This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: October 26th, Francisco Liriano

Six former Pittsburgh Pirates born on this date.

Francisco Liriano, pitcher for the 2013-16 and 2019 Pirates. He was originally signed by the San Francisco Giants as an international amateur free agent in 2000. The Minnesota Twins acquired him three years later in a four-player trade. He debuted in the Arizona Summer League, where he went 5-4, 3.63 in 62 innings. Liriano was up in Low-A by 18 years old in 2002, where he went 3-6, 3.49 in 80 innings, with 85 strikeouts. A shoulder injury limited him to five starts in 2003, then he was traded to the Twins for A.J. Pierzynski, in what was a disastrous deal for the Giants, who also gave up future All-Star closer Joe Nathan in the deal and got back 0.3 WAR from Pierzynski. Liriano split the 2004 season between High-A and Double-A, going 9-9, 3.79 in 156.2 innings, with 174 strikeouts. The 2005 season was split between Double-A and Triple-A. He went 12-7, 2.63 in 167.2 innings, with 204 strikeouts. Liriano had much better results at Triple-A that year, which led to a September call-up to the majors. He had a 5.70 ERA in 23.2 innings in 2005, then had a breakout season in 2006, going 12-3, 2.16 in 121 innings over 16 starts and 12 relief outings. He was an All-Star and finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting. Unfortunately for him, he was injured in August and needed Tommy John surgery, which cost him all of 2007. Over the next five years, he never came close to matching his 2006 numbers

In 2008, Liriano spent part of the season rehabbing. He made 14 starts for the Twins, going 6-4, 3.91 in 76 innings. He followed that up by going 5-13, 5.80 in 136.2 innings in 2009, then had his best season with the Twins after the injury. He had a 14-10, 3.62 record in 2010, with 201 strikeouts in a career high of 191.2 innings. He finished 11th in the Cy Young voting. He couldn’t follow up that season, putting together a 9-10, 5.09 record in 134.1 innings in 2011. In the middle of 2012, he was traded to the Chicago White Sox. Liriano combined to go 6-12, 5.34 in 156.2 innings that season, will very similar stats at each stop. He had two straight seasons with an ERA over 5.00 before joining the Pirates as a free agent in February of 2013, but he turned things around in Pittsburgh right away. He went 16-8, 3.02 in 161 innings over 26 starts in 2013. He finished ninth in the Cy Young voting, his best career finish, and just the second time he received Cy Young votes. Liriano had a strong season in 2014 as well, though it didn’t show in the record. He went 7-10, 3.38 in 162.1 innings. He matched that ERA in 2015, though it came with a 12-7 record, thanks in part to the Pirates winning 98 games. He set a career high with 205 strikeouts and he threw 186.2 innings, which was the second highest total of his career.

After struggling badly during the early part of the 2016 season, and with a year still left on his contract, the Pirates traded Liriano to the Toronto Blue Jays at the 2016 trade deadline. The deal was more of an addition by subtraction deal, as the Pirates included prospects Reese McGuire and Harold Ramirez and only got back Drew Hutchison, so the Blue Jays would take on Liriano’s salary. What looked like an awful deal at first, ended up working out just fine when the Blue Jays paid about $18 million for 0.2 WAR worth of pitching from Liriano.

Liriano actually did well after the trade in 2016, but he did poorly as a starter for the Blue Jays in 2017, then got traded to the Houston Astros late in the season, where he had a rough time in a bullpen role. Before the trade, he had a 6-11, 5.46 record in 21 starts with the Pirates. He posted a 2.92 ERA in 49.1 innings with the 2016 Blue Jays. In 2017, he had a 5.88 ERA in 82.2 innings over 18 starts, averaging under five innings per start. With the Astros that year, he had a 4.40 ERA in 14.1 innings over 20 appearances. Liriano signed with the Detroit Tigers in 2018 as a starter and had a 5-12, 4.58 record in 133.2 innings. He signed with the Pirates on a minor league deal in 2019 and made the Opening Day roster in the bullpen. In 69 appearances, he had a 3.47 ERA in 70 innings. He signed with the Philadelphia Phillies for 2020, but he was released prior to the start of the season in July. In 2021, he signed with the Blue Jays in February, then got released in March, which ended his pro career. In five seasons in Pittsburgh, four as a starter, he had a 46-39, 3.65 record in 693.2 innings. Liriano has pitched a total of 14 seasons in the majors, going 112-114, 4.15 in 1,813.2 innings over 300 starts and 119 relief appearances.

Wilfredo Boscan, pitcher for the 2016 Pirates. He was originally signed as an international amateur free agent out of Venezuela in 2006 by the Texas Rangers. He debuted in the Dominican Summer League in 2007, where he had a 1.75 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 56.2 innings. He moved up to Spokane of the Northwest League in 2008, where he had a 9-1, 3.12 record in 69.1 innings, with 70 strikeouts. Boscan made it to full-season ball in 2009, playing with Hickory of the Low-A South Atlantic League. He had a 6-8, 3.59 record in 105.1 innings, while watching his strikeout rate cut nearly in half, down to 5.0 per nine innings that year. In 2010, he pitched for Bakersfield of the High-A California League, where he went 9-14, 4.67 in 163.2 innings over 27 starts. Texas moved their High-A club across country and Boscan pitched for Myrtle Beach of the Carolina League for most of 2011. He had a 4.69 ERA there, but struggled more in his brief time in Double-A Frisco of the Texas League that season, posting a 6.95 ERA in 22 innings. He was back in Frisco for all of 2012, going 7-5, 3.75 in 98.1 innings, while seeing more time in relief. He was traded to the San Diego Padres in December of 2012 and became a minor league free agent after posting a 5.95 ERA during the 2013 season, split between Double-A and Triple-A. Boscan signed a minor league deal in 2014 with the Boston Red Sox, where he mostly pitched in relief in Double-A. He had a 3-7, 3.66 record in 66.1 innings.

Boscan signed a minor league deal with the Pirates for 2015. He spent the year in Triple-A Indianapolis, posting a 10-3, 3.07 record in 126 innings, with 23 starts and two relief appearances. He re-signed with the Pirates for 2016 and was called up to the majors three times without appearing in a game before finally making his big league debut in his fourth stint. In five relief appearances and one start that year, he had a 6.46 ERA in 15.1 innings. In between his four stints with the Pirates in 2016, he had a 3.75 ERA in 84 innings at Indianapolis. Boscan was released in August of 2016 and signed with the Atlanta Braves to finish out the season. He pitched in the New York Mets system in 2017, going 4-13, 5.44 in 125.2 innings for Las Vegas of the Pacific Coast League. He has not pitched in affiliated ball since 2017, but he is still active. Boscan has played winter ball in Venezuela every year since debuting during the 2011-12 off-season. In 2019 and 2021, he played summer ball in Mexico. Including all levels of player, summer and winter, he has a 96-115, 4.04 record in 1,686.2 innings.

Marty McLeary, pitcher for the 2006-07 Pirates. He was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the tenth round in 1997 and nearly made the majors four years before his debut. McLeary was a Rule 5 pick of the Montreal Expos in the winter of 1999, but he was returned to the Red Sox in mid-March. Prior to joining Pittsburgh in 2006, he had just three games of Major League experience, all in relief for the 2004 San Diego Padres. He was drafted out of Mount Vernon Nazarene University, which has produced just one other MLB player from the draft (Tim Belcher) and no one has been drafted from the school since 2004. McLeary debuted with Lowell of the New York-Penn League and had a 3.75 ERA in 62.1 innings. In 1998, he was with Michigan in the Class-A Midwest League, where he posted a 5-7, 4.16 record in 88.2 innings over seven starts and 30 relief outings. He got hit hard in High-A in 1999, to the tune of 20 runs in 12.2 innings. He spent the rest of the year back in Low-A with Augusta of the South Atlantic League, where he had a 3.12 ERA in 80.2 innings, seeing time as a starter and reliever. After getting returned to the Red Sox in March of 2000 by the Expos, he went 2-9, 4.56 in 96.2 innings for Double-A Trenton of the Eastern League. It was another year in which he saw some starting worked mixed in with a lot of relief appearances.

In 2001, McLeary split the season between Trenton and Triple-A Pawtucket of the International League. He pitched strictly in relief, with similar results at both levels, finishing with a 10-8, 3.30 record in 84.2 innings over 53 appearances. He had the same split in 2002, except he struggled at both levels, posting a combined 6.54 ERA in 52.1 innings. McLeary became a free agent and signed with the Florida Marlins for the 2003 season. He pitched well in Double-A that year, posting a 1.80 ERA, but he had a 4.32 ERA in 33.1 innings at Triple-A. He was traded to the Padres at the start of the 2004 season and he had a 2.99 ERA and 13 saves with Portland of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, where he pitched 84.1 innings over seven starts and 37 relief outings. He pitched three games in August of 2004 for the Padres and allowed six runs in 3.2 innings. McLeary spent the entire 2005 season back with Portland, where he had a 4.75 ERA and 104 strikeouts in 110 innings, split over 12 starts and 29 relief outings.

McLeary was signed by the Pirates as a free agent in January 2006.  He spent most of 2006 in Triple-A, where he did very well, posting a 2.68 ERA and 115 strikeouts in 104 innings over 13 starts and 22 relief appearances. He earned a late August call-up to the majors, making his Pittsburgh debut on August 29th in relief. McLeary got his first big league win the next day when the Pirates scored three runs in the bottom of the 11th to come back from a 9-7 deficit over the Chicago Cubs. On the next to last day of the season, he got the start and shutout the Cincinnati Reds for seven innings, picking up his second win in a 3-0 game.He had a 2.04 ERA in 17.2 innings that season for the Pirates. In 2007, McLeary was in the majors for just two weeks in May, spending the rest of the year in the minors, where he had a 4.62 ERA in 24 starts at Triple-A. He pitched four times in relief with the Pirates that season and allowed runs in all four games, giving up a total of eight runs in 7.2 innings. He was granted free agency after the 2007 season and played the start of the 2008 season in Korea, where he had a 4.60 ERA in 101.2 innings. He returned to the U.S. in August of 2008 with the Toronto Blue Jays, where he made five starts in Double-A to finish out the season. McLeary remained in the Blue Jays system for all of 2009 and the first two months of 2010. He finished his career in Triple-A for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2010. He had a 5.28 ERA in 29 big league innings.

Jack Cassini, pinch-runner for the 1949 Pirates. The only big league experience for Cassini was a total of eight early season pinch-running appearances at 29 years old for the 1949 Pirates. He scored three runs. He wasn’t a bad hitter, batting .304 over 1,517 minor league games, so it’s a bit surprising that he never got a real big league shot. He made his Pirates debut on April 19th and scored the only run of the game running for Dixie Walker in the top of the ninth inning. During a doubleheader on May 1st, he ran for Danny Murtaugh in both games. Cassini played a total of 14 seasons in pro ball and managed 11 years in the minors between 1955 and 1977. He originally signed in pro ball at 20 years old in 1940 and hit .396 with 26 extra-base hits in 99 games for Tiffin of the Class-D Ohio State League. In 1941, he batted .282 with 16 doubles and 11 triples in 124 games for Ogden of the Class-C Pioneer League. After two seasons in the minors, he spent the next four years serving in the military during WWII. Cassini returned in 1946 and played for Syracuse of the Triple-A International League and Oklahoma City of the Double-A Texas League, where he had much better results. He combined to hit .255 with 55 walks and 26 steals in 109 games. In 1947, he spent the entire season with Tulsa of the Texas League. He hit .319 with 116 runs scored, 29 extra-base hits, 52 steals and 66 walks in 138 games.

Cassini spent the 1948 season with Indianapolis of the Triple-A American Association, where he was one of four players purchased by the Pirates on September 29, 1948. He hit .305 with 27 doubles, six triples, 63 RBIs and 33 steals in 131 games. After his brief stint in Pittsburgh, he was sent back to Indianapolis on May 7, 1949, where he hit .300 with 29 extra-base hits, 67 RBIs and 14 steals. He had the exact same number of games (131) and plate appearances (592) in his two seasons with Indianapolis. On October 11, 1949, he was traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers as the player to be named later in a deal made ten days earlier. He spent the next four seasons with St Paul of the American Association, where he batted over .300 in three of those years, while average 104 runs scored and 33 steals per year. He hit .286 with Montreal of the International League in 1954, setting a high with 36 doubles. The next season was his last full year as a player and he batted .305 in 82 games with Memphis of the Southern Association.

Harry Camnitz, pitcher for the 1909 Pirates. He debuted in pro ball in 1907 at 22 years old, playing briefly for New Castle of the Ohio-Pennsylvania League. He was back in New Castle the next season, posting a 16-11 record. He was a holdout early in 1909, asking for a $300 raise for the year because he thought he was worth more, but also thought he should be playing at a higher level. At one point he offered New Castle $50 to release him from their reserve list, while also saying if it didn’t happen he could end up playing in an outlaw league instead. He was soon sold to the McKeesport Tubers of the Ohio-Pennsylvania League, where he posted a 27-9 record before joining the Pirates in September of 1909. The Pirates purchased his contract for $1,500 on August 18th, though he was allowed to remain with McKeesport to finish the season. He made his big league debut on September 29, 1909, pitching four innings in relief of Nick Maddox, who gave up four runs in the first five innings. Camnitz allowed solo runs in the sixth and the eighth, as the Pirates went on to lose 6-1 that day.

Camnitz was with the Pirates for Spring Training of 1910 and he made the Opening Day roster, but he didn’t appear in a game before being released to the minors on April 24th, ten days into the season (Another pitcher named Willis Humphries was sent down the same day and never appeared in an MLB game). Camnitz spent 1910 with Jersey City of the Eastern League, where he had a 6-16 record and pitched 205 innings. He was sent there on option, but they didn’t recall him at the end of the season, officially ending his time with the Pirates. He spent 1911 with Youngstown of the Ohio-Pennsylvania League, posting a 10-6 record in 20 games (stats are limited from this season). Camnitz pitched two more Major League games for the St Louis Cardinals in September/October of 1911. He played pro ball until 1915, but his final four seasons were spent in the low minors (Class-C/D ball), including two years near his home with teams from Lexington. He had a total of 99 wins in the minor leagues, never approach his success from 1909. He was the younger brother of Howie Camnitz, who won 25 games for the Pirates during their first World Series winning season in 1909, giving the pair a total of 52 wins that season.

Bill Garfield, pitcher for the 1889 Alleghenys. The 1889 Pittsburgh Alleghenys were not a horrible team, finishing with a 61-71 record, but they had a rough patch mid-season. In the midst of a 12-game losing streak in the beginning of July they called upon the 21-year-old Garfield to make his Major League debut during a one-sided loss. He signed with the Alleghenys on November 27, 1888 and it was said at the time that he would complete his studies at Oberlin College before joining the team on July 1st, though it was noted that he could complete his studies earlier so he could report in the spring. The scouting report given the day he signed was that he had good velocity on his fastball, good command of his pitches, and plenty of curves (meaning a variation of breaking balls). As it turned out, Garfield was with the Alleghenys in Spring Training 1889 and then rejoined the team on July 1st, nine days before he played his first game. Seven days later, they gave him his first big league start and he lost 10-4 to the Washington Nationals. He made his second (and last) start with the Alleghenys on August 2nd, during the second game of back-to-back doubleheaders. He lost that day 10-5 to the Indianapolis Hoosiers. Despite the earlier scouting reports, he was said to be wild and lacking good velocity. He was released unconditionally on August 10th after no teams put in a claim for his services. It was said that he needed more minor league time and experience and there was no room to give him that experience with Pittsburgh trying to salvage a poor season. The Alleghenys also thought they could go with a 13/14-man roster, and Garfield and backup catcher Chuck Lauer were seeing the least amount of work (Lauer was unconditionally released on August 17th). Garfield finished his time in Pittsburgh with a 7.76 ERA in 29 innings, with 17 walks and just four strikeouts.

Garfield signed with the Cleveland Spiders in 1890 and he went 1-7, 4.89 in 70 innings, with his last loss coming on August 6th when he pitched the second game of a doubleheader. The first game was started by a 23-year-old making his Major League debut named Denton True “Cy” Young. Garfield’s only career victory came against Hall of Famer Mickey Welch, who won 307 games in his career. Garfield pitched in pro ball from 1888 until 1893. He debuted with Toledo of the Tri-State League in 1888, then Toledo of the International League, was one of three teams he played with that season. Besides Pittsburgh, he also saw time with Springfield of the Central Interstate League. After his season in Cleveland, he pitched for three teams in three different leagues in 1891, then two teams in two other league in 1892. He finished his career in 1893 with Sandusky of the Ohio-Michigan League, where he allowed 48 runs over 30 innings of work, while batting .455 in six games.