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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Grossman’s Lead-Off Homer; Power Are Two-Hit

Altoona Curve  8,  Erie SeaWolves  6
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Two big innings gave the Curve enough runs to withstand a late-inning rally by the SeaWolves and take the win to open this series.  The Curve got started with a two-out rally which scored 4 runs in the bottom of the 2nd.  After a line out and a ground out, C Tony Sanchez and DH Kris Watts both walked.  1B Miles Durham and RF Brad Chalk then hit back-to-back doubles, with Durham driving in one run and Watts adding two.  2B Brock Holt reached base on a fielding error at shortstop, moving Chalk to third base.  Chalk scored on a balk, giving the Curve a 4-0 lead.  They added 3 more runs in the 5th, beginning with Holt’s lead-off single through the hole into right field.  CF Starling Marte dropped down a sacrifice bunt to moved Holt to second base. Three consecutive singles, by LF Quincy Latimore, Mercer, and 3B Jeremy Farrell brought in one run (Mercer’s RBI).  After a pitching change, Sanchez made it four straight singles with a liner into center field, scoring Latimore and Mercer.  The Curve added one more insurance run in the 7t, on a single by Latimore and an RBI double by Mercer.  

Aaron Pribanic
made the start for the Curve and earned his second win of the season.  He pitched 5 scoreless innings, allowing 4 hits and a walk.  Two of the hits, a single and a double, came in the 3rd inning, and were followed by a bouncer back to the mound, which Pribanic returned to Sanchez, who tagged out the lead runner at the plate.  Two more singles came in the 4th, and both of those runners were left on base.  Brian Leach pitched the 6th and 7th innings and gave up a run in each.  A walk and a triple plated the run in the 6th, and a walk, a single, and two ground outs brought in the run in the 7th.  Tom Boleska began the 8th inning, and got into trouble right away.  Two walks and a double loaded the bases, and a sacrifice fly scored one run.  After another walk, Boleska was relieved by Noah Krol.  The first batter Krol faced doubled into left field for 2 runs, and a hit batter and an RBI ground out gave Erie the fourth run of the inning.  Krol ended the rally with a strikeout, then retired the SeaWolves in order in the 9th to earn his 6th Save of the season.  

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Crotta Has A Good Inning; Indy Indians Lose Second Game

Blue Jays 5,  Pirates  3
The Pirates lost to the Blue Jays at McKechnie Field this afternoon.   
Pitchers Mike Crotta, Chris Resop, and Joel Hanrahan each pitched a scoreless inning for the Pirates, with both Crotta and Hanrahan retiring the side in order.  Crotta was aided by a leaping catch by SS Pedro Ciriaco.  Starter Paul Maholm pitched 5 innings and allowed 4 runs — a solo homer in the 1st, then a 2-run homer in the 3rd.  Another run scored in the 3rd on a walk, a stolen base and a single.  Jose Veras allowed one run in the 8th on two singles and a sacrifice bunt, but he struck out the last two batters he faced to get out of the inning.

2B Neil Walker tied the score in the bottom of the 1st with his second home run of the spring.  1B Lyle Overbay and RF Garrett Jones added a run in the 4th.  Overbay walked, then advanced to second base on a wild pitch.  Jones’ single through the right side of the infield brought Overbay across the plate.  The Blue Jays helped with the Pirates’ final run in the 8th.  With two outs, CF Corey Wimberly singled up the middle, and he also moved up to second base on a wild pitch.   Three straight walks, to 3B Josh Rodriguez, pinch-hitter Andy Marte, and Jones, forced in Wimberly.  The Pirates tried a last-minute rally in the 9th, when C Wyatt Toregas singled and 2B Jordy Mercer walked.  A fly out by Wimberly ended the rally, though.  

Also in the game today:  LF Josh Fields, C Dusty Brown, RF John Bowker


 In Minor League Camp: 
Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs  6,  Indianapolis Indians  5
The Indians had an early lead, as they faced Phillies’ star Roy Halladay this afternoon.  DH Tony Sanchez picked up 2 RBI with a timely double in the 1st inning, and C Travis Scott added an RBI double in the 2nd inning.  The Indians had runners on first and third in the 5th inning, when RF Miles Durham (on third) and DH Gorkys Hernandez (on first) pulled off a double steal, for the Indians’ fourth run off Halladay.  2B Christian Colonel made it 5-3 in the top of the 8th with a solo home run.  But the Iron Pigs tied the score with 2 runs in the bottom of the 8th, taking advantage of two Tribe errors and a sacrifice fly.  Reliever Anthony Claggett then surrendered a double, which drove in the go-ahead run and gave Claggett the loss.  

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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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Rule 5 Minor League Portion: Chalk, Scott; and Valdez

After the major league part of the 2010 Rule 5 Draft, in which the Pirates chose SS Josh Rodriguez from the Cleveland Indians, the draft moved on to the minor league section.

In the AAA part, the Pirates chose OF Brad Chalk from the Padres.  Chalk, who will turn 25 in January, was drafted by the Padres in the 2nd round of the 2007 amateur draft.  He played at A level Fort Wayne in 2008, and hit .275 with 43 RBI.  He moved up to A+ Lake Elsinore in 2009, where he hit .301, with 2 home runs and 63 RBI. The South Carolina native split the 2010 season between Lake Elsinore, AA San Antonio, and AAA Portland.  About half of his season was at the AA level, where he hit .214 with 15 RBI in 65 games.  At AAA Portland, Chalk hit .313 with 5 RBI in 27 games, but in late June, he was sent to AA, and then in early August, he was moved down to A+.  Not clear what was going on there.  Not a lot of power in his swing, but at least at the AAA level, he was getting on base often.  

C Travis Scott was chosen from the Angels in the next round of the AAA part of the draft.  This Milwaukee native was drafted out of college in Illinois by the Mariners in the 20th round of the 2005 draft.  He moved slowly up through the Mariners’ organization, reaching as high as AA West Tennessee for 4 games in 2010.  Scott began the 2010 season with A+ High Desert, where he hit .269 with 5 homers and 22 RBI, then was moved to West Tennesee at the end of May.  But after just those 4 games, he was released.  Scott played for Rockford in the independent Northern League for 65 games, where he hit .300, with 5 homers and 29 RBI.  He must have been picked up by the Angels at some point, but did not get to play in their organization before being selected in this draft.  

Because Chalk and Scott were chosen in the minor league portion of the draft, they do not have the same requirement to stick with the big league club for the season.  The Pirates can assign them where ever they see fit.  

Also joining the Pirates’ organization today is starting pitcher Cesar Valdez.  Valdez is the player-to-be-named in the trade that sent Zach Duke to the Diamondbacks.  Valdez is a Dominican native, who made 18 starts (plus 2 relief appearances) for AAA Reno in the D’backs’ organization in 2010.  He earned a 6-10 record with a 5.90 ERA.  In 97.2 innings, he allowed 110 hits and 64 runs, with 49 walks and 92 strikeouts.  Valdez also pitched for Reno in 2009, with slightly better results:  a 7-6 record and a 4.78 ERA in 96 innings, with 103 hits, 51 runs, and 30 walks.  He had only 30 strikeouts that season.  Valdez has been playing in his native Venezuela this winter, making 7 starts and one relief appearance for Los Toros del Licey.  He has a 3-1 record with a 4.14 ERA.  In 37 innings, he has allowed 36 hits and 10 walks, with 21 strikeouts.  Valdez is not automatically added to the 40-man roster, though it’s likely he’ll be invited to big league camp for spring training and be given a shot to make the major league team.

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