Carlos Paulino's fielder's choice won the game for the Pirates in walk-off fashion, but Phil Irwin's line was the key in the Pirates' 4-3 defeat of the Orioles Monday.
Irwin, whose prospect stock has been rising since the beginning of last season, struck out seven batters and walked none over 3.2 innings in relief. It's just spring training and the stats don't really matter, but Irwin is becoming impossible to ignore, and seems to be establishing himself as a pretty serious prospect. He came through the low minors with a reputation for having average stuff, but has attracted attention recently not only for his stats (which have been good, although that isn't necessarily unexpected for a decent command-and-control guy in the minors) but also for his curveball, which turns out to be a pretty good curveball.
I was a little surprised when Irwin got promoted to Indianapolis last year and didn't miss a beat; he'll likely head back there to start the 2013 season, and we'll begin to get an indication of whether he's the real deal. He's looking more and more like a great late-round draft pick (21st round, 2009). Neal Huntington and company haven't had nearly enough of those, but credit where credit is due -- it looks like Irwin is one.
Anyway, Josh Harrison went 2-for-2, and Jeff Locke allowed eight hits but struck out three and walked one while allowing two runs in 3.1 innings.