First Pitch: The Ten Best Game Scores for the 2019 DSL Pirates1

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. Next was a look at the Bristol Pirates, followed by the GCL Pirates. The DSL teams will finish off the series, starting today with the DSL Pirates1. I decided to split up the two DSL squads because the Dominican Summer League teams only play clubs in their own division during the season, so the two Pirates clubs were facing completely different competition, though the same level of play.

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 DSL Pirates1, 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. Listher Sosa (77) – This was not only the top game for the DSL Pirates1, it was the best pitching performance for any of the five short-season affiliates. Sosa allowed 13 runs in his first four starts combined, then gave up three runs over his final 36 innings. His best start of the year was the one that started the turnaround. On July 6th, he went six shutout innings on one hit, no walks and seven strikeouts.
  2. Listher Sosa (74) – Not only did he have the top game for the Pirates1, Sosa also put together the second best start. The first one started his turnaround and this was ended it, because it was his final outing of the year. He went six shutout innings on three hits, with no walks and eight strikeouts.
  3. Valentin Linarez (71) – Linarez made it here four times, led by his start on August 13th when he tossed five shutout innings on two hits, no walks and eight strikeouts.
  4. Valentin Linarez (70) – He second outing was quite different from the first. It includes an unearned run and three walks over six innings. He had just three strikeouts, but he didn’t allow a single hit.
  5. Listher Sosa (70) – The third six shutout inning performance by Sosa gave him three of the top five starts for the Pirates1. In this game he allowed two hits and didn’t walk a batter. It didn’t rank up there with the other two starts because he only recorded two strikeouts.
  6. Valentin Linarez (69) – I promise you, the DSL Pirates1 had more than two starters last season. Linarez ranked as one of the top ten prospects from both DSL Pirates clubs, while Sosa just missed that list. In his final outing of the year, Linarez went five shutout innings on two hits, one walk and seven strikeouts.
  7. Luis Peralta (69) – The younger brother of Milwaukee Brewers starter Freddy Peralta, Luis had quite a 2019 season with a 2.01 ERA. He mostly pitched in long relief though, so he didn’t get many chances to make this list. His 69 Game Score occurred on July 5th in his last start, when he threw five shutout innings on one hit, one walk and five strikeouts. He missed two weeks after this game and then made the move to the bullpen.
  8. Valentin Linarez (66) – In his final ten starts of the season, Linarez had seven games with a 60+ Game Score. He gave up five earned runs in his final 41.2 innings and four of those runs came in one game. His 66 score included the other earned run. Over five innings of work, he allowed just two hits, with no walks and seven strikeouts.
  9. Braham Rosario (66) – Rosario made it here twice with two identical starts. On June 27th he allowed one run on two hits over five innings, with no walks and seven strikeouts. It’s also the same line as the 66 from Linarez.
  10. Braham Rosario (66) – The second 66 game was July 26th and you already know the pitching line. Rosario made one relief appearance and it was better than any of his starts. If relievers got Game Scores, he would have put up a 71 on August 24th for five shutout innings on one hit, no walks and six strikeouts.




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By John Dreker

Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date.

Dave Davidson pitcher for the 2007 Pirates. He was a tenth round draft pick of the Pirates in 2002. By the end of his third season in the minors, he had only reached low-A ball for ten games, and did not pitch well while he was there. Things turned around in a big way in 2006 when he worked his way from Low-A Hickory up to Double-A Altoona. That year he went 3-2, 2.01 in 42 appearances, with 96 strikeouts in 76 innings. Davidson spent most of 2007 in Double-A, getting a brief stop at Triple-A and a late September recall to the majors. He pitched two games for the Pirates, both were relief appearances in blowout losses. In his debut he allowed four runs in one inning, then ten days later he gave up two runs in his only inning of work. After spending all of 2008 in Double-A, Davidson was put on waivers early in the 2009 season. He was picked up by the Marlins and sent to Triple-A. Four weeks later he was recalled and came in to pitch in relief on May 22nd. He faced 11 batters in his only inning, throwing 52 pitches. Davidson was put on waivers right after the game and picked up by the Orioles. He was injured at the time though, was returned to the Marlins and had to be placed on the 60-day DL. He was released at the end of the season, did not pitched in 2010, then spent 2011 in independent ball.

Ron Blackburn, pitcher for the Pirates during the 1958-59 seasons. He was originally signed by the Pirates as an amateur free agent in 1953. Blackburn pitched five seasons in the minors before getting his first chance with Pittsburgh. He went 9-13, 4.30 in 199 innings for Triple-A Columbus in 1957. His best season came for the Phoenix Stars of the Arizona-Mexico League in 1955 when he went 16-6, 3.48 in 197 innings. Blackburn pitched out of the Pirates bullpen all season in 1958, appearing in 38 games and pitching a total of 68.2 innings. He was in the bullpen again in 1959 until the end of July, making 26 appearances with a 3.65 ERA. On July 31st, the Pirates sent him to the minors. Blackburn never made it back to the majors, spending the next five seasons pitching for the Pirates in the minors. He had an 84-80, 4.09 record in 379 minor league games.

Ray Starr, pitcher for the Pirates during the 1944-45 seasons. On May 27, 1944, the Pirates purchased the contract of Starr from the Cincinnati Reds. When Pittsburgh picked him up he had not pitched yet that season due to a sore arm, but they team believed it wasn’t anything serious. Starr ended up pitching 27 games for the Pirates in 1944, and twelve of those games came as a starter. He went 6-5, 5.02 in 89.2 innings. He pitched just four times for the Pirates through the first two months of the 1945 season. Starr was suspended by the Pirates for leaving the team without permission, then put on waivers, where he was picked up by the Chicago Cubs two days later. His Major League career didn’t amount to much, but he stuck around long enough to win 251 games in pro ball, 214 during his 15-year minor league career. Starr’s best season in the majors came in 1942 when he went 15-13, 2.67 for the Reds.

Connie Walsh, pitcher for the Pirates on September 16, 1907. He pitched just one inning for the Pirates in his only big league game. That game was a significant one in Pirates history. They lost 5-1 to the Cardinals in the second game of a doubleheader, but the starter that day was Babe Adams, making his first start in a Pirates uniform. It was the beginning of an 18-year career for Adams in Pittsburgh. He pitched the first five innings, allowing four runs, before giving way to Walsh, who finished the game that went just seven innings before being called. Connie faced five batters, allowing one hit, one walk and one run. Walsh had played two seasons in the minors prior to his only Major League game and he would return to the minors for another seven seasons before he retired as a player. He also managed for three seasons in the minors, two of them while he was still playing.

Bob Ganley, right fielder for the 1905-06 Pirates. He spent eight seasons in the minors prior to making his Major League debut as a 30-year-old with the Pirates on September 1, 1905. Ganley hit .316 in 123 games for the Des Moines Underwriters of the Western League during that 1905 season. He hit lead-off and played right field in his first game, going 0-for-4, but the Pittsburgh Press noted that he looked good at the plate. Ganley would play 32 games for the Pirates that season, hitting .315 with seven RBIs and no errors in the field. He was the Pirates starting right fielder for the 1906 season, hitting .258 with 41 walks, 63 runs scored and 19 stolen bases in 137 games. On December 31, 1906 the Pirates sold his contract to the Washington Senators. He would played three years in the American League before returning to the minors to finish his career. After retiring as a player, he managed for two seasons in the minors.

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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