After winning the first two games of the four game series against the Lakewood BlueClaws, the West Virginia Power couldn’t push across a run in a 3-0 loss. Jason Creasy had a strong outing, which included just two baserunners allowed and six strikeouts. The bullpen took the loss, giving up two runs in the sixth and one in the seventh. The Power had eight hits and a walk, but two Lakewood pitchers combined for the shutout. The loss snapped a four game win streak, but the Power still remain atop the standings for the second half title.
The Power lineup was a little more loaded with interesting players and prospects than it was in the first two games. Game four of the series is tomorrow afternoon, weather permitting. After the series, I will have my thoughts on all of the players I’ve seen.
Barrett Barnes led off the game against Shane Watson, who was hitting 94 MPH consistently early. Barnes hit a line high drive to deep left-center that was run down for an out. I’ve seen Watson a few times before and he mixes in a good amount of breaking pitches with his strong fastball. In his second AB, he laid down a perfect bunt on the first pitch. Unfortunately for Barnes, he got picked off before a pitch was thrown.
In his third at-bat, Barnes lined a single to left field. He came up in the seventh with two outs and two men on and his team down by two runs. Barnes grounded out to shortstop to end the inning. He ended the game with a groundout to third base, which the third baseman made an impressive play and throw on. I like the way Barnes plays, can definitely see all the tools and he has hit the ball fairly hard all series, mostly line drives.
Dilson Herrera followed the Barnes drive in the first with a hard double down the left field line on the first pitch. He saw three straight strikes in his second AB, grounding out softly to third base. Herrera worked a full count in his third plate appearance, before grounding hard to the shortstop. Barnes was on second after an errant pick-off throw and on the play he was thrown out at third. In his fourth AB, Herrera grounded out softly to shortstop.
Josh Bell came up in the first with Herrera on second base and grounded out weakly to first base on the first pitch he swung at, third pitch of the AB. Bell was robbed of a hit in his second trip to the plate. He hit a hard liner that was snagged by a leaping first baseman. In his third AB, Bell struck out swinging awkwardly at a low curveball he was fooled on. In that AB, he had a very long foul ball, he pulled about 30 feet to the right of the right field foul pole and well beyond the outfield fence. After hitting the ball hard twice with nothing to show for it, Bell in his fourth at-bat, hit a hard liner to center field for his first hit.
Eric Wood led off the second inning with a groundball to shortstop. An easy play, but the throw was high and Wood reached base. In his second AB, he struck out swinging, chasing an off-speed pitch low and outside. Wood hit the ball well in his third plate appearance, but came up empty on the hard liner to right field. He hit a hard ball to left field in his fourth AB, getting a double out of it when the fielder slipped after he caught it on a hop. Wood seems to play a decent third base despite a high error total. He makes the easy plays and has a decent arm.
Max Moroff was hitting sixth in the lineup behind Wood. He fouled off the first pitch he saw, then three pitches later hit a long drive to the right field gap that was caught. Lakewood plays big, so plenty of outs are well struck balls. He had a seven pitch second AB, that ended with a soft groundout to shortstop. In his third AB, Moroff grounded out softly to second base. He struck out looking in his fourth AB.
Raul Fortunato made his first appearance of the series. He had a long AB that ended in a walk his first time up. Just like Bell, Fortunato was robbed in his second AB, this time by a leaping catch from the second baseman. In his third AB, he made soft contact and almost beat out a dribbler in front of the plate. He beat out a high chopper to third base in his last time up. Fortunato has decent speed and hustles down the line, so he gets some extra hits off his speed and style.
Walker Gourley grounded out to shortstop with Fortunato and Wood on second and third to end the second inning. He flew out to center field in his second plate appearance. Gouley struck out in his third AB, but reached base when the ball got away from the catcher. In his last plate appearance, he flew out to right field. After an 0-for-4 night, Gourley is still hitting .336 on the season.
Jason Creasy has been relieving most of this year, starting just three times. When I saw him in relief earlier in the season, he was sitting 91-93, hitting 94 MPH. He also ran into a little trouble in that game, giving up a long homer. As a starter today, he was at 89-91 most of the game and retired the first five batters he faced before issuing a walk. He got out of the second inning, following the two-out walk, without any damage.
In the third inning, he faced just three batters, though he did give up a hit. With one out and a man on first, a ball was grounded up the middle that went off Creasy’s glove and right to the second base bag, where Max Moroff caught it as he came across and fired to first base for a double play. The fourth inning was very quick and efficient, getting three outs on less than ten pitches.
In the fifth, Creasy struck out the side, getting the first two batters looking and the last one swinging. Creasy hit 92 MPH to the last batter. He was done after five shutout innings, allowing just one walk and one hit. He struck out six batters and finished off the game real strong, throwing a lot of strikes, mostly relying on his two-seam fastball, which he moved all over the zone. He needed just 55 pitches to get through the night.
*Thomas Harlan followed Creasy and gave up a long two run homer to Angelo Mora, who came in with two homers in three seasons as a pro. In the seventh, Harlan gave up another homer to the lead-off hitter. He was in trouble later in the inning, but Dilson Herrera made a nice play on a grounder to end the threat.
* Clario Perez pitched the eighth and retired the side in order, getting three straight groundouts.
* After two straight long rain delays, tonight’s game was done in just over two hours. Game four will feature Clay Holmes on the mound.
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.