First Pitch: The Ten Best Game Scores for the 2019 Bristol Pirates

Last week we started a new series that will be nine parts, looking at the top Game Scores from minor league starting pitchers for the Pittsburgh Pirates. The first article looked at the best from the Indianapolis Indians. That was followed by the Altoona Curve on Tuesday and the Bradenton Marauders on Wednesday. Thursday was the Greensboro Grasshoppers.

We picked the series back up on Monday with the short-season teams, starting with Morgantown. Today is a look at Bristol, followed by the GCL tomorrow and then the DSL teams (haven’t decided if I’m going to do them individually yet or as one group).

Bill James developed the Game Score for pitchers, which you will see in the boxscores on MiLB. It starts with a base of 50 points and awards points for good pitching (strikeouts, recording outs and pitching late in games), while subtracting points for things such as walks, hits, earned runs and unearned runs.

Below you will find the ten best Game Scores for the 2019 Bristol Pirates, with a brief description of each game. With tie scores, I just listed them alphabetical, and if it was a tie between multiple starts for the same pitcher, I went in chronological order.

  1. Santiago Florez (71) – In his next to last start of the season, the 19-year-old Florez (pictured above) tossed six shutout innings on four hits, with no walks and seven strikeouts. That ended up being the best game for Bristol all year and their only 70+ Game Score.
  2. Tahnaj Thomas (68) – Thomas had a few rough starts to begin the season, then reeled off three of the top seven starts for Bristol between July 13th and August 3rd. On July 27th he tossed five shutout innings on three hits, with no walks and seven strikeouts.
  3. Jose Maldonado (67) – Maldonado just missed having three of the top ten scores, with two 62 point games that fell one point short. His 67 point game followed a 62 during the first two weeks of the season. He went five shutout innings on two hits, two walks and six strikeouts.
  4. Luis Ortiz (67) – Ortiz made it here three times, led by his 67 point game on July 20th. He went six innings, allowing one run on three hits, with no walks and five strikeouts.
  5. Luis Ortiz (66) – Ortiz started his season with a bang. His first start for Bristol was also his first game as a pro. He went five shutout innings on two hits, one walk and four strikeouts.
  6. Tahnaj Thomas (65) – Thomas had two 65 Game Scores. His first occurred on July 13th when he allowed one run on three hits and no walks in five innings. He racked up extra points with a career high eight strikeouts, which was broken…
  7. Tahnaj Thomas (65) -…when Thomas posted his second 65 Game Score exactly three weeks later. It was nearly identical to the previous game with one run on three hits in five innings. He lost a point with one walk, but made it up by striking out nine batters.
  8. Santiago Florez (64) – The second top ten from Florez was his season debut and he did it on a limited pitch count. In five shutout innings he allowed three hits, with no walks and three strikeouts.
  9. Luis Ortiz (63) – Ortiz tossed five shutout frames in this game, though he was working around some base runners all game. He allowed four hits, walked two batters, and struck out six, which sits as his career high.
  10. Yoelvis Reyes (63) – Bristol had a six-man rotation and only needed one other start all season, which came during a doubleheader. Reyes made that start and he went five innings, giving up an unearned run on four hits, with no walks and six strikeouts.




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By John Dreker

Six former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date.

Brent Morel, third baseman for the 2014-15 Pirates. He was a highly ranked prospect at one point, who never got things going in the majors. After putting up a .609 OPS over parts of four seasons with the Chicago White Sox, the Pirates selected him off waivers prior to the 2014 seasons. In two years with Pittsburgh, Morel batted .196/.229/.261 in 26 games. The Pirates let him go in July of 2015, which ended his big league career. He spent the next two seasons in Japan before retiring after the 2017 season.

Ronny Paulino, catcher for the 2005-08 Pirates. He was originally signed as an amateur free agent in late December of 1997. It took him eight seasons in the minors before he made his Major League debut on September 25, 2005. Paulino spent parts of three seasons with both Lynchburg and Altoona. In 2006, he took over regular catching duties for the Pirates and batted .310 with 55 RBIs in 129 games. He committed a league leading 11 errors behind the plate, but also threw out more runners than any other NL catcher. In 2007, he played a career high 133 games, hitting .263 with 55 RBIs for the second consecutive season. Paulino did not play well early in the 2008 season and by June he was back in the minors. He was recalled in September, but his days with the Pirates were numbered. On December 10, 2008 he was traded to the Phillies in exchange for Jason Jaramillo. Before ever playing another he game, he was dealt to the Giants then the Marlins, where he spent two seasons. After playing for the Mets in 2011, he signed with the Orioles for 2012, and played his final 20 big league games. He was still active in winter ball this past off-season, but he hasn’t played in the minors (Mexico) since 2016.

Jack Taschner, pitcher for the Pirates in 2010. He pitched a combined 202 games between the 2005-08 Giants and 2009 Phillies before joining the Pirates. In a strange coincidence, the Phillies acquired him from the Giants in exchange for Ronny Paulino. Taschner was signed by Pittsburgh as a minor league free agent on December 23, 2009. He made the team out of Spring Training and in 17 appearances, he went 1-0, 6.05, pitching a total of 19.1 innings. He was designated for assignment in early June and refused to report to Triple-A, making him a free agent. Taschner signed with the Dodgers, making three appearances before being released. He retired just one of the six batters he faced while with Los Angeles. His playing career ended following the 2010 season.

Kip Wells, pitcher for the 2002-06 Pirates. He was a first round draft pick of the White Sox in 1998 and made it to the majors in just one year. In three seasons with the White Sox, Wells went 20-21, 5.14 in 47 starts and 20 relief appearances. He joined the Pirates on December 13, 2001, along with Josh Fogg, in exchange for Todd Ritchie. Wells moved right into the Pirates rotation and had a strong first season, posting a 12-14, 3.58 record in 198.1 innings, recording 134 strikeouts. He was even better his second season with the club, going 10-9, 3.28 in 197.1 innings, with a career high 147 strikeouts. His 2004 season didn’t go so well, as he missed time with numbness in his pitching hand and he was able to make just 24 starts, winning only five times, while posting a 4.55 ERA. Thing got even worse in 2005 for him, as he led the NL in losses with 18 and walks allowed with 99, all while running his ERA up over five runs per nine innings. He missed the first two months of the 2006 season, then made seven starts before the Pirates dealt him at the trading deadline to the Texas Rangers for minor league pitcher Jesse Chavez. After leaving the Pirates, Wells went 13-29, pitching for seven different teams. He was 69-103, 4.71 in 1,338.1 innings over 12 seasons.

Stan Rojek, shortstop for the 1948-51 Pirates. He was originally signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers as an amateur free agent in 1939. It took him four years to make the majors and when he did, he got into one late September 1942 game as a pinch-runner, before missing the next three seasons while serving in the military during WWII. When Rojek returned, he played two seasons in Brooklyn as a backup infielder before being sold to the Pirates along with Ed Stevens on November 14, 1947. His first season in Pittsburgh was the best of his career. He started as shortstop and led the league in games played, at-bats and plate appearances. He also set career highs in walks (61), RBIs (51), runs scored (85), doubles (27) and stolen bases (24). In 1949, Rojek hit .244 with 72 runs scored in 144 games. He saw his playing time dip down to 76 games in 1950, starting only five of the last 60 games of the season. Early in 1951, the Pirates dealt him to the St Louis Cardinals for Rocky Nelson and Erv Dusak. Rojek played 60 more big league games after leaving Pittsburgh, plus another four seasons in the minors, before retiring from baseball.

Fred Hartman, third baseman for the 1894 Pirates. He was a local boy, who made his Major League debut in late July of 1894 after playing five seasons in the minors, spending time with teams from Pennsylvania towns such as Altoona, Johnstown, Wilkes-Barre and Erie. Hartman was the Pirates starting third baseman for most of the second half of the 1894 season. He hit .319 with 20 RBIs and 41 runs scored in 49 games. He was signed to be the Pirates substitute infielder on July 26th after Pittsburgh released Jim Ritz, who played just one Major League game, which came six days earlier. Despite the strong stats, Hartman returned to the minors for the next two seasons before reappearing in the majors with the 1897 St Louis Browns. In 1895, he hit .357 in 113 games playing in the Western League, a top minor league at the time. He ended up playing five more seasons in the majors (1897-99, 1901-02) and twice batted over .300 on the year. He also drove in 88 runs in 1898 and 89 runs during the 1901 season. Hartman finished his pro career in the minors in 1907 playing for the McKeesport (Pa.) Tubers, his hometown team.

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.

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