Continuing to look at Pirates’ pitchers in the lower levels of the organization:
Jarryd Sullivan — R/R, 6′ 0″, 181 lb
The 21-year-old Sullivan came to the Pirates out of the new Australian Baseball Academy. He has a fastball in the high 80’s, a curve, and a strong changeup. Sullivan made his US debut in 2010, and after extended spring training, he began the short season at State College. He made 3 appearances there, for 3 innings, but allowed 5 runs (3 earned) on 4 hits and 4 walks, for an 8.10 ERA. He went down to the GCL for the rest of the season, and pitched better there, making 5 starts and 7 relief appearances. In 35 innings, Sullivan gave up 16 earned runs on 40 hits, for a 4.11 ERA. He walked only 3 batters, and struck out 15. Over the winter, Sullivan returned to his native Australia and pitched for the Sydney Blue Sox in the Australian Baseball League. He made 5 relief appearances for the Blue Sox, for a total of 7.2 innings without allowing a run. He did give up 4 hits and 3 walks, while striking out 7 batters. Sullivan should get another try at State College to begin 2011.
Joely Rodriguez — L/L, 6′ 1″, 175 lb
Rodriguez is a 19-year-old Dominican, who made his US debut in 2010 after one year in the Dominican Summer League. He made 9 starts for the GCL Pirates, for a total of 47.1 innings. He allowed 44 hits and 21 earned runs, including 10 homers. He walked only 7 batters, while striking out 26 batters. That’s a little high on the homers and a little low on the strikeouts, but the latter could improve with some more work on his off-speed pitches. He gets a lot of ground-ball outs. At the end of the season, Rodriguez was promoted to State College, where he appeared in 2 games. The first was tough, as he allowed 3 runs on 4 hits and a walk, in one inning. The second appearance went better — one unearned run on 2 hits and a walk in 3 innings. Rodriguez should be back in State College for 2011.
The Pirates have added a minor league catcher, Kawika Emsley-Pai, to the fold. The Washington State native was the Diamondbacks’ 10th round pick in the most recent (2010) draft, signed out of University of Texas. He made his pro debut with the Yakima Bears in the Northwest (short season) league, where he caught a bit more than half of the Bears’ games. In his 42 appearances, Emsley-Pai hit .167, with 3 doubles and 8 RBI. He made just one error behind the plate and had 8 passed balls. Base runners had about a 50-50 chance against him — 17 stolen bases allowed, and 19 runners thrown out. The 22-year-old was released by the D’backs, but the Pirates think he will be able to fill in, probably either at State College or West Virginia.
On to the winter league games:
Bravos de Margarita 9, Leones de Caracas 5 — Los Bravos scored 5 runs in the 7th inning, to put them out of reach for Los Leones. Los Leones scored early, with a 2-run homer in the top of the 1st, and 2 more runs on a single and four walks in the 3rd. C Carlos Maldonado had an RBI walk in that inning. Margarita got onto the scoreboard with a run in the bottom of the 3rd, on a single, a triple, and a sacrifice fly. An error, two singles, and a wild pitch gave Los Bravos 2 more runs in the 5th, to tie the score. In the 7th, Los Bravos pounded out a double, three singles, and a grand slam to take the lead. Jean Machi took the mound for Margarita for the final two innings. He struck out the side in the 8th, then struck out 2 more in the 9th, but also gave up a solo homer, and a single and a walk after the homer. LF Mike Ryan went 0-for-4 for Caracas.
Tigres de Aragua 3, Aguilas de Zulia 2 — A pair of doubles began the bottom of the 11th for Los Tigres, for the walk-off win. Neither team had a hit for the first 3 innings of the game. Zulia scored their 2 runs in the 6th, beginning with a single, a bunt, and an RBI single. Wil Ledezma came on in relief for Aragua, and he gave up an RBI double, to give Zulia a 2-0 lead. Los Tigres tied the score in the 7th inning when LF Lastings Milledge reached base on an error, and came in on a 2-run homer. Both teams threatened in the 8th, but neither scored, and then the bats were mostly quiet until the 11th inning. CF Jorge Cortes singled into left field in the 5th for Los Tigres, but was out when he tried to reach second base. Cortes also doubled in the 8th inning, and was replaced by a pinch-runner, who got as far as third base but did not score.
In the Dominican championship series, Los Toros del Este took a 2-game-to-0 lead with a 3-1 win over Los Estrellas de Oriente. Two runs in the top of the 8th broke a 1-1 tie and gave Los Toros the win. The Puerto Rican League had a night off from their playoff series. The Mexican Pacific League will begin their championship series on Friday.
Canberra Cavalry 5, Sydney Blue Sox 1 (Thursday) — The Cavalry scored 3 runs in the 5th, giving them plenty of insurance over the Blue Sox, who were held to just 3 hits. Jarryd Sullivan pitched 3 scoreless innings for Sydney, allowing only one hit. He gave up a double in the 6th, then retired the side in order in the next two innings.
Adelaide Bite 12, Brisbane Bandits 0 (Friday) — The Bite chomped on the Bandits, in a game that ended early, due to a 12-run lead after 6.5 innings. Back-to-back homers gave the Bite 5 runs in the 2nd inning — a grand slam by 3B Stan Welch (Mets), then a solo blast. Another solo homer began the 3rd inning, and another grand slam, by 1B Tom Brice, came in the 4th. Two singles, a walk, and two RBI ground outs finished the scoring in the 5th. DH Quincy Latimore went 0-for-3 with a walk for the Bite. After a dribbly little hit down the third base line by the Bandit’s lead-off hitter, Bite starter Brandon Maurer (Mariners) retired the next 21 batters he faced, including 8 strikeouts.
The Bite finish the season with a double-header against the Bandits on Saturday. They are currently a half-game behind league-leading Perth Heat in the standings. The Heat are scheduled to play a double-header against the Melbourne Aces on Saturday.
The Dominican and Puerto Rican Leagues wind up their round-robin playoff series this weekend, while the Venezuelans continue theirs for another week or so.
PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Criollos de Caguas 5, Gigantes de Carolina 2 — Los Criollos began the scoring with a fly out-RBI for 3B Ramon Vazquez after two singles. An RBI single gave them a run in the 3rd, and a 2-run homer made it 4-0 in the 5th. Los Criollos wrapped it up with a run in the top of the 7th, on two singles, a walk, and a throwing error. Carolina scratched out a run in both the 7th and 8th innings. SS Luis Figueroa singled and walked for Los Criollos, but did not score.
Leones de Ponce 7, Senadores de San Juan 2 — A 4-run inning in the top of the 8th gave Los Leones the win. San Juan out-hit Ponce, 10 – 9, but they couldn’t bring the runners around, leaving 11 on base. RJ Rodriguez pitched the bottom of the 9th for Ponce, but gave up three consecutive singles to open the inning, which drove in one run. He struck out two, then loaded the bases with another single, then ended the inning with a grounder force out.
Aguilas de Zulia 7, Bravos de Margarita 4 — Los Bravos got the game started with 3 runs in the top of the 1st, on three singles and two throwing errors. But Los Aguilas scored a run in the bottom of the 1st, another in the 3rd, and took the lead with a 3-run homer in the 5th. They added a run on a double and a triple in the 6th, and their 7th run on a double, a hit batter, and a single in the 7th. Jhonathan Ramos came on in relief for Los Bravos after that run scored in the 7th, and he ended the inning with a ground out. Ramos came back out to begin the bottom of the 8th. The first batter of the inning reached on a fielding error, then Ramos gave up a single. A ground out and a line out followed, and then Ramos was relieved. Another ground out ended the inning without a run scoring.
Caribes de Anzoategui 6, Leones de Caracas 5 — This one took 13 innings to decide. Los Leones broke a 2-2 tie in the top of the 8th when C Carlos Maldonado started a rally with a single. He was replace by a pinch-runner, who scored on an RBI single. Los Caribes tied the score again with a 2-run homer in the bottom of the 9th, and the game went into extras. Neither team could get much going in the 10th or 11th, and though Los Caribes threatened in the bottom of the 12th, they still could not get a run across. Los Leones broke the tie in the top of the 13th. A double, an intentional walk, and a fielder’s choice loaded the bases. A grounder to third was fired back to the plate, for a force out at home. Then LF Mike Ryan, who had already singled twice and walked three times in the game, grounded to second base. The runner going from first to second was out, but Ryan was able to beat out the throw to first, and a run scored. But Los Caribes were not done yet — a single and two walks loaded the bases in the bottom of the frame, and a line drive single into left field drove in two runs for the win. Jose Ascanio pitched a perfect inning in the bottom of the 8th for Caracas.
The Caribbean leagues continue their playoffs, though the Mexican Pacific League has the night off….
PUERTO RICAN LEAGUE
Leones de Ponce 5, Senadores de San Juan 2 — Reliever JR Rodriguez earned his first playoff save with a perfect 9th inning for Los Leones. His teammates broke a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the 7th with a 2-run homer, followed by another run on two singles, a sacrifice bunt, and a wild pitch.
Criollos de Caguas 4, Gigantes de Carolina 0 — Los Gigantes were held to just 4 hits, and even with 5 walks, they could not push a run across the plate. Los Criollos were held to just 3 hits, but they took advantage of 7 walks, 3 hit batters, and 2 errors to score their 4 runs. Their first run came in the bottom of the 1st, on a hit batter, a sacrifice bunt by SS Luis Figueroa, two walks, and a sacrifice fly. 3B Ramon Vazquez led off the 4th with a single, and he came around to score with help from a bunt, a wild pitch, and a sacrifice fly. Los Criollos’ final two runs scored in the 6th, and with just one hit. Vazquez reached on a fielding error, then a hit batter, a balk, and a sacrifice fly brought him in. Figueroa drove in the final run with an RBI double.
Gigantes del Cibao 7, Toros del Este 5 — Los Toros began the scoring with 4 runs in the bottom of the 4th — three singles, and a 3-run homer. Los Gigantes answered with 4 runs of their own in the top of the 5th, on 5 singles and a sacrifice fly. One of the singles, which loaded the bases, came off the bat of CF Rich Thompson. Los Toros scored one more run in the bottom of the 5th, but Los Gigantes scored 3 in the top of the 7th, with 4 singles and a sacrifice fly.
Leones del Escogido 2, Estrellas de Oriente 1 — Ronny Paulino, making a rare appearance playing first base, drove in Los Estrellas only run with an RBI ground out in the 1st inning. With one out in the 6th, Los Leones popped two singles. Franquelis Osoria came on to pitch for Los Estrellas, but the only batter he faced hit an RBI single to tie the game. Another single brought in the go-ahead run.
The Mexican Pacific League started their playoffs on New Years’ Day. Los Tomateros De Culiacan beat Los Venados de Mazatlan 4-3, and Rogelios Noris did not get into the game. It took 11 innings for Los Caneros de Los Mochis to beat Los Algodoneros de Guasave 7-6. Yurendell de Caster singled in a run for Guasave in the 6th. More playoff games, including Puerto Rican and Dominican games, on Sunday.
Adelaide Bite 12, Canberra Cavalry 1 — This game ended after the top of the 7th, with the Bite ahead by more than 10 runs (international rules). The Cavalry started off well, with a run in the top of the 1st on an error and an RBI double. But that was the only hit and the only run they would get. Bite starter Darren Fidge pitched 5 innings and struck out 7 batters, while allowing the one run, one hit, and one walk. Two relievers each pitched a perfect inning. The Bite started scoring in the bottom of the 1st, loading the bases with a single and two walks. Quincy Latimore, in center field today, struck out swinging, but strike three was a wild pitch, which allowed the runner from third base to score. An RBI ground out brought in a second run. The Bite powered up in the 4th inning, with three home runs — a solo homer, a double followed by a 2-run homer, and a batter reaching on an error, followed by another 2-run homer. Latimore also walked in that inning, after all the homers, but was left on base. The Cavalry changed pitchers, bringing Rinku Singh on to pitch the 5th inning, but he did not have much better luck. A single, a walk, and another single loaded the bases. An RBI single and an RBI ground out drove in one run each, and another came in on a throwing error. Latimore also grounded out to drive in a run, and Singh was charged with 4 runs (3 earned) on 3 hits and 2 walks. The Cavalry tried another pitcher for the bottom of the 6th, and he got one out, then walked three consecutive batters. A wild pitch must have bounced just right, because the Cavalry catcher and pitcher were able to tag the runner from third out at the plate. They were not as lucky with the next wild pitch, as the Bite scored their final run.
Sydney Blue Sox 10, Perth Heat 3 — The Blue Sox took an early lead with 4 runs in the 1st and 3 runs in the 2nd. Then they added 2 more in the 5th and one in the 6th. Perth scratched out a run in the 5th and 2 runs in the 6th. Jarryd Sullivan pitched the bottom of the 9th for the Blue Sox. He walked the first batter of the inning, then got a grounder force out, a strikeout, and a fly out to end the game.