Alvarez Starts With GCL Pirates

The Pirates have optioned SS Pedro Ciriaco to AAA Indianapolis.  This opens a roster spot for OF Alex Presley, who will be officially called up on Tuesday (the Pirates have a day off on Monday).  UPDATE:  Presley has officially been called up, and will join the Pirates in Toronto.

Also promoted:  pitcher Rinku Singh has been promoted from the GCL Pirates to State College.   Singh has pitched a total of 15 innings so far this season.  Eleven of those came on 3 appaearances with the DSL team.  He gave up 3 runs on 7 hits and 3 walks, with 7 strikeouts in the Dominican.  In one appearance last week with the GCL Pirates, Singh pitched 4 scoreless innings and allowed only one hit, while striking out 5 batters.  Singh pitched in one game for the Spikes at the end of the 2010 season.  He went 2 innings in that game, and gave up only one hit, with one strikeout.  

Monday’s game action:

GCL Pirates  1,  GCL Phillies  0…. for 1.5 innings
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3B Pedro Alvarez made his first official rehab start this afternoon.  It didn’t last long, though that had nothing to do with him: the game was suspended due to rain after just 1.5 innings.  Alvarez was the Pirates’ lead-off batter.  He got one trip to the plate, in which he grounded out to second base.  CF Willy Garcia was the only batter on either team to reach base, when he blasted a solo homer in the top of the 2nd.  Pirates’ starter Luis Heredia pitched to just 3 batters in the bottom of the first — two strikeouts and a pop out to C Joey Schoenfeld.  

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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: Skirving, Emsley-Pai, Scott

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

Matt Skirving –  Bats Left / Throws Right;  6′ 2″,  215 lbs
Skirving was the Pirates’ 30th round pick in the 2010 draft.  He reported to State College, where he played in 43 games, all but one behind the plate.  Skirving had a great month of July at the plate, when he hit .306, but that dropped sharply to .103 in August, and he finished the season with just one hit in his last 10 games.  Overall for the season, Skirving hit .217, with 7 doubles, a triple, and 10 RBI.  His strikeouts and walks were ok — 21 strikeouts (17.5%) and 12 walks (8.8%).  Skirving threw out 14 out of 76 base runners (18%).  He’s got a lot to work on, but he’s 21 years old and has some time.  Skirving will likely be ready for West Virginia in 2011.  

Kawika Emsley-Pai —  Bats Both / Throws Right;  5′ 11″,  195 lbs
Emsley-Pai was drafted by the Diamondbacks in the 10th round of the 2010 draft.  He went right to Yakima in the Northwest League (Low A).  He did not hit well there — .167 with 3 doubles and 8 RBI in 42 games.  He did do a little better in August, when he hit .212.  Emsley-Pai reportedly has an accurate arm (he pitched in high school) and he did throw out 19 of 36 base stealers for Yakima (53%).  It wasn’t good enough for the D’backs, though, who released him after the 2010 season.  Emsley-Pai has a connection to the Pirates — the scout who signed him for the D’backs, Jim Dedrick, is now working for the Pirates.  Dedrick probably put in a good word for him, and the Pirates signed Emsley-Pai to a minor league contract.  His 2011 assignment might depend on where Elias Diaz goes.  It’s likely that one of them will go to State College and share duties with Schoenfeld, and the other will go to West Virginia and share with Skirving.

Travis Scott  –  Bats Left / Throws Right;  6′ 3″,  220 lbs
The Pirates picked up Scott in the minor league part of the Rule 5 Draft in December.  He had been the Mariners’ 20th round pick in the 2005 draft, but had not moved up far in their organization.  He spent all of the 2007 -09 seasons at A+ High Desert, and after another 33 games at High Desert in 2010, he was given a brief shot at AA West Tennessee.  In 4 games at West Tennesseee, Scott went 1-for-11, then was released.  He hit .276 overall in all that time with High Desert, with 45 homers and 201 RBI, and his best year at the plate was 2009, when he hit .285 with 15 homers and 71 RBI.  After being released by Seattle, Scott joined Rockford in the independent Northern League, where he played 65 games and hit .300 with 5 homers and 29 RBI.  Scott was going to be back in affiliated ball in 2011 on a minor league contract with the Angels, when he was selected in the Rule 5 Draft.  He could fit in as a back-up at either A+ Bradenton or maybe AA Altoona.

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Losses All Around

Losses for all of the Pirates’ affiliates on Friday night:

Reading Phillies� 9,� Altoona Curve� 4 …������� (box)

The R-Phils attacked Curve starter Jared Hughes early, and the Curve bats could not keep up.� Hughes retired the side in order in the 1st inning, but gave up 3 unearned runs on a walk, a single, and two errors in the 2nd inning — the throwing error was by Hughes.� A walk, a double, and a single added 2 more runs in the 3rd inning.� In the 4th inning, Hughes gave up another 3 runs on two singles, a triple, and a double by former Indy Indian Tagg Bozied.� Hughes was done after those 4 innings, having allowed 8 runs (5 earned) on 7 hits and 2 walks, though he struck out 6 batters.

The Curve hitters were hitless in the first 4 innings.� The only batter to get on base was CF Anthony Norman, who reached in the 3rd on Bozied’s fielding error at first.� Two home runs, one by C Kris Watts in the 5th, and one by 2B Chase d’Arnaud in the 6th, got the Indians onto the scoreboard, but they were still trailing 8-2.

Each team scored in the 7th.� Tom Boleska had relieved Hughes to begin the 5th inning, and he retired the first 7 batters he faced in order.� Then in the 7th, he walked Bozied, then gave up a single and a double, allowing Bozied to score.� In the bottom of the frame, 1B Matt Hague led off with a single, then scored on singles by Watts and Norman, to make it 9-3.� The Curve added one more run in the bottom of the 9th, when SS Jordy Mercer, Hague, and RF Miles Durham led off the inning with three consecutive singles to load the bases.� Watts’ sacrifice fly plated Mercer, but two ground outs ended the inning without any further scoring.� Bryan Morris pitched two perfect innings to wrap it up for the Curve.

The Curve have won the Eastern League’s Western Division title, and will begin the first round of playoffs on Wednesday.� None of the other playoff slots have been settled yet.� The Bowie Baysox and the Harrisburg Senators are tied for second place in the Western Division.� The Trenton Thunder are in first place in the Eastern Division, with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats 2.5 games behind, with 3 games left to play.

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Gonzalezes Power Up With Homers

The West Virginia Power had their last late-morning game of the season today.� The rest of the Pirates’ lower minor affiliates play this evening.

West Virginia Power� 12,� Rome Braves� 4 …��� (box)

The Power hammered away at the Braves, scoring in every inning after the 1st, doubling up the Braves in hits.� Jarek Cunningham and LF Rogelios Noris led the way with 3 hits each.� 2B Rome got off to a good start with a solo home run to begin the 2nd inning.� The Power came right back in the bottom of the inning, when 1B Aaron Baker walked and scored on RF Jose Hernandez’s double off the right field wall.� A ground out pushed Hernandez to third base, and he scored on Noris’ line drive single inot left field.� 3B Elevys Gonzalez added another run with a lead-off homer on the first pitch of the 3rd inning (his 4th of the season).� Noris crushed a ball off the top of the left field wall with one out in the 4th inning, cruising into third base for a stand-up triple.� He scored moments later on SS Benji Gonzalez’s first home run of the season.

Power starter Brett Lorin had allowed that homer in the 2nd, and gave up singles in the 1st and 3rd, plus two walks in the 4th.� The Braves got to him in the top of the 5th, though.� With two outs, Lorin hit a batter, then gave up a double and a 3-run homer.� That brought Rome within one run of the Power, 5-4. But that was all the scoring the Power pitchers intended to let the Braves do.� Maurice Bankston relieved Lorin to pitch 2 scoreless innings, allowing only a single in the 7th.� Jhonathan Ramos, just promoted from State College, celebrated his return to the Power with two perfect innings, including 3 strikeouts.

The Power added some insurance runs in the bottom of the 5th inning.�� Jarek Cunningham led off with a single, and he advanced to second base on a wild pitch.� CF Evan Chambers walked, then when the Braves changed pitchers, Cunningham and Chambers greeted the new hurler by pulling off a double steal.� Hernandez lined a single into right field, scoring Cunningham, and C Ramon Cabrera’s sacrifice fly brought in Chambers.� Noris lined into center field, and when Hernandez tried to make it to third base, the throw in from the outfield got past the Rome third baseman.� Hernandez scrambled for the plate, but the third baseman recovered the ball quickly, and Hernandez was out at the plate.� Noris was credited with only a single on the play, and the Power had a 7-4 lead.

Three more runs scored in the 6th.� Benji Gonzalez singled and stole second base, and Cunningham tripled off the center field wall to bring him in.� Chambers walked and also stole second base, then Baker doubled, plating both Cunningham and Chambers.� DH Andy Vasquez added a solo home run in the 7th inning.� Then the Power loaded the bases in the 8th on a walk to Cunningham, Chambers being hit by a pitch, and a single by Baker.� A sacrifice fly by Hernandez brought Cunningham across the plate for the Power’s 12th run of the game.

The South Atlantic League announced their post-season All-Star Team today, but no Power players were named to the team.

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