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.

Shortstop Luis Cruz lifted a two-run long ball to left field in the fifth inning to lead Indianapolis past Durham 6-3 on Saturday evening at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.The Indians improve to 64-71 overall and 29-38 on the road. The long ball for Cruz was his first with the Indians this season and plated RF Steve Pearce, who led off the fifth with a walk.

"I feel really good because my home run was able to help the team," Cruz said. "We have played so many close games so taking a good win like this is great. It feels so good to know I was able to help accomplish this win."

MCCUTCHEN IN SPORTS ILLUSTRATED: The national recognition is continuing for Indians outfielder Andrew McCutchen ... He is included in a baseball prospects feature in this week's Sports Illustrated. SI's analysis projects the 21-year-old's talent as similar to Cleveland Indians outfielder Grady Sizemore, (averaged .285, 24 HR, 78 RBI, 25 SB, 121 R over past three seasons).

SUPER STARTERS: Entering play on Saturday Indianapolis starting pitchers have combined for a 4-1 record and 2.93 ERA (20 ER in 61.1 IP) over the last 10 games (Aug. 12-22). During the stretch Tribe starters have struck out 43 batters, while walking only 10 ... RHP Ross Ohlendorf, LHP Corey Hamman, and LHP Tom Gorzelanny also have combined with relievers Franquelis Osoria, Juan Perez and Jesse Chavez to toss three shutouts during the stretch.

RIDICULOUS RELIEVERS: Entering action on Saturday Indians RHP Marino Salas is 2-1 with a 1.96 ERA over his last 12 relief appearances (4 ER in 18.1 IP), while RHP Jesse Chavez has collected eight saves and posted a 2.16 ERA over his last 15 relief outings (4 ER in 16.2 IP). Salas leads the team with .203 batting average against and ranks second on the team with 36 appearances, while Chavez paces the club in appearances (50), saves (14) and strikeouts (70).

EVAN NOT SO MEEK: Coming into play on Saturday Indians RHP Evan Meek has posted an 1.36 ERA over his last 17 relief appearances (5 ER in 33.0 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.

Yoslan Herrera dazzled and everyone in the Curve starting lineup recorded a hit in Altoona's 5-2 win over the New Hampshire Fisher Cats on Saturday night at Blair County Ballpark. Herrera (6-9) allowed just three hits and struck out three batters in 6 and 2/3 innings of work to earn the victory. The Curve is 61-73 and in fifth place in the Eastern League's Southern Division.

ROMAK NOT BUILT IN A DAY: 1B Jamie Romak has five home runs and 14 RBI in his last eight games. Romak was 2-for3 with a solo home run and two RBI on Saturday night. He homered twice as part of a four-hit, six-RBI effort in last Friday's 12-0 win at New Hampshire, then hit his third longball of the weekend to break a 2-2 tie in the 7th inning of last Saturday's 7-2 Curve win against the Fisher Cats. On Tuesday, he smacked a go-ahead three-run homer in the bottom of the third inning of Altoona's 7-6 victory vs. Portland. Romak now has a combined 25 home runs between Lynchburg (A) and Altoona, a total which leads all Pirates' farmhands.

TABATA TERRIFIC: Entering play on Saturday night in 13 games since being added to the Curve roster on August 8, OF Jose Tabata is hitting .415 (22x53) and has posted two or more hits seven times, including three hits in Friday's contest. The 20-year old, who began the season with the Eastern League's Trenton Thunder, was one of four players acquired by Pittsburgh from the New York Yankees in the Damaso Marte/Xavier Nady trade on July 26.

LET'S GO STREAKIN': 3B Jim Negrych and OF Jose Tabata each carried lengthy hitting streaks into Saturday's game.Negrych owns a current team-high eight-game hitting streak (.448, 13x29), while Tabata has posted a seven-game streak, during which he's hitting .500 (14x28). Jason Delaney's 15-gamer from June 29-July 13 is the Curve's longest hitting streak of the season.

ON THE D.L.: Four Curve players are currently listed on the Disabled List -- C Steve Lerud (8/21, mild concussion), RHP Jeff Sues (8/17, right shoulder), OF Anthony Webster (8/8, ankle) and RHP Josh Hill (8/3, arm fatigue).

The Hillcats pounded out 13 runs in a 13-5 victory over the Nationals on Saturday night at Pfitzner Stadium. Jared Keel (pictured) smacked a pair of home runs to give him his second multi-homer game the season and the fifth of his career. The win secured the Cats second straight road series victory as they moved to 4-1 on their current six-game road trip. Lynchburg is 53-78 overall and in fourth place in the Carolina League Northern Division.

FABULOUS AT THE PFITZ: LHP Tony Watson matched his career-high with seven innings of work, allowed just one unearned run and two hits on Friday night picking up his seventh victory of the season. In his last two starts at Pfitzner Stadium the southpaw has gone 2-0, has not allowed an earned run 16 innings of action and has allowed ca combined two hits. His victory Friday night was his first since his last start in Woodbridge when he tossed seven hitless innings in a 2-0 win on July 19th.

ATONEMENT: On Friday night RHP Dustin Molleken recorded his second save of the season by pitching two scoreless innings to end the game. The right hander had blown three consecutive save opportunities (most recently Tuesday at Frederick) and was 0-2 with a 12.65 ERA in his last six appearances prior to Friday night.

The Crawdads are 19-43 and in last place in the South Atlantic League Northern Division. Despite fantastic pitching, Hickory couldn't muster any offense in a 2-0 loss to Asheville in Saturday's series opener.

Starter Rafael De Los Santos and relievers Wanell Macia and Adam Simon combined to allow just two runs on five hits and hold a scoreless tie through 7.2 innings.

But after a Helder Velazquez two-out single off of Simon in the eighth, Asheville's Jeffrey Cunningham launched a two-run home run over the right-centerfield wall for the only scoring of the game. It was Cunningham's 17th home run of the season, tying him for the team lead.

Lost in the shuffle was the performance of De Los Santos, who has now avoided his 10th loss of the season for three straight outings.

The Dominican right-hander dazzled, tossing five scoreless innings and allowing just three hits and a walk. His eight strikeouts, meanwhile, broke his personal high of seven set in his first start of the year

PITCHING RULES: Even after the Saturday's loss, Hickory's pitching staff still sports a 2.04 ERA in its last six games (12 ER in 53 innings).

NO DECISION Rafael De Los Santos now owns the second-most no-decisions (13) for a season in Crawdads history, breaking a tie with 2002's John VanBenschoten. He trails only Derek Hankins' 2005 total of 15 NDs.

State College Spikes' pitchers Carlos Amaro, Jorge Charry and Alan Knotts combined to pitch a one-run victory against the Mahoning Valley Scrappers Saturday night at Eastwood Field.

The Spikes (12-47, last place in the NYPL Pinckney Division) allowed one run in the bottom of the ninth inning, but held on to claim the victory which ended an 11-game losing streak. State College has now had seven consecutive games end in a one-run decision.

State College didn't waste any time Saturday night, and took the lead in the first inning. Matt Payne led off the game by reaching base on a fielding error by Mahoning Valley's shortstop Isaias Velasquez. Ciro Rosero followed with a double to left-center field, scoring Payne to give the Spikes the lead.

In the fourth inning Kyle Morgan singled to drive in Jeremy Farrell who reached base with a single of his own to lead off the inning. Two runs were all the Spikes needed to walk off the field victorious.

FARRELL HOT: Spikes third baseman Jeremy Farrell continues to be a bright spot for the Spikes. Entering play on Sunday he is hitting .306 with no home runs and 20 RBI.

CENTRAL PA FANS PACK THE PARKS FRIDAY: For the seventh time in 2008, the Spikes drew over 5,000 to the park on Friday, packing 5,005 fans into Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. Combined with the 8,731 in attendance for the Altoona Curve game Friday at Blair County Ballpark, that made a record 13,736 fans watching the sister Central PA squads play.

The Pirates are in first place in the GCL South Division with a 35-18 record.

WHO"S HOT:Third baseman Jarek Cunningham continues his solid play batting .309 with four home runs and 19 RBI. Second baseman Adenson Chourio is hitting .328 with no home runs and 13 RBI. On the pitching side lefty Nelson Pereira has posted a 6-2 record in 12 outing - five starts with a 1.76 ERA. He has recorded 43 strikeouts and allowed only nine walks. Right-hander Gabriel Alvarado is 4-2 with a 3.04 ERA.

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