The Bradenton Marauders played a scrimmage game tonight at McKechnie Field, opening the event to the public free of charge. Hunter Strickland made the start for the Marauders, pitching five in the seven inning contest.
The Marauders were playing players from extended Spring Training, mostly those who will be ticketed for the State College Spikes roster this summer. Strickland, however, was pitching against the Marauders’ lineup. He went five innings, allowing two runs, one earned, on five hits, with a walk and three strikeouts.
The right-hander only had one inning with damage. In the third inning he gave up back-to-back singles to Francisco Diaz and Wes Freeman to start the frame. Gift Ngoepe sacrificed the runners over in to scoring position. Drew Maggi then followed that up with an RBI single, bringing in the first run of the evening.
The only other run scored was unearned in the fifth inning. Ngoepe led off with a fly ball to right field. Raul Fortunato lost the ball in the lights and let it drop. Gift hustled the entire time, and made it to third base thanks to his hustle and impressive speed. Two batters later he scored on a sacrifice fly by Evan Chambers.
Strickland threw 70 pitches, with 44 going for strikes. He was mostly sitting 90-92 MPH with his fastball, touching 94 on four occasions. He also mixed in his slider on occasion.
In the minor leagues there aren’t actual opening day starters or arranged pitching lineups like you see in the majors. Pitchers just go in the order that they were pitching in during Spring Training. Today was Strickland’s scheduled spot in the rotation, which means his first regular season start will be on Tuesday.
OTHER GAME NOTES
**Carlos Paulino was playing for the extended Spring Training team, for the purposes of catching Strickland. Paulino had two well-hit flyouts, one of them going to the wall.
**The hustle and speed by Ngoepe on the pop fly was impressive. Most players would have only taken second base, and wouldn’t have been running hard to first on a routine pop fly to right field.
**Aneudy Merejo came on to pitch an inning in relief. He was throwing 91-93 MPH, and struck out Drew Maggi swinging on a 92 MPH fastball on a 1-2 count to end the inning.
**Joely Rodriguez started for the extended team. I was in the camera wells when he was pitching, so I didn’t pay much attention to his results, and didn’t get his speeds. However, he had good movement on his pitches, and recorded at least one strikeout. His command was off a bit, which has been a problem for the left-hander in the past.
MINOR LEAGUE SEASON COVERAGE
The regular season starts tomorrow. For those of you who are new to the site, or as a reminder for those of you who are familiar with the site, here is the coverage you can expect during the minor league season.
**Every morning at 8 AM a daily schedule will be uploaded with the probable pitchers for the day.
**Every night at the conclusion of all of the games, a Prospect Watch will be uploaded, covering all of the action in the minors from that day.
**Starting a week from Monday, there will be a weekly Hot/Cold article, recapping the previous week’s events.
**We will have regular live coverage throughout the year. The coverage will start tomorrow as I will be in Bradenton for the next two days covering the Marauders. Nancy Zinni will have regular updates from Indianapolis.
Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.