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Report from Pirate City: Minor league exhibitions begin

Exhibition games started for the minor leaguers today. The Pirates had their class A teams hosting the Braves, with the AAA and AA squads on the road. Of course, the rosters at this point don’t mean much. Many, probably most, players are bumped up a level because the bulk of what ultimately will be the Indianapolis roster is still with the Pirates. Also, the minor leaguers are competing for jobs much like the major leaguers are, and some won’t make the teams they’re working out with.

For what it’s worth, though, the “Bradenton” team had the core of what could be this year’s West Virginia Power: Lolo Sanchez, Mason Martin, Oneil Cruz, Rodolfo Castro, Dylan Busby, Chris Sharpe and Calvin Mitchell, among others. Cruz (shown in the picture up top) has played exclusively at short when I’ve seen him this spring, so the Pirates appear ready to stick with that plan. Castro played second today and that position may be his best chance for making the Power’s roster.

As I mentioned in a comment, Sanchez led off the bottom of the first with a line-drive HR on the first pitch he saw.

Lolo Sanchez before the game, apparently anticipating what’s to come

Sanchez also had at least one other hit before being replaced. Cruz had an effortless, opposite-field HR off a lefty. I’m not too sure about the shortstop thing, although he’s a very athletic guy. He allowed an infield hit on one bouncer that I thought should have been playable. It looked like he might not have charged it aggressively enough.

The umpire, the catcher and Oneil Cruz can all see where this ball is headed.

The low A game featured a lot of players who could end up in short season ball. Most of the players who’ll be moving up to the US from the Dominican Summer League won’t be in camp until the full-season players have left. There are a few exceptions, though, including third baseman Sherten Apostel, catcher Samuel Inoa and center fielder Jean Eusebio. Apostel and Eusebio played today. I’m wondering whether this is an indication that the Pirates are thinking of sending those three to Bristol rather than the Gulf Coast League.

As I also mentioned earlier, Apostel came out of the game with a cramp in his hamstring. It happened a couple pitches after a slide into third, when he started toward the plate and then stopped when the batter swung and missed. He appeared to be in quite a bit of pain and was carted off. Prior to that, Apostel scuffled a little defensively. He threw poorly on a possible 5-4-3 double play, getting only one out, and couldn’t hold a backhanded short-hop, which would have been a tough play. He singled to right in the only at-bat I saw.

Sherten Apostel came out with a hamstring injury.

Ji-Hwan Bae took part in drills this morning, but wasn’t suited up for the game. I’m guessing that he won’t do much until the full-season players depart. He could be ticketed for the GCL.

Ji-Hwan Bae
Jean Eusebio
Fabricio Macias, signed recently out of Mexico, played with the low A squad.
Dylan Busby had a single and a double.

And in one last news item, Pirates Prospects is reporting (sub. req’d) that the Pirates have made their 57th international signing since last July 2, a Venezuelan right-hander named Carlos Campos. Campos is 16, so I’d guess his bonus was in the low six figures. The Pirates beat out the Rockies for his services, so maybe they’re abandoning their traditional refusal to compete with other teams for talent.