On Friday night, Danny Ortiz hit his 17th home run of the season. That’s significant because it put him at the top of the minor league home run leaders for the Pirates. He came into the night tied with Eric Wood and Tito Polo. Obviously, Wood can still catch/pass Ortiz over the last three days of the season, but Polo isn’t going to get any more homers. The sort of ironic part about that is that Polo hit a home run early in the year that the umpires missed and called a foul ball despite the fact it hit the foul pole and bounced back onto the field.
If you think 17 sounds like a low home run total for an organization’s minor league leader, you’re not alone. I had a few people write me yesterday on Twitter after I posted about Ortiz. So I looked over the home run leaders for leagues that the Pirates have an affiliate. Ortiz would be in the top ten in all four full-season leagues, which includes the International League (where he’s playing), the Eastern League, the Florida State League, and the South Atlantic League. In fact, to take it a step further, the 16 homers he had going into Friday night would have had him in the top nine in all four leagues, and as high as fifth in one league (the FSL).
The minor leagues almost always have lower home run totals, partially due to shorter seasons. It’s also due to the fact that power is always the last thing that develops for prospects. The Pirates didn’t have a lot of veterans hanging around in the minors this year, so there weren’t any older players putting up big numbers. The Pirates also don’t play in any great home run parks. That last part goes for the four lower-level affiliates as well.
So with that in mind, just where would the 17 homers by Ortiz rank over the previous ten seasons for the Pirates? Here’s a list of the players with 17 homers or more homers each season.
2015: none with more, Stetson Allie led with 17
2014: JaCoby Jones (23), Stetson Allie (21), Willy Garcia (18)
2013: Andrew Lambo (32), Stetson Allie (21), Jarek Cunningham (19), Alex Dickerson (17)
2012: Willy Garcia (18)
2011: Jordy Mercer (19)
2010: Brandon Moss (22), Quincy Latimore (19), Aaron Baker (18)
2009: Pedro Alvarez (27)
2008: Jamie Romak (25), Jared Keel (20), Miles Durham (18)
2007: Steven Pearce (31), Jonel Pacheco (27), Adam Boeve (21), Jamie Romak (20)
2006: Steven Pearce (26) Andrew McCutchen, Chris Richard, Ray Sadler (tied 17)
So, the last ten years tells you that hitting 17 homers would get you in the top two spots half of the time. I also probably should have stopped at 2008, because that year and prior years for the Pirates, saw a lot of veterans playing at lower levels and putting up big numbers. The 17 homers are also tied for the most hit last year, a season when no one else finished with more than 15 homers. For Ortiz, it ties his career best, which he set last year. Here’s a fun fact about his 34 homers since Opening Day in 2015: In between these last two seasons, he played winter ball in Puerto Rico and didn’t hit a single homer in 42 games.
**Altoona couldn’t finish the job last night for their playoff spot. With three games left in their season, they have a 1.5 game lead over second place Akron, and a 2.5 game lead over third place Harrisburg. The top two teams go to the playoffs, but getting the top spot gives you the home field advantage. They will try again tonight. Harrisburg stayed alive with a 4-3 walk-off win in the bottom of the 14th inning.
The Pirates trail the second wild card spot by a 2.5 games.
Indianapolis has been eliminated from the playoffs. Their season ends September 5th.
Altoona leads their division by 1.5 games. The top two teams in the division go to the playoffs, with the first place team getting the home field advantage in the first round.
Bradenton won the first half title. They have home field advantage in the playoffs.
West Virginia has been eliminated from the playoffs. Their season ends September 5th.
Morgantown has been eliminated from the playoffs. Their season ends September 5th.
Bristol’s season has ended.
The GCL season has ended.
The DSL season has ended.
PIRATES GAME GRAPH
Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates lost 1-0 on Friday night to the Brewers. Ivan Nova gets the ball tonight, making his sixth start since joining the Pirates. He faced the Brewers last week, allowing one run on three hits and no walks in six innings. In his prior outing, he threw a complete game against Houston, giving up one run. The Brewers will counter with Jimmy Nelson, who has a 4.45 ERA in 151.2 innings, with a 1.51 WHIP and 117 strikeouts. He faced the Pirates in his last start and allowed five runs on seven hits and three walks in 3.2 innings. Nelson also faced the Pirates in early April and allowed three runs over six innings.
In the minors, Gage Hinsz makes his final start of the season. In his last outing, the first three batters of the game scored, yet he made it through seven innings and didn’t allow another run. In his previous start, he threw seven shutout innings. Hinsz has pitched 50.1 innings more than last season and he has walked two fewer batters this season. Cody Dickson will make his final regular season start after pitching in relief in his last game. He won the Altoona team award for the best pitcher.
Bradenton had their game suspended on Thursday night with the score 2-1 in the fifth inning. The Marauders took the lead in the top of the inning on a home run by Jordan Luplow. They will finish that game in it’s entirety tonight, then play a seven inning game afterwards. Their Friday night game was rained out and will not be made up on the schedule. The DSL season ended last Saturday, while Bristol and the GCL Pirates had their season end Thursday.
MLB: Pittsburgh (67-65) vs Brewers (58-76) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Ivan Nova (2.87 ERA, 1:22 BB/SO, 31.1 IP)
AAA: Indianapolis (69-72) vs Louisville (69-72) 7:15 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Drew Hutchison (5.46 ERA, 14:23 BB/SO, 29.2 IP)
AA: Altoona (75-62) @ Richmond (60-78) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Cody Dickson (3.67 ERA, 89:98 BB/SO, 135.0 IP)
High-A: Bradenton (69-64) @ Ft Myers (68-67) 6:05 PM DH(season preview)
Probable starter: TBD
Low-A: West Virginia (68-68) vs Greenville (70-66) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Gage Hinsz (3.77 ERA, 21:61 BB/SO, 88.1 IP)
Short-Season A: Morgantown (36-37) @ Auburn (28-43) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: TBD
Rookie: Bristol (25-43) (season preview)
GCL: Pirates (22-34) (season preview)
DSL: Pirates (27-42) (season preview)
Here is home run from Stetson Allie, his 15th of the season and 53rd for Altoona. That’s two behind the team record set by both Josh Bonifay and Adam Hyzdu.
9/2: Pirates recall Jameson Taillon, Steven Brault, Jason Rogers and Adam Frazier. Chris Stewart activated from disabled list.
9/1: Jung Ho Kang sent to Indianapolis on rehab.
9/1: Pirates receive Jake Brentz and Pedro Vasquez from Mariners to complete earlier trade for Arquimedes Caminero.
8/31: Pirates trade Kyle Lobstein to Baltimore Orioles for Zach Phillips.
8/31: Logan Ratledge promoted to Bradenton. Alfredo Reyes activated from West Virginia disabled list.
8/31: Pirates release Raymond Rodriguez, Ramy Perez and Ramon Garcia.
8/31: David Whitehead assigned to Morgantown.
8/30: Tito Polo and Stephen Tarpley sent to New York Yankees as part of Ivan Nova trade from August 1st.
8/30: Jason Creasy and Jhondaniel Medina promoted to Indianapolis.
8/30: Justin Maffei and Trace Tam Sing assigned to Indianapolis.
8/30: Henry Hirsch and Junior Lopez promoted to Altoona
8/30: Nick Neumann activated from Bradenton disabled list.
8/30: Alen Hanson promoted to Pirates. Jameson Taillon and Steven Brault assigned to Bristol.
8/30: Pirates purchased contract of Kelvin Marte. Kyle Lobstein designated for assignment.
8/30: Mitch Keller and Sean Keselica promoted to Bradenton. Scooter Hightower and Matt Frawley promoted to West Virginia
8/30: Mike Wallace promoted to Morgantown.
8/29: Pirates recall Steven Brault. Gerrit Cole placed on disabled list.
8/28: A.J. Schugel recalled from Indianapolis. Adam Frazier optioned to Bristol.
8/28: Pirates activate Tyler Glasnow from disabled list. Optioned to Indianapolis.
8/28: Justin Topa placed on disabled list. Henry Hirsch activated from temporary inactive list.
8/27: John Kuchno promoted to Indianapolis.
8/25: Nick Kingham assigned to Altoona. Chase Simpson activated from disabled list.
8/22: Kyle Lobstein activated from the disabled list.
8/21: Evan Piechota promoted to Morgantown.
8/21: Yeudy Garcia activated from disabled list. Henry Hirsch placed on temporary inactive list.
THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY
Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus a game from the past with ties to a current minor league city and one of the best pitchers ever.
Matt Capps, 2005-09 reliever. Made 271 appearances and had a 3.61 ERA and 67 saves during his five seasons in Pittsburgh.
Juan Perez, lefty reliever for the 2006-07 Pirates. Had a 5.14 ERA in 24 appearances over his two seasons.
Dave Clark, outfielder from 1992 until 1996. Had an .801 OPS in 388 games with the Pirates, splitting his time between the two corner outfield positions.
Ed Konetchy, 1914 first baseman. Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss had a man-crush on Konetchy and tried multiple times to acquire him before giving up way too much to get him in December 1913, sending Dots Miller and Chief Wilson to the Cardinals as part of the five-player package. Konetchy rewarded Dreyfuss by having one poor season, then jumping to the Federal League.
Harry Decker, 1890 Alleghenys. Playing for the worst team in franchise history, Decker had the highest batting average (.274) and he hit five homers, which account for all the homers he hit in his four-year MLB career.
On this date in 1890, the Pittsburgh Alleghenys took on the Cleveland Spiders in an exhibition game played in front of 2,000 fans in Altoona. Both teams were scheduled to meet the next day in Pittsburgh, but the exhibition game was put on the schedule so the teams could make extra money during the season. The Spiders won that day by a 10-6 score behind the pitching of a 23-year-old rookie named Cy Young, who had four career wins at the time. The Alleghenys made ten errors, including two by catcher Harry Decker, who you may remember from the last player you just read about before this paragraph. He also picked up two hits on his 26th birthday. The day after this exhibition game, the Alleghenys beat the Spiders 6-2 to snap a 23-game losing streak….yes, 23 games.