Bucs Sign Brandon Mann

The Pirates have signed left-handed pitcher Brandon Mann, according to Baseball America minor league transactions.

Mann (also known as ブランドン by Japanese fans) has pitched in Japan for the last three seasons, and posted a 4.27 ERA with 3.6 BB/9 and 5.7 K/9 in 92.2 inning for the Yokohama DeNa BayStars (2011-2012). In 2013, he was released from Washington Nationals in March and signed with Shinano Grandserows, a team in the Japanese independent league. He had a 4.73 ERA with 41 walks and 62 strikeouts in 72.1 innings. Last month, he pitched in Fukuoka Softbank Hawks' tryouts, but it didn't work.

Mann throws a 90-92 MPH fastball, a mid-80's slider, a high-70s curve, and a 80 MPH change up. Last September, he changed his motion to a sidearm delivery and got more movement on his slider. The lefty has struggled with his control but the mechanical change led to better control for him.

He will likely provide bullpen depth at Altoona or Bradenton.
However, I wouldn't be surprised if he returned to Japan at the some point next season.


Pirates Add Add Pitcher from Czech

According to MisterBaseball, Pirates signed 20-year-old Czech righty Mark Minarik to  a minor league contract. The deal is pending some visa issues.

Minarik pitched 2 seasons (2011-2012) for GCL Phillies. However, Phillies released him in last spring. He spent the 2013 season in Czech league.

Tall, skinny and raw, the 6' 7", 195 lb kid has a fastabll which can touch 93 MPH but usually sits around 88-91. Minarik has a good frame and the potential to add some velocity. He also throws 12-6 curve and split-like change up. I think adding sinker is going to help him.

Minarik has posted a good BB/9 numbers (1.4) in the minors, but clearly has control problems. He should learn to repeat his mechanics.



Gregory Polanco Photoshop Contest

Original photo can be viewed on here.

It's not official, it's not even August, 2014... but Gregory Polanco looks really really good in black and gold.


Video: Andrew Lambo Interview

Buccos outfielder Andrew Lambo answers some questions from the Cardenales Dice.

Lambo mentions his new position at the 4:04 mark.


Jin-De Jhang vs. Japan

Last weekend, a catching prospect Jin-De Jhang played for Taiwan in the 3-game series against Japan.

Jhang has shown good hitting skills in minors. He is only 20 but did have a solid slash line this season at Short-season A (.277/.338/.413) with 5 home runs.

In this series, Jhang went 1-for-9 with a walk, a hit-by pitch, a sac bunt, and 5 strikeouts. You can watch how Jhang struggled against breaking balls from this video I posted on YouTube.

"In the U.S., pitchers throw many fastballs, so 
the hitters are going to be aggressive. 
Japanese pitchers throw breaking ball more, 
and the hitters need to be patient at the plate." - Jhang


However, Jhang made a good impression. He obviously took strong swing. In game 2 (1:03~), he hit two fly balls to the warning track in left field (325 feet from home to left: same as PNC park). He made strong contact though, so I wouldn't say the results came from "lack of power". Jhang just doesn't have enough game power at this point.

Okay, opposite-field fly balls. But can he pull the ball?

Actually he did. In 2013 season, he didn't hit a lot in the left-center gap (courtesy of mlbfarm.com). 

Last August, Jammers hitting coach, Kory DeHaan talked about Jhang's mental mind-set.

"His main focus is not to be a home run hitter. 
It's to stay in the opposite-field gap and 
that has been where his successes have been, 
when he's hitting the ball in that direction."

I guess the mind-set helped him. Especially when he hit the ball to right. When you are going to pull every single pitch you will be in trouble.

Behind the plate, the Taiwanese Molina showed solid pitch framing skills (3:23~) and strong arm.
He nab two base stealers (one allowed).
Especially, this one was a helluva throw. The pop time was 1.90. Yep, he can throw 1.88-1.90 range.
This is why Jhang threw out 47% of runners this year

International competitions were a good experience for him.

Jhang also played for his country in The 6th East Asian Games back in October.
"The tournament (East Asia Series) increased my self-confidence. I learned how to observe hitters' swing and approach." Jhang told the Taiwanese media after the exhibition series against Japan.

Then, he mentioned Japanese hitters. "They are really tough. They're always trying to destroy the balls on the outside corner. Unlike in the minors, it was difficult to use the ball out of the strike zone (against them)."

Of course, we shouldn't judge him by this 3-game series.
The stocky kid is only 20. Talent is clearly there.


GIFs: Gregory Polanco in DWL vol.1

Gregory Polanco Watch with GIFs.

Oct 19: Polanco hit his 2nd DWL home run...

Oct 21: Polanco picked up TWO doubles in this game.


Tyler Glasnow 4 Ks in One GIF

Tyler Glasnow got the win in his final regular season outing. He went 5 no-hit innings with 4 walks and 4 strikeouts against Lexington Legends.

About This Blog

I'm a Pirates fan from Japan.

I've been writing something about Pirates in Japanese on U Gotta Believe since...the day Starling Marte did his first #MartePartay. In this blog I will post some baseball things in English.