Stolen Bases Hurt Power; Alvarez Continues Rehab

Sunday’s action in the Pirates’ minor league organization began with an afternoon game in Charleston.  The GCL Pirates have the day off.

Greensboro Grasshoppers  10,  West Virginia Power  2
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Three late-inning rallies gave the Grasshoppers the advantage over the Power this afternoon.   Power starter Colton Cain pitched 4 innings and allowed 3 runs on 4 hits and a walk.  The first ‘Hoppers’ run came in the 1st inning, on a double and an RBI single.  Cain allowed only one base runner over the next two innings (hit batter), then gave up a 2-run homer in the 4th, to give Greensboro a 3-0 lead. Cain and C Kawika Emsley-Pai had two bases stolen against them in the 1st inning (one runner, two bases), and a double steal in the 4th.  Kevin Decker replaced Cain to begin the 5th, and retired the side in order.  In the 6th, Decker gave up 2 runs on a single, a walk, a sacrifice fly, and an RBI single.  There were three stolen bases in that inning.  Decker was still pitching in the 7th, when 3 more runs scored.  Three more stolen bases contributed to the scoring, which also included two walks, a sacrifice fly, an RBI double and an RBI single.  The Grasshoppers had an 8-0 lead.   

The Power batters went down in order in the first two innings, and had only 3 base runners over the first 6 innings.  Emsley-Pai led off the 3rd with a single lined into left field, but he was thrown out trying to steal second base.   1B Chase Lyles singled in the 5th and was left on base.  SS Kevin Mort singled to open the 6th, and was erased in a double play.  2B Andy Vasquez singled to lead off the 7th, and he was also out in a double play, when CF Mel Rojas lined out to first and Vasquez was easily doubled off.  Finally, after that double play, three consecutive hits pushed the first Power run across the plate.  DH Cole White and Lyles hit back-to-back singles, and LF Rogelios Noris drove in White with a line drive double into left.  

Justin Ennis pitched the 8th inning, and gave the ‘Hoppers another 2-run homer, following a single.  The Power got one of the runs back in the 8th.  With two outs, Vasquez was hit by a pitch, and Rojas walked.  White lined a single into center field, and Vasquez came around from second to score.  Jason Townsend pitched a scoreless top of the 9th, and the Power also went down in order in the bottom of the 9th.  

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Rough Nights For Miller, Pounders

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.  

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Heredia’s Debut, SAL All-Star Game; 3 Homers In One Inning For The Marauders

Tuesday’s action:

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.  

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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: Ramos, Baca, Sadler, And Ennis

Continuing to work our way up through the pitchers in the Pirates’ minor league organization:

Jhonathan Ramos  –  L/L,  5′ 8″,  156 lb 
Ramos is a 21 year old Venezuelan native, who split the 2010 season between State College and West Virginia.  After some time in extended spring training, Ramos began the season in West Virginia in June.  He made two starts and five relief appearances, and at first did well, with 5 scoreless innings over his first two games.  He gave up 6 hits in those two games, but after that, he just kept giving up hits and runs.  In 15 innings for the Power in June, Ramos allowed 14 earned runs and 28 hits, though just 2walks, and 13 strikeouts.  He earned a 0-1 record and an 8.40 ERA.  Ramos was sent to State College for July and most of August, and he did well there, with a 3-1 record and a 1.62 ERA in 16 relief appearances.  He threw 33.1 innings and allowed 22 hits and 4 walks, with 28 strikeouts.  Ramos returned to the Power at the end of the season for 2 more games.  He pitched a total of 4 scoreless innings and allowed one hit, no walks, with 5 strikeouts.  Ramos spent the winter pitching in the Venezuelan Winter League for Los Bravos de Margarita.  He made 18 relief appearances for 13.2 innings, and earned a 3-2 record and a 2.63 ERA.  He still gave up hits (13), but only 4 earned runs and 5 walks, with 9 strikeouts.  Ramos is another reliever who should be in the mix for a bullpen spot in West Virginia, but that bullpen is going to be crowded.  Ramos could return to State College for a part of the season, or possibly get a try in A+ Bradenton.

Marc Baca –  R/R,  6′ 2″,  220 lb
Baca was the Pirates’ 42nd round pick in the 2009 draft.  He’s pitched entirely in relief for the Pirates, beginning at State College in 2009, where he made 18 appearances for 18 innings, and earned a 1-3 record and a 3.00 ERA.  Baca was promoted to West Virginia for 2010, where he ran hot and cold.  He began the season with a 2-0 April, with one save and a 5.59 ERA.  He pitched 9.2 innings and allowed 6 earned runs with 13 hits, 4 walks, and 5 strikeouts.  The next two months went very well, with a 1-1 record and 2 saves, and a 0.98 ERA.  He pitched 27.2 innings and allowed 3 earned runs, with 24 hits, 10 walks, and 27 strikeouts.  Baca had some tough outings in July, and allowed 16 runs on 18 hits in 8 games.  He also walked 9 batters and his strikeouts dropped to 6.  August/September were not a lot better.  He pitched 18.2 innings in 9 games, and allowed 13 runs (6.27 ERA) on 20 hits.  He walked 8 and struck out 13.  Overall, Baca earned a 5-3 record and a 5.26 ERA for the season, with 4 saves.  In 65 innings, he allowed 75 hits and 38 earned runs, with 31 walks and 51 strikeouts.  The strikeout rate (7.1 K/ 9 innings) was better than in 2009 (5.0 K/ 9 innings), but the walk rate (4.3 walks/ 9 innings) was a little worse than in 2009 (3.0 walks/ 9 innings).  Baca’s fastball velocity is in the high 80’s.  At age 24, he doesn’t appear to be ready for A+, but he could get squeezed out by all of the other prospects who are also going to try to fit into the West Virginia bullpen.  

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