Friday, June 26, 2009

Bombs Away In Pittsburgh PA

Break up the Bucs! Led by the effective pitching of Virgil Vasquez and three long balls by unlikely power sources Nyjer Morgan, Jason Jaramillo, and Jack Wilson, the Pirates overcame a little ninth inning drama to take the opener from the KC Royals, 5-3.

The Double V fought off some early nerves - he gave up both of his runs in the second on a lead off walk followed by back-to-back doubles - and then Vasquez quickly found his groove, becoming the poster child for working quickly and throwing strikes.

He went six innings, giving up four hits, walking a pair, and whiffing seven to notch his first MLB win. Steve Jackson and Sean Burnett shut the door on the Royals in the seventh and eighth, and Matt Capps earned his seventeenth save, albeit with a little two-out damage that brought the winning run to the plate.

The key play was in the second, when with two runs in and a runner at second base with no outs, a grounder to Wilson turned into a thank you ma'am DP when he caught the runner going to third and Freddy Sanchez dove and tagged the batter trying to sneak into second.

Vasquez mowed down 13 of 15 Royals after that, and the Pirates were on the road to their third straight victory.

-- Vasquez started for Charlie Morton tonight; Morton will start for Ian Snell on Sunday to give his tight hammy a couple of more days to loosen up before taking the hill.

-- Ryan Doumit will head to Bradenton early next week to begin rehabbing his broken wrist at Pirate City. He's still thought to be several weeks away from being game ready. Doumit has been hitting BP and catching the bullpen while with the team.

-- Stumblin' prospect 1B Jamie Romak, 23, has been sent down to Lynchburg and OF Miles Durham, 26, took his spot at Altoona. Romak is hitting .175/5/24, while Durham is batting .296/7/39.

-- The Pirates promoted OF prospect Starling Marte, 20, from Bradenton of the GCL to Class A West Virginia. Pitcher Quinton Miller, 19, will join him, coming up from State College.

Marte was the Dominican Summer League MVP last year after batting .296/9/44 in 65 games and is considered one of Pittsburgh's top Latino prospects. RHP Miller, a 20th round selection in 2008, signed in August for $900,000 out of high school. Both youngsters are highly regarded by the Pirate organization.

RHP Noah Krol from Bradenton and 3B Brett Willemburg also were moved up to WV. Krol, 25, came from the Tiger organization, and Willemburg, 25, is from Cape Town, South Africa and spent most of his career playing internationally.

In addition, the Pirates' first-round draft pick, BC catcher Tony Sanchez, 21, is expected to join the Power on Saturday after a State College shake down cruise.

-- *sigh* The Pirates get another mention in Baseball America's "Not So Hot" Prospect Sheet:
Shelby Ford, 2b, Pirates. Not even in Matt Antonelli's darkest hour last season, in his Triple-A debut, could he imagine the depths Ford has visited. Antonelli, if you'll remember, batted .215/.335/.322 for Portland a year ago, showing none of the power or speed that had marked him as a top-tier second base prospect. While Ford, a third-round pick from Oklahoma State in '06, lacks Antonelli's first-round pedigree, he's suffered a similar fate with Indianapolis this season. The 24-year-old switch-hitter went 3-for-16 (.188) on the week and has batted a miserable .166/.210/.218 through 193 at-bats this season, connecting for only one home run and five doubles. With those sorts of numbers, one might expect Ford to be suffering from sever strikeout issues. But that hasn't been the case—he fanned three times this week and a manageable 42 times on the year.
--The Bucs released OF Marcus Davis, an 18th round draft pick from Alcorn in 2007, after he hit .180 at Lynchburg. The Pirates selected him on raw potential, but his bat failed him; he hit only .219 in his brief minor league career.

-- Spring free agent IF Andy Phillips has signed a one-year contract worth $400,000 with the Hiroshima Carp of Japan's Central League. Phillips had a .250 career batting average with 14 home runs and 70 RBIs in 259 games in the major leagues.

The Pirates stashed Phillips, 32, at Indy before trading him to the Chicago White Sox in mid-April for RHP Michael Dubee, 23, who was just promoted to Altoona.

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