Morning Report: Harold Ramirez and Tito Polo Leave to Play For Team Colombia

It’s not often that you hear about players leaving in the middle of the season to go play somewhere else. Usually when that happens, it means they aren’t coming back. Harold Ramirez and Tito Polo are coming back, just not until the end of July. Both players are in Toronto now for the Pan American Games, where they will represent Team Colombia in the event that runs from July 10-26.

They won’t be seeing as much action as they would have, had they stayed with their minor league team, but this will no doubt be a great experience against some strong competition. Polo could probably use a break in the action, as this is his first year of full-season baseball. He also saw some extra playing time during winter ball this year in Colombia, so he has played more than usual up to this point. While he obviously saw some action during Extended Spring Training last year, he played just 44 games for the GCL Pirates, 22 less than he has played this year already.

Ramirez is a whole different story. He could use the extra time because he has missed so much time during his career. Even this winter he barely played in Colombia, partially due to the fact he missed time during the regular season that carried over into the winter season, but also because once he first got back, he got hit by a pitch in his first plate appearance and that caused him to miss more time. Ramirez has played 196 games total in his first four years of pro ball. No one can fault him for wanting to play for his country in an international competition, and looking closer into his season, maybe a little break wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Ramirez is hitting .356/.402/.477 this year in 37 games, which has brought up the question of “When will he be promoted?” way too many times for someone that is 20 years old with 86 games experience between Low-A and High-A. Take into account that those questions started weeks ago, and he obviously had less time in at those levels. Ramirez is a talented player, but he is far from a polished product. He has good speed, but he is 11-for-21 in stolen bases, which on it’s own, isn’t a stat that screams good speed. He needs work on base running, and that comes from someone barely playing and being young.

In his last game, Ramirez had three hits and the questions started again, but in his previous ten games combined, he hit .190 and had no walks. In his 12 games since the All-Star break, which includes the big game from Monday, he has a .668 OPS. That’s not a big sample size obviously, but neither are the other 25 games he played this season.

Polo has had a tough first full season, except for the base running. He is 26-for-34 in stolen base attempts, having even more success lately with 12 straight steals without being caught. He has a .237/.325/.311 slash line, which could be an indication that the jump from the GCL to Low-A ball was a little too aggressive. He is adding value on the bases and in center field, so the slash line alone doesn’t tell the whole story.

I’m sure we will have some updates on the progress of Ramirez and Polo in the tournament. Possibly a future Morning Report will be a recap at the end , to see how much they played and how they performed. It looks like right now that they are the only players in the organization they will play in the games.

Pirates Game Graph

Source: FanGraphs

Playoff Push

The Pirates trail by 4.5 games in the division to the Cardinals. They have a three game lead for the top wild card spot.

Indianapolis is 6-4 in their last ten games. They have a six game lead in their division.

Altoona is 2-8 in their last ten games and they are in second place, trailing by three games in their division.

Bradenton and West Virginia did not win their first half title. Their second half records are included below in the schedule.

Today’s Schedule

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates defeated the Padres 3-2 on Tuesday night. Charlie Morton will be on the mound today, looking for the series sweep. The Padres will counter with Andrew Cashner, who has a 4.06 ERA in 102 innings. He did not face the Pirates when these two teams met earlier in the season. Morton gave up one run over seven innings when he faced the Padres on May 30th.

In the minors, Bradenton will play a morning contest with Jayson Aquino on the mound. He was on a nice little run until he got hit around in his last start, giving up six earned runs on nine hits over five innings. Chris Volstad will make his second start since clearing waivers and returning to Indianapolis. The GCL Pirates will complete a suspended game, before playing their regular scheduled game. The first game will resume with the score tied 3-3 in the seventh inning. Altoona has a doubleheader today. You can view last night’s prospect watch here.

MLB: Pittsburgh (49-34) vs Padres (39-47) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Charlie Morton (4.30 ERA, 12:25 BB/SO, 46.0 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (51-35) @ Louisville (42-44) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Chris Volstad (3.62 ERA, 26:52 BB/SO, 79.2 IP)

AA: Altoona (44-39) @ Erie (33-49) 5:05 PM DH (season preview)
Probable starter: Matt Benedict (5.12 ERA, 12:17 BB/SO, 45.2 IP) and Zack Dodson (3.74 ERA, 16:39 BB/SO, 91.1 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (41-42, 9-4 second half) vs Palm Beach (41-42) 10:30 AM (season preview)
Probable starter: Jayson Aquino (4.13 ERA, 16:41 BB/SO, 61.0 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (47-35, 10-3 second half) @ Greensboro (32-50) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Alex McRae (4.14 ERA, 14:56 BB/SO, 76.0 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (7-10) @ Lowell (12-6) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: TBD

Rookie: Bristol (4-9) vs Burlington (9-6) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter:  TBD

GCL: Pirates (10-3) vs Blue Jays (7-6) 12:00 PM (season preview)

DSL: Pirates (13-20) vs Cubs (18-15) 10:30 AM (season preview)


Here we have video of Elias Diaz driving a ball to deep center for a two-run double on Monday night. He will represent Indianapolis in the International League All-Star game, along with Alen Hanson and Blake Wood.

Recent Transactions

7/7: Clay Holmes added to Bradenton roster. Harold Ramirez placed on temporary inactive list.

7/7: Trace Tam Sing added to West Virginia roster. Tito Polo placed on temporary inactive list.

7/6: Josh Harrison placed on disabled list. Travis Ishikawa added to active roster.

7/6: Justin Seller assigned to GCL on rehab.

7/5: Pirates claim Travis Ishikawa on waivers.

7/4: Pirates sign five international players.

7/3: Pirates sign Kevin Sanchez and Samuel Inoa.

7/3: Pirates trade Clayton Richard to Chicago Cubs for cash considerations.

7/2: Chris Volstad sent outright to Indianapolis.

7/2: Pirates sign Larry Alcime Jr and Kyle Simmons.

7/1: Alen Hanson activated from disabled list. John Holdzkom and Hunter Morris placed on disabled list.

7/1: Paul Brands assigned to GCL Pirates from DSL.

6/30: Corey Hart sent on rehab to Indianapolis.

6/30: Jose Tabata outrighted to Indianapolis.

6/29: Jeff Inman and Gift Ngoepe promoted to Indianapolis.

6/29: Pirates sign Daniel Zamora.

6/28: Jose Tabata designated for assignment. Gorkys Hernandez added to Pirates roster.

6/28: Chris Volstad designated for assignment. Steve Lombardozzi added to Pirates roster.

6/28: Clario Perez promoted to Altoona. Wes Freeman activated from disabled list.

6/28: Kawika Emsley-Pai retired.

6/28: Hunter Morris activated from Indianapolis disabled list.

6/27: Junior Lopez promoted to Bradenton. Dovydas Neverauskas activated from West Virginia disabled list.

6/26: Tyler Glasnow assigned to Altoona.

6/26: Deolis Guerra added to Pirates roster. Rob Scahill placed on disabled list.

6/26: Wilkin Castillo activated from Indianapolis disabled list.

6/25: Robert Stock added to Bradenton roster. Jordan Steranka placed on disabled list.

6/24: Casey Sadler placed on disabled list. Brad Lincoln and Josh Wall added to Indianapolis roster.

6/24: Corey Hart placed on disabled list. Chris Volstad added to Pirates roster.

This Date in Pirates History

Seven former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including one that went on to become a Hall of Fame umpire. We will start with one of the former players, who is only technically a former now. John Bowker returned to the organization in a trade earlier this year, after playing for the Pirates during the 2010-11 seasons. He currently plays for Indianapolis. Also born on this date, 1991 pitcher Rosario Rodriguez, 1985-91 pitcher Bob Kipper, 1955-58 outfielder John Powers and pitcher Jay Parker, who made his only Pirates’ appearance on September 27,1899 and it was one he probably wanted to forget. He started game two of a doubleheader and was so erratic on the mound, he was pulled after facing two batters. He walked both and both scored, in what turned out to be his only Major League game.

Hank O’Day pitched for the Pirates back in 1885 when the franchise was still in the American Association and the club’s nickname was still the Alleghenys.  He went 5-7 in 12 starts, completing all 12 games. In his seven-year career, he had a 73-110 record on the mound, but he made his name behind the plate. O’Day umpired for 30 seasons, plus five other years he filled in the position a handful of times. He was the umpire for ten World Series, including the first one, which included the Pirates. It took awhile, but the Hall of Fame finally recognized his value in 2013.

Finally, Harry Gilbert was born on this date in 1868 and his Major League career lasted one day, but he actually played two games. On June 23, 1890, the Alleghenys/Pirates played a doubleheader in Philadelphia and used both John Gilbert and Harry Gilbert for their double play combo, the first pair of siblings to play together for the Pirates. Harry was the second baseman and he went 2-for-8 at the plate. He had two singles and scored a run, while playing flawlessly in the field. You can read more about that day in an article I wrote here.

  • John,

    How did you miss Josh Harrison’s birthday today!

  • Ramirez may be in a different organization when he returns from the Pan Am Games, rendering the “When will he be promoted?” question moot. Seems like a great trade chip since he’s performing well in high-A and not critical to the Pirates’ future in the OF, as I believe was mentioned in a previous article on this site.

  • Thanks john. Hope those two do well and have a great time. Finally, the best news of the day is that the pirates are only 4.5 back of the cards, with the big test starting tommorow, the pirates have got to figure out a way to break the curse of the birds.

  • People clambered for Polanco and he (i think) was brought up to soon. He only had 286 ab’s in AA and 314 in AAA. Now he has to learn in the majors. A full season at AA and the same ab’s in AAA probably would have been better for him. In AAA he was 5 yrs younger that the average player. Obviously, some players can make the majors faster and compete, but that is a very low percentage. Keeping them down on the farm is not all that bad. I remember when the Dodgers were always having Rookies of the year, and they were always 25-26 yrs old.

    • The average player age in AAA is irrelevant since it’s mainly use for depth options for major league teams and isn’t truly indicative of the average “prospects” age. AA is really the last stop where you can use that age and have it mean anything

    • ….and all those players didn’t necessarily go on to have fantastic careers though, did they?

    • I still think polanco is going to be a very good,if not great, player. That said, sending him to AAA for a couple of weeks to (hopefully) feast on AAA pitching, if for no other reason than to give him a confidence boost would not be a bad thing. It’s unlikely that the pirates do this though since they have apparently hitched the wagon to polanco for the long haul.

  • I’m glad the Pirates are allowing Tito and Harold to go play in this tournament. It can only help their attitudes. Should be better off for it.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    July 8, 2015 8:32 am

    Is there a web site that lists all the baseball rosters for the Pan Am games? I would have to think that just about every MLB will have minor leaguers playing? I’m surprised that these are the only two in the Pirates system playing…

    • John Dreker
      July 8, 2015 8:39 am

      Not all the teams are listed and not many countries are there. No Pirates players are on Team Canada, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Nicaragua or USA, The Dominican team had Gustavo Nunez on their roster of possibilities, but they don’t have an updated roster and he is still with Indianapolis at last check. That’s all the teams, seven total including Colombia

  • I could hear it now in the swimming pool of the Columbians team hotel in Toronto. TITO……………………POLO