Bucs Minor League Notes

News,notes and quotes from around the Pirates minor league system. Who's hot and who's not. A look at the Triple A Indianapolis Indians, the Double A Altoona Curve, the Single A Lynchburg Hillcats, Class A Hickory Crawdads, Class A State College Spikes and Rookie League GCL Pirates.

Center fielder Jason Pridie lifted a two-run triple to center field in the bottom of the ninth inning to give Rochester a 6-5 come from behind victory over Indianapolis on Saturday night. The Indians fall to 56-66 overall and 26-34 on the road and are in last place in the International League West Division.

JVB OUT OF THE PEN:In his best outing out of the bullpen this season, Indianapolis RHP John Van Benschoten (2.0 IP) shut down the Red Wings on Saturday night with two perfect innings of relief.

MORGAN IS HEATING UP: Entering action on Saturday Indians OF Nyjer Morgan has posted a .444 batting average (12-for-27) with 10 runs and nine RBI over his last seven games. Morgan belted his first home run of the season against Rochester on Friday night, it was his first long ball since Sept. 25, 2007, when he connected off the Arizona Diamondbacks during his time with Pittsburgh. The 28-year-old also places among the IL leaders for stolen bases (T-4th, 36).

RIDICULOUS RELIEVERS: Coming into action on Saturday Indians RHP Marino Salas was 2-1 with a 0.69 ERA over his last eight relief appearances (1 ER in 13.0 IP), while RHP Jesse Chavez had collected five saves and posted a 0.79 ERA over his last nine relief outings (1 ER in 11.1 IP). Salas ranks second on the team with a .194 batting average against and 32 appearances, while Chavez paces the club in appearances (44), saves (11), strikeouts (63) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.70-to-1).

LET'S GO STREAKING: Indians INF Brian Bixler saw his six-game hitting streak come to an end on Friday night at Rochester. During the streak, which took place from Aug. 2-7, Bixler batted .296 with three runs and an RBI. It was the third streak of six games that Bixler has posted this season with the previous two taking place from June 8-14 and June 16-22.

EVAN NOT SO MEEK: Entering play on Saturday night Indians RHP Evan Meek had posted an 0.94 ERA over his last 14 relief appearances (3 ER in 28.2 IP). The 25-year-old was named the Indians Player of the Month for July, when he posted an 0.51 ERA over nine relief appearances (1 ER in 17.2 IP), while striking out 16 and walking just one.

Shelby Ford, Jim Negrych and Jason Bowers each recorded three of Altoona's 14 hits as the Curve won their third game in four games against the Harrisburg Senators with a 7-4 victory Saturday. With the win, Altoona (55-67 - 5th in EL Northern Division) has clinched a series victory against the Senators (65-56) in the first of three stops on the club's 11-game road trip. The Curve will also visit Portland and New Hampshire this coming week as part of the team's longest trip of the season.

CAPPS ON THE MEND WITH ALTOONA: Pittsburgh Pirates' closer Matt Capps is expected to make a one-inning injury rehab appearance for the Curve in Tuesday's game at Portland. The right-hander has been on the Bucs' Disabled List since July 2 with bursitis in his right shoulder. In 37 games with Pittsburgh, Capps is 2-3 with 17 saves and a 3.12 ERA. Three other Pirates -- Jack Wilson, Ryan Doumit and Chris Duffy -- have rehabbed injuries with the Curve this season.

CURVE GET "RYCH": 3B Jim Negrych enters Sunday's action with the 4th-best batting average among all minor league hitters at .365. Negrych was promoted from Class-A Lynchburg on July 29, but continues to lead the Carolina League in batting average (.370), hits (143) and on-base percentage (.448).

TABATA IN THE FOLD: Jose Tabata, the youngest of the four players acquired by Pittsburgh in the July 26 trade with the New York Yankees, was added to the Curve's active roster Friday and has started the last two games in center field while batting second in the order. In two games, the 19-year old is 1x8 (.125) with a walk and run scored. Earlier this season, he hit .248 with nine doubles, three home runs, 34 RBI and 10 stolen bases in 79 games with the Eastern League's Trenton Thunder before landing on the Disabled List with an injured hamstring in early July.

THE HITS COME IN THREES: Curve batters have posted six three-hit games over the first four games of this weekend's series at Harrisburg. Leading the way is Shelby Ford, who has a pair of three-hit contests in the set and overall is 7x15 (.467). Other players with three hits in the series include Melvin Dorta (Thursday, Game 2), Steve Lerud (Friday), Jason Bowers (Saturday) and Jim Negrych (Saturday).

Eddie Prasch hit a bases-loaded single up the middle in the eighth inning, snapping a 3-3 tie, to deliver the Lynchburg Hillcats a 5-3 victory over the Myrtle Beach Pelicans on Saturday night. With the base knock, Prasch extended his hit streak to nine games and the Cats salvaged their four-game series against Myrtle Beach with a win. Hillcats starter Tony Watson turned in one of his best performances of the season, going six scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and one walk while striking out five. He did not earn the decision, however, as Dustin Molleken (2-1) gave up a trio of runs in his two innings of work. The Hillcats are 20-30 in the second half and in last place in the Carolina League Northern Division.

WHO'S HOT: INF Danny Bomback contributed immediately upon joining the Hillcats last week with five hits in his first 12 at-bats, including a home run versus Myrtle Beach Aug. 2. Catcher Kris Watts had a six-game hitting streak, including five contests with two hits, from July 26-31. Watts was 11-for-21 during the hot stretch.

ONWARD AND UPWARD: The Hillcats' woes have coincided with a cruel roster blow that saw 3B Jim Negrych and OF Jamie Romak receive promotions to Double-A Altoona on July 28. Negrych departed while leading the Carolina League with a .370 batting average and a .448 on-base percentage having collected 143 hits, including 36 doubles and five home runs, in 104 games. Romak, who joined the team in May after undergoing offseason elbow surgery, led the league with 18 home runs in 77 games, and was hitting at a .279 clip with 25 doubles and 57 RBIs. Reliever Moises Robles, who had six saves and a 2.00 ERA in 19 games with the Hillcats, also was promoted to Double-A. Their roster spots were filled by lefthander Brian Holliday and infielder Ray Chang, both of whom were sent down from Altoona, and Bomback, who was promoted from Class A Hickory.

The South Atlantic League's team with the best second half record met the team with the worst second half record on Saturday. The matchup on paper proved to be reality as West Virginia defeated Hickory 17-1 Saturday night. The game was a total breakdown of pitching and offensive production for Hickory as they surrendered a season high seventeen runs on nineteen hits on the night. Offensively, Hickory once again managed very little as they supplied only three hits while scoring only one unearned run in the fourth inning. Over the past 36 innings, the Crawdads have been retired in order 19 times. The Crawdads are 15-33 in the second half and are mired in last place in the Sally League Northern Division.

WHO'S HOT: OF Erik Huber had his best week of the season, hitting .429 (9-for-21) to boost his average to .269. RHP Matt McSwain (4-5, 2.17, 4 saves) has allowed 17 runs in 70 2/3 innings and has been the Crawdads' most consistent pitcher whether starting or coming out of the bullpen. The 22-year-old began the season in the bullpen for Hickory and threw 11 1/3 scoreless innings before a promotion to Class A Advanced Lynchburg in late April. He struggled with the Hillcats, allowing eight runs in 10 1/3 relief innings before returning to the Crawdads. He made his first start of the season July 2.

WHO'S NOT:Keanon Simon continues to battle at .202 (52-for-257). A 6-for-45 slump dropped OF Albert Laboy's average to .264. OF Austin McClune is struggling at .202 after a 5-for-36 skid.

The Aberdeen IronBirds squeaked past the State College Spikes Saturday night with a 3-2 win at Ripken Stadium. The Spikes fell to 11-37 and are in last place in the New York-Penn League Pinckney Division.

WHO'S HOT: Despite being in a horrid stretch, the Spikes have a few hot players. SS Chase d'Arnaud had his ten game hitting streak snappewd on Saturday night. He batted is batting .308 on the season. OF Quincy Latimore had an eight-game hitting streak snapped on August 1. That streak included a four-hit game and a three-hit game.

WHO'S NOT: CF David Rubinstein is off to a slow start battinf .202, but hitting hasn't been the Spikes' problem. Pitching has - Right-handed pitchers Maurice Bankston, Owen Brolsma and Michael Colla are struggling. Bankston 0-5 with a 6.69 ERA, Brolsma is 0-3 with a 5.24 ERA and Colla is 0-1 with a 24.30 ERA.

Bradenton is 26-15 and in first place in the GCL South Division.

WHO"S HOT: Shortstop Jarek Cunningham continues to swing a hot bat - hitting .321 with three homers and 13 RBI. Third baseman Adenson Chourio is batting. .343 with 12 RBI and on the pitching side right-hander Gabriel Alvarado is 4-1 with a 3.00 ERA in 36 innings of work.

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