This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: March 27th, Pirates and White Sox Trades

Two Pittsburgh Pirates trades of note and four former players born on this date. A current Pirates pitcher is celebrating a birthday today as well. Clay Holmes turns 28 today. He will get a bio once he is a former player.

The Trades

On this date in 2002, the Pittsburgh Pirates sent reliever Damaso Marte and minor league infielder Edwin Yan to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for minor league starter Matt Guerrier. Yan was 20 years old at the time of the trade. He had just played his first full season in 2001 and hit .283 with 56 steals for Low-A Hickory. Marte was a 27-year-old reliever, who had a 4.71 ERA in 36.1 innings for the Pirates in 2001, which was his first full season in the majors. Guerrier, at age 22 in 2001, went 18-4, 3.30 in 27 starts split between Double-A and Triple-A. He would pitch two years at Triple-A before the Pirates put him on waivers in November of 2003. He ended up pitching 555 Major League games over 11 seasons, twice leading the AL in games pitched while with the Minnesota Twins. The Pirates eventually got Marte back, but not until after he pitched four seasons out of the White Sox bullpen, where he posted a 2.78 ERA in 279 games. Yan played pro ball for 15 years, but never made the majors.

Exactly 15 years earlier, the same two teams hooked up on a deal that saw reliever Jim Winn go to Chicago, while outfielder John Cangelosi came to Pittsburgh. Cangelosi was 24 years old at the time, coming off his first full season in the majors. He hit .235 in 137 games for the White Sox in 1986, stealing 50 bases and drawing 71 walks. Winn, who was 27 years old, went 3-5, 3.58 in 88 innings for the Pirates in 1986. It was his first full season in the majors and the fourth season that he played with Pittsburgh. After the trade, Winn posted a 4.79 ERA in 94 relief innings during his only season with the White Sox. His Major League career ended with nine games for the Minnesota Twins in 1988. Cangelosi spent four seasons in Pittsburgh, mostly playing off the bench. He started just 90 games over those four years, and in 349 total games with the Pirates, he hit .243 with 48 stolen bases and 93 runs scored.

The Players

Montana DuRapau, pitcher for the 2019 Pirates. At 22 years old in 2014, he was a 32nd round draft pick of the Pirates out of Bethune-Cookman University. DuRapau, who already pitched 117 innings in 2014 before joining the Pirates, was given a starting role for Jamestown of the New York-Penn League. He put up a 2.21 ERA in 61 innings, with 57 strikeouts. The next season he saw action at three levels, working his way from Low-A to Double-A, while spending most of the year playing for Bradenton in the Florida State League. Combined between three stops, he had a 1.38 ERA in 72 innings over 44 appearances. DuRapau spent the entire 2016 season in Double-A, posting a 3.63 ERA in 49.1 innings over 50 appearances. He went to the Arizona Fall League after the season and had a 5.40 ERA in ten appearances. He split the 2017 season between Double-A and Triple-A, combining for a 2.04 ERA in 53 innings, with 62 strikeouts. DuRapau failed a drug suspension over the off-season and he was limited to  just 30.2 innings in 2018. It seemed to have sidetracked his career, but the Pirates were desperate for pitching in 2019 due to numerous injuries and he got multiple chances at the big league level. That was helped by an All-Star season in Triple-A, where he had 2.14 ERA in 46.1 innings, during a season in which the International League was using big league baseballs, which resulted in a huge jump in offense. He had six different stints with the Pirates in 2019, making a total of 14 appearances, including two starts. He put up a 9.35 ERA in 17.1 innings. He didn’t play during the shortened 2020 season and became a free agent at the end of the year. DuRapau signed with the Oakland A’s for the 2021 season just two weeks after reaching free agency.

Gary Alexander, first baseman/outfielder for the 1981 Pirates. He signed a second round draft pick of the San Francisco Giants in January of 1972, after passing on a 23rd round selection by the Montreal Expos seven months earlier. Despite getting drafted out of college both times, he was still just 19 years old at the time. Alexander spent most of his career as a catcher, a position he didn’t play while with the Pirates. In the minors he was able to hit for power and average, while drawing a good number of walks, but in the majors he had trouble making contact. His pro debut was not a good one in the lower level of the minors. Alexander .206 in 55 games, playing in the Pioneer League. It didn’t take long for him to break out though. He hit .261 with 17 homers and 89 walks in Low-A in 1973, then followed it up with .298 average, 27 homers and 95 RBIs, in 103 games at High-A in 1974. Alexander debuted in the majors in September of 1975 after putting up huge numbers in Double-A. He hit .329 with 23 homers and 76 walks in 103 games for Lafayette of the Texas League that year, resulting in a 1.057 OPS.  He played just three games with the Giants, going 0-for-3 with a walk. Playing in Triple-A in 1976, Alexander hit .319 with 17 homers and a .972 OPS. That year he played 23 games with San Francisco and he hit .178 with two homers. The 1977 season was split evenly between the Giants and Triple-A. He had a .973 OPS in 59 minor league games, and a .901 OPS in 51 games with the Giants. Alexander batted .303 with five homers. He was traded during Spring Training in 1978 and ended up splitting the season between the Cleveland Indians and Oakland A’s, setting career highs with 27 homers and 84 RBIs, though he also batted .225 and led the league with 166 strikeouts, which was one of the highest single season strikeout totals in baseball history at the time. In 1980, he played 76 games for the Indians, hitting .225 with five homers and 31 RBIs. Alexander was acquired by the Pirates during the winter of 1980 in a deal that saw both Bert Blyleven and Manny Sanguillen head to Cleveland. For the Pirates, he played 21 games during the strike-shortened 1981 season, hitting .213 with six RBIs in 51 plate appearances. At the end of the 1982 Pirates Spring Training, he was released, ending his big league career.  He played the next two seasons in Mexico, and also appeared in winter ball in Mexico during the 1988-89 off-season. Alexander was a .230 Major League hitter with 55 homers and 202 RBIs in 432 games. He caught 229 games in the majors, but his time with the Pirates was spent between first base and the two corner outfield spots.

Dave Hostetler, first baseman for the 1988 Pirates. After going undrafted out of high school, Hostetler was drafted five times out of college before he finally signed. The first three times occurred while he was attending Citrus College in California. The final two were after he transferred to USC. Hostetler was taken in the January draft in 1975 and 1976, both times by the San Francisco Giants and both times in the fourth round. In June of 1976, the Cleveland Indians tried their hand in the sixth round. One year later, the Giants came calling again, this time as a second round pick. Hostetler finally signed as a fourth round pick of the Montreal Expos in June of 1978. He started in the Florida State League by hitting .269 with five homers in 73 games in 1978. The next year he showed why he kept getting drafted in the early rounds. He played in Double-A, where he hit .270 with 20 homers, 114 RBIs and 70 walks in 145 games. His numbers dropped in the high altitudes of Denver in Triple-A, batting ,269 with nine homers in 126 games. His .713 OPS ranked 12th among the 12 players on the team with at least 150 plate appearances. Hostetler returned to Triple-A in 1981 and responded with a big year, hitting .318 with 27 homers and 103 RBIs. He saw five September games with the Expos. At the end of Spring Training in 1982, he was traded to the Texas Rangers in a deal that saw Al Oliver go to the Expos. Hostetler had his best big league season in 1982. He only batted .232, but it came with 22 homers and 67 RBIs in 113 games. He finished sixth in the Rookie of the Year voting. The next season he batted .220 with 11 homers in 94 games. He split the 1984 season between Triple-A and the majors, hitting .220 with three homers in 37 games for the Rangers. He was traded back to the Expos after the season, then was sold to the Chicago Cubs in May of 1985. He spent the entire 1985 season in the minors, they played the next two years in Japan. Hostetler signed with the Pirates as a free agent in January of 1988 and played six early season games, going 2-for-8 at the plate. He made one start at first base and caught for two innings in his final big league game, which was the only time he caught in the majors or minors. Hostetler spent the rest of the season in Triple-A, struggling along with a .187 average in 84 games, before being released. That ended his pro career after 11 seasons. He was a .229 hitter with 37 homers and 124 RBIs in 255 big league games. He hit 167 homers in pro ball.

Bill Burwell, pitcher for the Pirates in 1928, who also managed one game in 1947. He played three seasons in the minors before serving one year in the military during WWI. Burwell returned in 1919 to post a 3.70 ERA in 224 innings while pitching for Joplin of the Western League. That earned him a spot with the 1920 St Louis Browns, where he went 6-4, 3.65 in 113.1 innings, pitching 31 times in relief to go along with two spot starts. The next season he posted a 5.12 ERA in the same role, making three starts and 30 relief appearances. Burwell returned to the minors and won 108 games over the next six seasons, finally making it back to the majors with the 1928 Pirates. In 1925, he went 24-9, 2.73 in 303 innings for Indianapolis of the American Association. The next year he put up 21 wins and threw 294 innings. He wasn’t exactly on the rise before joining the Pirates. During the 1927 season, while still in Indianapolis, he put together a 14-20, 5.10 record in 254 innings. On June 3, 1928, the Pirates secured Burwell from Indianapolis in exchange for pitcher Erv Brame and outfielder Adam Comorosky. Brame was sent outright to Indianapolis, while the Pirates still held the rights to Comorosky. The Pirates manager at the time with Donie Bush, who managed Burwell for three years in Indianapolis. Burwell spent one month with Pittsburgh, making one start and three relief appearances, pitching a total of 20.2 innings with a 5.23 ERA. He won his debut in relief with four shutout innings on June 7th, then won his only start 16 days later, which was also his next appearance. On July 3rd, he was returned to Indianapolis where he pitched until 1934. The Pirates received Erv Brame back in the deal, which basically amounted to them loaning Indianapolis Adam Comorosky for most of the season. Burwell remained active as a pitcher through the 1938 season, last pitching at 43 years old. Over his last four seasons from 1934 until 1938 (he was a coach during the 1936 season), he was a player-manager for four different teams. Burwell won 239 games in the minors over a 20-year playing career, with 12 of those years spent with Indianapolis. He began to manage in 1934, then made it his full-time job in 1940, spending the next seven years in the minors, including two seasons with Indianapolis. He was a coach with the Pirates in 1947 when manager Billy Herman resigned with one game left in the season. Burwell took the reins, leading the Pirates to a 7-0 win on the last day of the season. He continued to coach in the Pirates system (minors and majors), and when the Pirates won the World Series in 1960, he was the team’s pitching coach. He held that coaching role until retiring after the 1962 season, although he later did some minor league coaching and scouting for the Pirates.