked the lead-off batter in the 7th, but Hornback threw him out trying to steal second, and Mendez struck out the next two batters to end the game. Jagoditsh earned his first win of the season, and Mendez earned his first Save.
GCL Pirates 1, GCL Blue Jays 0 (Game 2)
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Orlando Castro earned his first win for the Pirates with 6 scoreless innings of work. He allowed 6 hits, no walks, and struck out 2 batters. In both the 2nd and 3rd innings, the first two Jays’ batters hit back-to-back singles, but both times, Castro got an out (strikeout, and tag out at third), then induced an inning-ending double play. Castro also gave up singles in the 4th and 6th inning, but left both those runners on base.
The Pirates were also scoreless over their first 6 innings, held to just 3 hits, and falling victim to 7 strikeouts. 2B Jodaneli Carvajal singled in the 1st inning, but was out in a double play. DH Jose Osuna led off the 3rd inning with a single up the middle, and was left on base. Osuna singled again in the 5th, and was again left stranded. The top of the 7th began with 3B Yhonathan Barrios working a walk. He moved to second on a wild pitch, and to third on a sacrifice bunt by C Jon Schwind. RF Gregory Polanco drove Barrios in with a line drive into right field, and that was the only run of the game.
Joseph Parsons replaced Castro on the mound for the 9th inning and pitched a perfect inning to earn his second Save.
Catching up with the action for the Pirates’ lower minor league affiliates for Thursday…. several home runs
Trenton Thunder 8 , Altoona Curve 6
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A 3-run homer by CF Starling Marte and a solo blast by SS Josh Rodriguez were not enough to get past the Thunder.
The Curve got the game started with a run in the top of the 1st on singles by RF Andrew Lambo and C Tony Sanchez, plus a fielding error by the Trenton center fielder, allowing Lambo to score. Trenton came back with 4 runs in the bottom of the inning, on a walk, two singles, and two doubles, for a 4-1 lead. The Curve took the lead back in the top of the 2nd, when 1B Matt Curry and 3B Greg Picart both singled, and Marte drove them in with his 5th home run of the season. That tied the game, but the tie did not last long. Five singles in the bottom of the 2nd brought in 3 runs for the Thunder, who were back on top, 7-4.
Starter Aaron Pribanic gave up a single in the 3rd, then gave up an unearned run in the 4th on a fielding error by Picart, a single, scoring on a double play. That made Pribanic responsible for 8 runs (7 earned) on 11 hits and a walk in his 5 innings of work. Matt McSwain took over to begin the 6th. He gave up a single in the 6th, but erased that runner with a double play, and then gave up a double and a walk in the 7th, but left those runners on base. Anthony Claggett pitched a scoreless 9th, allowing a single. That runner moved up to second base on a throwing error by Rodriguez, but was out in a fielder’s choice run-down between second and third.
Rodriguez led off the Curve part of the 6th with his solo homer. LF Quincy Latimore followed the homer with a walk, and Curry singled, moving Latimore to third. Curry was thrown out trying to steal second base, but Picart’s single drove in Latimore to give the Curve their final run.
Wednesday’s action with the Pirates’ lower minor leaguers:
The West Virginia Power have a day off today, wrapping up their All-Star break. The Altoona Curve and the New Hampshire Fisher Cats had their game postponed tonight, due to rain. They will try for a double header tomorrow, beginning at 6:05 pm.
Jordy Mercer was named the Eastern League’s Player of the Week for last week. Mercer had an RBI in each of six games he played in last week, with a total of 9 RBI. He hit 3 doubles and 2 homers last week, and earned a .381 average for the week. Mercer is hitting .267 overall for the season, with 17 doubles, 13 homers, and 48 RBI.
The Pirates have signed two more draft picks: LHP Josh Poytress (18th round) and RHP David Jagoditsch (32nd round). Both were college pitchers, and could be assigned to State College. The list of all of the Pirates’ draft picks, including who has signed, is here.
Bradenton Marauders 5, Jupiter Hammerheads 4
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The Marauders wrapped up the first half of the Florida State League season with an early afternoon win over Jupiter. Brett Sinkbeil pitched 6 innings for Bradenton and allowed one run on two hits, with 2 walks and 2 strikeouts. The only run he allowed came on a solo homer to lead off the top of the 3rd. He allowed a single to begin the 2nd inning but erased the runner with a double play. The walks came in the 5th and 6th inning; one of those runners was left on base and the other was thrown out by C Carlos Paulino as he tried to steal second base.
The Marauders also began their scoring with a solo home run — by 1B Aaron Baker to lead off the bottom of the 2nd. SS Kelson Brown began the bottom of the 3rd with a triple into center field. After a walk by RF Robbie Grossman, 2B Jarek Cunningham grounded a high chopper to third, which forced out Grossman at second but allowed Brown to score. Cunningham stole second base, then both DH David Rubinstein and Baker worked back-to-back walks to load the bases. 3B Elevys Gonzalez’s sacrifice fly brought in Cunningham and CF Evan Chambers’ line drive back through the box brought in Rubinstein, giving the Marauders a 4-1 lead.
The Marauders added an unearned run in the 5th. With two outs, Elevys Gonzalez walked and stole second base. Chambers grounded to short, but a throwing error by the Jupiter shortstop let Chambers reach safely and let Gonzalez score. Paulino also had two singles in the game, in the 2nd and 6th innings, but did not score.
Jason Erickson relieved Sinkbeil to begin the 7th inning. The lead-off batter smacked a ground-rule double, but the next three batters flied out, and the runner did not leave second base. Erickson began the 8th inning with a ground out and a solo homer, then had a batter reach base on a fielding error by SS Brown. Ryan Beckman came on in relief, but he gave up a single and another ground-rule double, driving in a run. The third run of the inning scored on an RBI ground out, to bring Jupiter within a run of the Marauders, 5-4. Beckman got a strikeout to end the inning, then retired the side in order in the 9th, to hold on to the win. Beckman earned his 5th Save, and Sinkbeil earned his first win of the season.
The Pirates have signed their 4th round draft pick, Colten Brewer. Brewer is a right-handed pitcher who was drafted out of high school in Canton. He will likely report to the GCL Pirates to begin his pro career. All of the Pirates’ draft picks, and the ones who have signed, are listed here.
GCL Pirates 10, GCL Blue Jays 7
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Sixteen-year-old Luis Heredia made his pro debut this afternoon, with a start for the GCL Pirates. Heredia made a good showing. He had a batter reach base on a fielding error by SS Alen Hanson in the 1st, but he retired the other three batters in that inning. He gave up a walk in the 2nd, but again retired the other three batters he faced. Heredia had some trouble in the 3rd, when he allowed 2 runs. He began the inning with two ground outs, then hit a batter with a pitch. That runner stole both second and third bases, then Heredia walked the next two batters to load the bases. A single lined into left field brought in two runs. Heredia was relieved by Robert Kilcrease, who finished the inning with a ground out.
Kilcrease gave up another 2 runs in the 4th. Back-to-back singles with one out and a walk loaded the bases with Jays. A sacrifice fly brought in one run, then an RBI single brought in the second, giving the Blue Jays a 4-0 lead.
The Pirates were relatively quiet over the first 3 innings, but they broke out in the bottom of the 4th. With one out, 3B Yhonathan Barrios beat out a bunt for a hit, then moved to second and on to third on two wild pitches. He scored on LF Jose Osuna’s RBI single. 1B Jared Lakind walked, then DH Jon Schwind doubled in Osuna. C Joey Schoenfeld tapped back to the mound, where the Jays’ pitcher tried for a fielder’s choice — but failed, allowing Lakind to score, and leaving Pirate runners on the corners. Hansen’s 3-run homer brought in Schwind and Schoenfeld, giving the Pirates a 6-4 lead.
The Blue Jays also homered in the top of the 5th, but it was a solo shot off Pirates’ reliever Diomedes Mateo. In the bottom of the 5th, RF Gregory Polanco walked and stole second base, then scored on Barrios’ triple lined into right field. Pirates ahead, 7-5. Mateo also gave up 2 more runs in the top of the 6th. A single, a hit batter, and a sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third bases. A fielding error by Barrios allowed both runners to cross the plate, tying the score at 7-7.
The Pirates went down in order in the 6th and 7th innings. Mateo gave up a single in the top of the 7th, but erased that runner with a double play. He also allowed a walk in the 7th, and a single in the 8th. Then the Pirates broke the tie in the bottom of the 8th. Osuna walked and was replaced by pinch-runner Junior Sosa. Lakind’s sacrifice bunt put Sosa on second, but Lakind was also safe at first. Schwind also bunted, and was safe at first to load the bases. Schoenfeld’s single brought in Sosa, then Hanson’s double lined into left scored both Lakind and Schwind. That gave the Pirates a 10-7 lead. 2B Jodaneli Carvajal was hit by a pitch, loading the bases again for the Pirates. Schoenfeld tried for the steal of home but didn’t make it, and that was the first out of the inning. A strikeout and a ground out ended the frame, but the Pirates had the lead.
Joe Parsons relieved Mateo on the mound to begin the top of the 9th. He loaded the bases with two outs, on a hit batter, a walk, and a single. Parsons got a pop out to end the game, and the Pirates had the win.
Spring Training is underway, and it’s time to start looking at the prospects. This season, I thought we’d do it by position, and working up from the lower levels to the upper levels. We’ll begin in the outfield:
Daan Cornelissen — bats L / throws R 6’4″ 194 lbs
Cornelissen is a 19-year-old Dutch outfielder, who began his affiliation with the Pirates in the Australian Acadamy in 2009. He didn’t hit all that well (.191) in Australia, but was moved to the GCL Pirates for 2010. Cornelissen played in 32 game for the Pirates, half in the outfield, and half at first base, when regular first baseman Michaelangel Trinidad was unavailable. He did ok in the field, with only one error, which came while playing first. At the plate, though, Cornelissen still needs a lot of work. He had 10 hits in 83 at-bats (.120), with 4 doubles and 5 RBI. He also had 38 strikeouts. He hit a little better in July than in the rest of the month (.147), but he also had half of his strikeouts in that month. Cornelissen will need to return to the GCL Pirates for 2011, and he’ll need to figure out how to make more contact.
Gregory Polanco — L/L 6′ 4″ 170 lbs
Polanco is another 19-year-old, and he is from the Dominican. Like Cornelissen, Polanco is long and lean, but he has more speed than Cornelissen, so he’s been tried in center field. Polanco also made his US debut with the GCL Pirates in 2010, where he hit just .202 in 53 games, with 5 doubles, 1 triple, and 3 homers, plus 23 RBI. His speed also gave him 19 stolen bases (caught stealing twice), which was 4th in the GCL. Polanco’s best month was June, when he hit .297 in 9 games, but his batting average dropped off in July (.194) and August (.155). The speed is a plus for him, and the Pirates are hoping that Polanco develops some power as he grows over the next few years. He needs to get in a lot of outfield work, too, of course. Polanco could get started in short season State College in 2011.
Former Pirate farmhand (Altoona in 2010) Dustin Molleken signed a minor league contract with the Rockies. Another former Pirate pitcher Chris Bootcheck, who pitched in Japan in 2010, has signed a minor league contract with the Rays for 2011.