The GCL Pirates and DSL Pirates were off.
-- Indianapolis got a strong start from Clayton Richard and beat Syracuse, 5-1. Richard went seven innings, allowing the one run on three hits. He walked none, struck out five and threw 55 of 77 pitches for strikes. John Holdzkom threw a perfect inning, striking out one and throwing seven of 11 pitches for strikes. Brent Morel was 2-4 with two doubles. Pedro Florimon was also 2-4. Willy Garcia was 0-4.
-- I went up to Harrisburg to see Altoona drop a pair of one-run decisions to a weak Senators team and two mediocre starters. The Curve lost game one, 3-2, and game two, 4-3. Both games were a little frustrating, as the Curve clearly had the better team. They spent two games, though, hitting balls hard but at fielders. The Senators, meanwhile, spent most of their time beating ground balls into the turf, but they bunched most of the few baserunners they had.
Zack Dodson pitched game one and dominated for five innings against the Eastern League's weakest lineup. He made one bad pitch, which got deposited over the wall for the only hit through five. He commanded his fastball much better than in the past and showed a good slider as well as a slow curve that he didn't generally get over the plate. He kept the ball down very well until the 6th, when he fell behind and got some pitches up. He gave up a walk and two doubles, accounting for the last two runs. He allowed just the three hits, all to LH hitters. Dodson walked two and struck out six, and ended up with a six-inning complete game.
Tom Harlan started game two. His fastball has below average velocity, and he throws a curve and change, although he primarily relies on the fastball. He doesn't have an out pitch, but instead works around the edges of the plate and relies on the hitters to get themselves out. I'm skeptical whether his approach will work above AA. He allowed three runs in four innings. Jeff Inman threw the last two innings. He threw a mid-90s fastball and little else. Inman did well until he had two outs in the 6th. He then gave up three straight hits to let in the winning run.
Adam Frazier (pictured) and Max Moroff made consistent, hard contact throughout the two games. Frazier finished 4-8 with a double and Moroff 2-6. The two Harrisburg starters were career minor leaguers, one 27 years old and the other 28. Neither had especially good stuff. The pitcher in the second game was a sidearm righty who gave most of the other Altoona hitters trouble once through the lineup, but Frazier and Moroff had no trouble hitting him hard from the start. Josh Bell played only the first game and went 2-2 with a double and a walk. As usual, at least when I've seen him, he didn't pull anything.
Both first-game runs were driven in by Dan Gamache, one on an opposite field HR, his fifth, and the other on an opposite field line single. In game two, Jacob Stallings went 2-3 with a double, and threw out the only runner who tried to steal. Gift Ngoepe had a bunt single in game two, but otherwise struggled with a lot of offspeed pitches and breaking balls.
Altoona has a lot of interesting players, but the only one who probably projects as a major league regular is Bell. It remains to be seen whether the others will be given opportunities to win major league jobs. For that to happen, the Pirates will have to get over their compulsion to load the major league bench and the AAA roster with washed-up veterans. Their apparent belief that prior, unsuccessful major league experience provides some sort of guarantee of decent performance has proven wrong over and over again. I have a lot of trouble believing that Justin Sellers and Steve Lombardozzi are any more likely to be useful in the majors than guys like Frazier, Moroff, Stallings and Ngoepe will be once they've had a little AAA time.
-- Bradenton beat Brevard County, 4-3, in 11 innings. Harold Ramirez hit a walkoff, RBI single to end the game. Barrett Barnes was 2-5 with his 6th HR and Jin-De Jhang hit his first HR of the year. Austin Meadows was 2-5 and Erich Weiss 2-5 with a double. Jayson Aquino gave up three runs, two earned, in six innings. He allowed four hits and a walk, and struck out five. Montana DuRapau also struck out five in three innings of one-hit relief.
-- The West Virginia Power walloped Greensboro, 13-3. Pablo Reyes was 2-5 with a double, his seventh HR and three RBIs. Tito Polo was 2-4 with a double and his first HR, and Francisco Diaz hit his first HR. Jerrick Suiter and Elvis Escobar were each 3-5, and Suiter had a double and a triple. Cole Tucker was 2-4 with a triple and has his average up to .285. Michael Suchy was 2-2 with two walks and Connor Joe 1-4 with a double. Starter Alex McRae gave up three runs over six innings, striking out six and walking none. Sam Street struck out four over three shutout innings.
-- The West Virginia Black Bears got pummeled, 11-5, by Hudson Valley. J.T. Brubaker's second start wasn't especially good. He gave up four runs, two earned, on six hits in four innings. He walked none and stuck out one. Nick Hibbing threw two scoreless innings in his second pro outing, allowing a hit and a walk, and striking out none. The Bears had only six hits. Casey Hughston had a triple, his only pro hit in 22 at-bats. Logan Hill hit his first pro HR. Kevin Kramer was 1-3 and Kevin Newman 0-4.
-- Bristol took a pair from Princeton. In game one, the Pirates came from behind twice in the late innings to win, 4-3. They were down to their last out with nobody on in the bottom of the 7th when four straight hits, the last two by Julio De La Cruz and Erik Lunde, produced the tying runs. They fell behind by a run in the 10th, but in the bottom half Lunde singled and Sandy Santo doubled, and Nick Buckner hit a two-run, walkoff double. Lunde finished 2-5, De La Cruz 2-4 with a double, Carlos Ozuna 2-4 and Edgar Figueroa 2-3.
In game two, Bristol, trailing 6-0 in the 3rd, scored seven runs and then hung on for a 7-6 win. Enyel Vallejo was 3-3 with a double and Ozuna 2-4. Henrry Rosario hit his first HR, a three-run shot. Starter Neil Kozikowski struggled, allowing six runs, three earned, in three innings. He gave up eight hits, walked one and struck out two. Scooter Hightower threw two scoreless innings in his second pro outing. He gave up one hit, walked none and fanned two.