-- Remember when Lumber and Lightning going mana-a-mano against the Big Red Machine was can't-miss baseball? Well, The two smallest crowds in Great American Ball Park's history saw the Reds beat the Pittsburgh Pirates yesterday.
Cincy had 1,500-2,000 fans on hand for the first game (announced sale 13,051) and the second drew the smallest gate in the ballpark's seven-year history when only 9,087 people showed up for the game (that was the announced attendance; far fewer were there).
Great American seats 42,000.
-- Joe Starkey of the Tribune-Review has some questions about the Pirate's evaluation skills and the contracts they lead to.
-- Jeff Karstens is pitching rehab at Indy, and Donnie Veal is getting his innings at Altoona. Both should be back soon.
-- The Bucs called up 3B Neil Walker and RHP Virgil Vasquez. Walker has been red hot lately, with 29 RBI in August (overall - .264/14/69), and Vasquez will likely work out of the pen and later rejoin the rotation when the Pirate inning limits on Ross Ohlendorf and Kevin Hart kick in. He went 2-5 with a 6.09 ERA in Pittsburgh and was was 7-4 with a 3.93 ERA at Indy.
-- Indy OF Brian Myrow was named the International League’s Batter of the Week for August 24-30 after he led the IL with a .600 batting average (15-for-25), 15 hits, 13 RBI and a .677 on-base percentage, while also finishing second with three home runs, a .960 slugging percentage and eight runs scored.
The 32 year-old is hitting .308/15/59 this season.
-- 3B Pedro Alvarez's Altoona year is over, as he's off to join Team US in the World Cup. He hit .333/13/40 in 60 games, with 34 walks and 59 strikeouts in 222 at-bats.
Indy RHP Brad Lincoln will join him. Lincoln was 6-2 with a 4.70 ERA in AAA, with 42 strike-outs and 10 walks in 61-1/3 frames.
-- Although Rudy Owens was promoted to Lynchburg in August, he was named the South Atlantic League's Most Outstanding Pitcher for his stint at West Virginia.
Owens posted a 10-1 record with a 1.70 ERA in 19 starts for the Power. The left-hander was named a mid-season All-Star in the South Atlantic League and earned the league's Pitcher-of-the-Week award twice.
In Baseball America's annual "Best Tools" issue, Sally League managers selected Owens as the circuit's Best Pitching Prospect. He also possessed the league's best changeup and control, according to the magazine's survey.
-- West Virginia's Kyle Morgan earned Player-of-the-Week honors in the Sally League. The first baseman went 10-for-21 with 10 runs scored, three doubles, three homers and seven RBIs.
Morgan was the Pirates' 36th-round draft pick in 2008. He's hit .301 with 25 RBIs in 36 games with the Power after starting the year at short-season State College.
-- Dejan Kovacevic of the Post Gazette began his series on the minor league teams and their top guns. He starts with the Bradenton Pirates of the Gulf Coast Rookie League, with Gift, the Indian Million Dollar arms, and some other up-and-coming prospects.
-- After several highly publicized beanings this year, a new helmet that's supposed to absorb 100 MPH heat has been handed out to the teams. It will be a mandatory piece of equipment in the minors next season, according to the Associated Press.