Altoona was off.
-- Indianapolis had to resort to using position players on the mound for the second straight game (this time Hunter Morris gave up two runs) in a 12-3 loss to Buffalo. Chris Volstad gave up six runs on ten hits in five innings. Steve Lombardozzi went 3-4. Brent Morel, Pedro Florimon and Jaff Decker each had two hits. Alen Hanson went 0-5, Elias Diaz 0-4 and Tony Sanchez 1-4 with a double.
-- Bradenton dropped an 11-inning game to Jupiter, 2-1. Luis Heredia made some progress, allowing just one run in four innings. He gave up four hits and two walks, struck out three, and threw 44 of 72 pitches for strikes. The Marauders had only four hits, all singles. Austin Meadows was 1-5 and Barrett Barnes 0-2 with three walks. Harold Ramirez went 0-4, ending his 28-game hitting streak. Reese McGuire didn't play.
-- Colten Brewer (pictured) and John Sever combined to strike out 18 in West Virginia's 4-0 blanking of Greensboro. Brewer was a projectable prep pitcher drafted back in 2011. He's shown a mid-90s fastball in camp the last two years, but spent all of last year on the restricted list. He also missed all of 2011 with back problems and most of 2013 with a leg injury. In this game, he allowed only three hits and no walks, and struck out eleven in six innings. Sever followed Brewer with three hitless innings. He walked one and fanned seven. Michael Suchy went 2-3 with a double and Chase Simpson hit his fifth HR. Elvis Escobar was 2-4, Cole Tucker 1-4 and Connor Joe 0-2 with a walk.
-- As is so often the case, MiLB.com has no report on the DSL Pirates. As a substitute, what follows is a quick primer on the DSL prospects to watch. As many of you know, DSL stats mean almost nothing. The better players tend to sign at 16 and play their first seasons at 17, so they can't be expected to produce right away. Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco, for instance, struggled in their first DSL seasons. Sometimes, if a recent signee is very raw, he won't even play much in his first year. Meanwhile, the guys putting up big numbers often may be 20-21 and repeating the level for the second or third time.
So, really, the only way to determine which players are the real prospects is by the size of their bonuses, which in turn means almost nothing because projecting a 16-year-old is nearly impossible. The Pirates, for their part, haven't gone for big bonus players, instead spreading out bonuses in the $100-400K range, roughly, over a number of players. So here are the names to look for this year (there will be a test):
Gabriel Brito, C: A Dominican player with solid all-around skills, he got the second-largest bonus for Pirates' signees at $200K. He's hurt right now.
Christopher Perez, SS: A hitter with a good bat and speed, and a chance to stay at short. He's also hurt.
Yondry Contreras, OF: A Dominican, Contreras got the biggest bonus among the Pirates international signees last year at $400K. He has power potential but some questions about his hit tool.
Adonis Pichardo, RHP: A converted outfielder, Pichardo (along with a couple other of the pitchers the Pirates signed) has seen his velocity increase to the 92-96 range.
Domingo Robles, LHP: Robles' fastball also gained velocity after he signed. He now reaches 92.
Brian Sousa, RHP: A Panamanian, Sousa's fastball has gone from the mid- to upper-80s, to 93.
Roger Santana, LHP: Santana projects as more of a finesse lefty.
Yerry de los Santos, RHP: De los Santos has some projection and currently reaches 90.
There are three players returning to the DSL from last year who may be worth watching:
Mikell Granberry, C: Granberry is a Mexican who had a solid year last year.
Jeremias Portorreal, OF: Portorreal got one of the largest bonuses the Pirates handed out in 2013, but struggled badly at the plate last year.
Eliezer Ramirez, OF: Ramirez signed for $125K in 2013, but didn't play much last year.
UPDATE: MiLB posted the box score right after I posted this article. The DSL Pirates lost to the Yankees2, 8-5. Domingo Robles' first pro start was rough, as he gave up seven runs, four earned, in three innings. He allowed six hits and two walks, and fanned three. Mikell Granberry hit a pair of HRs, equalling his total of last year. Yondry Contreras was 1-4 with a double.