Tyler Eppler and Eduardo Vera pitched on the same night for the first time this winter and they each put up five shutout innings. For Eppler, it was a nice bounce back start, while Vera has completely dominated the Mexican league from his first pitch.
Eppler allowed five hits, walked one and hit a batter, which just happened to be Taylor Gushue, who caught him in 2014 with Jamestown after they were both drafted early by the Pirates. Besides keeping runs off the board on Sunday night, Eppler picked up eight strikeouts, matching his total from his first three starts combined. In his last start he allowed five runs over 2.2 innings. He now has a 3.57 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 17.2 innings over four starts this winter.
Vera did something in his start on Sunday that we didn’t see in any of his first three winter games when he walked a batter in the fifth inning. In four starts (each limited to five innings by the Pirates), he has thrown 20 shutout innings on nine hits and one walk. He needed just 61 pitches, with 45 going for strikes. In his last four starts with Altoona this season, Vera allowed two runs over 28.2 innings, giving him an 0.37 ERA in his last eight starts. During that time he has an 0.55 WHIP and a .125 BAA.
Just a friendly reminder that both Eppler and Vera will be Rule 5 eligible if the Pirates don’t add them to the 40-man roster later this month.
In the Dominican, Jesus Liranzo threw two shutout innings on no hits, one walk and three strikeouts. In 11.1 innings, he has allowed one run on four hits (0.79 ERA and a .105 BAA), with one walk and 15 strikeouts.
Oddy Nunez pitched for the first time in 11 days and was called on to close out a 1-0 game in the 11th inning. It didn’t go so well, as he allowed two hits and a walk, before being removed with one out and the bases loaded. A walk from the reliever tied the game, then the other two runners were stranded to send the game into the 12th inning. In four appearances, Nunez has given up three runs over 4.1 innings.
Alfredo Reyes started at shortstop and went 0-for-2 before he was pinch-hit for in the eighth inning. He is hitting .250/.273/.250 in 12 games.
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.