2011 Prospect Watching: Cain, Black, And More

Continuing to look at some of the pitchers in the Pirates’ minor league organization:

Colton Cain  –  L/L,  6′ 3″, 225 lb
Cain was the Pirates’ 8th round draft pick in 2009.  He began his pro career in 2010, after having had back surgery in the previous winter.  Cain began with 4 starts for the GCL Pirates, where he earned an 0-1 record and a 3.77 ERA.  In 14.1 innings, he allowed 6 runs on 12 hits and 5 walks, but struck out 15 batters.  He was promoted to State College in July, and appeared in 11 games (9 starts) there.  Two of those starts were very tough, as Cain gave up 6 runs in 2 innings on August 2nd, and 6 runs in 3 innings on August 31st.  The other 9 appearances were much better.  His best was 4 shutout innings on August 20th, when he gave up no hits and just one walk, while striking out 3 batters.  In those other 9 appearances, Cain allowed 7 runs over 29 innings (2.17 ERA), with 9 walks and 31 strikeouts.  Cain, who just turned 20 years old, should be ready to begin 2011 at West Virginia.  He’ll continue to work on fastball command, but also on his changeup.

Victor Black  –  R/R,  6′ 3″,  185 lb 
Black was chosen by the Pirates as a compensation pick between the first and second rounds of the 2009 draft.  He signed quickly and got down to business at State College.  In 13 appearances for the Spikes (7 starts), Black earned a 1-2 record and a 3.45 ERA.  He allowed 12 earned runs and 26 hits in 31.1 innings.  His walk rate was a bit high (15, 4.3 walks / 9 innings), but he also struck out 33 batters (15.4 K / 9 innings).  A shoulder injury and subsequent biceps problem plagued Black in the 2010 season, and he was able to make just 2 appearances for West Virginia in May.  Neither start was what Black would have hoped:  he gave up 3 runs on 2 hits and 2 walks in 4 innings in one, and 2 runs on a hit and 3 walks in 2/3 of an inning in the other.  The 22-year-old Black is healthy and ready to go in spring training for 2011.  He will likely be back to West Virginia, and the Pirates have indicated that they plan to have him pitch in relief, in hopes of limiting the stress on his arm.

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Curve Take Two From Erie

Saturday evening wins for the entire Pirates’ minor league system!

Altoona Curve 8, �Erie SeaWolves 3 � �Game 1 (box)

Altoona had a double-header, making up for a game that had been rained out back in April. �The Curve exploded out of the box with a 4-run 1st inning and never looked back in Game 1. �3B Jordy Mercer led the charge by going 4-for-4 with an RBI, and RF Alex Presley and 1B Matt Hague had 3 hits each.

A throwing error put SS Chase d’Arnaud on base to begin the game, and singles by CF Gorkys Hernandez, Hague, and Mercer, plus a double by Presley and a wild pitch brought in those 4 runs in the top of the 1st. �Erie came back with two runs in the bottom of the inning, on three walks and a double off starter Jared Hughes. Hughes made a wild pitch on strike three to put a runner on base in the 2nd inning, and a double and a sacrifice fly brought in another run, to bring Erie within one run, 4-3.

Hague led off the 3rd inning with a walk, then stole second base. �Mercer and C Hector Gimenez followed with singles, and Presley’s second double of the game plus another single by LF Jose De Los Santos added 3 more runs. �Another walk, this one to DH Jim Negrych, began the 4th inning, and he scored on two singles and a fly out with a missed catch error by the Erie third baseman.

Hughes settled down a bit in the 3rd and 4th innings, but began the 5th with a walk and a single. �Mike Dubee finished up the inning with a strikeout and a grounder force out, then allowed only one hit over the next two innings. �Dubee earned the win. �Hughes struck out 7 batters in his 4.1 innings, and Dubee added 5 more strikeouts.

Curve 7, �SeaWolves 3 � �Game 2 (box)

The Curve jumped out to an early lead in this game also, with 3 runs in the top of the 1st. �This time, SS Chase d’Arnaud opened the game with a walk, and singles by CF Gorkys Hernandez, DH Jim Negrych, and 3B Jordy Mercer brought in 3 runs. �Derek Hankins gave up 3 runs in the bottom of the 2nd, on three singles, a walk, and a triple, tying the game at 3-3.

LF Alex Presley liked the idea of that triple, so he hit one of his own in the 3rd inning, following a single by 2B Josh Harrison, to break the tie. �C Kris Watts gave the Curve an insurance run in the 4th, with a lead-off home run. The Curve bats were quiet for a couple of innings, then woke up again in the top of the 7th. �With one out, Negrych and 1B Matt Hague hit back-to-back doubles, and Harrison added another single, for 2 more runs.

Hankins retired 10 Erie batters in order after the runs scored in the 2nd inning. �He got a strikeout but gave up two walks to begin the 6th inning, and was relieved by Corey Hamman. Hamman finished the inning with two quick outs. �Danny Moskos pitched a perfect inning in the 7th, including 2 strikeouts, to finish the game. �Hankins earned his 4th win of the season.

The Curve recorded a total of 23 hits over the two games.

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Black’s Season Debut; Presley’s On A Tear; Morris Promoted

The big news on Sunday afternoon in the Pirates’ minor league organization is that the team has promoted righty starter Bryan Morris from Bradenton to AA Altoona. �Morris won his 3rd victory for the Marauders yesterday, and has been mowing ‘em down in the Florida State League. �In 44.2 innings, Morris has allowed 37 hits but just 8 runs, and only 3 of those runs are earned. �He has allowed just 7 walks, while striking out 40 batters. �He has also not allowed a home run. �He leads the FSL with an ERA of 0.60, and his WHIP is 0.99. �The Florida State League has hit .220 against him. �He is first in the FSL with those 44.2 innings pitched, and his WHIP is 4th highest in the league.

West Virginia Power �8, �Delmarva Shorebirds �4 (box)

The Power turned on their power in the 4th inning, scoring 5 runs on their way to a 14-hit afternoon. �Righty starter Victor Black made his 2010 debut with a 4-inning start, and struck out 7 batters.

The Power got onto the scoreboard in the bottom of the 1st. �2B Jarek Cunningham got started with a solo home run. �DH Aaron Baker followed the homer with a walk, and LF Rogelios Noris and C Ramon Cabrera loaded the bases with back-to-back singles. �After a fly out, 1B Kyle Morgan brought in Baker with another single.

Victor Black gave up only two walks over the first three innings, while striking out 5 batters. �He gave up his first single in the 4th, then hit the next batter with a pitch. �The third batter of the inning smacked a 3-run homer, giving Delmarva a 3-2 lead. �Black finished the inning with a ground out and two more strikeouts, to end his afternoon.

In the bottom of the frame, the Power sent 8 batters to the plate. �3B Elevys Gonzalez singled, and went to second on SS Adenson Chourio’s sacrifice bunt. �Gonzalez stole third base, and after CF Evan Chambers walked, a wild pitch moved him to second base. �Another wild pitch on strike three to Jarek Cunningham loaded the bases. �Aaron Baker brought in Gonzalez and Chambers with a single into right field. �Then Rogelios Noris made it 7-3 with a 3-run homer over the left field wall.

Marc Baca pitched a scoreless 5th inning for the Power. �Jason Erickson took the mound for the next three innings. �He gave up a solo homer in the 6th, but the Power got the run back in the 7th. �RF David Rubinstein led off with a single, and went to second on a passed ball. �He scored on Kyle Morgan’s second RBI single of the game.

Erickson retired the side in the 7th. �He gave up a lead-off single in the 8th, but erased that runner with a double play. �Duke Welker pitched the 9th and worked around a throwing error at second base by Cunningham, striking out the final two batters of the game for a scoreless inning.

Rogelios Noris went 3-for-5 with a 3-run homer, while Jarek Cunningham, David Rubinstein, and Kyle Morgan each had two hits.

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