Ten former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including two who were part of the 1971 team.
Tom McCreery, outfielder for the 1898-1900 Pirates. He debuted in pro ball at 19 years old in 1894, playing with Norfolk of the Virginia League. He remained in Norfolk for part of the 1895 season, where they league was classified as a Class-B level of player. McCreery did some pitching that season as well. He hit .242 in 19 games with Norfolk, while also going 1-3, 1.87 in five starts/complete games. He made it to the majors with the Louisville Colonels in June and hit .324 in 31 games, while going 3-1, 5.36 in 48.2 innings. He would pitch just four innings after the 1895 season because his play in the outfield was more valuable. In 1896 for Louisville, he hit .351 with 23 doubles, 21 triples (led the National League), seven homers, 65 RBIs, 87 runs scored and 26 steals in 115 games. In 1897, McCreery batted .279 with 55 runs scored in 91 games for Louisville before being traded to the New York Giants in August. He batted .299 with 39 runs scored and 28 RBIs in 49 games after the deal. Due to the timing of the trade, he finished with a league leading 140 games played, despite the fact that Louisville played 135 games that year and the Giants played 137. After hitting just .198 in 35 games for the 1898 Giants, McCreery was released in early July.
The Pirates signed McCreery just two days after he was released by the Giants, and they put him right in the starting lineup. He batted .324 in 119 games during the 1899 season. The Pirates added a ton of talent in the Honus Wagner trade following the 1899 season and that left McCreery without a full-time spot the next year, limiting him to a .220 average in 43 games. After playing sparingly in 1900, he decided to retire over the off-season. That lasted about ten days, when Ned Hanlon, manager of Brooklyn, convinced him to sign. McCreery was a .303 hitter in 215 games for the Pirates, and he batted .320 in his three years and 237 games with Louisville. Despite the two solid runs with different teams, McCreery finished as a .289 hitter over nine seasons in the majors. In his three partial seasons with Brooklyn at the end of his career, he batted .264 in 243 games and saw a 100+ point drop to his OPS.
In 1901, McCreery hit .290 in 91 games, with 47 runs scored, 14 triples and 53 RBIs. The next year he batted .244 in 112 games, with 49 runs scored, 57 RBIs and 16 stolen bases. His OPS dropped down to .604, in part due to just 16 extra-base hits. He spent the early part of 1903 in Brooklyn, hitting .262 in 40 games. McCreery played minor league ball in the middle of the 1903 season, then finished up the year and his big league time with the Boston Beaneaters, where he batted .217 in 23 games. He would play in Indianapolis of the American Association in 1904 and 1905, totaling 302 games, and he finished with a .303 average each season. He pro career ended with a short stint at Columbus of the American Association in 1907. In his big league career, he batted .289 in 802 games, with 465 runs scored, 99 doubles, 76 triples, 27 homers, 388 RBIs and 116 steals. He led the NL in outfield errors in 1897, then led the league in errors at first base in 1902.
Tom Lovelace, pinch-hitter for the 1922 Pirates. On September 23, 1922, Lovelace hit for pitcher Hal Carlson in the ninth inning and lined out to second base. That ended up being his entire big league career. He played 11 seasons of minor league ball, mostly after his only big league game. He debuted in pro ball at 22 years old in 1920 with the Ranger Nitros of the West Texas League, a Class-D level of play. He batted .267 with 23 extra-base hits in 102 games that year. He appeared to be playing for a semi-pro team in Oklahoma in 1921. The Pirates purchased him on September 7, 1922 after he hit .332 with 61 extra-base hits in 146 games over two levels in the minors, starting at Class-D Greenville of the Texas-Oklahoma League (64 games), before moving up to Class-A Dallas of the Texas League, where he hit just as well. Lovelace joined the Pirates ten days later and he actually played a little more than you see on paper. On September 25th, he started in left field against the Detroit Tigers in an exhibition game and went 0-for-3. Three days later he finished an exhibition game against the Cleveland Indians, going 0-for-1 while playing left field. Lovelace was released to the Dallas team of the Texas League on November 3, 1922, where he was when the Pirates acquired him. They had the ability to get him back if needed during the 1923 season, but Lovelace ended up breaking his leg and missing two months of the season.
After he was released by the Pirates, there was an article passed around that said Lovelace had particular trouble using the newly-invented sunglasses from Fred Clarke, which attached to the brim of the cap and folded down. He was used to the regular sunglasses, but didn’t have them with him when he joined the Pirates. From the report, Lovelace had quite an adventure on every fly ball that day because of the brutal sun field in left field. He continued to play all the way up until 1932 without getting another shot at the majors. He spent a lot of that time in Texas, playing for Dallas for parts/all of the 1922-25 seasons. He also played for Corsicana during the 1924-27 seasons and San Antonio in 1924. It’s missing from his online records, but he was with Nashville of the Southern Association in 1928. Lovelace spent the 1929-30 seasons with Canton of the Class-B Central League, and the 1931-32 seasons with Binghamton of the Class-B New York-Penn League. He batted .380 with 61 extra-base hits in 1930, and he batted .308 during his final season in pro ball.
Don Leppert, catcher for the 1961-62 Pirates. He got his pro career started after college, signing with the Milwaukee Braves prior to the 1955 season. He debuted at 23 years old in Class-B ball, playing 58 games for Corpus Christi of the Big State League and 19 games for Evansville of the Three-I League. He combined to hit .260 with 13 doubles, 13 homers and 42 RBIs in 77 games. In 1956, Leppert moved up to Triple-A to play for Wichita of the American Association. He hit .230 with eight homers and 21 RBIs in 70 games. In 1957, he played his first of two seasons with Austin of the Texas League (Double-A). He batted .233 with 16 doubles, 20 homers and 59 RBIs in 119 games in 1958, then posted a .229 average in 85 games in 1958, with 11 homers and 28 RBIs. He was back up in Triple-A in 1959, playing for Dallas of the American Association, where he had a .270 average, with 17 doubles and 13 homers in 132 games. Leppert put up a .256 average in 118 games, with 18 doubles, 17 homers and 63 RBIs with Dallas (then called Dallas-Fort Worth) in 1960.
The Pirates acquired Leppert over the 1960-61 off-season in a one-for-three trade that sent three minor league players to the Braves, two of them with prior big league experience. He came up to the Pirates on June 15, 1961 after Pittsburgh sold backup catcher Bob Oldis to Columbus. Leppert was already 29 years old at the time, with no big league experience, but he was hitting .386 in 39 games, with a 1.047 OPS. His big league career started with a bang. He homered on a full count in his first career at-bat after taking the first five pitches from Curt Simmons of the St Louis Cardinals. He hit .267 with three homers in 22 games for the 1961 Pirates. In 1962, he hit .266 with three homers and 18 RBIs in 45 games. In December of 1962, the Pirates traded him to the Washington Senators for a minor league player and cash. Leppert was an All-Star during the 1963 season, despite hitting .237 in 73 games. His .679 OPS was lower than both years in Pittsburgh, though he set career highs with 11 doubles, six homers, 24 RBIs and 20 runs scored. He had a rough season throwing out runners that year, with a 14% success rate. That All-Star selection is partially explained by the fact that he saw less playing time and had worse results in the second half. In his final season in the majors, Leppert hit .156 in 50 games, with a .478 OPS. After two minor league seasons to finish out his playing career, he became a minor league manager for one year. From 1968 until 1976 he was a Major League coach with the Pirates. Leppert hit .229 with 15 homers and 59 RBIs in 190 games in the majors. He turns 90 today.
Rimp Lanier, late season pinch-hitter for the 1971 Pirates. He was a 37th round draft pick of the Pirates out of high school in 1967. He played seven seasons in the minors for the Pirates, spending three seasons in Double-A and three seasons in Triple-A. He debuted in pro ball at 18 years old, playing that 1967 season with Salem of the Appalachian League, where he hit .290 in 50 games, with 39 walks, 14 steals and 33 runs scored. He had just four extra-base hits, all doubles. In 1968, Lanier played for Clinton of the Class-A Midwest League, where he batted .313 in 120 games, with 21 doubles, 12 triples, four homers, 39 steals, 99 runs scored and 119 walks. Those four homers he hit that year are one more than he hit in his other six years of pro ball combined. In 1969, he moved up to York of the Double-A Eastern League. Lanier hit .287 in 136 games, with 88 runs scored, 34 steals and 108 walks. He was in Triple-A in 1970 with Columbus of the International League, where he hit .329 with 98 runs scored, 25 extra-base hits, 20 steals and 113 walks in 129 games. That performance didn’t get him a call-up to the majors, but it did earn him a look in Spring Training in 1971.
Lanier debuted with the Pirates on September 11, 1971 after hitting .272 with 22 steals and 66 walks for Charleston of the International League. In six big league games, he pinch-hit five times and pinch-ran once, going 0-for-4 at the plate with a hit-by-pitch. The Pirates won the World Series that year and when the players voted playoff shares, Lanier was one of three players who received a $250 cash award. Only one player ($100 for Frank Brosseau) received less. A full share that year was worth over $18,000. Lanier was batting .365 with a .484 OBP in Double-A in 1972 when he suffered a knee injury that limited him to 38 games on the season. He played just 59 games in 1973, then was released at the end of Spring Training in 1974, never fully recovering from his knee injury. His actual first name is Lorenzo. He turns 73 today.
Jose Bautista, utility player for the 2004-08 Pirates. He was a .241 hitter with 43 homers in 400 games for the Pirates, but Bautista ended up with 344 homers over his 15-year career, spent with eight different clubs. The Pirates drafted him in the 20th round of the 2000 draft out of Chipola College at 19 years old. He was a draft-and-follow player, signing with the Pirates shortly before the deadline in May of 2001. He went to Williamsport of the New York-Penn League during that 2001 season, where he hit .286 with five homers, 30 RBIs and 43 runs scored in 62 games. In 2002, Bautista played for Low-A Hickory of the South Atlantic League, where he hit .301 with 26 doubles, 14 homers, 67 walks and 72 runs scored in 129 games. He was limited to 58 games due to injury in 2003, which led to the Pirates leaving him off of the 40-man roster after the season. The Pirates lost him in the Rule 5 draft over the 2003-04 off-season, but they got him back in a trade with the New York Mets in July. He was actually selected by the Baltimore Orioles, but he ended up going to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, then the Kansas City Royals, then to the Mets, all during that 2004 season, before ending up back in Pittsburgh. Bautista batted .205 with a .502 OPS in 96 plate appearances over 68 games in 2004.
Bautista spent most of the 2005 season in Double-A Altoona, where he hit .290 with 27 doubles, 23 homers and 90 RBIs in 130 games. He spent a brief time in Triple-A, then saw 11 games with the Pirates as a September recall. He started 2006 in Triple-A, but he was up in the majors by early May for the rest of the season. Bautista hit .235 in 117 games in 2006, with 20 doubles, 16 homers and 51 RBIs. In 2007, he was the starting third baseman for most of the year. He hit .254 with 36 doubles, 15 homers, 63 RBIs and 68 walks in 142 games. For the 2008 Pirates, he hit .242 with 15 homers and 12 homers in 107 games, but he was sent to the minors when he didn’t want to switch off of third base, and then got traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for minor league catcher Robinzon Diaz in August of 2008. He struggled with his new team until hitting coach Dwayne Murphy suggested a batting stance change late in the 2009 season, which Bautista claims helped him add power to his game. He batted just .214 in 21 games to end 2008, then hit .235 with 13 homers in 113 games in 2009, which was padded by his late surge.
With that new batting stance in 2010, Bautista took off at the plate. He led the American League with 54 homers that season, in addition to his 109 runs scored, 35 doubles, 124 RBIs and 100 walks. He was an All-Star for the first of six straight seasons, won his first Silver Slugger award and he finished fourth in the MVP voting. In 2011, he hit .302 with 43 homers, 103 RBIs, 132 walks and 105 runs scored. He won the Silver Slugger again, finished third in the MVP voting, and led the league in homers, walks, slugging percentage (.608) and OPS (1.056). Bautista was an All-Star in both 2012-13, despite 210 games total those seasons, missing over 100 games due to injury. He hit 55 homers, drove in 138 runs and walked 128 times during those two combined seasons. He was healthy in 2014 when he hit .286 with 27 doubles, 35 homers, 103 RBIs, 104 walks and 101 runs scored. He finished sixth in the MVP voting and won his final Silver Slugger award. In 2015, Bautista hit .250 with 40 homers, 114 RBIs, 108 runs scored and a league leading 110 walks. He finished eighth in the MVP voting.
In 2016, Bautista’s stats really dropped off. He hit .234 with 24 doubles, 22 homers, 69 RBIs and 87 walks in 116 games. The next year his OPS dropped .674, despite 23 homers and 84 walks. He batted .203 in 157 games and struck out 170 times, 54 more strikeouts than his second highest season total. In his final season in the majors, he played for the Mets, Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies. He hit .203 with 13 homers in 122 games. During his great run from 2010-15, he compiled 36.3 WAR. During his other nine seasons combined, he had 0.3 WAR. He finished with a .247 average in 1,798 games, with 1,022 runs scored, 312 doubles, 344 homers, 975 RBIs and 1,032 walks.
Rajai Davis, outfielder for the 2006-07 Pirates. The Pirates drafted him in the 38th round out of the University of Connecticut at Avery Point in 2001. He is the only one of six draft picks that the school has produced, who made it to the majors. Davis batted .240 in 32 games of short-season ball during his first season, collecting one extra-base hit (a double) and 11 steals. In 2002, he spent most of the year in the Gulf Coast League, despite being 21 years old. He hit .380 that season in 65 games, with 25 extra-base hits and 26 steals. In 2003, Davis spent the season with Low-A Hickory of the South Atlantic League, where he hit .305 with 34 extra-base hits, 84 runs scored and 40 steals in 125 games. He moved up to High-A Lynchburg of the Carolina League in 2004, where he hit .314 with 39 extra-base hits, 57 steals, 59 walks and 91 runs scored in 127 games. In 2005, Davis spent the entire season at Double-A Altoona, where he batted .281 in 123 games, with a .720 OPS, 82 runs scored and 45 steals. After playing winter ball in Mexico, he moved up to Triple-A Indianapolis in 2006 and hit .283 with 45 steals in 100 games. He joined the Pirates in August as a bench player and batted just 17 times in 20 games.
Davis batted .318 with 27 steals in 53 games at Triple-A in 2007. He hit .271 in 24 games with the Pirates that year before being traded to the San Francisco Giants in the disastrous deal for Matt Morris on July 31, 2007. It was said after the deal that the Giants GM was just looking for a team to take Morris off their hands and they were willing to pay part of his salary for a warm body in return, but Pirates GM Dave Littlefield ended up sending two players to the Giants and took on the full remaining salary for Morris for 2007 and 2008. Davis made a horrible deal even worse by becoming a productive player. He batted .282 with seven homers in 51 games for the Giants in 2007. In 2008, the Giants made a mistake by putting him on waivers after a slow start and he ended up with the Oakland A’s, where he had his best season. Between both stops in 2008, with much better results in Oakland, Davis hit .243 with 29 steals and 30 runs scored in 113 games. In 2009, he hit .305 with 65 runs scored, 41 steals and 48 RBIs in 125 games. He hit .284 in 143 games in 2010, with 66 runs scored, 28 doubles, 52 RBIs and 50 steals.
In December of 2010, Davis was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays. He hit just .238 in 95 games during his first season in Toronto, with 34 steals and 44 runs scored. In 2012, he batted .257 in 142 games, with 64 runs scored, 24 doubles, eight homers, 43 RBIs and 46 steals. Davis batted .260 in 108 games during his final season in Toronto in 2013. He had 45 steals in 51 attempts and he scored 49 runs. He became a free agent and signed a two-year deal with the Detroit Tigers. In 2014, he hit .282 in 134 games, with 64 runs scored, 27 doubles, eight homers, 51 RBIs and 36 steals. He followed that up with a .258 average and 18 steals in 112 games in 2015. He scored 55 runs and collected a career high 11 triples. In 2016, he signed a free agent deal with the Cleveland Indians. He led the league with 43 stolen bases that season and scored a career high 74 runs. He also hit a career high 12 homers, his only double-digit home run season. Davis signed back with the A’s for 2017, though they traded him mid-season to the Boston Red Sox. He batted .235 in 117 games, with 56 runs scored and 29 steals. He ended up back in Cleveland as a free agent in 2018 and hit .224 with 21 steals and 33 runs scored in 101 games.
Davis was active through the end of the 2019 season, finishing up with a .200 average in 29 games for the New York Mets. He played 1,448 games over 14 seasons in the majors, seeing time with eight clubs, while playing in all six divisions. He put up a .262 career average, with 637 runs, 62 homers, 387 RBIs and 415 stolen bases. Davis had a rough time in postseason play, putting up a .175 average over 19 games, but he hit a memorable two-run homer off of Aroldis Chapman in the eighth inning of game seven in the 2016 World Series, which tied the game up. Due to a low walk rate and average defense most of his career, he had an 11.8 career WAR, with much of that coming during his first stint with the A’s. He had a career best 3.3 WAR in 2009. Davis played 747 games in center field, 502 in left field and 125 in right field during his career.
JA Happ, pitcher for the 2015 Pirates. Happ was a third round draft pick by the Philadelphia Phillies out of Northwestern University in 2004. He made it to the majors three years later, though he only pitched one game for the 2007 Phillies. He also saw brief time in 2008, but he was still eligible for the Rookie of the Year award in 2009 and nearly won. Happ debuted in pro ball in the New York-Penn League, where he had a 2.02 ERA in 11 starts. In his first full season in 2005, he went 5-4, 2.30 in 78.1 innings, making 12 starts at two relief appearances for Low-A Lakewood, before making a late jump to Double-A Reading of the Eastern League for one start. In 2006, Happ made 13 starts in High-A, 12 in Double-A and one in Triple-A. He combined to go 10-9, 2.69 in 160.2 innings, with 162 strikeouts. He ended the year in the Arizona Fall League and had a 5.02 ERA in 14.1 innings. In 2007, he struggled with Triple-A Ottawa of the International League, going 4-6, 5.02 in 118.1 innings, with 117 strikeouts. In his big league debut, Happ allowed five runs over four innings.
In 2008, Happ had a 3.60 ERA in 135 innings at Triple-A, with 151 strikeouts. He made four starts and four relief appearances for the Phillies, posting a 3.69 ERA in 31.2 innings. He finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting in 2009 with a 12-4, 2.93 record in 166 innings, making 23 starts and 12 relief appearances. Happ led the league with two shutouts that year. In 2010, he spent time back in the minors on rehab and he was traded in July to the Houston Astros as part of the package to acquire veteran starter Roy Oswalt. Happ went 6-4, 3.40 in 87.1 innings over 16 starts that season between both big league stops. In 2011, he went 6-15, 5.35 in 28 starts, throwing 156.1 innings. He was traded mid-season in 2012 to the Toronto Blue Jays as part of a ten-player deal. Happ posted a 10-11, 4.79 record in 144.1 innings, with 144 strikeouts that season, with similar results at each stop. In 2013, he went 5-7, 4.56 in 92.2 innings over 18 starts. He made 26 starts and four relief appearances for the 2014 Blue Jays, finishing up the season with an 11-11, 4.22 record in 158 innings.
Happ was traded to the Seattle Mariners in December of 2014, but his stay there wasn’t long. He went 4-6, 4.64 in 108.2 innings in Seattle. After being acquired at the trade deadline from the Mariners for Adrian Sampson, he went 7-2, 1.85 in 63.1 innings over 11 starts with the Pirates. He became a free agent after the season and signed a three-year deal with the Blue Jays. His best season turned out to be his first season in Toronto. He went 20-4, 3.18 in 195 innings that year, finishing sixth in the Cy Young voting. In 2017, he was 10-11, 3.53 in 145.1 innings. In 2018, he was an All-Star for the only time in his career. He went 17-6, 3.65 in 177.2 innings. He was traded mid-season that year to the New York Yankees and had a 7-0 record after the deal. In 2019, he signed a free agent deal with the Yankees and had a 12-8 record, though it came with a 4.91 ERA in 161.1 innings. Happ went 2-2, 3.47 in nine starts during the shortened 2020 season. He signed a free agent deal with the Minnesota Twins for 2021, though they traded him mid-season to the St Louis Cardinals. He combined to go 10-8, 5.79 in 152.1 innings over 30 starts. In 15 years in the majors, he has a 133-100, 4.13 record in 1,893.2 innings, with 1,661 strikeouts. He has pitched 15 times in the postseason, mostly in relief, posting a 5.86 ERA in 27.2 innings.
James McDonald, pitcher for the 2010-13 Pirates. He was an 11th round draft pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2002 out of high school, though he didn’t sign until May of 2003 under the old draft-and-follow rules. He didn’t make the majors until 2008, which was partially due to the fact that he was limited to six innings total during the 2004-05 seasons. In the Gulf Coast League in 2003, McDonald had a 3.33 ERA in 48.2 innings, with 47 strikeouts. He had some arm issues the next year and instead of sitting out, the Dodgers had him play outfield in the lower levels, where he struggled with a low average and no power. He pitched six innings in 2005, then returned to the mound full-time in 2006, where he went 5-10, 3.98 in 142.1 innings, with 146 strikeouts in Low-A. In 2007, he split the year between High-A (California League) and Double-A (Southern League), with much better results at the higher level. He had a 3.95 ERA in 82 innings in High-A, and a 1.71 mark in 52.2 innings in Double-A. Despite the success, most of 2008 was spent back in Double-A, where he went 5-3, 3.19 in 118.2 innings over 22 starts, with 113 strikeouts. He saw brief time in Triple-A, then finished the year with six shutout innings in relief for the Dodgers. In 2009, McDonald went 5-5, 4.00 in 63 innings with the Dodgers. He made six starts in Triple-A in the middle of the season, while his big league time was mostly in relief, with 45 appearances and four starts. In 2010 with the Dodgers, he allowed seven runs in 7.2 innings over one start and three relief outings, while working as a starter during his time in Triple-A.
McDonald was acquired from the Dodgers along with Andrew Lambo at the 2010 trade deadline for veteran reliever Octavio Dotel. McDonald posted a 4.11 ERA in 76.2 innings over three partial seasons in the majors prior to the deal. After the trade, he stepped into the Pirates rotation, where he went 4-5, 3.52 in 64 innings over 11 starts in 2010. The 2011-12 seasons in Pittsburgh were his only full seasons in the majors and he had matching 4.21 ERAs in 170 innings each season. In 2011, that ERA/IP total led him to a 9-9 record. In 2012, he finished with a 12-8 record and a career high 151 strikeouts. Despite the same ERA/IP each year, he had a 1.49 WHIP in 2011 and a career best 1.26 WHIP in 2012. McDonald was injured for half of 2013 and spent part of his healthy time doing rehab work over four levels in the minors. He was limited to just 29.2 innings with the Pirates that season, and he finished with a 5.76 ERA. The Pirates let him go via free agency shortly before the 2013 season ended. In four seasons in Pittsburgh, he had a 27-24, 4.21 record in 435.2 innings. That 4.21 ERA matched his marks from the 2011-12 seasons. He spent the entire 2014 season with the Chicago Cubs, though he never pitched due to a shoulder injury, which ultimately ended his career. He went 32-30, 4.20 in 512.1 innings in the majors. His cousins Donzell and Darnell McDonald were siblings, who both played in the majors.
John Holdzkom, pitcher for the 2014 Pirates. Holdzkom was drafted out of high school in the 15th round in 2005, but decided not to sign with the Seattle Mariners. Instead, he moved up to a fourth round pick in 2006, selected by the New York Mets out of Salt Lake Community College. Injuries sidetracked his career before his break with the Pirates in 2014. In fact, from 2006 through his last appearance in 2018, he threw just 307 innings total in pro ball, which included three years of winter ball stats, and some of that time was spent as a starting pitcher. Holdzkom debuted in the Gulf Coast League, where he had a 7.71 ERA in 23.1 innings, with 20 walks and 23 strikeouts. In 2007, he was limited to 11 innings in short-seasons ball, seeing time with two teams. In 2008, he struggled in Low-A, then pitched better in the short-season Appalachian League, where he had a 3.66 ERA and a 12:44 BB/SO ratio in 39.1 innings. He had a 5.89 ERA in five starts and 15 relief appearances that year in Low-A. Holdzkom had Tommy John surgery after the season and it cost him the entire 2009 season.
In 2010, Holdzkom returned to action in short-season ball, but he had considerable troubles throwing strikes and ended up pitching just five innings in six appearances. He was released the following spring and didn’t play that season. In 2012, he signed with the Cincinnati Reds, where he saw limited time in High-A and finished with 13 walks in 8.2 innings. Holdzkom played winter ball in Australia that off-season and made ten starts, going 4-3, 4.10 in 48.1 innings, with 43 walks and 48 strikeouts. In 2013, he pitched 43.2 innings in independent ball, where he issued 36 walks and had 52 strikeouts. From there it was back to Australia, where the walks were out of control, and he lasted just 6.2 in which he allowed ten runs. Holdzkom turned a corner in 2014, as he learned to control his fastball that reached 100 MPH. He gave up one run and two walks in ten appearances for two independent ball teams.
Holdzkom was signed by the Pirates in the middle of that 2014 season, then he quickly worked his way to the majors for nine late-season innings that year. He threw six shutout innings at Double-A Altoona, with one walk and ten strikeouts. He then went to Indianapolis, where he had a 2.49 ERA in 21.2 innings, with 27 strikeouts. Holdzkom joined the Pirates in September and gave up two runs over his nine innings, while striking out 14 batters. That turned out to be his only big league time, as an injury sidetracked him in 2015 and he lasted just one minor league game for the Chicago White Sox in 2016. His only other appearances since 2016 came in winter ball in Australia during the 2018-19 off-season when he pitched 5.1 innings over five games. His brother Lincoln Holdzkom played pro ball for nine seasons, including 2009 with the Pirates in Double-A.
Jordan Lyles, pitcher for the 2019 Pirates. He was a first round draft pick of the Houston Astros out of high school in 2008, taken 38th overall. He made it to the majors in three seasons, debuting in 2011 at 20 years old. In his first season of pro ball, Lyles had a 3.99 ERA in 13 starts in the Appalachian League and he gave up five runs in 5.2 innings in the New York-Penn League. In Low-A ball in 2009, he went 7-11, 3.24 in 144.2 innings, with 167 strikeouts. He skipped to Double-A in 2010 and finished the year with six starts in Triple-A, combining to go 7-12, 3.57 in 158.2 innings, with 137 strikeouts. In 2011, Lyles split the year between Triple-A and the majors, with slightly more time with the Astros, where he had a 2-8, 5.36 record in 94 innings. The 2012 season saw him go 5-0 in seven Triple-A starts and 5-12, 5.09 in 141.1 innings over 25 starts with Houston. His playing time split in 2013 between Triple-A and the majors was almost identical to 2012. Lyles struggled at both levels, posting a 5.32 ERA in Triple-A, and a 7-9, 5.59 record in 141.2 innings with the Astros.
Lyles was traded to the Colorado Rockies in December of 2013. In 2014, he went 7-4, 4.33 in 126.2 innings over 22 starts. He suffered a toe injury in early 2015 that limited him to ten starts. He went 2-5, 5.14 in 49 innings that year, then came back with a rough season in 2016 that saw him make eight starts in Triple-A and move to a relief role in the majors. He went 4-5, 5.83 in 58.2 innings over five starts and 35 relief appearances. He pitched in relief for the Rockies in 2017 before being released in August. He then signed with the San Diego Padres to finish the season in a starting role. Neither stint went well, with a 6.94 ERA in Colorado and a 9.39 ERA in San Diego. He played a swing role with the Padres in 2018 before being lost on waivers to the Milwaukee Brewers, who used him in relief. Lyles had a 4.11 ERA in 87.2 innings in 2018. The Pirates signed him as a free agent in December of 2018. In his ninth big league season, he had a 5-7, 5.36 record in 17 starts for the Pirates before being traded to the Brewers on July 29th. Lyles made 11 starts for the Brewers after the trade, going 7-1, 2.45 in 58.2 innings. He signed as a free agent with the Texas Rangers for 2020 and went 1-6, 7.02 in nine starts and three relief appearances. In 2021, he had a 10-13, 5.15 record in 180 innings, while leading the league in earned runs allowed and home runs allowed. Lyles has a 54-79, 5.21 in 182 starts and 107 relief appearances, throwing a total of 1,147.1 innings.