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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2011 Prospect Watching: Heredia, Pevny, Kingham, Weidman

Moving on to look at some of the pitchers in the Pirates’ minor league organization, going generally from the lower levels to the upper levels.  

Luis Heredia —  R/R,  6′ 6″, 185 lb
Heredia is the 16-year-old Mexican phenom prospect, who was signed last year.  He received the highest bonus ever given by the Pirates to an international prospect, but remember that under the Mexican League rules, his Mexican team got 75% of that money.  That still left enough money for Heredia to recently buy a house in Bradenton and have his mom come to live there with him.  Heredia reportedly threw 6 different pitches in Mexico, but the Pirates are having him concentrate on the fastball, curve, and change-up, with emphasis on control and command.  Heredia has been spending a lot of time observing the players in big league spring training camp, and the Pirates have been impressed with his level of maturity for his age.  At 16, he has a lot of work to do, clearly, but the Pirates are very excited about an amazing amount of potential.  There was some debate as to whether Heredia should start his pro career in either the Dominican or Venezuelan Summer Leagues (with other players his same age), or whether he should get right into the Gulf Coast League.  He has been pitching against older players in Mexico, and the DSL/VSL would probably not offer him much competition, but the fact that the Pirates did not dissuade him from buying a house in Bradenton is telling.

Logan Pevny  –  R/R,  6′ 3″,  190 lb
Pevny was the Pirates’ 49th pick in the 2010 draft.  This New Jersey student was a hot-hitting shortstop in high school, and began pitching only in his senior year, almost as an afterthought.  After signing, Pevny began his pro career with the GCL Pirates.  He made three appearances.  The first one was one inning, and he struck out 2 batters.  In the second, he gave up a run on a hit and 3 walks in 1.2 innings.  In the third, he went 2 innings, and allowed 2 runs on 3 hits and a homer.  After that, he went onto the DL.  Pevny spent the off season doing a lot of working out, and also doing some teaching with little kids.  At age 19, he’s back and ready to go this spring, though, probably heading back to get in more work in the GCL.

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Bullpen Falters As Indians Lose Late

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Alex Presley is back to the bag safely

Louisville Bats� 6,� Indianapolis Indians� 3 ..���� (box)

IMG_4467It was a tough night for the Indians’ bullpen, as they stumbled in the last two innings, giving the win to the Louisville Bats at Victory Field.� The Indians wasted an excellent starting effort by Charlie Morton (photo), who pitched 6 shutout innings and allowed only 4 hits.� The Indians posted 5 hits, while the Bats out-hit them with 13 knocks.

Morton got some help from his defense, but he cruised along in this start.� He faced only the minimum over the first three innings, and only one batter over the minimum in the first five innings.� He began each of the first three innings with a strikeout, and struck out one more batter after that.

The second batter in the top of the 1st, SS Chris Valaika, slipped a single up through the middle of the infield, where 2B Brian Friday would have been if the Indians’ defense was not in a shift position.� The next batter, 1B Yonder Alonso, also grounded up the middle, right over the second base bag.� SS Pedro Ciriaco made a diving stop, and as he hit the ground stretched out prone behind second base, the ball fell out of his glove,� Ciriaco scrambled to pick it up, then still on the ground, flipped the ball back and lateral to Friday covering second base.� Friday was at the bag, and he made an outstanding turn, and fired the ball to 1B John Bowker, just in time to beat Alonso to the first base bag.

Morton retired the side in order in the 2nd and 3rd innings, then gave up a lead-off single to CF Dave Sappelt in the 4th — the ball glanced off 3B Mitch Jones’ glove and into left field.� But again the infield stepped up.� Valaika grounded to third base, where Jones started an around-the-horn (5-4-3) double play to erase Sappelt.� Alonso almost put the Bats onto the scoreboard with a long fly ball to left field.� The ball hit the top of the left field wall, missing a home run by inches, then bounced into left field for a double.� Morton did not erase Alonso from the base path, but instead struck out the next batter, RF Wladimir Balentien, to end the inning.

IMG_4480The Bats also went down in order in the 5th, and that inning ended with an odd play.� 2B Wilkin Castillo bunted a 1-1 pitch to right in front of the plate, but as he was moving out of the batters’ box, he came in contact with the ball, so was called out.� C Jason Jaramillo, as the closest fielder, gets credit for the put-out in that situation.

The only time Charlie Morton had two base runners on base at the same time was in the 6th inning.� With one out, Bats’ pitcher Chad Reineke dribbled a little grounder (not a bunt) along the third base line, just fair.� By the time Morton and Jaramillo got over to it, Morton picked up the ball, but he had no play at first, and Reineke was on with an infield hit.� Sappelt followed with a grounder to short, and it looked like Morton was going to have yet another base runner erased with a double play.� Pedro Ciriaco made the scoop, but he got excited and his throw to second missed Brian Friday entirely, and sailed into right field.� Reineke advanced to third and Sappelt to second on the error.� With the Indians leading 2-0 at that point, those two runners in scoring position represented the tying runs, and the go-ahead run was at the plate.� Pitching coach Dean Treanor came out for a little chat with Morton (photo).� Then Morton got Valaika to ground softly to third base, and the runners had to hold up.� Another grounder by Alonso to short ended the inning for Morton, and without a run scoring.

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Gonzalez’s Walk-Off Homer, Krol’s 30th Save

A busy Friday for the Pirates’ minor league affiliates:

Bradenton Marauders� 5,� Jupiter Hammerheads� 3 (box)

The Marauders posted 14 hits, with each member of the line-up collecting at least one.� C Eric Fryer had a perfect 4-for-4 night, with all four hits singles.� SS Greg Picart had 2 singles, and LF Quincy Latimore doubled and homered.� They scored only 5 runs on those 14 hits, though, leaving 13 runners on base.

Bradenton began scoring in the 2nd inning, on Fryer’s first single and an RBI double by 1B Calvin Anderson. Latimore’s double and a single by DH Jeremy Farrell to score Latimore added another run in the 3rd.� Latimore’s home run over the left field wall made it 3-0 in the 5th inning.� The Marauders took advantage of an error by the Hammerheads to score agin in the 6th.� With one out, Greg Picart singled and 2B Shelby Ford reached on a fielding error in left field, which let the speedy Picart score from first base.� Ford went to third base on the error, and he scored on RF Robbie Grossman’s RBI single.

Nate Baker earned his 2nd win with the Marauders, going 6 shutout innings and allowing only 2 hits, with 4 walks and 5 strikeouts.� Three of those walks came in the bottom of the 1st inning, but Baker got out of that bases-loaded jam with a pop out and two fly outs.� He had two more runners in scoring position in the 2nd, with a walk and a double, but got out of that jam too.� The other single he allowed came with two outs in the 3rd.� After that single, Baker retired the next 10 batters he faced, to finish his night.

Craig Hansen came on in relief of Baker to begin the 7th.� He kept Jupiter from scoring in the 7th, despite two runners in scoring position from a hit batter, a single, and a wild pitch.� The Hammerheads’ only runs came in the 8th, and only one of the three runs was earned.� A double and two walks loaded the bases, and a sacrifice fly brought in the earned run.� After a second out, Hansen was relieved by Duke Welker. The first batter Welker faced took a ball into center field, but an error by CF Starling Marte caused two unearned runs to score.� Welker finished that inning with a line out to short.

Noah Krol earned his 30th save of the season with a perfect 9th inning.� He leads the Florida State League in saves — #2 has 28 saves and #3 has 21 saves.� How many saves do you need to have before you get promoted?

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