Pittsburgh Pirates: Minor League Notebook - 7/26

<b><u>NASHVILLE</u></b> <br><br> <b> BACKSTOP BACK DOWN</b><br>Catcher Humberto Cota rejoined the Sounds Wednesday when the Pirates sent him to Nashville for a rehabilitation assignment.

Cota, out since May 27 with a left oblique muscle strain, has been in the Pirates clubhouse all season while the muscle healed and acted as a translator for pitcher Oliver Perez.

In his fist three games for Nashville, Cota was batting .500 (4-for-8) with a homer and two RBI. His progress will dictate just how long the man who will likely replace him with the Pirates next season, J.R. House, stays in the majors.

SITTING ON FIRST
Daryle Ward reported to Nashville Wednesday for a rehabilitation assignment as well, but the first baseman did not play in his first three days with the Sounds. He was working out swinging a bat while with the Pirates in an effort to come back from a ligament tear in his right thumb, but when he went to Nashville, he pulled a muscle in his rib cage and was sent to the pine for precautionary reasons.

OUT AT FIRST
Another injured Sounds first baseman, Carlos Rivera, has had another setback with a left intercostal strain. He was placed on the disabled list July 16, retroactive to July 14, and has not played a game with the Sounds since June 28.

FINAL GAME
Dave Williams headed into Saturday's start against Oklahoma for what may have been his final game for the Sounds this season.

If the Pirates trade pitcher Kris Benson, despite being only four games under .500 and within seven games of San Diego for the National League wild card berth, Williams, a left-handed Pacific Coast League All-Star, would be the logical choice for a recall.

Williams has not pitched for the Pirates since May 27, 2002 after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder July 11 of that same year.

ALTOONA

TOUGH PROMOTION
Brad Eldred is finding things a little more difficult at the Double-A level than at Lynchburg.

Eldred, called up last week after hitting .311 and leading the Carolina League with 21 homers and 77 RBI in 90 games, is 0-for-6 in two appearances thus far with the Curve.

EASIER GO OF THINGS
While Eldred has had his early struggles, former Lynchburg teammate Zach Duke has shown in only two games why he deserved his move up.

In two games, the 21-year-old southpaw is 1-0 and has not allowed a run in 11 innings for the Curve. He was pulled after only five innings of a no-decision Friday against the Bowie Baysox because he reached his pitch limit.

He has only surrendered five hits, walked two and struck out 12.

A NEW MOVE
Because of the Eldred recall, Josh Bonifay, who is one of the organization's more productive prospects at first base, has been moved to the outfield to make room in the lineup.

Bonifay is batting .273 with 16 doubles, 16 homers and 66 RBI.

LYNCHBURG

NEW KID ON THE BLOCK
Mike Rosamond hasn't been with the Hillcats vary long…in fact he only played his first game with them last week. But what a game it was.

Rosamond, an outfielder originally picked by Houston in the first round of the 1999 draft out of the University of Mississippi, went 1-for-2 with two walks and three runs scored.

STILL IN THE QUEUE
Eldred's promotion to Altoona may have stunted potential advancement for his former Lynchburg teammate Rajai Davis. Because Eldred has wedged his way into the first base spot and the Curve shifted Bonifay into the outfield, Davis may have gotten squeezed in the process.

Davis is batting .317 with 14 doubles, five triples, two homers, 28 RBI and 35 stolen bases.

HICKORY

NOTHING NU
The Pittsburgh Pirates announced that Crawdads pitcher Leo Nunez was its minor league player of the week.

Nice of the big club to take some notice.

In 20 games, 13 starts, he is 6-3 with one save and a 3.35 ERA. Considering a severe lack of pitching depth in Lynchburg, Nunez or lefty Josh Shortslef (9-4, 3.36) should be packing their bags for Virginia very soon.

FARTHER BACK IN LINE
Lynchburg only has one full-time player batting over .300, Davis, and after sending Eldred to Altoona, it would seem logical the organization would take a look at Jon Benick. All he's doing is batting .323 with 21 homers and 66 RBI.

And time is running out.

Benick will be 25 this year and, if he doesn't make a couple of quick surges up the ladder, he'll be buried in the bus leagues.

WILLIAMSPORT

REALITY CHECK
John Santiago bolted into the Crosscutters lineup immediately after his promotion from Bradenton and hit .294 with six RBI in six games with Williamsport.

The 19-year-old third baseman, 11th round pick in the 2003 draft out of Puerto Rico has had a bit of a come-uppance in the last few days.

His average took a nosedive to .238 and he hasn't driven in a run in three games.

DRAFT WATCH
No one probably took much notice of a 14th round draft pick out of Prairie View A&M, but second baseman Jermal Lomack is turning a few heads.

In 11 games, the speedster is 13-for-33 (.394), all singles, with seven steals and ofur runs scored.

He's outplaying his double-play combination and second-round pick Brian Bixler from Eastern Michigan, who's batting .295 with three doubles, two triples, four RBI and six errors in 20 games.

BRADENTON

NO DRAFT ZONE
A pair of undrafted free agents are lighting it up in Bradenton.

Infielder Alexander Peralta, 19,who played two years for the Pirates in the Dominican Republic summer league, is batting .451 with four doubles, six RBI and three stolen bases in 14 games.

Davin Munoz, a 19-year-old shortstop also signed in 2003 as an undrafted free agent, isn't far behind at .373 with five doubles, seven RBI and four steals.

DRAFTED
First round pick Neil Walker is getting his swing down at the Rookie League level. He's batting .302 with one homer and nine RBI and leads the team with three triples.

He has also only made one error in 23 games played.

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