Three Hits By Grossman And Emsley-Pai

The Altoona Curve and the Richmond Flying Squirrels were rained out in Altoona tonight.  They will make up the game in August.

West Virginia Power  8,  Augusta  5
(box)  

The Power scored in each of the first 4 innings to stay ahead of the Augusta Green Jackets on Saturday evening.  2B Drew Maggi got the game off to a good start with a double into right field.   1B Matt Curry walked, then with Maggi off and running, a ground out by 3B Eric Avila let Maggi score.  RF Justin Howard drove in Curry with a single into center field.  Augusta got one of the runs back in the bottom of the 1st with a triple and an RBI ground out off starter Tyler Waldron.  

Back-to-back singles by DH Elias Diaz and C Kawika Emsley-Pai opened the top of the 2nd, and gave the Power runners on the corners.  A passed ball let Diaz score.  SS Gift Ngoepe walked, but was out in a grounder force out, as Maggi got to first in time to avoid the double play.  Another grounder forced out Maggi at second, but CF Mel Rojas also beat out the throw to first, and Emsley-Pai scored.  Augusta also scored one run in the bottom of the inning, on a bases-loaded RBI ground out.  

The Power took a big step ahead in the 3rd.  Avila led off with a double, and after two outs, four consecutive singles drove in 3 runs.  Diaz plated Avila, and Emsley-Pai plated Diaz; Ngoepe’s single put two runners on, and Maggi’s single scored Emsley-Pai.  Another single by Avila and a fielding error on a fly into center field by Howard gave the Power an unearned run in the 4th.  

Augusta kept tacking on runs, but one at a time — a solo homer in the 4th, and a run on two singles and a sacrifice fly in the 5th.  Waldron pitched 5 innings and allowed 4 runs on 8 hits and a walk, with 4 strikeouts.  He was relieved by Zach Foster to begin the 6th.  Foster pitched 3 hitless and scoreless innings and hit one batter, who was promptly caught stealing by Emsley-Pai.  Jason Townsend pitched the 9th and gave up the final Augusta run, on two singles, a passed ball, and an RBI ground out.  

Waldron earned his second win of the season.  Emsley-Pai went 3-for-4, with an RBI and 2 runs scored.  Besides the singles in the 2nd and 3rd, he also singled in the 8th inning, but was left on base.  Maggi, Avila, and Diaz all had 2 hits in the game.  

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Rubinstein And Cunningham Homer In Bradenton Win

One win on Monday night in the Pirates’ lower minor leagues:

Akron Aeros  6,  Altoona Curve  5
(box score)

CF Starling Marte had 3 hits for the Curve in their loss in Akron.  Starter Aaron Pribanic gave up only a double over the first 3 innings, then surrendered a solo homer in the 4th.  Akron scored 2 runs in the 5th, when rehabbing Cleveland Indians’ star Grady Sizemore doubled after two singles.  

The Curve had only one hit, a single by LF Quincy Latimore, in their first 5 innings, though they also had two batters reach on errors — 2B Brock Holt in the 3rd and C Tony Sanchez in the 4th.  Down 3-0 going into the top of the 6th, the Curve got going.  With one out, Marte beat out a bunt single, and SS Jordy Mercer walked.  Sanchez also beat out an infield single to third to load the bases, and 1B Miles Durham’s line drive into left field brought in Marte, leaving the bases loaded again.  Latimore plated Mercer with a sacrifice fly.  Then 3B Jeremy Farrell drove in Sanchez and Durham when he tripled into center field, giving the Curve a 4-3 lead.  

Tim Alderson relieved Pribanic to begin the 6th inning.  He gave up two singles in that inning, but kept the Aeros from scoring.  Akron also singled twice in the bottom of the 7th, including one by Sizemore, but this time, a throwing error by Holt on the force attempt let in one unearned run.  After a ground out, a double drove in two more runs, also unearned, and Akron had the lead back, 6-4.

The Curve added one more run in the 8th, when Latimore walked, then came around to score on Farrell’s double into right field.  Walks to DH Eric Fryer and RF Brad Chalk loaded the bases again, but the Curve could not capitalize, and all three were left stranded.  Tom Boleska finished the game for the Curve with a 1-2-3 inning in the 8th.  Alderson was charged with the loss, as well as a Blown Save.  

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2011 Prospect Watching: Pribanic. Leach, And Friends

Moving on up, as we look at the Pirates’ minor league pitchers….

Aaron Pribanic –  R/R,  6′ 4″,  200 lb
Pribanic came to the Pirates in July 2009, as a part of the trade with the Mariners for Jack Wilson and Ian Snell.  He was assigned to West Virginia, where he made 6 starts and one relief appearance to finish the season, earning a 4-2 record and a 2.15 ERA.  He didn’t walk many 5 (1.2 walks/ 9 innings), but didn’t strike out many either (18, 4.3 K/ 9 innings).  Pribanic was promoted to A+ Bradenton to begin 2010, and he spent the whole season there.  He was a starter for the whole season, making 27 appearances, and earning a 7-6 record with an overall 3.33 ERA.  He began the season slowly, with 4 starts in April, in which he gave up a total of 12 earned runs in 17 innings (6.35 ERA).  May was a little better, with 18 earned runs in 33.1 innings (6 starts), for a 4.86 ERA.  He gave up 11 runs in his first three starts in June, but by the second half of the month, things were beginning to turn around.  Pribanic gave up 4 runs over his last three starts in June (21 innings).  July was even better:  5 earned runs in 30 innings for a 1.50 ERA.  Pribanic finished up the season with 8 runs in 44.2 innings (1.61 ERA) in August/September.  Again in 2010, he did not walk many (33, 1.9 walks/ 9 innings) and did not strikeout many  (71, 4.2 K/ 9 innings).  Pribanic was assigned to the Arizona Fall League, where he made 11 appearances, all in relief, for the Mesa Solar Sox.  He threw 18 innings and allowed 4 earned runs on 18 hits (2.00 ERA), with 6 walks and 9 strikeouts.  The low strikeout rate has been attributed to Pribanic not having particularly strong breaking pitches.  He does get a lot of ground ball outs, though, which explains why he can allow 157 hits in 154 innings and still give up “only” 57 runs.  Pribanic needs to work more on those breaking pitches, as the Pirates would really like to see more strikeouts.  He should begin 2011, at age 24, as a starter for AA Altoona.

 
Brian Leach —  R/R,  6′ 3″, 195 lb
Leach was chosen by the Pirates in the 25th round of the 2008 draft.  He pitched as both a starter and a reliever in his first two seasons in the Pirates’ organization, but in 2010, Leach pitched almost exclusively as a starter, with just 2 relief appearances.  He was promoted to Bradenton for the season, and like Pribanic, he got off to a slow start, leading the Marauders in earned runs (15) and walks (16) for the month of April, when he made one relief appearance and four starts, for 20.2 innings, for a 6.53 ERA.  He cut back on the walks in May (9), and did a little better with runs, for a 4.70 ERA in 23 innings.  Leach too turned things around in June, when he allowed 7 runs in 30 innings (2.10 ERA), with 7 walks.  That ballooned up to a 4.75 ERA in July, though he kept the walks down to 6, and slid back to 3.26 ERA in August/Sept, with 9 walks.  Overall, Leach earned a 9-9 record and a 3.85 ERA, with 144 hits in 138 innings.  He walked 44 (2.9 walks/ 9 innings), and struck out 98 (6.4 K/ 9 innings).  Leach also participated in the Arizona Fall League after the regular season.  He made 10 relief appearances for the Mesa Solar Sox, and while he allowed 11 hits and 7 walks in his 10 innings, he did not allow a run.  Leach has been somewhat on-again-off-again with his control — it was better during the second half of the regular season, and not so great during the AFL.  He needs to work on that in 2011, when at age 25, he should be joining Pribanic in the Altoona starting rotation.

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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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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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