ALTOONA, Pa. – The Pirates are promoting RHP Montana DuRapau to Triple-A Indianapolis on Friday. DuRapau has a 1.49 ERA in 36.1 innings this season for the Altoona Curve, only allowing six earned runs all season.
DuRapau has mostly been a closer for the Curve for the last two years, and he is the Altoona franchise leader with 36 saves. He is first in the E.L. with 14 saves this season. Out of relievers with at least 36 innings pitched, his ERA is second in the league, ranking only behind fellow bullpen arm Miguel Rosario.
Overall, he has a 2.73 ERA in his two seasons in Altoona (85.2 IP).
“I don’t think that I’ll send another guy to Triple-A who deserves or has earned it more,” Curve manager Michael Ryan said. “When I called him in today, the look on his face said it all – how proud he was. All the hard work that he’s put in. I’m sure he’s been waiting for that call for a long time. For it finally to come, he was so happy.”
DuRapau isn’t the top prospect who would typically get “pushed” up each minor league level. He was drafted in the 32nd round in 2014 out of Bethune-Cookman, a small college in Daytona Beach. He also isn’t the tallest pitcher in the world. However, as Ryan said it, he has willed himself to Triple-A.
“Hopefully, someday we find him on television because he willed himself to the big leagues,” Ryan said. “That was one of the ones I looked forward to the most. Letting him know he’s going to the next level and watching his facial expressions, that’s what gets me out of bed everyday. He truly earned it.”
DuRapau said that he ended last season with a bad taste in his mouth, allowing five earned runs while recording only one out during his last regular season outing in Richmond. He also took the loss a few games earlier after allowing two run at Harrisburg.
“I ended last year with a bad stint that left a bad taste in my mouth, and I came into this year ready to prove to myself that it was just some bad outings,” DuRapau said.
Prove himself has been an understatement, as he has only allowed runs to score against him in four out of 27 outings. He has a 1.16 WHIP and hasn’t allowed a single home run this season.
He credits his fastball command for having more success this season.
“My fastball command has been a lot better,” he said. “Using it in breaking ball counts, I’ve been sneaking some fastballs by guys that have been unsuspecting. Getting my fastball up has been a quality pitch for me.”
He switched the grip on his cutter to holding it more like a slider, which is a grip he is very familiar with having thrown with it as a kid. He said he has better control of the pitch, and it has movement that is tighter with more depth. With the change, his velocity has gone up, as well.
With Altoona’s closer being promoted, Tate Scioneaux will take over the role as the Curve’s closer for now. Ryan also mentioned Sean Keselica and mixing and matching to find the best combination. Scioneaux profiles as a long reliever in the majors, and that’s what he will probably need to be if he gets to Triple-A, so Ryan doesn’t want to take that role completely away from him this season.
“Right now, we’ll try Tate Scioneaux in that situation, but we also need to get Scioneaux in some other situations throughout the game,” Ryan said. “We’ll try to mix and match and find the best combo It might be a by-committee thing.”
The open spot on the roster will more than likely go to Cody Dickson, who was put on the disabled list last week with an ankle sprain.
Kevin Kramer Progressing
Kevin Kramer left Altoona on Monday for Pirate City in Bradenton, as the Pirates plan to begin him on a “come back to play” program. He should be able to completely remove his brace (broken hand) in about a week or so with the hope that he can return to the Curve in mid-August.
Kramer was hit by a pitch in early June and has been on the disabled list since.