Allie’s Pro Debut; Miller’s 5th Win; GLC Pirates Begin

The Altoona Curve have a scheduled day off today (Monday), and the West Virginia Power are off for the first day of their All-Star Break.  The All-Star Game will be played in Delmarva on Tuesday, with Brandon Cumpton, Jameson Taillon, and Dan Grovatt representing the Power.  

Auburn Doubledays  7 ,  State College Spikes  6
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Pirates’ 2nd round draft pick from 2010, Stetson Allie, made his professional debut tonight, as the starting pitcher for the State College Spikes, though he did not factor into the decision.  Allie struck out the first batter he faced, then gave up a single, struck out the next batter, and gave up an RBI double.  A line out ended the inning.  The second inning went better, as Allie retired three Auburn batters in order, including another strikeout.  

The third inning was another tough one for Allie.  A single and a walk opened the inning.  After a fly out, both runners stole the next base, and a walk loaded the bases.  Allie also walked the next batter, forcing in a run.  That signaled the end of his evening.  Cliff Archibald relieved Allie, but Archibald also walked in a run (charged to Allie), before getting the inning-ending double play.  Allie was responsible for 3 runs on 3 hits and 3 walks, with 3 strikeouts, in 2.1 innings.  
State College got onto the scoreboard with a run in the 3rd.  SS Kirk Singer led off with a double, then DH Carlos Mesa singled, moving Singer to third.  C Samuel Gonzalez’s RBI single brought in Singer, to cut the Auburn lead to 3-1.  The Spikes tied the game in the 4th.  1B Walker Gourley led off with a single and moved to second base on a wild pitch, then to third on a ground out.  Singer walked, then CF Taylor Lewis’ sacrifice fly scored Gourley.  Singer stole second base, then scored on RF Justin Benscko’s RBI single.  

Archibald went on to pitch the 4th and 5th innings, allowing a walk and a single, but keeping Auburn scoreless.  Emmanuel De Leon relieved Archibald to begin the 6th inning, and gave up only a double in that inning.  With two outs in the 7th, De Leon gave up a double and a 2-run homer.  The Spikes got one of the runs back in the bottom of the inning, with a single by Benscko, a stolen base and a missed catch error to put Benscko onto third, and a sacrifice fly by Gonzalez.  

De Leon started the top of the 8th by giving up a walk and a stolen base.  After two outs, a single, a throwing error by Singer, and a double gave Auburn 2 more runs, for a 7-4 lead.  Jesus Brito relieved De Leon and ended the 8th inning with a fly out.  Singer tried to make up for his error with an RBI double after a single by 3B Brian Sharp, bringing the score to 7-5.  Brito pitched a scoreless top of the 9th.  The Spikes tried for another rally in the bottom of the 9th.  With one out, Benscko singled, then advanced to second on a wild pitch, and to third on a second wild pitch.  After a walk to Mesa, Gonzalez brought in Benscko with a sacrifice fly.  But a strikeout ended the inning and the game without the Spikes being able to catch up.                                       

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Baker Homers In FSL All-Star Game; Curve Drops Double Header

More brief notes for Saturday, since we’re on the road….

Florida State League All-Star Game, played in Clearwater, Florida
FSL North  5,  FSL South  3
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Three Marauders’ players got in on this game:  C Ramon Cabrera, 1B Aaron Baker, and 2B Jarek Cunningham were all starters for the South squad.  The North scored first, with a single, a triple, and fielding error in center field in the bottom of the 1st, for a 2-0 lead.  The South tied it up in the top of the 4th, thanks to the Marauders.  Cabrera led off with a single through to left field.  After two outs, Baker brought in Cabrera with a 2-run homer to tie the game.  

The North took the lead again in the bottom of the 5th.  A walk, a stolen base, an RBI double, and an RBI single gave the North a 4-2 lead.  The North added some insurance in the bottom of the 8th, on two singles and a double.  The South had one last chance in the top of the 9th, which began with a lead-off single.  Baker grounded out, moving the runner to second base, and another single put him on third.  A sacrifice fly brought in the run, but a ground out ended the rally and the game.  

Cabrera played 3.5 innings before being replaced by another catcher.  He went 1-for-2, with a ground out in his other at-bats.  Cunningham played 5.5 innings before letting another second baseman get into the game.  He grounded out and popped out in his two plate appearances.  Baker played the whole game, and went 1-for-2 at the plate, with two walks.   

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2011 Prospect Watching: E Gonzalez, Davis, and Brito

Continuing to look at the third basemen in the Pirates’ minor league organization:

Elevys Gonzalez —  Bats Both / Throws R,  5′ 11″,  175 lb
Gonzalez is a Venezuelan native who made some big improvements in 2010.  He appeared to be headed for a return trip to State College to begin the season (he’d played 13 games there in 2009), but due to injuries further up the ladder, Gonzalez was instead assigned to A level West Virginia in May.  He embraced the challenge, hitting .303 in 9 games there, with a homer and 2 RBI.  He dropped down to .195 in June, but by the end of the month, he was getting more playing time, and in July he had the average back up to .300, with 7 RBI.  At first Gonzalez was splitting his playing time between second base, third base, and shortstop, functioning as the Power’s utility infielder.  But by August, he was playing regularly at third base, as Jesus Brito struggled defensively there.  More time on the field translated to more plate appearances and better hitting for Gonzalez — .289 with 2 homers and 16 RBI in August.  He finished the season with a flourish at the plate, with 3 homers in the last 5 games, and 3 hits in the last game.  Overall for the season, Gonzalez hit a solid .275, with 9 doubles, 4 triples, 6 homers, and 31 RBI.  The 21-year-old should be ready for A+ Bradenton for 2011, where he will likely play more third base, but also spend some time at second and short.

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Bixler Returns; Krol Saves #21

IMG_3495The Pittsburgh Pirates have reaquired infielder Brian Bixler (photo) from the Cleveland Indians’ organization.� Bixler, who was originally drafted by the Pirates in the second round of the 2004 draft, played in the Pirates’ organization for all of his career until he was traded to Cleveland in January 2010 for infielder Jesus Brito. Bixler did not make the Cleveland major league team out of spring training, and he was removed from their 40-man roster.� He has been playing for AAA Columbus, and has appeared in several games against the Indy Indians.� For the Clippers, the 27-year-old Ohio native has been hitting .278 with 13 doubles, one triple, 3 homers, and 27 RBI.� That’s about the same average but with a little less power than he showed with the Indy Indians in 2009.� Bixler has not been able to take his AAA level success up to the major league level.� In a total of 68 games with the Pirates, Bixler hit .178 with 7 doubles, one triple, and 5 RBI, and struck out 62 times.� Bixler will join the Indy Indians after the All-Star break.

The Indy Indians are off for their All-Star break.� The AAA All-Star game will be played on Wednesday in Lehigh Valley.� The game will not be on ESPN2 as in past years, but will be televised on the MLB network.� It will also be on-line on milb.com.�� More Monday action in the Pirates’ minor league organization:

Richmond Flying Squirrels� 6,� Altoona Curve� 3….. suspended (box)

They got into the 4th inning before rain halted play in Altoona this afternoon.� The Curve got busy in the bottom of the 1st, with a double by 3B Shelby Ford, and an RBI single by 2B Jordy Mercer. Mercer stole second, then went to third on walks to C Kris Watts and LF Brandon Jones. RF Miles Durham drove in both Mercer and Watts with a line drive single into left field.� Durham also stole second, but was left there when the inning ended.

Starter Tim Alderson retired the side in the top of the 1st, but struggled after that.� The Squirrels came right back in the top of the 2nd to tie the score.� The inning began with three consecutive singles, which brought in one run.� A throwing error by 1B Matt Hague loaded the bases, and another single drove in two more runs.� A sacrifice bunt moved two runners into scoring position — and provided the first out of the inning.� A hit batter loaded the bases again, but an infield fly rule pop out and a grounder force out ended the inning.� The second inning did not go any better.� A double, a walk, and a double opened the inning, bringing in 2 runs.� After two ground outs, another double drove in the Squirrels’ 6th run.� Alderson was relieved by Dustin Molleken to begin the top of the 4th, and Molleken retired the side in order.

The Curve went down in order in the 2nd.� Mercer and Watts both singled in the 3rd, though neither scored.� The bottom of the 4th began with a walk to Durham and a single by CF Anthony Norman, moving Durham to third.� Molleken’s sacrifice bunt moved Norman to second base, and that’s how things stood when play was halted.� The game will be resumed on August 26th.

After the game, Alderson was reassigned to A+ Bradenton.� He had made 17 starts for the Curve, and in 86.2 innings, Alderson had allowed 105 hits and 54 earned runs (5.30 ERA).� He had 26 walks and 57 strikeouts, and batters hit .307 against him. His record:� 7-5.

Jeff Locke is being promoted from Bradenton to Altoona — a pitcher swap.� Locke has a 9-3 record with the Marauders.� He also has 17 starts, for 86.1 innings, allowing 82 hits and 42 earned runs (3.54 ERA).� Locke has walked 14 and struck out 83, and batters hit .248 against him.

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Morris Loses In Pre-Futures Start; Power Win In 10

Thursdays’ action in the Pirates lower minor league organization:

Binghamton Mets �4, �Altoona Curve �3 (box)

It only took two innings to get all the scoring done in this game, as Bryan Morris suffered his 4th loss with the Curve in what will be his last start before the All-Star break and his participation in the Futures Game. �Morris didn’t get past the 2nd inning, as he gave up all 4 Mets’ runs on 6 hits. �Morris got the first batter he faced to ground out, but then immediately got into trouble with a single and a ground-rule double, putting two runners in scoring position. �A ground out allowed the runner from third base to score. �A hit batter put runners on the corners, and two singles followed, with a second run scoring. �Morris struck out the last batter of the 1st inning and the first batter of the 2nd inning. �Then he gave up a solo home run, and the Mets had a 4-0 lead. �A walk, a single, and a wild pitch followed the home run, but Morris was able to leave them on base as the inning ended. �I suspect he had run into problems with his pitch count as well, because Derek Hankins came out to pitch the 3rd inning.

The Curve batters came back with 3 runs of their own in the bottom of the 2nd. �2B Jordy Mercer led off with a line drive double, and he scored when 1B Miles Durham and LF Anthony Norman hit back-to-back singles. �Bryan Morris sacrifice bunted Durham and Norman into scoring position, and both of them scored on SS Chase d’Arnaud’s RBI single. �The Curve were behind by just one run, 4-3.

But the Curve couldn’t erase that narrow margin. �They put runners on base in all but one of the remaining innings, but none of them could come around to score. �Nine base runners were left stranded. �Two runners were left on base in the 3rd, when 3B Josh Harrison singled and RF Brandon Jones walked. �Mercer doubled again in the 6th, and Norman walked, again leaving two runners on. �In the top of the 9th, the Curve’s final effort, CF Gorkys Hernandez singled with two outs, but a fly out ended the game.

Derek Hankins pitched 6 scoreless innings after Morris hit the showers. �He retired the first 6 batters he faced in order, including striking out the side in the 4th. �He hit a batter in the 5th, but immediately erased him with a double play. �Another double play got Hankins out of a walk-and-single jam in the 7th. �Anthony Claggett pitched the final inning. �He gave up a single, but that runner was thrown out trying to steal second base.

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