First Pitch: Looking Back at Past April Pitchers of the Month

Under normal circumstances, we would be naming the Pirates Prospects Player of the Month and Pitcher of the Month for April this weekend. With that in mind, I wanted to look at the past winners and how they finished out the rest of the season after a great start. I looked at the hitters yesterday and we move on to the pitchers today.

Here are the seven previous April Pitcher of the Month winners. I’ve listed their April stats, plus how they finished out the season.

2019: Cody Bolton – With Bradenton last April, Bolton had a 0.96 ERA, an 0.86 WHIP and a 29:7 K/BB ratio in 28.0 innings. His ERA went up every month after that until he was shut down in August due to workload. He ended the season in Altoona for his final nine starts.

2018: JT Brubaker – In five April starts with Altoona, Brubaker posted a 1.45 ERA in 31 innings, with a 34:5 SO/BB ratio, a .200 BAA, an 0.90 WHIP and a 2.22 GO/AO ratio. He made just one more start before being promoted to Indianapolis, where he had a 3.10 ERA, a 1.32 WHIP and 96 strikeouts in 119 innings. His best month in 2018 was actually in August, not April.

2017: Alex McRae – With Altoona, McRae put up a 2.12 ERA, a 1.18 WHIP and 17 strikeouts in 29.2 innings. Clearly it wasn’t a strong month for the system, but he was still the best of the group. He stayed with Altoona all year and April was easily his best month. McRae finished with a 3.61 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in 149.2 innings.

2016: Brandon Waddell – Waddell had five April starts in Bradenton, posting an 0.93 ERA and an 0.52 WHIP in 29 innings, along with a 26:2 K/BB ratio. He was promoted to Altoona for his next start and he finished with  a 4.12 ERA, a 1.55 WHIP, and 94 strikeouts in 118 innings in Double-A.

2015: Angel Sanchez – Sanchez had an 0.40 ERA,  an 0.66 WHIP and a 12:2 K/BB ratio in 22.2 innings with Altoona in April. He had a rough May, with a .340 BAA, but still got promoted to Indianapolis in June. Two months later, he needed Tommy John surgery, though he bounced back during his return in 2017 and briefly made the majors.

2014: Casey Sadler – In four starts with Indianapolis, Sadler had a 1.67 ERA in 27 innings, with 16 strikeouts and an 0.85 WHIP. His first May appearance was with the Pittsburgh Pirates in relief. He would have four stints with the Pirates and post a 7.84 ERA in 10.1 innings. Sadler finished with a 3.03 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP in 21 starts with Indianapolis.

2013: Stolmy Pimentel – Pimentel had an incredible April with Altoona, allowing one run in 30.1 innings. He had 28 strikeouts and his WHIP was higher than you would expect (1.09) due to 14 walks. He was awful in May, still got promoted to Indianapolis anyway, then put up strong June/July results. He eventually ended up with the Pirates in September, where he posted a 1.93 ERA in 9.1 innings.


This song is about you and baseball, trust me




By John Dreker

Four former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date. We will also have a special history post later tonight.

Neftali Feliz, pitcher for the 2016 Pirates. He was signed as a free agent prior to 2016, after spending 6 1/2 seasons with the Texas Rangers and the last part of 2015 with the Detroit Tigers. Feliz made 62 appearances for the Pirates. He posted a 3.62 ERA in 53.2 innings, with 61 strikeouts and a 1.14 WHIP. He signed as a free agent with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2017, which ended up being his last season in the majors. In 357 games (350 as a reliever), he had a 3.49 ERA in 389.1 innings, with 107 career saves.

Jose Ascanio, pitcher for the 2009-11 Pirates. He was originally signed as an amateur free agent by the Braves in 2001. Ascanio made his big league debut six years later, pitching 13 games out of the bullpen for Atlanta. In 16 innings, he struck out 13 and had a 5.06 ERA. The Braves traded him to the Cubs in December 2007 and Ascanio struggled in his brief six game stay in the majors the following season. In 2009 he pitched much better in Chicago, posting a 3.52 ERA in 15.1 innings with 18 strikeouts. On July 30, 2009, the Pirates acquired him along with Josh Harrison and Kevin Hart in exchange for Tom Gorzelanny and John Grabow. Ascanio ended up getting injured after just two games and missed the rest of 2009 and all of 2010. He made it back to the majors in mid-May of 2011, but lasted just eight games before he was designated for assignment and sent back to the minors. Ascanio left via free agency following the 2011 season and he signed with the Dodgers for 2012, though he never pitched in the majors after 2011. He was still active in winter ball this past year.

Clay Carroll, pitcher for the 1978 Pirates. He had a successful 15-year career in the majors as a reliever, pitching 731 games with 96 wins, a 2.94 ERA and 143 saves. His career was near the end when he signed with the Pirates as a free agent after the White Sox had released him just prior to the start of the 1978 season. Carroll had pitched 59 games and 101.1 innings during the 1977 season, posting a 2.75 ERA. He spent most of 1978 in the minors, joining the Pirates in September when the rosters expanded. In the minors he pitched 31 times and had a 3.90 ERA in 60 innings, while saving seven games. In the majors he saw very limited action, pitching at the end of a 10-3 loss on September 11th and then twenty days later, on the last day of the season, he pitched two innings. Both of his outings were against the Phillies. Clay was released following the season and he pitched briefly in the minors in 1979 before retiring.

Freddy Sale, pitcher for the Pirates on June 30, 1924. With Pittsburgh down 7-3 to the Cardinals in the eighth inning, Fred Sale just out of the University of Georgia, made his Major League debut. He allowed singles to the first two batters he faced, putting runners on the corners with no outs. Two batters and a double play later, Sale left the mound without allowing a run. The Pirates were unable to make a comeback and Sale’s major league career was over. He would pitch two seasons for the Wilson Bugs of the Virginia League before his pro baseball career was also over. Fred had a 20-13, 4.21 minor league record in 306 innings. On April 30, 1923, while in college, Sale pitched a perfect game against the Univ. of Virginia, striking out eight batters in his 4-0 victory.

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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