Here’s a blast from the past: Felix Pie, the former top Cubs prospect turned 28-year-old journeyman, has been called up from Triple-A by the Pirates and is batting leadoff tonight. For a first-place team. In 2013.
Pie last played in the majors for the Orioles in 2011, hitting .220 with zero homers in 85 games, and is a career .249 hitter with a .673 OPS. He also hit just .251 with a .325 on-base percentage in 105 games at Triple-A for the Pirates before the call-up, so the move–and particularly the decision to bat him leadoff tonight–doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
Pie first cracked Baseball America‘s top-100 prospects list in 2003. That year Francisco Liriano was 11 spots below Pie on the same prospect list, Andrew McCutchen was a sophomore in high school, and Gerrit Cole was in junior high. So yeah, it’s been a while.
When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.
The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.
Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.
It’s also worth mentioning that Gift and Neverauskas were arrested together in a bar fight last August in Toledo, so there is already a good basis for some bonding here.
Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.
The Rays beat the Orioles last night, but the play of the game belonged to an Oriole defender.
Evan Longoria was batting and he chopped a ball foul down the third base line. At least it started out foul. As we all know, however, it doesn’t matter where the ball starts, it matters where it is when it crosses the bag.
Manny Machado knows this and didn’t give up on the ball despite it starting several feet in foul territory. He watched it come back, stayed with it and threw out Longoria who, unlike Machado, did give up on it, assuming he’d merely get a strike and another hack. Watch:
Longoria would get Machado back, however, fielding a ball Machado smoked to third base in the ninth inning, recording the second to last out of the game.