First Pitch: The Ten Best Game Scores for the 2019 Bradenton Marauders

On Monday we started a new series that will be nine parts, looking at the top Game Scores from minor league starting pitchers for the Pittsburgh Pirates. The first article looked at the best from the Indianapolis Indians. That was followed by the Altoona Curve.

Bill James developed the Game Score for pitchers, which you will see in the boxscores on MiLB. It starts with a base of 50 points and awards points for good pitching (strikeouts, recording outs and pitching late in games), while subtracting points for things such as walks, hits, earned runs and unearned runs.

Below you will find the ten best Game Scores for starters on the 2019 Bradenton Marauders, with a brief description of each game. With tie scores, I just listed them alphabetical, and if it was a tie between multiple starts for the same pitcher, I went in chronological order.

  1. Aaron Shortridge (81) – The best start of the season for Bradenton occurred on August 8th against Dunedin, five days after Shortridge threw 5.2 shutout innings against the same team. This 81 Game Score came from eight shutout innings on two hits, one walk and four strikeouts.
  2. Cody Bolton (78) – The first of two 78’s put up by Bolton came on May 6th and followed five straight appearances with one run allowed to open up the season. In this game he tossed seven shutout innings on three hits, with no walks and seven strikeouts.
  3. Cody Bolton (78) – The second 78 by Bolton happened 24 days later and saw him go six shutout innings with one hit, two walks and ten strikeouts, which was his season high in the latter category.
  4. Aaron Shortridge (78) – Not only did Shortridge put together the best start, he also tied for the second best. He pulled this game off in early June, throwing seven shutout innings on three hits, one walk and a season high of eight strikeouts.
  5. Nicholas Economos (76) – The first of three starts from Economos on this list. This was his second start after being promoted to Bradenton in late May. He went seven innings, allowing one run on two hits and three walks. He piled up extra points here by striking out ten batters, his high while with the Marauders.
  6. Nicholas Economos (74) – This was the first of three straight appearances for Economos in which he went seven innings and allowed one run on three hits. This one topped the other two outings because the run was unearned. He allowed one walk and struck out six batters. After his third straight seven inning/three hit outing, he was promoted to Altoona.
  7. Gavin Wallace (74) – Wallace began the season in the bullpen, then excelled as a starter later in the year. In early August he reeled off two straight starts that ranked among the top ten for the season. On August 2nd he struck out 11 batters over seven innings. Wallace gave up a run on five hits, with no walks.
  8. Nicholas Economos (73) – This was his last start before the aforementioned promotion to Altoona. As you already know, this was one run on three hits in seven innings. He had one walk and seven strikeouts in this game. The middle game here received a 72 Game Score, so it was an impressive three-game stretch.
  9. Max Kranick (73) – Kranick had a solid season with 20 starts, but only made it here once. On May 22nd, the only hit he allowed was a solo homer. In seven innings, he walked one batter and picked up three strikeouts.
  10. Gavin Wallace (73) – Five days after his 74 Game Score, he nearly matched the outing. In 7.1 innings, he allowed two runs (one earned) on two hits, one walk and six strikeouts. Surprisingly, Wallace decided to retire after the season, despite showing improved results/velocity.




21 minutes of the 2015 Pirates hitting home runs


By John Dreker

Six former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date and one minor trade mentioned below.

Jeromy Burnitz, right fielder for the 2006 Pirates. He already had 13 seasons of Major League experience when the Pirates signed him to a one-year contract on January 9, 2006. He had played for five different teams over the five previous seasons at the time of the signing. In 2005 for the Cubs, Burnitz hit .258 with 24 homers and 87 RBIs in 160 games. For the Pirates, he ended up hitting .230 with 16 homers and 49 RBIs in 111 games. His first home run of the season was the 300th of his career, becoming just the third player (Stargell/Kiner) to hit his 300th homer while wearing a Pirates uniform. Burnitz retired following the 2006 season. For his career, he hit .253 with 315 homers, 981 RBIs and 917 runs scored in 1,694 games.

Mike Diaz, utility player for the 1986-88 Pirates. He was a 30th round draft pick of the Cubs in 1978, and made it to the majors for the first time in 1983 for six September games. Chicago traded him to the Phillies prior to the 1984 season and he spent the entire year in Triple-A. Early in the 1985 season, the Pirates traded for Diaz, giving up minor league catcher Steve Herz. Diaz spent the year at Triple-A Hawaii, then made the Pirates out of Spring Training in 1986. In his first season, he hit .268 with 12 homers and 36 RBIs. He followed that up with a .241 average, 16 homers and 48 RBIs in 103 games during the 1987 season. He was playing mostly off the bench through August of 1988, when the Pirates traded him to the Chicago White Sox for Gary Redus. Diaz was released at the end of the year and he spent the last four seasons of his playing career in Japan. While with the Pirates, he split the majority of his time between first place and left field, though he also saw time at right field, catcher and third base.

Bill Pierro, pitcher for the 1950 Pirates. He was a hard-thrower with strong minor league stats but his Major League career was ended by illness shortly after it started. Pierro was signed by the Pirates as an amateur free agent in 1947 and struggled with his control in the low minors that first season. He turned it around quickly in D-ball in 1948, posting a 17-8, 2.15 record in 230 innings. He was still wild but he was also very hard to hit, allowing just 114 hits all season. Pierro moved up to class B for the 1949 season and continued his success with the Waco Pirates. He went 18-11, 2.96 in 255 innings that season. In 1950 he moved up to Triple-A with the Indianapolis Indians, going 8-3, 2.60 in 25 games before getting called up to the Pirates in mid-July. He had a rough go with the Pirates, posting a 10.55 ERA in twelve games, three as a starter. He pitched 29 innings, gave up 33 hits and walked 28 batters. As the 1951 Spring Training schedule was wrapping up, Pierro started complaining of a gastritis attack and dizziness. Just days later (on his birthday), he was rushed to the hospital with what turned out to be inflammation of the brain. He was listed in critical condition and the first few days it didn’t look good for him. He eventually recovered, although it marked the end of his baseball career. The Pirates released him in April of 1952.

King Cole, pitcher for the 1912 Pirates. He had an amazing rookie season in 1910, going 20-4 with a league leading 1.80 ERA. Cole was almost as good his second season, going 18-7, 3.13 in 221.1 innings. His pitching quickly went downhill in 1912, going 1-2, 10.89 in eight games through the end of May. The Pirates and Cubs hooked up on a four-player trade, with Tommy Leach and Lefty Leifield going to Chicago and Cole and Solly Hofman coming back to Pittsburgh. King (first name was Leonard) went 2-2, 6.43 in 12 games for the Pirates, making five starts and pitching 49 innings. He spent the 1913 season pitching for the Columbus Senators of the American Association where he went 23-11 in 46 games, throwing a total of 341.2 innings. The Yankees took him in the 1913 Rule 5 draft and he spent two seasons in New York. Late in 1915 he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and he passed away on January 6, 1916 at the age of twenty-nine. Cole had a career record of 54-27 with a 3.12 ERA.

Ed Abbaticchio, infielder for the 1907-1910 Pirates. He made his MLB debut with the 1897 Phillies, playing parts of two seasons in Philadelphia before spending the next four years in the minors. He returned to the majors with the Boston Beaneaters in 1903 and became the first Italian-American star in baseball, and possibly the first ever in the majors. Abbaticchio sat out the 1906 season to manage a hotel in Pittsburgh owned by his family. Boston traded him to Pittsburgh on December 11, 1906 in exchange for three players. He was a shortstop with Boston, but with Honus Wagner at shortstop in Pittsburgh, he moved to second base. In his first season he hit .262 with 82 RBIs, 65 walks and 35 stolen bases. In the field he led the league in errors for second baseman. During the 1904 and 1905 seasons, he also led the NL in errors among shortstops, so what happened in 1908 was probably a surprise. Abbaticchio hit .250 with 61 RBIs in 146 games that season, plus he had the best fielding percentage among NL second baseman. Just five games into the 1909 season, Abbaticchio lost his starting job to rookie Dots Miller, forcing him to the backup middle infielder role. In 36 games, he hit .230 with 16 RBIs, then in the World Series he saw just one at-bat. In 1910, Abbaticchio played just three games for the Pirates through the end of June, leading Pittsburgh to sell him back to Boston on July 1st. He would be released at the end of the season, ending his baseball career.

Bill Gray, third baseman for the 1898 Pirates. He made his pro debut with the Phillies in 1890 as a teenager. After two seasons with Philadelphia, he spent three years in the minors. He returned to the majors with the Cincinnati Reds in 1895 and hit .304 in 52 games. The following season his average dropped down to .207, which would lead to him spending the 1897 season back in the minors. On November 10, 1897 the Reds traded him, along with Billy Rhines, Pop Schriver, Jack McCarthy and Ace Stewart to the Pirates for Mike Smith and Pink Hawley. Gray was the everyday third baseman for the Pirates in 1898 and he hit .229 with 67 RBIs and 56 runs scored in 137 games. His defense was below average and he committed the second most errors among NL third baseman. It ended up being his last season in the majors. The Pirates traded him that December to Milwaukee of the Western League in exchange for Ginger Beaumont, who went on to become a star center fielder for the Pirates for eight seasons. Gray finished his career two years later in the minors.

One minor deal to mention from this date. In 2009, the Pirates acquired Delwyn Young from the Dodgers for two players to be named later. The Pirates later sent minor leaguers, Eric Krebs and Harvey Garcia to Los Angeles to complete the deal. Young played 234 games for the Pirates during the 2009-10 seasons, hitting .255 with 14 homers and 71 RBIs, while neither Krebs nor Garcia played for the Dodgers in the majors and both were soon out of baseball after the deal.

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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