First Pitch: Pirates Send Four Prospects to Rookie Career Development Program

I thought about making this title “Pirates Sending Four Prospects to Miami” just to see how fast I could crash the site. While it’s completely true, many people would jump to the conclusion that a major trade happened. That is not the case.

The Pittsburgh Pirates sent Ke’Bryan Hayes, Will Craig, Blake Cederlind and Oneil Cruz to Miami this week for the Rookie Career Development Program, which begins today and runs until Friday. MLB Pipeline posted the names yesterday, which breaks from the tradition of me asking around until I find out all of the names, once only getting them due to a group picture posted online.

Every team in baseball sends some of their prospects to the RCDP each year around this time to learn what it’s like to be a Major League player, covering all aspects of the journey, from finances, to travel, to handling media and anything else you can think of that seems important. There is no guarantee that the players who go will make the majors and not every prospect goes to the event, so you can’t look at the group and make assumptions. Players are asked to go, but not required to go if asked. Players usually go the year before they make the majors, though you get the occasional players who have already debuted.

In the recent past, the Pirates have sent the following players:

2019: Mitch Keller, Nick Burdi, Pablo Reyes and Kevin Kramer

2018: Austin Meadows, Jordan Luplow and Kevin Newman

2017: Clay Holmes, Edgar Santana, Max Moroff and Dovydas Neverauskas

2016: Elias Diaz, Josh Bell and Tyler Glasnow

2015: Nick Kingham

2014: Jameson Taillon

** Buster Olney released the top ten shortstops list today. Kevin Newman didn’t make the top ten or get a mention. The first five lists were posted here. Third base will be posted tomorrow.




By John Dreker

Dick “Ducky” Schofield, infielder for the 1958-65 Pirates. He began his MLB career at age 18 with the Cardinals, spending his first 5 1/2 seasons in St Louis playing sparingly, appearing in just 208 games during that stretch. The Pirates acquired him on June 15, 1958 along with cash for infielders Gene Freese and Johnny O’Brien. Schofield hit .148 over 26 games with the Pirates during that 1958 season. He received limited playing time in 1959, getting into 81 games, but receiving only 163 plate appearances in which he hit .234 with 21 runs scored. The Pirates were battling for the NL pennant in 1960 and Schofield was getting very limited playing time until an injury struck the Pirates starting shortstop Dick Groat in early September. Ducky was hitting just .200 at the time (7-for-35), but he stepped into the shortstop position and hit .403 the rest of the way to help the Pirates maintain their lead and win the pennant. He was back on the bench for the World Series with Groat back, but he did manage to get to the plate four times with a hit and walk to show for it.

Schofield was back to a limited role in 1961, getting just 90 plate appearances over 60 games and he hit .192 with two RBIs all year. He hit better in 1962 batting .288, but still saw limited time. The Pirates traded Groat in November 1962 and Schofield became the regular shortstop, playing a career high 138 games, finishing with a .246 average, 69 walks and 54 runs scored. He hit .246 again in 1964 in the same role, getting into 121 games that year. He was the Pirates shortstop to begin the 1965 season, but a month into the schedule, the Pirates traded him to the Giants for infielder Jose Pagan. Schofield was in the majors until 1971, playing a total of 1,321 games over 19 seasons. His son Dick Schofield played 14 seasons in the majors and his grandson Jayson Werth played 15 seasons. Ducky Schofield turns 85 today.

Kitty Bransfield, first baseman for the NL pennant winning 1901-03 Pirates teams. Bransfield began pro career as a catcher and got into five games for the 1898 Boston Beaneaters. After spending two seasons in the minors, the Pirates purchased his contract for the 1901 season. He hit .295 that year in 139 games, scoring 92 runs while driving in 91. He was also third in the NL with 16 triples. In his second season, he hit .305 with 69 RBIs and had 23 steals for the second straight season. The Pirates won their third straight pennant in 1903, but Kitty hit just .265 with 57 RBIs in 127 games. He struggled in the World Series, hitting .207 with one RBI in 29 at-bats. He was the Pirates everyday first baseman in 1904, but he average dropped to .223 and he led all NL first baseman in errors. Following the season, he was traded to the Phillies along with two other players for minor league first baseman Del Howard. Bransfield spent five more seasons in the majors, finishing with a .270 average over 1,330 games.

Ted Beard, outfielder for the 1948-52 Pirates. He was signed by the Pirates as an amateur free agent in early 1942, playing one season in the minors before spending the next three years serving in the military during the war. He returned to the minors in 1946, where he stayed until the Pirates called him up in September of 1948. He hit .198 in 25 games that year, getting 81 at-bats. Beard started the 1949 season in Pittsburgh, but was sent to the minors after batting .083 the first month of the season. He spent most of the 1950 season in the majors and hit .232 in 61 games. On July 16, 1950 he became just the second player ever to hit a ball over the right field roof at Forbes Field. The first was Babe Ruth. Beard hit a combined .185 over 37 games during the 1951-52 seasons. Early in the 1954 season he was sold to the Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League. Following the sale, Beard played only 57 more games in the majors, coming during the 1957-58 seasons for the White Sox. He had a .284 minor league average in 1,915 games and hit .198 in 194 MLB games.

Al Todd, catcher for the 1936-38 Pirates. He was born on the same exact day as another former Pirates catcher, Cliff Knox (mentioned below). Todd played 11 seasons in the majors despite the fact that he didn’t make his big league debut until age 30. He played four seasons for the Phillies, batting .318 and .290 in the last two years there after hitting .214 over his first two seasons. The Pirates traded rookie pitcher Claude Passeau and veteran catcher Earl Grace for Todd on November 21, 1935. Passeau would go on to win 162 major league games following the trade. With the Pirates in 1936 Todd was splitting the catching duties with Tom Padden until an injury in early July caused him to miss six weeks. In 76 games that year he hit .273 with 28 RBIs. He would become the everyday catcher in 1937, playing 133 games, while hitting .307 with a career high 86 RBIs. The following season he would again play 133 games, this time hitting .265 with 75 RBIs. After the season, Todd and outfielder Johnny Dickshot were traded to the Boston Bees for catcher Ray Mueller. Todd played pro ball until age 44, managed eight seasons in the minors and also scouted for a few years.

Leo Murphy, catcher for the 1915 Pirates. Played 31 games for Pittsburgh, getting 46 plate appearances in which he went 4-for-41 (.098) with four walks and four RBIs. That was Murphy’s only season in the majors. He spent nine seasons in the minors, posting a .255 average in 801 games. He later managed for five seasons in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which was featured in the movie League of Their Own.

Cliff Knox, catcher for the 1924 Pirates. Played in just six major league games, spending two weeks in the majors beginning on July 1, 1924. He started all six games he played behind the plate, going 4-for-18 with two walks and two RBIs. Knox spent 12 seasons in the minors, retiring at age 36 after he hit .326 with 17 homers in 100 games that year.

Jim Pendleton, utility player for the 1957-58 Pirates. He hit .305 (18-for-59) in 46 games in 1957 while playing five different positions, all three outfield spots, third base and shortstop. He played just three games in 1958, all as a pinch-hitter, spending most of the year in Triple-A, where he hit .312 in 123 games. He was part of a seven-player trade on January 30, 1959 that saw the Pirates acquire Harvey Haddix, Smoky Burgess and Don Hoak from the Reds. Pendleton also played in the majors from 1953-56 with the Braves, 1959 for the Reds and 1962 for the Houston Colt .45’s.