First Pitch: The Ten Best Minor League Pitching Performances in 2019 for the Pittsburgh Pirates

Bill James developed the Game Score for starting 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.

Over the last two weeks we have posted the ten best Game Scores for each affiliate, covering all nine teams. You can find the link to each one at the bottom of this section.

The nine Pittsburgh Pirates affiliates combined to play 893 games last year. Below you will find the ten best Game Scores for all of the Pittsburgh Pirates minor leaguers, with a very brief description of each game. I also added the list of the ten best short-season Game Scores because the short-season players are at a disadvantage with shorter pitch counts. None of them were among the top ten scores for the season.

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.

Ten Best Game Scores

  1. Domingo Robles, Altoona (81) – There was a tie at the top spot for the season. Robles threw a complete game shutout on August 26th, needing just 95 pitches to get through nine innings. He allowed five hits, walked one and picked up five strikeouts.
  2. Aaron Shortridge, Bradenton (81) – Shortridge (pictured above) also had the best Game Score, this one resulting from eight shutout innings on two hits, one walk and four strikeouts.
  3. Brad Case, Greensboro (80) – The best Greensboro game only missed being the best contest of the year by one weakly hit ball from an awkward swing on a great pitch. Allowing a hit subtracts two points from the total. Case allowed one hit over seven shutout innings, with no walks and five strikeouts.
  4. Dario Agrazal, Altoona (79) – Agrazal had two 79s, one for Indianapolis and one for Altoona. The first one was his final start with Altoona before being promoted. He went seven shutout innings on three hits, no walks and eight strikeouts.
  5. Dario Agrazal, Indianapolis (79) – This was the top game for Indianapolis last year. He went eight innings, allowing one run on three hits, with no walks and seven strikeouts.
  6. Osvaldo Bido, Greensboro (79) – Bido was coming off of back-to-back rough starts when on June 5th he put together one of the best starts of the season for any Pirates pitcher. He tossed six shutout innings on one hit and one walk, while striking out ten batters.
  7. James Marvel, Altoona (79) – Marvel had three of Altoona’s best games and three of the best for Indianapolis. His best performance of the season came with Altoona and was his first start of the season. On April 4th he tossed six shutout innings on one hit, with no walks and nine strikeouts.
  8. Pedro Vasquez, Altoona (79) – His best start of the season came on August 17th when he threw eight shutout innings on three hits and a walk, with four strikeouts. It was one point better than his June 9th performance listed below.
  9. Cody Bolton, Bradenton (78, twice) – Bolton put up two 78s with Bradenton. The first was on May 6th and consisted of seven shutout innings on three hits, with no walks and seven strikeouts. The second happened May 30th and saw him go six shutout innings with one hit, two walks and a season high ten strikeouts.
  10. Sean Brady, Altoona (78) – Brady, who is no longer with the Pirates, threw a complete game nine inning shutout in late August. He allowed one walk and struck out six batters, but lost a higher score due to allowing seven hits.
  11. James Marvel, Indianapolis (78) – Marvel’s second best start of 2019 was his best with Indianapolis. He went six shutout innings with one hit, one walk and nine strikeouts.
  12. Aaron Shortridge, Bradenton (78) – Shortridge had the best score of the season and another top ten offering. In early June, he threw seven shutout innings on three hits, one walk and a season high of eight strikeouts.
  13. Pedro Vasquez, Altoona (78) – In his second best start of the season, Vasquez allowed one hit over six innings on June 9th, with no walks and a season high eight strikeouts.

Ten Best Short-Season Game Scores

  1. Lister Sosa, DSL Pirates1 (77)
  2. Domingo Gonzalez, GCL Pirates (75)
  3. Listher Sosa, DSL Pirates1 (74)
  4. Domingo Gonzalez, Morgantown (73)
  5. Noe Toribio, Morgantown (72)
  6. Santiago Florez, Bristol (71)
  7. Valentin Linarez, DSL Pirates1 (71)
  8. Valentin Linarez, DSL Pirates1 (70)
  9. Listher Sosa, DSL Pirates1 (70)
  10. tie- Linarez, Sergio Umana, DSL Pirates2 (2x), Luis Peralta, DSL Pirates1 (69)

Individual Team Top Tens







GCL Pirates

DSL Pirates1

DSL Pirates2




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By John Dreker

Five* former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date.

Brad Clontz, pitcher for the Pirates during the 1999-2000 seasons. He had played parts of four seasons in the majors prior to joining the Pirates. In 1996, Clontz pitched an NL leading 81 games. In 1998 he split the season between the Mets and Dodgers. posting a 6.08 ERA in 20 appearances. He was signed by the Red Sox in the 1998-99 off-season, but they released him just before the season started. The Pirates picked him up two days later and he ended up pitching 56 games out of the Pittsburgh bullpen, with a career best 2.74 ERA in 49.1 innings. In December 1999, the Pirates traded Clontz to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for minor league pitcher, Robert Manzueta. Clontz was released by Arizona at the end of Spring Training and re-signed with the Pirates. He ended up struggling with his control in five April outings before the Pirates sent him to the minors. He underwent elbow surgery that May, and while he ended up pitching until 2006, he never returned to the majors.

Bob Johnson, pitcher for the 1971-73 Pirates. He was signed by the Mets in 1964 as an amateur free agent and made his Major League debut with the 1969 World Series champion Mets team. Johnson was traded to the Royals in December of 1969 and almost exactly a year later, the Pirates acquired him from Kansas City in a six-player deal. He had pitched over 200 innings with the Royals during his only season there, striking out 206 batters along the way. Johnson became a part of the Pirates rotation during that World Series winning season. He made 27 starts (four relief outings) and had an overall record of 9-10, 3.45 in 174.2 innings. He started and won game three of the NLCS, going up against the great Juan Marichal. In the World Series, Johnson started game two and took the loss in Baltimore. In 1972, he started the year in the Pirates rotation, but was moved to the bullpen after an 0-3, 4.60 start in his first eight games. He thrived in the new role, going 4-1 with three saves the rest of the way while lowering his ERA to 2.96 by the end of the season. In 1973, he pitched 50 games, posting a 3.62 ERA in 92 innings. In the off-season he was traded to the Indians for a young outfielder named Bill Flowers, a second round pick in 1970 who never made the majors. Johnson ended up pitching for Cleveland in 1974, then went to the minors for two seasons before finishing his Major League career with the 1977 Atlanta Braves. He turns 77 today.

Jimmy Brown, infielder for the 1946 Pirates. From 1937 until 1943, Brown was a star infielder for the St Louis Cardinals, twice leading the league in at-bats and twice he was among the top six in MVP voting. He made the NL All-Star squad in 1942. Brown left for military duty in WWII during that 1943 season and served until late 1945 before being discharged. The Pirates bought his contract from the Cardinals in early January of 1946. Brown played 79 games for the Pirates in 1946, starting 26 times at shortstop, 20 at second base and nine times at third base. He hit .241 with 23 runs scored, 18 walks and he struck out only five times all season. He was released by the Pirates that November and finished his playing career two years later in the minors. Brown also began a career in managing in 1947 and continued on through 1964, winning over 1,000 minor league games.

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. (UPDATE: Recent research has corrected his birth date from April 25, 1868 to the newly accepted April 21, 1865, but I included him here because he wasn’t originally in Tuesday’s article)

Tom Quinn(1864) Catcher for the 1886 Pittsburgh Alleghenys. He made his major league debut on September 2,1886 for the Alleghenys. Quinn played three games that season for Pittsburgh behind the plate, going 0-11 with a run scored and a stolen base. He spent the next two seasons playing minor league ball before coming back to the majors in 1889, when he played for the Baltimore Orioles of the American Association. Quinn spent the 1890 season playing for the Pittsburgh Burghers of the Player’s League, his last year in the majors. Tom finished his career by playing two more years in the minors. He was a .189 hitter in 113 major league games and during the three years he played in the minors(only counting seasons with completely known stats), he never batted above .207 in any of those seasons.

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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