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Prospect Watch: Third Start in Greensboro for Santiago Florez; Injury Updates
July 28, 2021
No Quarter / Prospect Watch
Your daily Pittsburgh Pirates Prospect Watch article for recaps of all of today’s games. Be sure to pick up your copy of the latest Prospect Guide in our store, available as an ebook or a limited edition paperback. INDIANAPOLIS Season preview Boxscore Starting Pitcher: Beau Susler (3.29 ERA in 65.2 IP/64 strikeouts) (stat line for all starting pitchers will be added after the game) Notable Performances: (stats for the top prospects to be posted after the game) Game Recap: 8:05 PM start time (all recaps will be posted as soon as the games wrap up) ALTOONA Season Preview Boxscore Starting Pitcher: Osvaldo Bido (5.36 ERA in 45.1 IP/47 strikeouts) Notable Performances: Game Recap: 6:30 PM start time. Here are some updates on Roansy Contreras, Oneil Cruz and Miguel Yajure, who I threw in here because two Altoona players trumps one Indianapolis. All good progress, though the two Altoona players aren’t close to returning Roansy Contreras completely asymptotic. Playing catch out to about 80 feet. Making nice progress. Oneil Cruz also no symptoms. If that continues, will start to think about playing catch. Miguel Yajure will throw another live BP this week. — Jason Mackey (@JMackeyPG) July 28, 2021 GREENSBORO Season Preview Boxscore Starting Pitcher: Santiago Florez (6.75 ERA in 10.2 IP/six strikeouts) Notable Performances: Game Recap: 6:30 PM start time. From Jake Crouse on MLB.com: “Carmen Mlodzinski throwing off the slope. Deciding when to get him back into games, assuming progress continues.” BRADENTON Season Preview Boxscore Starting Pitcher: Luis Ortiz (3.35 ERA in 48.1 IP/55 strikeouts) Notable Performances: Game Recap: 6:05 PM start time ** Rookie league teams are all off on Wednesdays**...
Pirates Game Discussion: Pirates vs Brewers, 7:05 PM; Max Kranick Recalled and Starting Tonight
July 28, 2021
Pirates Game Discussion
The Pittsburgh Pirates (38-62) are at home for a three-games series against the Milwaukee Brewers (59-42), with game two tonight at 7:05 PM. The Pirates will send out Max Kranick for his fourth start. He has a 5.73 ERA in 11 innings, with 11 strikeouts and a 1.36 WHIP. The Brewers are countering with left-handed pitcher Adrian Houser, who will be making his 18th start. He has a 3.88 ERA in 92.2 innings, with 74 strikeouts and a 1.40 WHIP. Kranick replaces Tyler Anderson, who was traded away last night to the Seattle Mariners. Kranick last pitched a week ago today for the Pirates. Pirates announced that Trevor Cahill had a major setback due to a slip/fall on steps and he’s likely done for the year. Chase De Jong is done for the year due to knee surgery. Colin Moran and Erik Gonzalez aren’t far away from rehab assignments. Sam Howard and Ka’ai Tom are a little behind them. Here are the lineups: Pirates Our lineup for tonight.#LetsGoBucs pic.twitter.com/12t2uZIu1c — Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) July 28, 2021 Brewers #Brewers Lineup 07/28/21 1. Kolten Wong 2B2. Willy Adames SS3. Omar Narvaez C4. Avisail Garcia RF5. Rowdy Tellez 1B6. Tyrone Taylor LF7. Lorenzo Cain CF8. Luis Urias 3B9. Adrian Houser P Starting Pitcher : Adrian Houser — Daily MLB Lineups (@DailyMLBLineup) July 28, 2021 Yesterday’s Umpire Scorecard. Some large strike zone moments, but overall that was a strong game called. Umpire: Chris SegalFinal: Pirates 0, Brewers 9#LetsGoBucs // #ThisIsMyCrew#PITvsMIL // #MILvsPIT pic.twitter.com/bPRCArMuig — Umpire Scorecards (@UmpScorecards) July 28, 2021...
Tyler Anderson Now Going to Seattle Mariners in a Trade for Two Minor League Players
July 28, 2021
After a deal seemed to be completed between the Philadelphia Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates earlier on Tuesday, we now hear word that the Pirates and Seattle Mariners have a deal for the right-handed pitcher. The Phillies were sending two prospects to the Pirates in the original deal, but sources indicated that a medical issue came up after the trade was agreed upon. While it was assumed that the two sides were attempting to come to a second agreement, the Pirates went ahead and got a deal done with the Mariners according to multiple sources. The #Mariners are in agreement to acquire Tyler Anderson from #Pirates, source confirms @JeffPassan and @Ken_Rosenthal reports. @MLB @MLBNetwork — Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 28, 2021 The Mariners are sending the Pirates 22-year-old catcher Carter Bins and 18-year-old pitcher Joaquin Tejada. The Pirates have confirmed that the deal is done. Bins was drafted in the 11th round in 2019 and he started this season in High-A, where he hit .284/.422/.493 in 40 games, with ten doubles, seven homers and a 32:54 BB/SO ratio in 185 plate appearances. He recently moved up to Double-A, where he had just two hits in 30 at-bats, though it came with ten walks and a homer. He has thrown out 16% of runners stealing this season. He threw out 50% as a rookie in 2019. Baseball America rated him 28th in the Mariners system coming into this year. MLB Pipeline didn’t have him rated in their top 30. BA notes that he has above average raw power, but below average bat speed. Tejada, who just turned 18 back on July 16th, had only pitched two games since signing out of Panama on July 2, 2019. He’s 5’11”, 160 pounds. He signed for $200,000 and showed some immediate improvements in his velocity back then according to Ben Badler, adding about 4-5 MPH after sitting in the 86-87 MPH range prior to signing. He also had a good feel for spin on his curve. Those reports are old though, so he may have improved even more. He has pitched just five innings of pro ball so far, and while he has eight strikeouts, he also has four walks and three hit batters, while giving up six runs....
Game Recap: Oh, Yeah, There Was a Game Today . . . Unfortunately
July 27, 2021
No Quarter / Pirates Recaps
The Pirates had a day of draft news and trade machinations (Tyler Anderson apparently is going to be a Mariner), but in the end they had to play a game. That ended kinda badly, in a 9-0 loss to Milwaukee. With Tyler Anderson’s status up in the air, the Pirates named Luis Oviedo as the late-hour stand-in. It was Oviedo’s first major league start and we found out what we knew all along: that Oviedo isn’t ready for the majors. When the Pirates selected him in the Rule 5 draft, he’d never pitched above low class A. That hasn’t changed much this year, as Oviedo, before today, had logged only 27.2 IP between AAA and the majors. Things started off well, as Oviedo fanned the game’s first batter. On the next batter, though, Kevin Newman committed his second error of the year and Omar Narvaez then went deep. The inning just got worse after that as Oviedo couldn’t find the plate. In the second, Oviedo didn’t retire anybody. He left with three runs in and two on base, and Nick Mears let the latter runs get driven in by a single on his first pitch. Oviedo struggled to throw strikes, with just 28 in 55 pitches. He finished with eighth runs allowed, six earned, in one-plus innings. The Pirates’ bullpen did their usual good job of locking the barn door. Mears ultimately logged two scoreless innings, although he didn’t fill the strike zone, either. Cody Ponce put up five shutout innings, allowing just three hits and a walk. Kyle Keller gave up a solo home run to Rowdy Tellez in the top of the ninth. The offense didn’t exactly open the post-Frazier era in fine fashion. They managed just four hits, all singles, two each by Ben Gamel and Jacob Stallings. Excitement was somewhat lacking....
Pirates Game Discussion: Pirates vs Brewers, 7:05 PM
July 27, 2021
Pirates Game Discussion
The Pittsburgh Pirates (38-61) are at home for a three-games series against the Milwaukee Brewers (58-42), starting tonight at 7:05 PM. The Pirates will send out Luis Oviedo for his first big league start. He has a 7.23 ERA in 18.2 innings, with 19 strikeouts and a 1.77 WHIP. The Brewers are countering with left-handed pitcher Brett Anderson, who will be making his 15th start. He has a 4.26 ERA in 57 innings, with 35 strikeouts and a 1.37 WHIP. Prior to the game, the Pirates recalled Rodolfo Castro and Cody Ponce. Tyler Anderson has been traded ….maybe Braylon Bishop has signed Here are the lineups: Pirates Luis Oviedo will make his first Major League start.#LetsGoBucs pic.twitter.com/Jh4PDiTbSX — Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) July 27, 2021 Brewers #Brewers Lineup 07/27/21 1. Kolten Wong 2B2. Willy Adames SS3. Omar Narvaez C4. Avisail Garcia RF5. Rowdy Tellez 1B6. Luis Urias 3B7. Lorenzo Cain CF8. Jackie Bradley LF9. Brett Anderson P Starting Pitcher : Brett Anderson — Daily MLB Lineups (@DailyMLBLineup) July 27, 2021...
Pirates Sign 14th Round Draft Pick Braylon Bishop
July 27, 2021
2021 Draft / Analysis
The Pittsburgh Pirates have signed 14th round draft pick Braylon Bishop, adding another top 100 draft prospect to an already impressive draft class. The 18-year-old outfielder was ranked 87th overall by Baseball America, who gave him 60 ratings for both power and speed, with average defense/arm. He has excellent bat speed, but some swing-and-miss in his game leads to a lower hit rating at this point, making the 60-grade power more of a raw power tool. MLB Pipeline ranked him 94th in the draft class and gave him slightly better grades on hitting, fielding, arm, while giving him a 50 grade on power. So there is a bit of a difference in opinion from the scouts who help with these rankings. Either way, both lists combined show above average tools in four of five categories. Here’s his player page Fourth round pick Owen Kellington remains as one of four unsigned players. We will update this post when Bishop’s bonus is released. Source: Braylon Bishop's bonus was $268,700. — Jake Crouse (@JakeCrouseMLB) July 27, 2021 Tracker is updated ...
Tyler Anderson Trade to Phillies Falls Through
July 27, 2021
News / No Quarter
The rumors are flying, so here’s a place to discuss them. The Phillies and Blue Jays are supposedly in a bidding war for Richard Rodriguez. The Phillies talks are thought to involve 22-year-old catcher Rafael Marchan. In 250 minor league games, he has a .659 OPS and no home runs, so he seems like a good fit. There’s plenty of interest in Tyler Anderson, who’s scheduled to start tonight. This will be updated if there’s further news. UPDATE 3:44 PM: The Pirates are close to trading Tyler Anderson to the Phillis, per Robert Murray. Sources: Phillies close to acquiring Tyler Anderson from Pirates. — Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) July 27, 2021 Jayson Stark says he could be dealt for two second-tier prospects. LHP Tyler Anderson is scheduled to start for the #Pirates tonight. But multiple sources say that's not likely to happen. The Pirates are in serious conversations to trade him to the Phillies for 2 second-tier prospects. — Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) July 27, 2021 UPDATE 3:49 PM: Anderson has been scratched from his start tonight. Mike Persak also reports that the Pirates will be activating Rodolfo Castro and Cody Ponce tonight. The Pirates are activating Rodolfo Castro and Cody Ponce before tonight's game. Tyler Anderson has been scratched. — Mike Persak (@MikeDPersak) July 27, 2021 UPDATE 4:07 PM: Jason Mackey reports that the Pirates have traded Anderson to the Phillies for Cristian Hernandez and Abrahan Gutierrez. Sources: Tyler Anderson traded to Phillies for Cristian Hernandez and Abrahan Gutierrez. It's final. — Jason Mackey (@JMackeyPG) July 27, 2021 Hernandez is a 20-year-old right-handed pitcher, turning 21 at the end of September. He’s been pitching in Low-A this year as a starter, with a 3.49 ERA in 56.2 innings, and a 74:22 K/BB ratio. Baseball America released their updated Phillies top 30 list today, ranking Hernandez 25th in the system. He sits 93-94 MPH with his fastball, along with a plus curve, and a changeup and slider which are average, along with average command. Gutierrez is a 21-year-old catcher in Low-A, repeating the same level he was at in 2019. His numbers are much better this time around, with a .285/.418/.424 line in 213 plate appearances. He’s seen a noticeable jump in his power production and his walk rate, while cutting down on strikeouts. That’s especially notable since the Phillies’ A-ball affiliate transferred to a more pitcher friendly atmosphere in Florida. Gutierrez was rated 27th by BA. UPDATE 6:05 PM: Ken Rosenthal reports that the deal is being held up due to an issue with one of the players coming back to Pittsburgh. The Pirates’ trade of Tyler Anderson to the Phillies has been held up because of an issue (presumably medical) with one of the two players going back to Pittsburgh, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. Unclear where talks stand, whether player will be replaced. — Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 27, 2021 UPDATE 11:59 PM: Jeff Passan and Ken Rosenthal are both reporting that Anderson has been dealt to Seattle, pending physicals. We’ll have details in a new post....
Pirates Activate Rodolfo Castro and Cody Ponce for Tonight’s Game
July 27, 2021
The Pittsburgh Pirates announced that infielder Rodolfo Castro and right-handed pitcher Cody Ponce have both been added to the 26-man roster prior to Monday night’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers. The Pirates traded Clay Holmes and Adam Frazier in the last two days, opening up two roster spots. Castro was with the Pirates on their taxi squad over the weekend, so he hasn’t played since early last week in Altoona. He was sent down to the minors on July 17th and the Pirates were on the All-Star break prior to that, so he has barely played in the last 16 days. Castro went just 3-for-14 in seven games with the Pirates earlier this year in two stints, but all three hits were homers. Ponce has been up with the Pirates twice this year, making two starts and one relief appearance. He has pitched just 9.2 innings, allowing 12 runs. He also has a 5.29 ERA in 49.1 innings with Indianapolis. In the minors, Altoona announced a bunch of moves, so I added them here: Castro to majors. Chase Murray sent to Greensboro. Canaan Smith-Njigba placed on injured list with a right leg issue. Jack Suwinski and Diego Castillo have been added to the active roster. Both were acquired in trades over the last two days. Bradenton announced that pitcher Domingo Gonzalez was promoted to Greensboro....
Prospect Watch: Check Those Lineups for Newcomers!
July 27, 2021
Pirates Prospects / Prospect Watch
Your daily Pittsburgh Pirates Prospect Watch article for recaps of all of today’s games. Be sure to pick up your copy of the latest Prospect Guide in our store, available as an ebook or a limited edition paperback. Probably too soon to see any new guys yet, but we’ll see. The Indianapolis rotation is probably in a bit of chaos right now. INDIANAPOLIS (8:05pm) Season preview Boxscore Starting Pitcher: Steven Wright 0 IP, 3 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 0 K Notable Performances: Hoy Park 0-3, BB Anthony Alford 0-4 Game Recap: Steven Wright hadn’t been doing much to pitch his way back to the majors before tonight, but he had his worst showing yet. He faced five batters and they all reached base. Three scored while he was in and Joe Jacques let the other two score. Jacques gave up three more in the first and five in the second, putting Indianapolis (34-37) down, 13-0. The bullpen quieted things down, as Matt Eckelman threw three and a third scoreless innings, and Blake Weiman and Shea Spitzbarth one each. Catcher Taylor Davis gave up three in the eighth. The Indians managed only a solo home run by Hunter Owen in the eighth, his tenth longball of the year, so the final was 16-1, St. Paul. Despite the opposing starter, Chandler Shepherd, coming in with a 6.38 ERA, Indy managed only three hits total, the other two being a double by T.J. Rivera and a single by Bligh Madris. Hoy Park went 0-3 in his Pirate debut. ALTOONA (6:30pm) Season Preview Boxscore Starting Pitcher: Trey McGough 6 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K Notable Performances: Ji-Hwan Bae 1-4, 2B Brendt Citta 1-4 Mason Martin 0-4 Cal Mitchell 2-3, HBP, SB Jonah Davis 1-2, BB Game Recap: Altoona (39-31) can’t seem to get much of its lineup on the field at one time, but the Curve still beat hapless Harrisburg, 4-3. Canaan Smith-Njigba appears to be the latest casualty, although he’s not on the injured list so hopefully it’s minor. Altoona got three in the third on Josh Bissonette’s first pro home run to go ahead, 3-2. The Senators tied the game in the top of the fourth, but Jonah Davis drove in the game’s final run in the bottom half with a single (really). Trey McGough gave up three runs over six innings. Cam Alldred, Brad Case and Cristofer Melendez each threw a scoreless inning to hold the lead. Cal Mitchell had two hits. GREENSBORO (6:30pm) Season Preview Boxscore Starting Pitcher: Grant Ford (5-1, 4.95, 43.2 IP, 53 K) Notable Performances: Matt Fraizer 1-4 Nick Gonzales 1-4 Jared Triolo 1-4, HR (9) Blake Sabol 0-4 Liover Peguero 1-4 Aaron Shackelford 0-3, HBP Lolo Sanchez 1-3, HR (11) Game Recap: Greensboro (45-28) mashed four home runs in an 8-0 blanking of Winston-Salem. Grant Ford and Colin Selby combined to strike out 13 without walking a batter. Ford gave up three singles and fanned nine in six innings. He has an ERA of 1.59 in his last four outings. Selby gave up just one hit. Jared Triolo led the offense with a grand slam, his ninth home run of the year. Despite posting just a .639 OPS in May, Triolo stands at 292/349/458 on the year, with 17 steals in 20 tries. Matt Gorski and Lolo Sanchez each hit home run #11. Grant Koch hit his seventh, six of which have come at home. Nobody had more than one hit. BRADENTON (6:05pm) Season Preview Boxscore Starting Pitcher: Nick Garcia 2.1 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 3 K Notable Performances: Maikol Escotto 2-5, HR (6) Hudson Head 2-5, 2B Dariel Lopez 3-4, BB Endy Rodriguez 2-4, BB Jack Herman 1-5, HR (3) Alexander Mojica 2-4, BB Eli Wilson 0-5 Game Recap: Bradenton (43-29) lost to Dunedin, 11-6. Nick Garcia had been pitching well recently, but lasted until only one out in the third in this one. The start of the mess wasn’t his fault, as two errors within the first three batters of the game put a run on the board. After that, Garcia created his own problems, walking three and throwing two wild pitches over the rest of the first inning, although only one more run scored. He went on to give up three more in the second and two in the third. The Marauders eventually came back to within two in the bottom of the eighth, helped by two and two-thirds scoreless innings by Alex Roth. Ryan Troutman, though, gave up four in the top of the ninth. The Marauders had 15 hits, including Maikol Escotto’s sixth home run of the year and third in his last five games. Jack Herman also homered, his third at this level, in the ninth. Before that, though, he went 0-4 with three strikeouts and seven runners stranded. Dariel Lopez had three hits and two RBIs. Escotto, Hudson Head, Endy Rodriguez, Alexander Mojica and Ernny Ordonez each had two. FCL PIRATES BLACK Season Preview Boxscore Starting Pitcher: Po-Yu Chen 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K Notable Performances: Juan Jerez 2-3, 2B, 3B, 2 BB Christopher Cruz 0.2 IP, 1 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 0 K Christian Charle 1.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K Game Recap: The Black team lost, 9-4, to an Orioles Orange team that came into the game with a record of 1-18. The Pirates used eight pitchers, starting with Po-Yu Chen, who continued to dominate with two scoreless innings and four strikeouts. Christopher Cruz had a rough time, getting only two outs, walking four and giving up three runs. Christian Charle got the last out of Cruz’ inning and threw one more, fanning four. The offense also struggled, getting only three hits to go with nine walks. Juan Jerez had two of the hits, a double and a triple, and drove in two runs. Jerez, one of the very few Pirate hitters doing anything at all in the FCL, is now batting 300/440/517. Jhan Polanco had the other hit and drove in the other run. FCL PIRATES GOLD Season Preview Boxscore Starting Pitcher: Andy Maldonado 3.1 IP, 3 IP, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 K Notable Performances: Jasiah Dixon 1-5 Tsung-Che Cheng 2-3, 2B, HBP Sergio Campana 2-4, 3B Rodolfo Nolasco 1-3, HR (2), BB Eliazer Montero 2-3, 2B, HR (1), BB, SB Listher Sosa 2.2 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K Game Recap: The Gold team (13-5) got some longballs to beat the Rays, 12-5. Claudio Finol, an experienced player who’s a ringer at this level, hit his first of the year to tie the game in the second. Rodolfo Nolasco hit a three-run shot, his second homer of the year, in the fourth to break the tie. Eliazer Montero led off the fifth with his first pro homer as the Pirates went on to score four in the inning, including an RBI triple by Sergio Campana off . . . wait for it . . . Stetson Allie. The Bucs finished with four more in the seventh. Andy Maldonado had a solid start, giving up one earned run in three and a third innings, although he walked three. Listher Sosa gave up three runs in two and two-thirds, but got the win. Tsung-Che Cheng reached base three times and scored three times. Campana, Montero and Finol each had two hits. DSL PIRATES BLACK Boxscore Starting Pitcher: Yoldin De La Paz 4 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K Notable Performances: Shalin Polanco 1-3 Jesus Castillo 0-3 Enmanuel Terrero 1-3, 2B Ewry Espinal 0-2, BB Game Recap: The Black Team (5-7) got blanked by the Rangers1, 2-0. The Pirates had only four hits. Ruben Vizcaya had two of them. Enmanuel Terrero had a double and Shalin Polanco had just his second hit of the season. Yoldin De La Paz had a nice start, allowing just two hits and walking nobody over four innings. He was charged with the two runs, one unearned. Eliecer Romero and Jonathan Salazar combined for three scoreless innings. DSL PIRATES GOLD Boxscore Starting Pitcher: Luigi Hernandez 3 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 1 K Notable Performances: Jeral Toledo 2-3, BB Miguel Sosa 2-3, 2B, BB Eudys Carrasco 2-3, HBP Luis Faringthon 2 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 4 K Game Recap: The Gold team (4-8) beat the Yankees2, 10-7. The Pirates had nine hits, eight of them singles, and seven walks. Eudys Carrasco and 17-year-old catcher Miguel Sosa did much of the damage. Sosa had a single, a double and a walk, and scored three times. Carrasco had two singles and a hit batsman, and scored and drove in two runs. Jeral Toledo had two hits and a walk, and Wesley Zapata walked three times. The pitching was pretty shaky. Starter Luigi Hernandez gave up three runs over three innings. Luis Faringthon fanned four in two innings, but allowed four runs. Keneth Quintanilla finished with two scoreless innings....
Top Ten Hitters and Pitchers for Week 12 of the Minor League Season
July 27, 2021
Analysis / Prospect Analysis
With the full-season minor league teams having every Monday off this year, we get to do weekly recaps based on the action from Tuesday to Sunday each week. Below you’ll find a list of the top hitters and pitchers for the Pittsburgh Pirates over the last week. The batters are sorted by OPS and they each had at least 20 plate appearances last week. The pitchers are sorted by ERA and they pitched at least four innings. Top Hitters Blake Sabol, Greensboro – He hit .526/.625/1.158 in 24 plate appearances, with three doubles, three homers and five walks. The Pirates tried adding versatility with him by putting catching on his resume, but he didn’t play there at all this past week. He has a 1.127 OPS in 27 games this year split between Greensboro and Bradenton. Jared Triolo, Greensboro – He hit .440/.483/.760 in 29 plate appearances this past week, with two doubles and two homers. He didn’t start the year off great, but he’s up to a .293/.350/.450 slash line in 65 games. Matt Fraizer, Greensboro – Fraizer returns in the third spot after a down week last week. He’s been hot all season, and this past week he hit .346/.452/.692 in 31 PAs. In 68 games this year, he’s hitting .315/.399/.580, with 12 steals and 18 homers. Maikol Escotto, Bradenton – He started off the year red hot then really cooled down. He returns here after a .318/.464/.591 slash line in 28 PAs, with two homers and five walks. In 52 games this year, he has an .807 OPS. The league OPS is .714 this year. Anthony Alford, Indianapolis – The only repeat on the hitting side from last week’s article when he finished seventh. He hit .286/.348/.667 in 23 plate appearances this past week, with two doubles and two homers. After putting up a .325 OPS with the Pirates, he has a .969 OPS in 47 games in Triple-A. Christian Bethancourt, Indianapolis – He hit .348/.400/.565 in 25 PAs, with two doubles and a homer. The veteran backstop has a .770 OPS in 57 games this year, seeing most of his time at 1B/DH. Mason Martin, Altoona – Martin returns after a rare slow week. This past week saw him hit .261/.346/.609 in 26 PAs, with two doubles and two homers. He has 19 homers on the year and a .944 OPS that ranks fourth among hitters in the league with significant playing time. The downside is that he ranks second in the league with 90 strikeouts and he has a higher K rate than the strikeout leader. Endy Rodriguez, Bradenton – He hit .333/.435/.500 in 23 PAs last week. He has been consistently solid all year, leading to an .812 OPS in 62 games. Catchers tend to wear down in this league later in the summer due to the heat/humidity, but so far so good. Hunter Owen, Indianapolis – He hit .250/.286/.600 in 21 PAs last week, with a double and two homers, though it came with ten strikeouts. He has a .695 OPS in 55 games, with 76 strikeouts in 196 PAs. Fabricio Macias, Indianapolis – He has handled the jump over Double-A well, hitting .306/.358/.408 in 14 games at Triple-A. He had an .861 OPS with Greensboro before the promotion. Macias hit .353/.450/.412 in 20 PAs this past week. Top Pitchers JC Flowers, Greensboro – Flowers (pictured above) was included in this article consistently for more than a month, but he missed out in each of the last two weeks. He returns in the top spot with six shutout innings on four hits, two walks and four strikeouts. He has a 2.78 ERA this year in 55 innings split between Bradenton/Greensboro, with 57 strikeouts and a 1.02 WHIP. Domingo Gonzalez, Bradenton – One of just two repeats on the pitching side from last week. He pitched six innings with one unearned run on three hits, a walk and six strikeouts. He has a 3.72 ERA in 48.1 innings, with 69 strikeouts. Adrian Florencio, Bradenton – In his start this past week, he threw five shutout innings on four hits, two walks and three strikeouts. He has a 2.51 ERA in 57.1 innings, with 66 strikeouts and a 1.06 WHIP. Garrett Leonard, Greensboro – He gave up four hits and three walks over 4.2 innings in two relief outings this week, but he kept the opposition off of the board. He has a 4.93 ERA in 38.1 innings this season, with 36 strikeouts and 31 walks. Steven Brault, Indianapolis – Brault’s second rehab outing in Indianapolis went amazingly well. He was perfect for four innings, striking out six batters. Cam Vieaux, Altoona – He was on last week’s list for allowing two runs over ten innings in two starts. This week he allowed one run over six innings on three hits, a walk and four strikeouts. He has a 3.68 ERA, 44 strikeouts and a 1.16 WHIP in 44 innings with Altoona. Quinn Priester, Greensboro – In six innings during this past week’s start, he allowed two runs (one earned) on two hits, three walks and four strikeouts. In 12 starts this season, he has a 3.27 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP in 55 innings, with 49 strikeouts. Beau Sulser, Indianapolis – Sulser has been starting full-time this season but his outing this week was in relief of Brault. He went five innings, allowing one run on six hits, three walks and five strikeouts. He has a 3.29 ERA in 65.2 innings, with 64 strikeouts and a 1.48 WHIP. Jared Jones, Bradenton – His Sunday start surely didn’t begin like a top ten week. He gave up three runs in the first inning. Just one was earned, but he walked one batter and hit two others, while also allowing a hit. He finished with just one earned run over five innings, shutting down the opposition for the next four frames. He has 55 strikeouts this year in 35 innings. Logan Hofmann, Bradenton – We had to go to 12 spots this week because the last three guys all allowed one run over four innings. For Hofmann it was a starting assignment, and he gave up just two hits. He has a 2.72 ERA, a 1.01 WHIP and 61 strikeouts in 46.1 innings this season. John O’Reilly, Altoona – He pitched twice in relief, allowing one run on six hits, no walks and three strikeouts. O’Reilly has a 5.51 ERA in 32.2 innings, but he had a solid two-month stretch between his outings on May 6th (season debut) and July 6th in which he had a 3.22 ERA in 22.1 innings, so he could be getting back on track. Jeffrey Passantino, Altoona – He pitched four innings in relief on Sunday and allowed one run on three hits and a walk, with four strikeouts. He has a 3.29 ERA, 45 strikeouts and a 1.02 WHIP in 41 innings this season....
Card of the Day: 2002 Fleer Tradition Brian Giles
July 28, 2021
Card of the Day
Today’s Pittsburgh Pirates Card of the Day is the first one to feature Brian Giles. He probably should have been here sooner. We have been doing this long enough that not only did his birthday pass once, the dates that the Pirates acquired and traded for him have also passed. Today’s inclusion coincides with today’s history though. On this date in 2001, the Pirates were down by six runs with two outs in the ninth and his grand slam gave them a 9-8 victory in front of 33,000 fans at PNC Park over the Houston Astros. I can guarantee that Giles will show up in this series again before 18 months pass. He has a lot of cards to choose from showing him on the Pirates, and his run with the team makes him one of the best sluggers in franchise history. We start off his Card of the Day time with the 2002 Fleer Tradition set, so here’s card #75, Pirates All-Star outfielder Brian Giles. Here’s the front of the card: This clearly isn’t the most flattering pose for him. It appears that he is striking out. Maybe he fouled a ball off though, so we will give him the benefit of the doubt. This card is based off of the design of the 1934 Goudey set. It’s not exactly like that set. On the original cards, the bottom had a picture of Lou Gehrig, with the words “Lou Gehrig says…” and there was a scouting report on the back that was supposed to look like it came from Gehrig himself. There were also cards with one-time Pirates outfielder Chuck Klein, with “Chuck Klein says…”, but those cards are harder to find and they came with a red band across the bottom. In place of the Lou Gehrig stuff, Fleer put the team logo, team name, jersey number and position. The also added a nice touch of an American flag, especially nice considering that these cards were being printed in late 2001. The background of a baseball scene and grass(?) with weird lines is direct from the Goudey set, and there were different scenes throughout the set. The Goudey cards also had the player’s name up top, similar to what you see here. Here’s the back of the card: I bought these cards new, which was 19 years ago now. I don’t remember if I noticed it back then, but I wasn’t seeing the front and back of cards at the same time back then when they were in my hand. I noticed here that the shadow of the player in the middle is the same pose as the front. It wasn’t a coincidence here. All of the cards had that same shadow pose as the front. As I mentioned, the front here is a tribute to the 1934 Goudey set, but the back is all original. There’s really no similarity between the two sets. It would have been a nice touch, but I guess without the photo of a player on the front teasing at a scouting report, then you don’t really need a scouting report on the back, though that large blank space is wasted here. If you’re interested in this card, you’ll pay a little more than a common card in the set. Fleer short-printed the first 100 cards in the set and they are about twice as hard to find than the other 400 cards in the set. That adds value to the first 100 cards, but it’s not a large increase. What I suggest here is paying $2-$3 extra (instead of paying $4-$6) and get the Pirates team set. There are two other Giles cards in the set, there are other short-printed cards, and you get 20 cards total, including a Derek Bell card! Just a warning though, the Bell card might leave at some point, but you’ll still have 19 cards left....
This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: July 28th, Big Trade and a Big Comeback
July 28, 2021
This Date in Pittsburgh Baseball History
Three former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus two trades and a game of note. The Trades On this date in 1939, the Pirates traded first baseman Gus Suhr to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for pitcher Max Butcher. Suhr played ten years for Pittsburgh and ranks near the top of the team’s all-time first basemen list. He played 1,365 games for the Pirates, hitting .278 with 789 RBIs. By the time this trade happened though, he was nearing the end of his career at 33 years old. The Phillies got just 70 games out of him before releasing him during the 1940 season. He ended up playing over 600 more minor league games after being released, but never played in the majors again. Butcher was a 28-year-old righty with a 2-13 record at the time of the deal. He had a career record at that point of 28-46 in four seasons. After the deal, the move to Pittsburgh helped Butcher, who finished up 67-60, 3.34 in 202 games over seven seasons with the Pirates. He won a career high 17 games in 1941, but he had a lower ERA in three of his final four seasons in the majors. On this date in 2000, the Pirates sent left fielder Wil Cordero to the Cleveland Indians in exchange for infielder Enrique Wilson and outfielder Alex Ramirez. Cordero was with Cleveland in 1999, hitting .299 in 54 games. The Pirates signed him as a free agent in December of 1999. The 28-year-old had been in the majors since 1992, and in 1994 he was an All-Star shortstop for the Montreal Expos. With the Pirates, he hit .282 with 16 homers and 51 RBIs in 89 games. After the trade, he played 38 games for Cleveland in 2000 without hitting a homer. Cordero bounced around the majors after that season, playing until 2005, when he hit just .118 for the Washington Nationals. Wilson had just turned 27 years old, and he was in his fourth season with Cleveland, hitting .287 in a total of 190 games. A top ranked prospect in their system, he played third base, second base and shortstop. He played 86 games for the Pirates over the 2000-01 seasons, hitting .223, before being dealt to the Yankees for Damaso Marte. Ramirez was a 25-year-old, who had hit well in parts of three seasons with Cleveland, batting .286 with eight homers and 30 RBIs in 92 games. With Pittsburgh he had some trouble at the plate, hitting .209 in 43 games with a 7/32 BB:SO ratio. After the season, he was sold to Japan, where he played until 2013 and hit 380 homers. In his 21 total seasons of pro ball, he hit 508 homers. The deal worked out best for the Pirates, but the three players involved in the deal all had troubles with their new team. The trade win came from the acquisition of Marte, who pitched well for the Pirates, then was used in a trade piece with the New York Yankees, which brought back four players. The Players Carmelo Martinez, first baseman for the 1990-91 Pirates. He signed with the Chicago Cubs at 18 years old in 1978 as an amateur free agent out of Puerto Rico. He debuted in the Gulf Coast League in 1979, where he hit .203 with one homer in 40 games. He moved up to full-season ball the next year and hit .257 with 23 doubles and 12 homers in 128 games. He was up in Double-A in 1981, playing for Midland of the Texas League, where he hit .296 with 21 homers and 84 RBIs. He repeated the level in 1982 and did even better, hitting .334 with 35 doubles, 27 homers, 85 walks, 100 runs scored and 93 RBIs. In 1983 he played 123 games in Triple-A, batting .251 with 31 homers and 94 RBIs. He came up to the majors in late August and hit .258 with six homers in 29 games. That December he was part of a six-player, three-team trade, going to the San Diego Padres in the deal. In his first full season in the majors, Martinez helped the Padres get to the World Series by hitting .250 with 28 doubles, 13 homers and 66 RBIs. He managed to hit .176 (3-for-17) in both the NLCS and the Fall Classic, with a .399 OPS in the five-game series with the Detroit Tigers. The next year he hit 21 homers, drove in 72 runs and walked 87 times, with a league leading 14 assists from left field, in what was his best season in the majors. In 1986, Martinez struggled at the plate, hitting .238 in 113 games, with nine homers and 25 RBIs. He rebounded the next year, batting .273 with 70 walks, 15 homers and 70 RBIs. His average dropped to .236 in 1988, and his walk rate dropped as well, though he managed to hit 18 homers and drive in 65 runs in 121 games. His playing time went down more in 1989, as he hit .221, with a .651 OPS. After the season, he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies as a free agent and rebounded in a part-time role. In 71 games with the Phillies, he batted .242 with eight homers and a .743 OPS. The Pirates acquired him from Philadelphia on August 30, 1990 to help with their first pennant run in 11 years. Martinez hit .211 with two homers in 12 games for Pittsburgh, getting three starts. He started twice in the NLCS against the Cincinnati Reds and went 2-for-8 with two doubles and two RBIs. He began the 1991 season with the Pirates, but was dealt to the Kansas City Royals in early May for pitcher Victor Cole. He would be traded to the Reds later in the season and he finished the year between all three stops with a .234 average and six homers in 64 games. That 1991 season ended up being his last year in the majors, ending his nine-year career with a .245 average, 108 homers and 424 RBIs in 1,003 games. Martinez spent the 1992 season in Japan, then played all of 1993 in Triple-A for the Seattle Mariners, before playing in Mexico for the 1994-95 seasons. He also spent a short time with the Cleveland Indians in Triple-A in 1995. He is the cousin of Hall of Famer Edgar Martinez. Duke Esper, lefty pitcher for the 1890 Pittsburgh Alleghenys and the 1892 Pirates. He had two stints with Pittsburgh, playing for two drastically different teams just two years apart and his results were the exact opposite. As a rookie in 1890, Esper began the year with the Philadelphia Athletics of the American Association, where he went 8-9, 4.89 in 18 games. After being released in August, he signed with the Alleghenys and made two starts, both one-sided losses. He ended up with the Pirates under some off circumstances. The day before his debut with Pittsburgh, he went through a tryout with the Philadelphia Phillies and their Hall of Fame manager George Wright. It was said that if he looked good he would pitch the next day for the Phillies. However, he ended up pitching against the Phillies the next day for the Alleghenys. His debut on August 23rd was said to be a strong pitching performance with poor defense behind him in a 7-0 loss, where the paper claimed that none of the runs were earned. Pittsburgh went 23-113 that season and they tried out a ton of players just to get through the season, but Esper had one of the shortest stints with the club. He wasn’t even officially signed by the team when he pitched his first game, though he signed his deal two days later. His second and final start came on August 28th in a 9-1 loss to the New York Giants. Esper was released eight days later so that he could sign with the Philadelphia Phillies to finish the season, which turned out to be a bad decision by the Alleghenys. In five starts with the Phillies, he went 5-0, 3.07 in 41 innings and remained with the team through the first half of the 1892 season. In 1891, Esper went 20-15, 3.56 in 296 innings. He had an 11-6 record through early August of 1892, when he rejoined the Pirates. The Phillies released him in late July and it was said at the time that he was out of game shape due to spending a lot of time with his ill wife at her bedside He was signed on July 28th, but didn’t report to Pittsburgh until a week later. Duke (first name was Charles) made three starts for a much better Pittsburgh team, going 2-0 with one complete game. He debuted on August 8th, but ended up returning home due to his own illness. He joined the Pirates for starts on August 29th and September 6th. During that final game he was very wild and got removed in the third inning, in what ended up being his final start of the season. The next two seasons proved just how much of an effect a bad team can have on a pitcher’s record, and vice-versa for a good team. Esper went 12-28, 4.71 in 334.1 innings in 1893 for the Washington Senators, a last place team in the 12-team National League. Those 28 losses led the league. The next year he was purchased by the first place Baltimore Orioles mid-season, where he went 10-2, 3.92 in 101 innings over 16 games, after going 5-10, 7.45 in 116 innings for Washington. His 1895 season with the Orioles is a hard one to figure out. His ERA was exactly the same as the previous year and the Orioles were again a first place team, but Duke went 10-12 in 25 starts and nine relief appearances. To make matters even stranger, he went 14-5 (with a slightly lower ERA) in 1896, as the Orioles took their third straight National League pennant. Esper pitched two more years in the majors for the 1897-98 St Louis Browns, going 4-11, 5.64 in 126 innings. He finished with a 101-100, 4.39 record in 1,727.1 innings over nine seasons. Bill Day, pitcher for the 1890 Pittsburgh Alleghenys. Right after the Alleghenys gave Duke Esper his last start in 1890, they brought in another pitcher from Philadelphia in the person of Bill Day (they were both born in 1867). Day had a 1-4, 4.01 record in 42.2 innings over parts of two seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies, prior to coming over to the Pirates in a two-for-one exchange for outfielder Billy Sunday on August 22, 1890. That one win he had came on July 15, 1890 in an 8-4 triumph over the Alleghenys. Day joined the Alleghenys eight days after the trade was completed and he got his first start on September 2nd in Brooklyn, which was a 5-4 loss. He almost won his debut, taking a 4-2 lead into the ninth, but a fielding error by right fielder Bill Wilson allowed two runs to score and Day took the tough loss. He ended up making six starts for the Alleghenys over a 32-day stretch and all six resulted in losses, including the 113th loss of the season for Pittsburgh. The last loss of the season was a 10-4 defeat, giving the Alleghenys a Major League record for single season losses that stood for nine seasons and has been topped just five times, even with expanded schedules. For Day, his Major League career was done at that point, although his pro career was far from over, pitching in the minors for another ten seasons before retiring. The Alleghenys reserved him for the 1891 season, and he was still reserved as late as February 15, 1891, but he wasn’t around for Spring Training. On April 30, 1891 it was announced that he signed with Troy of the Eastern Association. Day played all around the northeast until his last season in 1900. His only known playing time prior to joining the 1889 Phillies at 22 years old was a brief stint with Wilmington of the Delaware State League earlier that season. The Game On this date in 2001, the Pirates scored seven runs with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to defeat the Houston Astros by a 9-8 score. Trailing by six with veteran reliever Michael Jackson on the mound, the Pirates had two outs before they had their first base runner. Kevin Young doubled, followed by a Pat Meares homer to make it 8-4. A single and a walk, set up an RBI single by Jack Wilson, made it an 8-5 game and brought on closer Billy Wagner. He hit Jason Kendall to load the bases, which brought up Brian Giles, who put a grand slam into the right field bleachers for the walk-off win. Here’s the boxscore. Here’s the homer....
Card of the Day: 2001 Topps Heritage Enrique Wilson
July 27, 2021
Card of the Day
I usually pick a Card of the Day that has something to do with that same day’s This Date In Pittsburgh Pirates History column. Today’s player is Enrique Wilson, who played for the 2000-01 Pirates. He turns 48 years old today. Whenever I don’t have a specific card in mind, I’ll scroll Ebay to find something that catches my eye. This is the first time for Wilson in this series, so I basically had any card of him on the Pirates to choose from for my subject. Little did I know when I made that choice that after nearly 18 months, this is my first card from any 2001 set. That seems impossible to me. I try to switch things up all of the time here, though I hit the popular sets more often than others. So how did I miss an entire year before today? I have no idea, but I can bet that it won’t be another 18 months before the next one. Anyway, here’s a 2001 Topps Heritage card of the birthday boy, infielder Enrique Wilson. Here’s the front of the card: This card design is based off of the iconic 1952 Topps set, the company’s first full set of cards. Those cards had the same setup as you see here, with white borders and a black box around the photo. At the bottom you see the team logo and the player’s name and a facsimile autograph in a box with stars all around the border. Topps used real photos here, while the original used artwork based off of a real black & white photo, basically a colorized photo. Topps didn’t have a logo on the front of these cards in 1952, but the newer ones used the Heritage logo. Here’s the back of the card: The back there says that he was born in 1975, but his birthday is recognized as 1973 now. That wasn’t a mistake on his card at the time, all of the cards I checked have the later birthday. This back also used the 1952 design, with the same set of stats, including the four fielding categories. The stats sections also similar in that both years only including the last season and career stats. That left room for every player to have a little bio/highlights section above the stats, regardless of how long they played in the majors up to that point. That would change in later years. I guess I never really noticed the layout up top, which is the same on all cards. I originally just read that as “infielder, Pittsburgh Pirates”, but when I was going to talk about his defensive stats I went back up to see which position they listed for him. Wilson played a lot of third base, shortstop and second base in his career. That’s when I didn’t just skim through the bio and noticed it said “infield: Pittsburgh Pirates”. Seems like an odd way to write that, but that’s what they did in 1952. If someone played outfield, that’s also how they wrote it instead of calling them an outfielder. If you’re wondering, pitchers and catchers don’t say pitch and catch. Topps did identify some infielders by specific position, but in the case of Wilson, the word infield makes more sense. One other quick thing to point out and it’s the “eyes and hair” section. That’s from the original set, and something that Topps didn’t do for long, but it’s a cool item to see on the tribute card 49 years later. You’re probably assuming that the section down here will say that you can find this card on Ebay in the $2-$3 range delivered and there are numerous options in that range. You have a lot of nerve jumping to conclusions like that! This card is a short print, or in non-collector terms, they didn’t print as many of these cards as they did for other cards in the set. There aren’t a lot of options for this card and you’ll be paying around $6 delivered. If you want one still after hearing the price, go and get it now, because if someone else reading this article also wants one, you’ll be paying extra money because you waited. Happy collecting, sorry to snap at you for jumping to conclusions....
This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: July 27th, Pirates Acquire Carson Bigbee
July 27, 2021
This Date in Pittsburgh Baseball History
Only three former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, but we have a major transaction from over 100 years ago. The Transaction On this date in 1916, the Pirates purchased the contract of 21-year-old Carson Bigbee from the Tacoma Tigers of the Northwestern League. At the time of the deal, he was batting ,340 through 111 games in his first season of pro ball. Bigbee debuted a month later with the Pirates and hit .250 in 43 games that season. He would go on to spend his entire 11-year career in the majors with the Pirates, six times playing over 120 games in a season. His best season occurred in 1922, which was a subject of one of our Pittsburgh Pirates Seasons articles. He was a .287 hitter in 1,147 games in Pittsburgh, with 182 stolen bases and a 344/161 BB/SO ratio. When he retired, he was sixth on the Pirates all-time list of games played. Bigbee’s brother Lyle pitched for the 1921 Pirates. The Players Enrique Wilson, infielder for the 2000-01 Pirates. He was originally signed by the Minnesota Twins in 1992 as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic. He was thought to be just shy of his 17th birthday at the time, but it was learned later than he was two years old. Wilson made his pro debut in the Gulf Coast League in 1992, hitting .341 in 13 games. The next season he batted .289 with 13 homers and 50 RBIs in 58 games while playing in the Appalachian League. He was traded to the Cleveland Indians just prior to the start of the 1994 seasons. He spent that year in the Low-A South Atlantic League, where he hit .279 with 50 extra-base hits and 21 steals in 133 games. He moved up to High-A the next season and batted .267 with 37 extra-base hits and 18 steals, though that was in 37 attempts. In 1996, Wilson hit .304 in Double-A. His power numbers dropped a bit, down to 27 extra-base hits, but he did a little better in the stolen base department, going 23-for-39 in steals/attempts. He moved up to Triple-A in 1997 and hit .306 in 118 games, with 20 doubles and 11 homers. That led to his first big league trial, where he went 5-for-15 in five late season games. The 1998 season was split between Triple-A and the majors, where he hit .322 in 32 games for the Indians. He split the entire 1999 season in the majors, seeing decent playing time at shortstop, third base and second base. Wilson hit .262 in 113 games, with a .663 OPS. He was hitting .325 in 40 games in 2000 prior to being traded to the Pirates in exchange for veteran infielder Wil Cordero on July 28th. With Cleveland, Wilson played 190 games, hitting .287 with 49 RBIs and 72 runs scored. For Pittsburgh, Wilson played 40 games in 2000, seeing time at all three infield spots. He hit .262 with 15 RBIs and a .723 OPS. In 2001, he was seeing most of his time at shortstop and struggling with the bat, hitting just .186 with eight RBIs through 46 games. On June 13, 2001, the Pirates traded Wilson to the New York Yankees in exchange for pitcher Damaso Marte. After the deal, Wilson batted .242 with one homer in 48 games. In 2002, he was a seldom-used bench player, hitting .181 with two homers in 60 games (20 starts). He saw a little more starting time in 2003, hitting .230 with three homers in 63 games. In 2004 he saw more time at second base and ended up hitting .213 with six homers in 93 games. Wilson left the Yankees via free agency after the 2004 season. He signed a deal with the Baltimore Orioles, but never played for them in the majors and he was released in May of 2005. He then finished his big league career with the 2005 Chicago Cubs, hitting .136 in 15 games. He played one last season in the minors in 2006 after signing with the Boston Red Sox. Wilson played winter ball for three seasons in the Dominican after retiring. He was highly rated coming through the minors, three times making Baseball America’s top 100 list, but his career didn’t quite pan out. Wilson was a .244 hitter over 555 Major League games. He played in five postseasons, two with Cleveland, three with Yankees, coming up short of a World Series ring each time. Irish McIlveen, pitcher for the 1906 Pirates. The Pirates signed the left-handed throwing, native of Ireland, directly out of Penn St, where he was a star athlete. At the time of his signing on July 2, 1906, it was said that he had a verbal agreement in place since the summer of 1905 with Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss that if he decided to play pro ball, he would sign with the Pirates. There was actually word in late May of 1906 that he signed with the Pirates and would begin after the school season ended on June 14th, but it wasn’t officially announced until July 2nd. He had brief experience in pro ball in 1904, playing for Williamsport of the Tri-State League, otherwise he was fresh off of campus, where he was considered both a top class pitcher and hitter. It was also said at the time that he still had a year left at Penn State, where he was studying mining engineering. After joining Pittsburgh, he played five games over a three-week stretch, two as a pitcher and three off the bench. Six days after his Major League debut on July 4th, he made his only start, losing to the Brooklyn Dodgers by a 7-6 score. Ten days after his final big league game on July 25th, he was in the lineup for Washington of the Pennsylvania-Ohio-Maryland League, where he was said to be the league’s leading hitting by late August. Irish, whose real name was Henry, and who also went by the name “Lefty” in college, returned to school to coach during the 1907 and 1908 seasons. He also played some pro ball during those two seasons. The first year he played 58 games for a minor league team from Steubenville and the next year he split his time between Newark of the Eastern League and the New York Highlanders (Yankees) in the majors. McIlveen played 48 games for the Highlanders between the 1908-09 seasons, seeing time at all three outfield spots, but he never pitched in New York. He played his last Major League game on May 6, 1909 and never played in the minors after that point either. There have been 49 Major League players who were born in Ireland. Only five began their career after McIlveen, one of them being Paddy O’Connor, the backup catcher for the first Pirates team (1909) to win the World Series. Henry Jones, pitcher for the 1890 Alleghenys. When the Player’s League formed for the 1890 season, the Pittsburgh Alleghenys lost a large number of players to the new league. Just four players stayed from the 1889 season and only one pitcher. That opened up room for plenty of new players and Jones filled one of those spots. The Alleghenys carried a large roster for the times on Opening Day, with 20 men in uniform that day. Jones was one of six pitchers they had to start the season, seven if you include manager Guy Hecker, who wasn’t slated to pitch when the season began, but he was once a great pitcher and ended up making 12 starts before the season ended. Jones was introduced to the locals in a March newspaper article that said that he was well-known in the area because he was born and played in McKeesport, PA. There aren’t many stats from his minor league days available, but he reported started in 1884 at 23 years old for a team in McKeesport, where he also played the following season. After that he pitched for Duluth of the Northwestern League in 1886, he was in Rochester in 1887, Frederick, Maryland in 1888 and Granville, Michigan in 1889. Not all of that was minor league ball. The newspaper also said that he pitched for the Pittsburgh American Association team in 1886, but there’s no record of that time. Jones got noticed by the Alleghenys on October 18, 1889 when he allowed just one earned run over nine innings in an exhibition game between Pittsburgh and McKeesport. He signed with the Alleghenys four weeks later when they began to lose players for the 1890 season. Jones debuted in relief during the third game of the 1890 season and gave up four runs over six innings. He won his first start on May 2nd, though he is incorrectly credited with making his first start on May 1st, which was actually the pro debut of Kirtley Baker, who didn’t get credit for his first game. Jones didn’t go with the team on a road trip to the east. There current records show that they played 24 straight games on the road, but that only happened because of a rain out at home on May 14th. When the team left to head east, Jones stayed back with two other pitchers to help save on travel costs. There was word that he would be released at that point, but instead he joined the team on the road trip just eight days later when they needed reinforcements. Jones started on May 26th, only to see the game called due to rain one out before it became an official game, though he would have lost if the Alleghenys didn’t score before that final out and he was the batter at the time. Two days later he lost the second game of a doubleheader to the Philadelphia Phillies, which was limited to six innings so the Alleghenys could catch their train. Jones was back in the box three days later in a match-up with Hall of Fame pitcher John Clarkson. The Alleghenys won 9-8, but Jones was knocked out in the second inning after allowing three runs. On an off-day on June 1st, the Alleghenys released Jones and two other players (one returned days later), which ended his big league career. He is credited with a 3.48 ERA in 31 innings now, but that includes the one start that he didn’t make on May 1st, which was a 4-3 loss. After being released, he signed on to play with McKeesport for the rest of the season, then followed his McKeesport manager to Erie of the New York-Penn League in 1891, before finishing his pro career in the Pennsylvania State League in 1892 with a team that split the season between Wilkes-Barre and Pittsburgh....
Card of the Day: 1993 Leaf Triple Play Mascots
July 26, 2021
Card of the Day
I’m not even sure how I came across the scan of this card while searching for something else, but once I found it I knew that I had to feature it as soon as possible. This is the first card that I’ve included here that doesn’t have a Pittsburgh Pirates player on it. However, it still qualifies as a Pittsburgh Pirates card. I’m going to keep the set up short and get right into the scan of today’s Card of the Day, which comes from the 1993 Donruss Leaf Triple Play set. This is card #164 in the set, titled Mascots. Here’s the front of the card: Yesterday’s Card of the Day choice was one that featured Doug Drabek and I referred to it as “silly” multiple times. So I can’t use that word again today, so maybe “goofy” is a better choice here? This is obviously the Pirates Parrot, circa 1992. However, this is not a card specifically for the Pirates Parrot, he just ended up on the front, making it eligible for our Card of the Day series. This picture is ridiculous, but it also shows how much the Parrot has changed since then. He looks like he’s in the middle of dancing to an exercise video and realizes he’s on camera, just as the photo was taken. This was a decent looking set design, but it looks better with the actual players on the card and not the Aerobics Parrot. Here’s the back of card: As you can see by the back, this card isn’t just for the Pirates Parrot. They don’t mention it on the card here, but that photo shows Cincinnati Reds dog mascot Schottie and I believe the player is Bip Roberts, who was a draft pick of the Pirates, so you could technically say that there is a Pirates player on the card, even though all of his time with the team happened in the minors. The back of this card actually tells you what a mascot is and what they do for the team. They range from a furry-suited creature to a real animal. I’d love to know what is in between those two end points. Back in the day, mascots were usually little kids dressed up like a player. We have covered the N172 Old Judge set from 1886-90 in this feature multiple times. Two of the cards in that set shows team mascots with star players and they are very valuable cards. Two other cards shows just the mascots and both are valuable, though one is a bit more difficult to find. Anyway, they didn’t run out of card ideas before they came up with this gem. This Triple Play set was meant for younger kids learning the game, so the mascot description you see is meant to inform a young kid. As you probably know, card collectors come in all ages, so these cards mostly fell into the hands of older kids and adults. Not much to say here in the price guide section. There are currently 11 examples of this card for sale on Ebay and at least three of them can be had for about $2 delivered. Maybe you want a 28-year-old card of the Pirates Parrot, who knows. Whatever you decide, happy collecting!...
This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: July 26th, Six-Player Trade with the Yankees
July 26, 2021
This Date in Pittsburgh Baseball History
Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including a pair of teammates from the 1949 team. We also have a recent trade of note. The Trade On this date in 2008, the Pirates acquired outfielder Jose Tabata and pitchers Jeff Karstens, Daniel McCutchen and Ross Ohlendorf from the New York Yankees in exchange for relief pitcher Damaso Marte and outfielder Xavier Nady. The Pirates were giving up the two veterans in the deal, taking on four young players with minimal experience. Marte was a free agent at the end of the 2008 season and he did not pitch well after the deal, or in his final two seasons after re-signing with the Yankees. Nady saw his 2008 numbers drop after the deal, but he still did well in New York. However, he missed nearly the entire 2009 season with injury. With the performance of those two players, it wouldn’t take much for the Pirates to win this deal. Jose Tabata had the biggest upside of this group, and while he never truly reached it, he stuck around for six seasons and finished with a 1.9 WAR. Ohlendorf made 64 starts with the Pirates and had a very quick peak in the middle, before falling off quickly. He had a 2.3 WAR with the Pirates. Karstens was similar to Ohlendorf, though he took a different route. He also had a brief peak at the end of his five years with the Pirates, which followed mediocre results. He had 3.9 WAR in Pittsburgh. McCutchen was the fourth wheel, who saw parts/all of four seasons with the Pirates before moving on to Baltimore. He had 0.4 WAR. This deal in 2011 appeared as if it had a chance to be a huge steal, but all four pieces fell off quickly around the same time. The Pirates won the deal, but that wasn’t saying much because the bar was set low. The Players Joaquin Benoit, pitcher for the 2017 Pirates. He signed as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic with the Texas Rangers shortly before his 19th birthday in 1996. Benoit debuted in the Dominican Summer League that year, then moved to the U.S. in 1997, where he had a 2.05 ERA in 44 innings as a starter in the Gulf Coast League. He was up in full-season ball in 1998, pitching the entire year for Low-A Savannah of the South Atlantic League, where he had a 3.83 ERA in 15 starts. From there it was to Port Charlotte of the High-A Florida State League in 1999. He went 7-4, 5.31 in 105 innings over 22 starts in the pitcher-friendly league. Despite those poor results, the Rangers still pushed him to Double-A for the 2000 season and he responded with a 3.83 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP in 85.1 innings. The 2001 season saw him debut in the majors briefly, while making 28 starts in the minors, with 24 coming at Triple-A, where he 9-5, 4.59 in 131 innings. He debuted in the majors on August 8th and allowed six runs over five innings. It ended up being his only big league game that season. He spent half of 2002 in the majors, making 13 starts and four relief appearances, going 4-5, 5.31 in 84.2 innings. Benoit put in a little more big league time each of the next two years, but neither were full seasons in the majors. He went 8-5, 5.49 in 105 innings in 2003, with 17 starts and eight relief appearances. That was followed by a 3-5, 5.68 record in 103 innings over 15 starts and 13 relief appearances in 2004. Benoit moved to a relief role in 2005 and it was permanent after that season. He went 4-4, 3.72 in 88 innings in 2005, with nine starts and 23 relief appearances. He didn’t make a single start during his final 11 seasons. In 2006 in 56 games, he had a 4.86 ERA in 79.2 innings. He had a solid 2007 season, going 7-4, 2.85 with six saves in 82 innings over 70 outings. In 2008, Benoit dropped down to a 5.00 ERA in 45 innings and 44 appearances. He missed the 2009 season due to shoulder surgery and came back in 2010 with the Tampa Bay Rays. At 32 years old and on a minor league deal, he ended up having his best season. Benoit had a 1.34 ERA in 60.1 innings over 63 games with the Rays. He signed a free agent deal with the Detroit Tigers for the next three seasons. He had a 2.95 ERA in 66 innings over 61 appearances in 2011, then posted a 3.68 ERA in 71 innings over 73 games in 2012. He moved to the closer role in 2013, picking up 24 saves. He went 4-1, 2.01 in 67 innings that year. Benoit signed with the San Diego Padres as a free agent and he went 4-2, 1.49 with 11 saves in 54.1 innings over 53 games in 2014. He moved out of the closer role in 2015, but still put up strong results, with a 2.34 ERA in 65.1 innings over 67 games. Benoit was traded to the Seattle Mariners prior to the 2016 season. He struggled there with a 5.18 ERA in 26 games, but after being traded to the Toronto Blue Jays in July, he gave up one run in 23.2 innings (0.38 ERA). That earned him a free agent with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2017, and he had a 4.07 ERA in 42 innings over 44 games through the end of July. He finished his 16-year big league career with the 2017 Pirates after coming over in a July 31st trade deadline deal with the Phillies in exchange for minor league pitcher Seth McGarry. Benoit pitched eight games for the Pirates, posting a 7.56 ERA over 8.1 innings. He spent time on the disabled list with left knee inflammation and pitched just once after August 21st. He became a free agent after the season and signed with the Washington Nationals, though he never pitched for them. In 1,068.2 innings over 764 big league appearances, Benoit went 58-49, 3.83, with 53 saves. Jose Martinez, infielder for the 1969-70 Pirates. The Pirates signed him as an amateur free agent out of Cuba in 1960, and it wasn’t until nine years later that he finally made his Major League debut. Martinez began as a shortstop, but by the time he made it to the majors, he was spending most of his time at third base. He began pro ball at 17 years old with Dubuque of the Midwest League in 1960, where he hit .284 with 28 extra-base hits and 28 steals in 101 games. He moved up to Grand Forks of the Class-C Northern League in 1961, hitting .280 with 40 stolen bases and 74 runs scored in 122 games. Martinez moved up to A-Ball in 1962, playing for Asheville of the South Atlantic League. He hit .243 that season in 119 games and struck out 102 times, which was high for the era. The 1963 season saw him hit .266 with 23 doubles, eight triples, 15 homers, 63 walks and 20 steals in 122 games, which were split between two Class-A teams. Martinez showed his best power in 1964 by hitting 20 homers while playing back in Asheville. He batted .273 that season in 119 games and only attempted three stolen bases all year, despite stealing 100 bases over his first four seasons. By the time he reached Triple-A in 1965, the power numbers from the previous year were gone. Between the 1965-66 and 1968 seasons (he didn’t play in 1967), Martinez hit just 14 homers. Martinez batted .231 with seven homers in 96 games in 1965 with Columbus of the International League. Back with Columbus in 1966, he hit .213 with six homers in 111 games. After spending the 1967 season on the inactive list, Martinez returned to York of the Eastern League (Double-A) in 1968, where he hit .261 with one homer and six steals in 125 games. In 1969, he went from a light-hitting third baseman, who was demoted to Double-A for the entire 1968 season, to the Pirates backup infielder. He was helped along by the fact that the Pirates manager was Larry Shepard, who managed him in the minors and gave him every chance to win a spot in the majors. Martinez played 77 games that year, getting 34 starts at second base in a season that Bill Mazeroski played just 67 games all year due to injury. Martinez hit .268 with one homer, 16 RBIs and twenty runs scored. His homer that year was a ninth inning grand slam that came during a 2-2 ballgame. He made the Opening Day roster again in 1970 and was with the team through the end of May, playing 19 games, four as a starter. He went 1-for-20 at the plate before being sent back to Triple-A, where he spent the next two years for the Pirates. Pittsburgh sold him to the Kansas City Royals in Spring Training of 1972 and he spent the next three years in their system at Triple-A, prior to his retirement from playing. Martinez hit .245 in 96 games for the Pirates and played over 1,300 minor league games in 14 seasons. He went on to become a longtime coach with the Chicago Cubs, Royals and Atlanta Braves after his playing days. Tom Saffell, outfielder for the 1949-51 and 1955 Pirates. He played just 23 games of minor league ball in 1941 for two different teams, then missed the next four years. He was first out with a knee injury, which caused him to be released twice in 1941, but then he missed time while serving in the military during WWII from late 1942 to early 1946. Saffell returned to the minors in 1946 and signed with Atlanta of the Southern Association, back when minor league teams could farm out their own players. The speedy lefty played center field and batted lead-off most of his minor league career. Atlanta sent him to Burlington of the Carolina League (Class-C) for 95 games and then 35 games with Class-A Charleston of the South Atlantic League. Between the two stops, he hit .315 with 37 extra-base hits and 37 stolen bases. He spent most of 1947 with Selma of the Southeastern League, while also seeing time with Atlanta. He batted .327 in 119 games, with 46 extra-base hits and 27 steals. Saffell played in Indianapolis for the 1948 season, a team which had a working agreement with the Pirates. With Indianapolis that year, he hit .299 with 22 stolen bases and 119 runs scored. He was back there to start the next season and he hit .275 with nine homers in 69 games. The Pirates purchased Saffell from Indianapolis on September 29, 1948 and optioned him back to the team at the start of 1949. He was called up midway through the 1949 season and he played well, hitting .322 in 73 games with 36 runs scored. He made the Opening Day roster the next year, but struggled to hit and was sent down at the end of May. Coming back up in mid-August, he finished the year batting .203 in 67 games. The next season was more of the same. Saffell was a seldom used bench player during the first month, then got sent down in May. He eventually came back up and finished with a .200 average in 49 games. Saffell spent all of the next three seasons in the minors, then got one more shot with the Pirates as their 1955 Opening Day center fielder. He played for Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League during the 1952-54 seasons and showed remarkable consistency there, especially with his batting average, which was .273, .273 and .279 in his three seasons. There was talk that he had a huge price tag during the 1954 season, which is why he stayed in the minors during that time. On October 13, 1954, the Pirates purchased his contract, though it was a conditional deal and they could return him if he didn’t make the team. Saffell remained with the Pirates until his release in mid-September, batting .168 in 73 games. He finished the season with the Kansas City A’s, his last Major League team. He played four more seasons in the minors, all spent in the Pacific Coast League with three different teams, before retiring as a player. After his playing career ended, he was a longtime manager in the minors, a few of those seasons spent in the Pirates organization. He also played a total of 19 games during the 1962-64 seasons, mostly as a pinch-hitter. Saffell, who passed away in 2012, spent 30 years as the president of the Gulf Coast League, staying active in baseball into his late 80’s. In his four years with the Pirates, he hit .239 in 262 games, with six homers, 39 RBIs and eight stolen bases. Eddie Bockman, third baseman for the 1948-49 Pirates. He originally signed as an 18-year-old in 1939, though he didn’t make the majors until seven years later, partly due to missing three full seasons (1943-45) while serving in the military during WWII. Bockman played Class-D ball in 1939 for two different teams, combining to hit .259 in 77 games. He moved up to Class-C Joplin of the Western Association in 1940 and batted .272 with 27 doubles, 11 triples and seven homers in 131 games. He remained in Joplin for the 1941 season, where he hit .290 with 24 doubles and 20 triples in 136 games. He was in Class-B with Norfolk of the Piedmont League in 1942 before joining the war effort. He hit .284 with 16 extra-base hits in 69 games that season. Bockman came back from the war in 1946 and hit .303 with 78 walks, 95 RBIs and 29 stolen bases in 144 games for Kansas City of the American Association, which was one step from the majors. He had a brief trial that September with the New York Yankees, going 1-for-12 in four games, then he was traded to the Cleveland Indians shortly after the season ended. For Cleveland in 1947, he hit .258 in 46 games, getting just 71 plate appearances all season. He made ten starts all year, mostly playing third base. On January 16, 1948, the Pirates purchased Bockman from the Indians. In his two seasons with the Pirates, he started 100 games, all at third base. He was the team’s regular third baseman at the end of the 1948 season and the first two months of the 1949 season, but he didn’t hit much and lost the job to Pete Castiglione. Bockman hit .239, with four homers and 23 RBIs in 70 games for Pittsburgh in 1948, then hit .223 with six homers and 19 RBIs in 79 games in 1949. He was sold outright to Indianapolis of the American Association on February 25, 1950 and ended up playing another nine seasons in the minors after his final big league game, the last four years as a player/manager. He spent most of his late time in the minors on the west coast, though his best season came down at Class-B ball in 1955 with Albuquerque of the West Texas-New Mexico League. The year he batted .345 with with 137 RBIs, 109 runs scored and 106 walks in 139 games. During his four years in the majors, he was a .230 hitter with 11 homers and 56 RBIs in 199 games. Jimmy Bloodworth, second baseman for the 1947 Pirates. A common theme among the three players from today who played in the 1940’s is that they all missed significant time in their prime while serving in the military during WWII. Bloodworth, unlike the previous two players, was already an established Major Leaguer when he missed his time. He debuted in pro ball in 1935 at 17 years old in Class-D ball and hit .303 in 58 games during his first season. He spent most of the 1936 season with Columbia of the Class-B South Atlantic League, where he hit .299 in 111 games. In 1937, Bloodworth played the entire season for Class-A Chattanooga of the Southern Association, hitting .282 with 32 doubles, 18 triples and seven homers in 153 games. He received a late season promotion to the majors, hitting .220 in 15 games for the Washington Senators. In 1938, he spent part of the year down in the Class-B Piedmont League and predictably he dominated the league, batting .381 in 37 games. The rest of the year was spent back with Chattanooga, where he hit .280 in 94 games. He made it back to the majors with the Senators for more than half of the 1939 season, batting .289 with 24 doubles and four homers in 83 games. Bloodworth mostly played second base in 1940, though he made starts at first base and third base as well. He hit .245 with 36 extra-base hits and 70 RBIs in 119 games. After the season, he was part of a four-player trade with the Detroit Tigers. Bloodworth was the everyday second baseman for the Detroit Tigers in 1942-43. He hit .242 with a career high 13 homers in 137 games during the 1942 season. The next year he hit .241 in 129 games, with 33 extra-base hits and 52 RBIs. He missed all of the 1944-45 seasons while serving during WWII, before returning in 1946 to take over his second base job in Detroit again. In his first year back he hit .245 in 76 games, with five homers and 36 RBIs. The Pirates purchased his contract in December of 1946, exactly five years to day that the Tigers traded to get him. For Pittsburgh in 1947, Bloodworth started 82 games at second base, playing 88 games total, and he hit .250 with seven homers and 48 RBIs. He began the year with the team, but was quickly sent down to the minors until returning on July 4th, so all of his 82 starts actually came over the last 88 team games of the season. Almost a year to the day after they acquired him, the Pirates traded Bloodworth to the Brooklyn Dodgers in exchange for minor league second baseman Monty Basgall. Bloodworth never played for the Dodgers in the majors, but returned to the big leagues in 1949 for three seasons, first with the 1949-50 Cincinnati Reds, then the 1950-51 Philadelphia Phillies. He played in the minors until 1955, and from 1952-54 he took up pitching, while also serving as a player/manager. He was a .248 hitter with 451 RBIs in 1,002 Major League games over 11 seasons. In 1940, he had the best fielding percentage among American League second basemen. He also finished in the top three in fielding during the 1941-43 seasons. Bllodworth led the AL in both assists and putouts in 1941....
Card of the Day: 1991 Score All-Star Doug Drabek
July 25, 2021
Card of the Day
I had a plan to be all “business as usual” with this article, picking Doug Drabek today because it is his birthday. I even had a card picked out before I saw it because there’s a set left on my “to do” list before we get to month 18 of this series (nothing exciting is happening in month 18, don’t know why I said it like that). I was just going to head to Ebay, pull front and back scans and then see if anything special was either currently listed or had recently ended. My plan changed because I wasn’t more specific with my Ebay search, going for just “Doug Drabek Pirates”. So now that set I had planned out gets put on the back burner until another player from it pops up, and instead we go with a card that borders on silly. This here is the 1991 Score All-Star Doug Drabek card. Here’s the front of the card: I think the term “silly” is a good one for this card. It’s basically a county fair/boardwalk caricature drawing of Drabek, which is actually a good likeness of him. Yet at the same time this card is supposed to be celebrating him due to his All-Star appearance during the 1990 season. Wait, I’m being told that this is actually an All-Star team picked by Score, consisting of ten players, including a starting pitcher and a relief pitcher. They just used the term All-Star for their own team, even though there was an actual All-Star team picked by baseball and the fans. Anyway, Drabek seems like a great choice here. He helped the Pirates to their first pennant in 11 years and he won their first Cy Young award since Vern Law picked up the 1960 trophy for helping the Pirates to their third World Series title. He had a 22-6, 2.76 record in 231.1 innings during that 1990 season. This might come as a surprise to you, but Drabek was never an All-Star while with the Pirates. He only made it once to the mid-season classic, and that was 1994 with the Houston Astros. Here’s the back: The back of the card tells you with a large logo that this card is part of the Score All-Star team for the National League. If you check out that squad, you’ll also notice two other Pittsburgh Pirates on the team, Barry Bonds and Bobby Bonilla. The other half of the card gives a brief rundown of his season, including how he stepped up after the team lost. Really he was just the ace so he was usually following the fifth start (hence the losses ahead of him) and the 12-3 record isn’t much better than his 22-6 season record. The back also includes a quote by Pedro Guerrero, long-time corner fielder (outfield and infielder) and power hitter for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He said that Drabek excelled due to a good fastball and the ability to change speeds, along with a large assortment of pitches. I assume you want this card because who wouldn’t want a cartoon drawing of Doug Drabek with a giant head. There are a nice amount of options for this card under $3, which includes shipping. There’s also one graded by Beckett (BGS) that grades a 9.5 and the seller wants $109.97 for it, plus shipping. If you know someone named Kevin, there is one personalized and autographed by Drabek, which is selling for just $6.50 delivered. If you have $6.49 to spend, you can buy a lot of 50 of these cards…seriously. Plenty of options to choose from, whether you want a single card, 50 cards, a card for Kevin or a high grade card sealed in plastic....
This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: July 25th, Clemente, Beckley and Drabek
July 25, 2021
This Date in Pittsburgh Baseball History
Five former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date, plus a trade of note and a unique feat by the Great One. Doug Drabek, pitcher for the 1987-92 Pirates. He was a workhorse in the Pirates rotation, averaging 33 starts and 227 innings pitched per season over his six years in Pittsburgh. He remains as the last Pirates pitcher to win the Cy Young Award. He was originally drafted by the Cleveland Indians out of high school in 1980, but chose not to sign. Three years later, his stock had dropped, going to the Chicago White Sox in the 11th round of the 1983 draft out of the University of Houston. He went 6-7, 3.65 in 103.2 innings in the New York-Penn League during that 1983 season. Most of the 1984 season was spent three levels higher in Double-A, where he went 12-5, 2.24 in 124.2 innings for Glens Falls of the Eastern League. Just one year and two months after being drafted, Drabek was traded to the New York Yankees for veteran shortstop Roy Smalley. Drabek finished the year in Double-A with the Yankees, then spent the entire 1985 season back at the level, despite strong results both years. He went 13-7, 2.99 in 192.2 innings during his second stint in Double-A, throwing nine complete games, while picking up 153 strikeouts. He struggled badly through eight starts at Triple-A in 1986 (7.29 ERA in 42 innings), but he was up in the majors by the end of that May. He made 21 starts and six relief appearances for the 1986 Yankees, posting a 7-8, 4.10 record in 131.2 innings. In the off-season, the Yankees and Pirates hooked up in a deal that sent veteran pitchers Rick Rhoden, Cecilio Guante and Pat Clements to New York in exchange for three young pitchers, Drabek, Brian Fisher and Logan Easley. Pittsburgh put Drabek in the rotation in 1987 and never looked back. He made 28 starts and went 11-12, 3.88 in 176.1 innings during his first season with the Pirates. It was just a glimpse of the true potential he would begin to reach the very next season. The 1988 Pirates finished second in the National League East and a big reason for that finish was the emergence of Drabek as the Pirates ace. He didn’t have the best ERA on the team (that belonged to Bob Walk, 2.71), but Drabek had the best record and lead the team in innings pitched. That season he finished at 15-7, 3.08 with 219.1 innings pitched. The Pirates were expecting to contend in 1989, but they faltered through no fault of Drabek. He went 14-12, with five of those wins coming by shutout. His 2.80 ERA was .01 ahead of teammate John Smiley, who finished four games over the .500 mark. Drabek pitched 244.1 innings that season, the fifth highest total in the NL. He made 34 starts and pitched eight complete games. The Pirates’ ship was righted in 1990, and behind the pitching of Drabek they made the playoffs for the first time in 11 years. He had a remarkable season, winning the NL Cy Young award with a 22-6 record. He had the best winning percentage in the league, finished fifth with his 231.1 innings pitched and sixth with his 2.76 ERA. His season was strong enough that he also finished eighth in the NL MVP voting. He was strong in the playoffs, even during his 2-1 complete game loss in game two against the Cincinnati Reds. Drabek staved off elimination five days later, winning game five by a 3-2 score. Drabek’s record in 1991 doesn’t tell the whole story. On the outside, it looks like a bad season, going 15-14 for a team that almost won 100 games, but his 3.07 ERA was one point better (for a second time) than John Smiley, who finished with a 20-8 record. Drabek made a career high 35 starts and finished fourth in the NL with 234.2 innings pitched. In more than half of his starts, the Pirates scored 0-3 runs. He topped his 1.65 playoff ERA from the previous season by allowing one earned run over 15 innings. Unfortunately, that one run led to a loss in game six as the Pirates were shutout by the Atlanta Braves. Drabek had one last year left in Pittsburgh before free agency kicked in, and he made the most of the 1992 season. He helped the Pirates to their third straight NL East pennant, by going 15-11, 2.77 in 34 starts, throwing ten complete games and four shutouts. He threw a career high 256.2 innings that season, en route to a fifth place finish in the Cy Young voting. His run of playoff dominance was over though, losing all three starts to the Braves that postseason. After the season ended, Drabek signed with his hometown Houston Astros, where things didn’t go well. That first season he had a respectable 3.79 ERA, but he led the NL with 18 losses. He had a strong 1994 season, which was shortened to 23 starts due to the mid-season strike. That year he went 12-6, 2.84 in 164.2 innings and made his only career All-Star appearance. In his last two years with Houston, he went 17-18 combined with an ERA over 4.50 each year. While he was still making all of his starts, his innings totals dropped significantly after leaving Pittsburgh. He averaged over 230 innings per season from 1988 through 1993, then saw that average drop to just over 170 innings per season during the next four years. He finished 32-40, 4.00 in 762.2 innings with Houston. Things got worse for Drabek after leaving the Astros, posting a 5.74 ERA in 31 starts for the 1997 Chicago White Sox, then a 7.29 ERA in 108.2 innings for the 1998 Baltimore Orioles, his last Major League stop. Drabek made 196 starts for the Pirates, going 92-62, 3.02 in 1,362.2 innings. He ranks 20th in team history in wins and no pitcher over the last 43 years has won more games in a Pirates uniform. Overall in his career, he went 155-134, 3.73 with 387 Major League starts, throwing a total of 2,535 innings. He became a minor league pitching coach after his career ended. His son Kyle Drabek pitched parts of seven seasons in the majors, seeing time with three different clubs. Alex Presley, outfielder for the 2010-13 Pirates. He was an eighth round draft pick in 2006, who rode a hot streak in 2010 to the majors and managed to play eight seasons, while seeing time with five clubs. He was selected by the Pirates out of the University of Mississippi. In 2006, he went to the New York-Penn League, where he batted .260 in 61 games, with 18 extra-base hits. In 2007, he was with Low-A Hickory, where he had a .293 average, 41 extra-base hits and 18 stolen bases. The Pirates sent him to winter ball in Hawaii, where he batted .306 in 13 games. In 2008, Presley played at High-A Lynchburg for the first of two seasons and it appeared that his career stalled. He hit .258 with a .705 OPS in his first year, then batted .257 with a .684 OPS in 2009. Presley didn’t look like a surefire future MLB player until 2010, when he hit .320 with some power and speed, while splitting the season between Altoona and Indianapolis. He had a .932 OPS in 67 games with Altoona, then put up an .809 OPS in 69 games with Indianapolis. By the end of the year he was in the majors, hitting .261 in 19 games for the Pirates. He was back in Triple-A in 2011, where he hit .330 before coming back to the Pirates in late June. Presley batted .298 in 52 games with Pittsburgh, showing some power and speed. That earned him a big league job in 2012, though he couldn’t repeat his success. He had a .237 average and a .683 OPS in 104 games and even saw some Triple-A time before the season was over. He batted .264 in 29 games for the Pirates in 2013 before being traded to the Minnesota Twins for Justin Morneau in August. Presley was made the starting center fielder for the Twins in September of 2013 and he hit .283 in 28 games, though low power/walk numbers led to a .699 OPS. The Twins lost him on waivers to the Houston Astros during Spring Training of 2014 and that year he batted .244 in 89 games for Houston. His OPS dropped to .628 that season. He played just eight big league games in 2015, then became a free agent at the end of the year. Presley signed with the Milwaukee Brewers and hit .198 in 47 games before being released in early July. He quickly signed with the Detroit Tigers, although he played just three big league games there in 2016. During the 2017 season, he hit .314 in 71 games, with a .770 OPS. Despite the success, he became a free agent after the season and spent the 2018 season with the Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox in Triple-A before being released in late June, ending his pro career. Over eight seasons in the majors, Presley hit .263/.306/.388 in 450 games, with 29 homers and 30 stolen bases. With the Pirates, he hit .261 with 16 homers and 19 steals in 204 games. Ed Sprague, third baseman for the 1999 Pirates. He was originally drafted by the Boston Red Sox out of high school in the 25th round in 1985, but decided to go to college. He was signed as a first round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays during the 1988 draft out of Stanford University. He signed too late to play his first year, then the Blue Jays were ultra aggressive with him in 1989. After starting off in High-A and hitting just .219 in 52 games, he played 86 games in Triple-A and had a .208 average and a .580 OPS. He remained in Triple-A in 1990 and batted .239, though it came with 23 doubles and 20 homers. Sprague was in the majors by early May of 1991, although it took two partial seasons before he was a regular in the Toronto lineup. He hit .275 with four homers and 20 RBIs in 61 games during his rookie season, then spent a majority of 1992 back in Triple-A, where he played 100 games. For the Blue Jays that season, he hit .234 with one homer in 22 games. Sprague was the starting third baseman in 1993, playing 150 games. He batted .260 with 31 doubles, 12 homers and 73 RBIs, as the Blue Jays won their second straight World Series title that year. He played 109 of 115 games during the strike-shortened 1994 season, hitting .240 with 11 homers and 44 RBIs. During the 1995 season, which was also shortened by the strike, Sprague played in all 144 games for Toronto, driving in 74 runs, with hitting .244 with 27 doubles and 18 homers. He also drew 58 walks, which matched his combined total from the previous three seasons. He had a career year the next season, setting personal bests with 88 runs scored, 35 doubles, 36 homers, 101 RBIs and 60 walks in 159 games. His .821 OPS was easily the highest of his career to that point, but he would approach that number in the future. Sprague’s numbers fell off dramatically the next year, hitting .228 with 14 homers and 48 RBIs in 138 games. His power returned slightly in 1998, hitting .238 with 17 homers and 51 RBIs in 105 games with the Blue Jays. At the July 31st trading deadline, he was dealt to the Oakland A’s, where he batted just .149 in 27 games. He became a free agent after the season. The Pirates signed Sprague on December 16, 1998 and made him their starting third baseman. He responded with his only All-Star season, helping the Pirates to 78 wins and a third place finish in the NL Central. He batted .267, his highest full season average in the majors, and he hit 22 homers, while driving in 81 runs. Both of those numbers were his second highest totals, trailing only his big 1996 season. His .817 OPS fell just short of his career best. Sprague left as a free agent after the season and played two more years in the majors, spending time with three different teams. With the San Diego Padres and Boston Red Sox in 2000, he hit .243 with 12 homers and 36 RBIs in 106 games. With the 2001 Seattle Mariners, he had a .298 average in 45 games, though he saw a lot of bench time, while playing five different positions. Sprague finished his 11-year big league career with a .247 average in 1,203 games, with 225 doubles, 152 homers, 558 RBIs and 506 runs scored. He was the head coach at Pacific University for 12 seasons. Ed’s father, Ed Sprague Sr., pitched for eight seasons in the majors. Jack McMahan, pitcher for the 1956 Pirates. The Yankees signed the 19-year-old left-handed McMahan in 1952, sending him to Class-D ball for McAlester of the Sooner State League, where he switched between starting and relief, going 9-7, 3.43 in 134 innings. He split the 1953 season between Class-D Owensboro of the KITTY League and Class-C Joplin of the Western Association. McMahan threw a total of 220 innings between both stops, going 13-11, 3.68, with slightly better results at the higher level. In 1954, he played for Quincy of the Three-I League, where he pitched mostly in relief. He had an 11-7, 3.79 record in 159 innings. By 1955 he was up in Double-A, pitching well in the long man role out of the bullpen. In 46 games, he threw 111 innings, going 11-5 with a 2.62 ERA. The Pirates took him in the November 1955 Rule 5 draft. In the first two months of the 1956 season, he was being used strictly in a mop-up role, making 11 appearances, with all of them coming during Pirates losses. He had a 6.08 ERA in 13.1 innings for Pittsburgh. On June 23, 1956 the Pirates traded McMahan, along with second baseman Curt Roberts, to the Philadelphia A’s in exchange for second baseman Spook Jacobs. The A’s tried him as a starter for awhile, though he didn’t pitch well, going 0-5, 6.35 in nine starts. He ended up pitching 14 times in relief and finished his half season there with a 4.82 ERA in 61.2 innings. He walked 31 batters during that time while picking up just 13 strikeouts. He ended up appearing in just two wins during his 34 appearances that year, and both were starts that he got knocked out of early. In February of 1957, he was dealt back to the Yankees as part of a 13-player deal that also included Curt Roberts. McMahan never made it back to the majors, finishing his career two years later in the minors, playing for Denver of the American Association in 1957-58, Richmond of the International League in 1958-59 and ending with Atlanta of the Southern Association. Marv Rackley, outfielder for the 1949 Pirates. He originally signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1941 at 19 years old, but his baseball career was put on hold for three seasons while he served in the military during WWII. He played for Class-D Valdosta of the Georgia-Florida League that first year, hitting .322 with 40 extra-base hits in 133 games. In 1942, he split the season fairly evenly between Class-C Dayton of the Middle Atlantic League and Class-C Durham of the Piedmont League. Rackley hit .261 with 24 extra-base hits in 106 games that season, with better results at the lower level. The 1943-45 seasons were spent in the military. He returned in 1946 and played for Montreal of the International League, where he hit .305 in 124 games, with 78 walks, 102 runs scored and 65 stolen bases. He made the Dodgers Opening Day roster in 1947, although he was used sparingly off the bench and by June he was back in the minors. He finished the year getting just nine at-bats in 18 games for the Dodgers. Rackley was in the majors during most of the 1948 season, and while he didn’t hit for power or take many walks, he did manage to bat .327 with 55 runs scored in 88 games. In 1949, he wasn’t seeing much playing time with Brooklyn, getting 11 plate appearances and two starts over the first month of the season. The Pirates acquired him in May, in exchange for outfielder Johnny Hopp. Within three weeks of the exchange, the deal was voided due to an arm injury to Rackley that the Pirates claimed he had before coming over in the trade. Despite the reported injury, he batted .314 in 11 games in Pittsburgh. There were rumors that Rackley just didn’t want to be traded and there was nothing wrong with his arm. He was sent back to the Dodgers, where he hit .291 in 54 games over the rest of the season. Just as the 1949 season ended, the Dodgers sold Rackley to the Cincinnati Reds. He lasted just five early season games there in 1950 before he was shipped to the minors, where he played out the rest of his career, retiring after the 1955 season. He had a career .317 average over 185 Major League games, with one home run and 35 RBIs. While he had those big stolen base numbers in the minors, he went 10-for-20 in steals in the majors. His minor league time from 1950 on saw him plays parts of two seasons with four different teams, starting with Seattle of the Pacific Coast League in 1950-51, Birmingham of the Southern Association in 1951-52, Baltimore of the International League in 1952-53, and Richmond of the International League in 1954-55. The Trade On this date in 1896, the Pirates traded star first baseman Jake Beckley to the New York Giants in exchange for first baseman Harry Davis and cash, in a very unpopular deal at the time. Beckley had been in Pittsburgh since 1888, spending all but one of those years with the Pirates. In 1890, with most of his teammates, he jumped to the newly formed Player’s League, a league that lasted just one season. In his seven full seasons with the Pirates, Beckley drove in 96 or more runs in five of those years, batting over .300 five times as well. From 1891 until 1895, he hit 19+ triples every season. At the time of the deal, the 28-year-old was the Pirates all-time home run leader. The Pirates thought Beckley was slowing down due to his .253 average and just 15 extra base hits after 59 games in 1896. Davis was six years younger, though he was unproven with only 71 games in the majors at that point. After the deal, Davis really struggled as the everyday first baseman for Pittsburgh, while Beckley resorted to his old ways. Davis batted .190 over the rest of the year, while Beckley hit .302 with 38 RBIs in 46 games. The trade took a favorable turn for the Pirates the next season, with Beckley getting released by New York after a really slow start, while Davis was hitting well. Beckley signed on with the Cincinnati Reds after two teams thought he was done and he proved both of them wrong. He went on to hit .325 over seven seasons in Cincinnati, putting together a resume that eventually landed him in the Hall of Fame. Davis had a strong 1897 season for Pittsburgh, leading the National League with 28 triples, to go along with a .305 average. Like Beckley, his career took off after multiple teams gave up on him. The Pirates sold him in early 1898 to Louisville, who moved him quickly to the Washington Senators. Davis went to the minors for two years, returning to the majors in 1901, this time playing in the newly-formed American League. There he had a great ten-year stretch with the Philadelphia A’s, winning three home run titles, three times leading the league in doubles, twice in RBIs and once in runs. He played his last Major League game 21 years after this trade was made. The Game On this date in 1956, Roberto Clemente hit a bottom-of-the-ninth, walk-off, inside-the-park grand slam for a 9-8 win over the Chicago Cubs. He is the only player to accomplish that feat in Major League history. Inside-the-park homers are obviously rare on their own, though they were more common when the ballparks were bigger. To hit a walk-off grand slam and have it be an inside-the-park homer, you need the bases loaded obviously, you need to be the home team (that wasn’t always required), and it can only happen when you’re down by three runs. That’s unlike a regular grand slam, which just needs the score to be within three runs, but it could even be tied at the time. Most defenses in a bases loaded/down by three runs situation would be playing to prevent extra-base hits, making a rare feat even more difficult…which is probably why it has only happened once, 65 years ago today....
Card of the Day: 1988 Fleer Barry Bonds
July 24, 2021
Card of the Day
It always surprises me when I find a major set from the modern era that I haven’t covered yet, but here we are, using the 1988 Fleer set for the first time in the 17-month run of this series. I noticed a few days ago when I posted the 1988 Donruss card (I’m sure you read that article), that I also didn’t have a 1988 Fleer set either. I have nothing against 1988, I’m sure it was a good year for those of you old enough to remember it. The Pirates were a good team, finishing second in the National League East. It appeared that 1989 could be their season, until 1989 happened (not such a good year), but it was a hiccup and then the 1990 season started a three-year run of pennant-winning teams. On that 1988 team was a young outfielder batting lead-off, who had speed and power potential. He was rushed to the majors, so it took some time to adjust, but once he did he because a perennial MVP, which in 1991 stood for More Valuable than Pendleton. I mean c’mon voters! Pendleton didn’t even have the highest WAR on his own team and it paled in comparison to Bonds! Anyway, the 1988 Fleer set had quite the standard to live up to that year. I have mentioned my favorite sets from decades before, but only a few years ago did I realize that my favorite Topps, Donruss and Fleer sets from the 1980s were all printed in 1987. You might not like the 1987 Fleer set as much as I do, but it’s my favorite so I always like seeing how companies follow up great designs. The 1988 Topps set is boring. The 1988 Donruss set isn’t much better. However, I do like the 1988 Fleer set, so let’s take a look at the best card from the Pirates in that set. Here’s card #322, Barry Bonds. Here’s the front of the card: As I said, this is a nice design, not great, but okay. It looks like something that Wonder Bread would have put out during that time. What I like most here besides the patriotic border colors is the great Pirates logo on front, always a plus. There’s also a nice touch with that little gold stripe at the bottom. Fleer used team colors for those stripes, so all of the Pirates are gold. I also like how they faded in the photo up top. The Pirates uniforms from this era are going to make any card set look better, but I like the set in general. I’m a big fan of the two-player rookie prospects cards they included, so it might not be long before I feature one of the two cards with a Pirates player from that little subset. Here’s the back of the card: The back has some added info at the bottom that was new for 1988, showing splits in the triple slash categories for day, night, home and road. The back used darker blue colors than the front, but it has a similar look. This scan is big, so it’s easier to read, but those numbers/stats are not the easiest to read in person, especially with the thin blue-on-blue writing. If you’re interested in this card, the supply far outweighs the demand. That’s not saying that he’s not popular among collectors, he’s actually very popular. It’s just that they printed a ton of cards in 1988, which is good for 2021 you if you want to get an early card of one of baseball’s all-time greats. You can find it readily available for as low as $2 delivered, which is basically the same as any common because most sellers don’t like selling cards for less than that amount. You have fees, shipping, supplies, time, it’s not worth it unless you’re getting something for your ten cent card. Anyway, there are a few noteworthy cards up now. He rarely signs, but there are a few and they are all $150+. This particular scan was pulled from a PSA 9 auction going for $30. One other auction is someone selling 16 of these cards for $30. Whatever you choose, happy collecting!...
This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: July 24th; The All-Time Home Run King
July 24, 2021
This Date in Pittsburgh Baseball History
Four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including the all-time home run king. Barry Bonds, outfielder for the 1986-92 Pirates. He was the sixth overall draft pick in 1985 and the Pirates had him in the majors by May 30, 1986. Bonds was originally drafted out of high school by the San Francisco Giants in the second round of the 1982 draft. He decided to attend Arizona State, where he improved his draft status over three seasons. His minor league career was extremely brief for the Pirates. He batted .299 with 13 homers and 15 steals in 71 games with Prince William of the Carolina League in 1985. He skipped to Triple-A in 1986 and spent 44 games with Hawaii before his big league debut, hitting .311 with seven homers and 16 steals. The 21-year-old Bonds hit just .223 as a rookie in 113 games, but he stole 36 bases and hit 16 homers, while drawing 65 walks. In 1987, he raised his average to .261, though his OBP was a point lower than the previous year. He hit 25 homers and stole 32 bases, while scoring 99 runs. In 1988, he hit for average and drew walks, while showing some power, leading to a .283/.368/.491 slash line. His stolen bases dropped to 17, but he still scored 97 runs. Bonds had a bit of a down year in 1989, seeing his OPS drop for the first time. He batted .248, but still had solid numbers with 96 runs scored, 34 doubles, 19 homers, 32 steals and 93 walks. The Pirates made the playoffs in 1990, 1991 and 1992 and Bonds was a huge part of that run. He won the National League MVP in 1990 by hitting .301 with 33 homers and 114 RBIs. He added 104 runs scored, 93 walks, 34 doubles and 52 stolen bases, giving him his first 30/30 HR/SB season in the majors. He would repeat that feat four more times, and he also missed 30/30 twice by finishing with 29 stolen bases. Bonds made his first All-Star team in 1990, while also winning his first Gold Glove and first Silver Slugger awards. In the postseason, he went 3-for-18 with four runs scored. In 1991, Bonds had another MVP season, though the writers mistakenly gave it to Terry Pendleton, who had a strong season, but it didn’t compare well to Bonds. In 153 games, Bonds hit .292/.410/.514, leading the league in OBP and OPS. He drew 107 walks, drove in 116 runs, scored 95 runs and stole 43 bases. He picked up his second Gold Glove and second Silver Slugger awards, but he didn’t make the All-Star team. He once again struggled in the postseason, hitting .148 in seven games, with no RBIs and one run scored. In 1992, Bonds played out his last year before free agency and had an outstanding year. He led the league with 109 runs scored, 127 walks, a .456 OBP and a .624 slugging. He had 34 homers, 39 steals and 103 RBIs. He repeated his 1990 feat with an MVP, All-Star appearance, Gold Glove and Silver Slugger. His postseason was better in 1992, with a .261 average and five runs scored. He moved on to San Francisco after the season, where he played out the rest of his 22-year career and made baseball history. In 1993, he led the league with 46 homers, 123 RBIs, a .458 OBP, a .677 slugging percentage and a 1.137 OPS. He also batted .336 with 38 doubles, 29 steals and 129 runs scored, which set a career high that he would amazingly tie three more times, but never surpass. He won his third MVP award, made his third All-Star appearance, won his fourth straight Gold Glove and fourth straight Silver Slugger award In the strike-shortened 1994 season, he hit .312 with 37 homers, 29 steals and a league leading 74 walks. He was fourth in the MVP voting and picked up another Gold Glove, another Silver Slugger and a fourth All-Star appearance. In 1995, he led the league with 120 walks, a .431 OBP and a 1.009 OPS. He picked up an All-Star appearance, but his Gold Glove and Silver Slugger streaks were snapped. Bonds hit .294 with 30 doubles, 33 homers, 104 RBIs and 109 runs scored in the season which was slightly shortened due to the strike. In 1996, he led the league with 151 walks, while hitting .308 with 42 homers, 129 RBIs and 122 runs scored. He stole 40 bases that year, giving him a 40/40 HR/SB season. He was an All-Star and won the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger again, but he finished just fifth in the MVP voting, despite his 9.7 WAR being the best in the league. In 1997, Bonds led the league with 145 walks, while gaining the All-Star/Gold Glove/Sliver Slugger trifecta. He batted .291 with 40 homers, 37 steals, 101 RBIs and 123 runs scored. The 1998 season saw him make the All-Star team and win another Gold Glove. He hit .303 with 44 doubles, 37 homers, 122 RBIs, 28 steals, 130 walks and 120 runs scored. In 1999, he was limited to 102 games and he hit .262 with 34 homers and 91 runs scored. That year broke a string of seven straight All-Star appearances, but he picked right back up in 2000, hitting .306 with 49 homers, 106 RBIs, 129 runs scored and a league leading 117 walks. Bonds had his record-breaking season in 2001 when he hit 73 homers. He led the league with 177 walks, a .515 OBP, an .863 slugging and a 1.379 OPS. He scored 129 runs and set a personal best with 137 RBIs. It started a four-year string of MVP awards, All-Star appearances and Silver Slugger wins. In 2002, he won the batting title with a .370 mark, and had a .582 OBP, thanks to 198 walks. He hit 46 homers, with 110 RBIs and 117 runs scored. In 2003, Bonds batted .341 with 45 homers in 130 games. He had 111 runs scored and 148 walks. Pitchers basically refused to pitch to him in 2004 and he still managed to hit 45 homers. He walked 232 times, 120 of those times were intentional. He led the league with a .362 batting average, despite having 373 official at-bats. He was limited to just 14 games in 2005 due to injury, but returned in 2006 to hit .270 with 26 homers in 130 games. He led the league with 115 walks and a .454 OBP. In his final season, he passed Hank Aaron in career homers. Bonds batted .278 with 28 homers, 132 walks and a .480 OBP. He was basically forced into retirement by baseball, despite still being a productive hitter at 42 years old. Bonds is the all-time leader with 762 homers and 2,558 walks. He had 1,996 RBIs and 2,227 runs scored. He is the only member of the 400 HR/SB club and for good measure, the only member of the 500 HR/SB club as well. He won the MVP award seven times and deserved the award in both 1991 and 2000 as well. He was a 14-time All-Star, 12-time Silver Slugger winner and he has eight Gold Gloves. He’s the single season leader in OPS, home runs and walks. He was intentionally walked 688 times, which is more twice as much as anyone else. In career WAR, he only trails Babe Ruth, Walter Johnson and Cy Young. With the Pirates, Bonds hit .275/.380/.503 in 1,104 games. He is fifth on the Pirates all-time home run list with 176 and seventh with 251 steals. His 50.3 WAR is seventh in team history. Joe Oliver, catcher for the 1999 Pirates. He was a second round pick in 1983 by the Cincinnati Reds out of high school. Oliver made it to the big leagues in 1989 and ended up playing 13 seasons in the majors. He was still 17 years old when he signed, but the Reds started him in the Pioneer League instead of the lowest level. Oliver hit .215 with four homers in 56 games in 1983. The next year they pushed him to Low-A and he batted .218 with three homers in 102 games. He caught up to the competition in 1985 in the Florida State League, hitting .269 with 23 doubles and seven homers in 112 games. The next two full seasons were spent in Double-A. He put up a .733 OPS in 1986, then followed it up with a .305 average and ten homers in 66 games in 1987. He put in even more time at Double-A in 1988, though the majority of the season was spent in Triple-A. Between the two stops, he hit .218 with 22 extra-base hits in 101 games. The 1989 season was split between Triple-A and the majors. That year he hit .272 with three homers and 23 RBIs in 49 games for the Reds. He was their regular catcher for the next four seasons. In 1990, Oliver hit .231 with eight homers and 52 RBIs in 121 games. His average dropped to .216 in 1991 and his walk rate went down, but he hit 11 homers in 94 games. He played a career high 143 games in 1992, hitting .270 with 25 doubles, ten homers and 57 RBIs. In 139 games in 1993, Oliver set career highs with 28 doubles, 14 homers and 75 RBIs, though his .659 OPS was 45 points lower than the previous year. Arthritis in his ankles limited him to just six games during the strike-shortened 1994 season and the Reds let him go that November. He signed with the Milwaukee Brewers and hit .273 with 12 homers and 51 RBIs in 97 games in 1995, then re-signed with the Reds as a free agent prior to the 1996 season. He hit .242 that first year back in 106 games, with 11 homers and 46 RBIs. In 1997, he batted .258 with 14 homers and 43 RBIs in 111 games. He scored just 28 runs that season, half of them coming on his own homers. Oliver signed with the Detroit Tigers as a free agent for the 1998 season, but he was released mid-year and finished out the campaign with the Seattle Mariners. He batted .225 with six homers in 79 games that year. Oliver was already in his 11th season when he joined the 1999 Pirates, his fifth different team in the majors. The Pirates acquired him from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays the day before his 34th birthday. They gave up pitcher Jeff Sparks and a young outfielder named Jose Guillen in the deal, while also getting back another catcher, Humberto Cota, who stuck around Pittsburgh for nine years. Oliver was in the minors the whole time in Tampa Bay. He was brought in by the Pirates to replace the injured Jason Kendall, who was out for the entire year with a severe ankle injury. Oliver played 45 games for the Pirates, hitting .201 with one homer and 13 RBIs. He was just a .247 career hitter, but that average in 1999 turned out to be the lowest of his 13-year career. He also hit 102 homers in the big leagues, seven times reaching double figures, so his offensive output with the Pirates was well off his career norm. He became a free agent after the season and signed with the Mariners for 2000, where he hit .265 with ten homers in 69 games. He played briefly for the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox in 2001, which ended up being his final season in the majors. Oliver finished with 1,076 games in the big leagues, playing for seven different teams. He led National League catchers in fielding in 1990 and putouts in 1992. To go along with that .247 career average and 102 homers, he drove in 476 runs and scored 320 runs. Preston Ward, utility fielder for the Pirates from 1953 until 1956. He was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers at the age of 16 in 1944 and he wasn’t over-matched that first season while playing in Class-D ball, batting .250 with 25 extra-base hits in 77 games. He moved up to Class-B in 1945 and batted .325 in 90 games. He stayed in Class-B in 1946, though he switched from the Piedmont League to the Three-I League, where he hit .214 with 26 extra-base hits in 107 games. He had a breakout year in 1947 while playing for Class-A Pueblo of the Western League, where he hit .325 with 98 walks, 30 doubles, 21 triples, 17 homers and 121 RBIs in 125 games. Ward played six seasons in the Dodgers organization, with his only Major League experience coming during the first half of the 1948 season, when he hit .260 with 21 RBIs in 42 games. The second half of the year was spent with Mobile of the Southern Association. In 1949, Ward spent the entire year with Fort Worth of the Texas League, where he hit .303 with 106 walks, 39 doubles, 13 homers, 112 RBIs and 29 stolen bases in 155 games. Brooklyn sold him to the Cubs after the 1949 season and he played 80 games in Chicago in 1950, hitting .253 with six homers and 33 RBIs. Just when it seemed like he was going to stick in the majors, he missed the next two years due to military service during the Korean War. Returning in 1953, he hit .230 with four homers during his first 33 games of the season with Chicago. The Pirates acquired Ward from the Cubs in a ten-player deal on June 4, 1953, with the main piece involved in the trade being Ralph Kiner, who went to Chicago. Ward played first base for the Pirates for the rest of the season, hitting .210 with eight homers in 88 games. He finished that season with one of the best fielding percentages among National League first basemen. In 1954, Ward saw time at RF/1B/3B, batting .269 with 48 RBIs in 117 games. His time was limited in 1955, getting just 39 starts all season, all but one at first base. He played in 84 total games, hitting .215 with five homers and 25 RBIs. He was hitting .333 with 11 RBIs through his first 16 games in 1956, before the Pirates traded Ward to the Cleveland Indians in exchange for catcher Hank Foiles on May 15th. After the deal, Ward hit .253 with six homers in 87 games to finish out the season. He played just ten games with the Indians in 1957, spending the rest of the year back in the minors. He was back in the majors in 1958, playing 48 games for the Indians before being traded to the Kansas City Athletics in a five-player deal that also included Roger Maris. Ward played in the majors through the 1959 season, hitting .252 with eight homers and 43 RBIs in 139 games with the Athletics. In his nine-year big league career, he hit .253 with 50 homers and 262 RBIs in 744 games. In 305 games for the Pirates, he batted .240 with 21 homers and 111 RBIs. Joe Schultz Sr, infielder for the 1916 Pirates. He was a Pittsburgh native, who made his Major League debut at the age of 19 in 1912, after the Boston Braves selected him in the September Rule 5 draft from Akron of the Central League just a couple of weeks earlier. Schultz played parts of two seasons with Boston, getting into a total of 13 games. Most of his 1913 season was spent with Toronto of the International League. After playing the entire 1914 season with Rochester of the International League, where he hit .316 with 44 extra-base hits in 155 games, Schultz would return to the majors in 1915. He spent the beginning of the year with the Brooklyn Robins, before ending it with the Chicago Cubs. He batted .289 with seven RBIs in 63 games, spending most of his time at third base. The Pirates purchased his contract from Chicago in January of 1916 and he spent half of the year in Pittsburgh. Schultz hit .260 with 22 RBIs in 77 games, playing 24 games each at second base and third base. He also saw time at both corner outfield spots and even made an appearance at shortstop. He finished the season with Los Angeles of the Pacific Coast League, then spent the next two full seasons in the minors as well. He returned to the big leagues in 1919 and stayed around for the next seven seasons, spent mostly with the St Louis Cardinals. While he played a lot of positions during that time, most of his fielding time was spent in right field. Schultz batted .253 in 88 games for the 1919 Cardinals, and .263 in 99 games in 1920. He had a .615 OPS the first year and a .617 mark the next. In 1921, he batted .309 with 29 extra-base hits in 92 games. He hit six homers that year, four more than he hit during his previous seasons combined. Schultz played 112 games in 1922 and hit .314 with 64 RBIs and 50 runs scored, setting career bests in all four of those categories. However, the 1923 season saw him play just two big league games and spend the rest of the year in the minors. After 12 games with the Cardinals in 1924, he was purchased by the Philadelphia Phillies. He was hitting .167 at the time, then batted .282 with a .723 OPS in 88 games in Philadelphia. The 1925 season was split between the Phillies and Cincinnati Reds. He did well in both spots in limited time, finishing with a .333 average in 126 at-bats over 57 games, but it still ended up being his final big league season. Schultz finished his Major League career with a .285 average and 249 RBIs in 703 games. He played minor league ball in 1926, then was a player/manager for the next season, before retiring from playing. He then managed the next six seasons in the minors. He also spent three seasons as the Pittsburgh Pirates farm director, which was his job when he passed away in 1941 at 47 years old. His family had a rich history in the Major Leagues. His son Joe Schultz Jr. played nine seasons in the big leagues, the first three (1939-41) with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was also the manager of the Seattle Pilots during their only season in existence (became Milwaukee Brewers in 1970). His cousin Hans Lobert was a star third baseman in the majors. He played 14 years, including the 1903 season as a rookie with the Pirates, the team that went on to play in the first modern day World Series. Joe Sr also had a cousin named Frank Lobert, who played one season in the majors and lived out his life in the city of Pittsburgh....
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