By John Perrotto
Is there anything for Pirates’ fans to look forward to in September, beyond their favorite team reaching the 100-loss mark for the first time since 2001 and perhaps 110 losses for the first time since 1952?
Actually, there is. The major-league roster limit expands to 40 from 25 on Wednesday and the Pirates will likely bring three new faces up from Class AAA Indianapolis once the International League season ends next Monday.
Right-hander Joe Martinez, first baseman/outfielder John Bowker and shortstop Pedro Ciriaco all figure to get a look at the major-league level after being acquired in deal at the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline. Martinez and Bowker came from San Francisco in a trade for left-handed reliever Javier Lopez while Ciriaco was acquired with catcher Chris Snyder from Arizona in a swap for right-handed reliever D.J. Carrasco, infielder Bobby Crosby and outfielder Ryan Church.
Bowker and Ciriaco have performed well since joining Indianapolis.
Bowker is hitting .306 with six doubles, two triples, three home runs and eight RBIs in 23 games while Ciriaco has a .280 batting average with five stolen bases in six attempts in 25 games.
Plate discipline has been the problem for both, though, as Bowker has 18 strikeouts and four walks in 89 plate appearances and Ciriaco has struck out 16 times and walked just twice in 97 trips to the plate.
Of the two, a scout from another major-league club who regularly sees Indianapolis, believes the 24-year-old Ciriaco has a better chance of making an impact.
“Ciriaco can really run and really catch the ball, he’s a very good defensive shortstop,” the scout said. “The big question is if he’ll hit enough to play in the major leagues. Even if he can hit .250-.260, he’d be a plus because of his glove. I like him.”
Ciriaco will likely get a chance to compete for the starting shortstop job in spring training next year, either against incumbent Ronny Cedeno, who may be released since he is arbitration eligible, or a veteran acquired as a free agent or in a trade.
Bowker, 27, is looked at as more of a bench player.
“For me, he’s a fringe guy but he does have left-handed power and he fits PNC Park well,” the scout said. “He could give the Pirates some pop off the bench in that ballpark. He was certainly worth taking a shot on.”
Martinez, 27, has been underwhelming at Indianapolis, going 1-2 with a 6.17 ERA in six games, four starts. One positive marker is that he does a 3.0 ground ball/fly ball ratio.
“He’s OK,” the scout said. “His stuff is fringy but he’s the kind of guy who could fill in a fifth starter or long reliever. That’s not very glamorous but you need guys like that over the course of a six-month season.”
—John Perrotto is the editor-in-chief of BaseballProspectus.com and baseball columnist at the Beaver County Times—