Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date and one minor transaction for a player who did much more with the Pirates in his second stint with the team.
On March 22, 1987 the Pittsburgh Pirates purchased 27-year-old catcher Dann Bilardello from the Montreal Expos. Prior to the transaction, he had spent four seasons in the majors with the Cincinnati Reds and Expos, hitting .211 in 298 games with 16 homers and 74 RBIs. He went to Triple-A for the Pirates in 1987, and would be sold to the Kansas City Royals that June. After spending all of 1987-88 in the minors, he signed again with the Pirates as a free agent prior to the 1989 season. He would hit .171 in 52 games with the Pirates between the 1989-90 seasons before leaving via free agency. Bilardello finished his eight-year big league career with two seasons for the 1991-92 San Diego Padres.
Andrew Susac, catcher for the 2020 Pirates. He was originally a 16th round draft pick of the Philadelphia Phillies out of high school in 2009. He decided to attend Oregon State, where he moved up to a second round pick of the San Francisco Giants. He signed too late to debut in 2011, so his pro career started in 2012 with San Jose of the High-A California League, where he hit .244 in 102 games, with 58 runs, 28 extra-base hits, 52 RBIs and 55 walks. In 2013, Susac played for Richmond of the Double-A Eastern League, hitting .256 in 84 games, with 17 doubles, 12 homers, 46 RBIs and 42 walks. He went to the Arizona Fall League after the season and hit .360 with two homers and 16 walks in 17 games. In 2014, he spent most of the year with Fresno of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, where he batted .268 in 63 games, with nine doubles, ten homers, 32 RBIs and an .830 OPS. He played 35 games that year for the Giants, batting .273 with eight doubles, three homers and a .792 OPS. Going into the 2015 season, he was rated by multiple sources as a top 100 prospect in baseball. That year saw him spent most of the year as a backup in the majors, hitting .218 with 12 extra-base hits and 14 RBIs in 52 games (33 starts).
In 2016, Susac spent the year in Triple-A until an August 1st trade sent him to the Milwaukee Brewers, where he saw brief Triple-A time, followed by nine games in the majors, where he hit .235 with a homer. He would see brief big league time over the next two seasons as well, getting into eight games in 2017 and then nine games in 2018 after he was sold to the Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles sold him to the Kansas City Royals on April 2, 2019 and he spent the entire season in the minors. Susac signed with the Pirates in January of 2020 and he stayed at the Alternate Training Site in Altoona until getting into the final game of the season, where he went 0-for-2 with two walks. Teams were allowed to have taxi squads that year and he was part of that group multiple times before finally getting activated at the end of the season. He remained with the Pirates in 2021 after being designated for assignment, but his 2021 season ended after one month due to injury. He was not brought back for 2022. In his six seasons in the majors, he has a .219 average, with 31 runs, 17 doubles, seven homers and 35 RBIs in 114 games.
Ike Davis, first baseman for the 2014 Pirates. Davis passed on signing out of high school in 2005 when he was drafted by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the 19th round. It proved to be a wise decision, as three years later, the New York Mets selected him in the first round (18th overall) after he attended Arizona State. Davis had a rough debut with Brooklyn of the New York-Penn League, where he hit .256 with no homers in 58 games in 2008. By the end of the next season, he was putting up big stats in Double-A. Splitting the year between High-A St Lucie of the Florida State League, which was not the best park/league for hitters, and Binghamton of the Eastern League, Davis hit .298 with 31 doubles, 20 homers, 57 walks and a .906 OPS in 114 games. He tore up the Arizona Fall League after the season, posting a .958 OPS in 21 games. The Mets waited just ten Triple-A games with Buffalo of the International League in 2010 before they brought him to the majors and gave him the starting first base job. In 147 games as a rookie, he hit .264 with 33 doubles, 19 homers, 71 RBIs, 72 walks and 73 runs scored. He was doing well early in 2011 before an ankle injury ended his season after 36 games. He finished with a .302 average, 16 extra-base hits, 25 RBIs and 17 walks in his abbreviated season.During the off-season, he contracted Desert Valley Fever, which put him on a slow pace to start the 2012 season, though he bounced back with a nice display of power. Davis hit just .227 in 156 games, but it came with 26 doubles, 32 homers, 90 RBIs and 61 walks, giving him a .771 OPS.
In 2013, Davis had a rough year and even spent a month back at Triple-A. He hit .205 with 14 doubles, nine homers, 57 walks and a .661 OPS in 103 games at the big league level. He was acquired by the Pirates early in the 2014 season from the Mets in exchange for two minor league pitchers, Zack Thornton and Blake Taylor. At the time, he was hitting .208 with one homer in 12 games. For the Pirates, Davis batted .235 with ten homers and 46 RBIs in 131 games. He also added 18 doubles and 57 walks, giving him a .721 OPS. He was sold to the Oakland A’s after the season and played just 82 big league games after leaving the Pirates, 74 for the 2015 A’s and eight for the 2016 New York Yankees. Davis also saw time with the Texas Rangers in Triple-A in 2016, and he spent the 2017 season with the Los Angeles Dodgers in the minors. His time with the A’s saw him miss a month of the season when he strained his left quad in mid-May, then he missed the last six weeks of the year with a left hip injury. He hit .229 with 17 doubles, three homers and 20 RBIs during his season with the A’s. He signed as a free agent with the Rangers, who released him in June without any big league time. He signed with the Yankees the next day, but just 12 days later he was designated for assignment and spent the next seven weeks in the minors before being released. Davis went 3-for-14 with a walk and an RBI in his last big league stint. He attempted a switch to pitcher during his final year (2017) in pro ball and he did well at the lowest level, throwing 5.2 shutout innings, but he didn’t return in 2018. He played for Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic in 2017. In seven seasons in the majors, he hit .239 in 667 games, with 260 runs, 117 doubles, 81 homers, 291 RBIs and 294 walks. Davis is the son of Ron Davis, an All-Star reliever who spent 11 seasons in the majors.
Mike Morse, first baseman for the 2015-16 Pirates. He had a 13-year career in the majors, beginning in 2005 as a 6’5″ shortstop for the Seattle Mariners. His pro career started with the Chicago White Sox at 18 years old, after they selected him in the third round of the 2000 draft out of Nova HS in Florida. It’s a school that has produced four big league players. Morse had a very slow start in pro ball, starting at the bottom rung of the ladder and moving one level each year, while never reaching a .700 OPS in his first four seasons. His first season saw him hit .256 with six doubles, two homers and 25 RBIs in 46 games for the Arizona League White Sox. In 2001, he remained in short-season ball, playing for Bristol of the Appalachian League. In 57 games, he hit .227 with 14 extra-base hits and 27 RBIs. The next year saw him go to Kannapolis of the Low-A South Atlantic League. He batted .257 in 113 games, with 30 doubles and 56 RBIs, but his OPS stayed low due to putting up two homers and 25 walks. In 2003, Morse moved up to Winston-Salem of the High-A Carolina League, where he hit .245 in 122 games, with 45 runs, 30 doubles, ten homers and 55 RBIs. He finally started doing well at Double-A Birmingham of the Southern League in 2004, then got traded to the Mariners in June as part of a big five-player deal. He remained in Double-A after the deal, playing for San Antonio of the Texas League. Combined between both stops, he hit .281 in 95 games, with 19 doubles, six triples, 17 homers and 71 RBIs. He played in the Arizona Fall League that year, then moved up to Triple-A Tacoma of the Pacific Coast League for the 2005 season. He put up a .723 OPS in the hitter-friendly park/league in 49 games before joining the Mariners for his debut on May 31st.
Morse hit .278 with a .718 OPS in 72 games as a rookie in 2005. He made 50 starts at shortstop that year, then played a total of three innings at shortstop over the rest of his career. Despite the solid offense as a rookie, he didn’t break into the lineup again full-time until the 2010 season with the Washington Nationals. During the 2006-09 seasons, he played a total of 67 big league games. Morse played first base, third base, left field and shortstop for Tacoma in 2006. In the majors, he did the same, except flipping shortstop for right field. He did well during his limited big league time, batting .372 in 21 games. A broken hamate bone cost him time in 2007 and limited his big league experience to eight games that year. His 2008 season ended after just five games due to a shoulder injury suffered while trying to make a diving catch. The injury in mid-April required reconstructive surgery, which had a six-month recovery time. He made up some lost time by playing winter ball in Venezuela, where he hit .310 with an .876 OPS in 41 games. Morse was back in Tacoma for 2009 until the Nationals acquired him in a trade on June 28th. He remained in Triple-A until late August, when he got called up and hit .250 with three homers and ten RBIs in 55 plate appearances over 32 games.
When Morse finally got regular playing time in 2010, mostly in right field, he responded with some strong offense. In 98 games, he hit .289 with 12 doubles, 14 homers, 41 RBIs and an .870 OPS. His best big league season came in 2011, when he hit .303 with 73 runs, 36 doubles, 31 homers and 95 RBIs, leading to a .910 OPS and some mild MVP support (19th place finish). It was a one-year peak, though he was still productive in 2012 with a .291 average (.791 OPS), 17 doubles, 18 homers and 62 RBIs in 102 games. After the season, he was sent back to the Mariners as part of a three-team/five-player trade. Morse’s stats really dropped off in 2013, as he posted a .215 average, 13 doubles, 13 homers and a .651 OPS in 88 games, while splitting the season between the Mariners and Baltimore Orioles, with the latter acquiring him in a trade on August 20th. He rebounded a bit in 2014 after signing a free agent deal with the San Francisco Giants. Morse hit .279 with 32 doubles and 16 homers in 131 games, though his season had very low value due to extremely poor defense at first base and in left field, which resulted in a -2.1 dWAR.
Morse signed with the Miami Marlins for 2015 and hit .213 with four homers in 53 games. On July 30th, he was part of a huge deal with three teams, involving 13 players and a draft pick. He was sent to the Los Angeles Dodgers that day, but his stay there was as short as possible. The Pirates acquired Morse from the Dodgers the next day in an even up deal for Jose Tabata. It was an exchange of big salaries from players who were not performing well. Morse batted .275 in 45 games for the 2015 Pirates, getting 82 plate appearances and 15 starts at first base. He was with the Pirates on Opening Day in 2016, and he went 0-for-8 in six games before being released in late April. He didn’t sign with a new team until December of 2016, inking a free agent deal with the Giants. He was limited to 24 games due to a hamstring injury early in the year and a concussion that ended his season on May 29th. Morse retired after the season due to the after affects of the concussion. He batted .274 in 832 big league games, with 296 runs, 139 doubles, 105 homers and 355 RBIs. He moved off of shortstop after his rookie season and split his remaining time between left field, right field and first base, getting 164+ starts at each position. Morse ended up playing just three innings at shortstop after the 2005 season.
Jason Phillips, pitcher for the 1999 Pirates. Phillips was drafted at 18 years old out of Hughesville HS in Hughesville, PA. by the Pirates in the 14th round of the 1992 amateur draft. It took seven seasons for the 6’6″ righty to work his way to the majors. He was a starter in the minors, who really struggled during his first abbreviated season in pro ball, posting an 8.47 ERA in four starts in the Gulf Coast League in 1992. The next year was spent with Welland of the short-season New York-Penn League, where he went 4-6, 3.53 in 71.1 innings over 14 starts, with 66 strikeouts. During his first season in Low-A in 1994 with Augusta of the South Atlantic League, Phillips posted a 6-12, 6.73 record in 23 starts, though he showed some potential with his 108 strikeouts in 108.1 innings. After pitching mostly in relief in 1995 for Augusta, going 4-3, 3.60 in 80 innings over six starts and 24 relief outings, he returned to the starting role in 1996 and had a solid season. Phillips split the year between Augusta (14 starts) and High-A Lynchburg of the Carolina League (13 starts), going 10-10, 3.36 in 163.1 innings, with 138 strikeouts. He did much better at the lower level, posting a 2.41 ERA in 89.2 innings. He spent most of 1997 in Lynchburg, while also seeing four Double-A starts for Carolina of the Southern League. Phillips struck out 162 batters in 169.2 innings that year, while posting a 3.50 ERA, with better results in Double-A (2.32 ERA in 31 innings). He had a similar season in 1998, putting up average results in 25 starts at Carolina (4.71 ERA in 151 innings), before compiling a 2.59 ERA in 31.1 innings at Triple-A Nashville of the Pacific Coast League. He set a career best with 181.2 innings, though he saw his strikeout rate per nine innings go from 8.6 in 1997 down to 6.7 in 1998.
Phillips made the big league Opening Day roster in 1999 as a reliever and got hit hard in his six appearances, allowing nine runs on 11 hits and six walks in seven innings. When reliever Marc Wilkins returned from the disabled list on April 30th, Phillips was sent to the minors, where he made just one Triple-A appearance before missing the rest of the season with a right shoulder injury. He was released after the season and re-signed on a minor league deal. He also missed most of 2000 due to that shoulder injury, making just six starts with Nashville, putting up a 4.70 ERA in 30.2 innings. Phillips once again re-signed with the Pirates in 2001 on a minor league deal. He began the 2001 season in Double-A Altoona of the Eastern League, where he allowed 11 runs over nine innings of work before being released in early June. He signed with the Cleveland Indians two days later and eventually made it back to the majors in July of 2002. He split the rest of 2001 between Double-A and Triple-A, finishing the year (combined with his Pirates stats) with a 4.50 ERA in 68 innings over ten starts and 14 relief outings. During 2002 season in Cleveland, Phillips posted a 1-3, 4.97 record in 41.2 innings over in six starts and two relief appearances. His 2003 big league season consisted of three relief appearances, with five runs allowed over five innings of work. He pitched until 2005 in the minors and spent parts of two seasons (2003-04) in Japan. His final season was spent with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, where he had a 5.70 ERA in 101 innings at Triple-A. He finished his big league time with a 6.20 ERA in 53.2 innings over six starts and 11 relief outings. During the 2001-07 seasons, there was a catcher named Jason Phillips for the New York Mets, but the two Jason Phillips never got a chance to face each other in a big league game.
Ramon Martinez, pitcher for the 2001 Pirates. He was originally signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers at 17 years old in 1984, 17 years before he came to the Pirates. He is the brother of the great Pedro Martinez and the cousin of former Pirates pitcher Denny Bautista, making the pair one of 26 sets of relatives to play for the Pirates. Ramon Martinez won at least ten games in a season eight times in his career, with a high of 20 wins in 1990 for the Dodgers. It took Martinez four seasons in the minors to climb from rookie ball to the majors at 20 years old. He debuted in the Gulf Coast League in 1985, putting up a 2.59 ERA in 59 innings over six starts and 17 relief appearances. In 1986, he went 4-8, 4.75 in 20 starts and 106 innings for Bakersfield of the Class-A California League. In the Class-A Florida State League with Vero Beach in 1987, he went 16-5, 2.17 in 170.1 innings, with 148 strikeouts. He needed 14 starts in Double-A San Antonio of the Texas League and another ten in Triple-A with Albuquerque of the Pacific Coast League, before the Dodgers called him up to the majors in August of 1988. He had a 2.58 ERA and 138 strikeouts in 153.2 minor league innings, followed by a 3.79 ERA in 35.2 big league innings over six starts and three relief appearances.
Despite pitching well in his debut, Martinez split the 1989 season between Triple-A and the majors, putting up strong numbers at both levels. In 15 starts for the Dodgers, he had a 6-4, 3.19 record and two shutouts in 98.2 innings. His career year came at 22 years old in 1990 when he went 20-6, 2.92 in 234.1 innings, with a 1.10 WHIP and 223 strikeouts. That strikeout total was 83 more than his next highest season. He led the National League with 12 complete games, threw three shutouts, made his only All-Star appearance, finished second in the Cy Young voting (to Doug Drabek) and he received mild MVP support, ending up 16th in the voting. Martinez saw a fall off in his stats over the next two years, though his 1991 season was still a very strong year. He went 17-13, 3.27 in 220.1 innings, with 150 strikeouts and four shutouts. The 1992 season was the disappointing year, with an 8-11, 4.00 record in 25 starts and 150.2 innings. He had 101 strikeouts and a 1.39 WHIP. He missed all of September with a minor elbow injury. Martinez rebounded in 1993, through it didn’t show in his win/loss record. He went 10-12, 3.44 with 127 strikeouts in 211.2 innings. He led the NL with 108 walks, an honor he would repeat two years later. During the strike-shortened 1994 season, he was 12-7, 3.97 in 170 innings over 24 starts, leading the league with three shutouts. He had a big 1995 season despite the delayed start possibly costing him a chance at another 20-win season. Martinez went 17-7, 3.66 in 206.1 innings, with a league leading 81 walks, to go along with 138 strikeouts. That performance helped him to a fifth place finish in the Cy Young voting.
Martinez lost some durability over his last six seasons in the majors, beginning in 1996 when he pitched 168.1 innings. He was still very effective when he was on the mound, going 15-6, 3.42 in 27 starts and a relief appearance, but he missed five weeks early on due to a groin injury suffered in his second start. His innings dropped to 133.2 in 1997, when he made 22 started and posted a 10-5, 3.64 record. A shoulder injury suffered in mid-June kept him out until late August. A rotator cuff injury/surgery limited him to 15 starts in 1998. He pitched great when healthy that year, going 7-3, 2.83, with 91 strikeouts in 101.2 innings. Martinez moved on to the Boston Red Sox to continue his rehab in 1999, and he was able to make four starts late in the year. In 2000, he posted a 10-8 record in 27 starts for Boston, but his ERA was 6.13 and he averaged less than five innings per start, throwing 127.2 innings on the year. The Pirates signed him as a free agent on April 11, 2001, two weeks after the Dodgers released him from the free agent contract he signed three months earlier. For the Pirates he stepped into the rotation just three days after signing and made four starts. He never got past the fifth inning in any start and Pittsburgh lost all four games. After his start on May 1st, Martinez decided to retire, finishing his career with a 135-88, 3.67 record in 301 games, 297 as a starter. He had 37 complete games, 20 shutouts, 1,895.2 innings and 1,427 strikeouts. He pitched with his brother Pedro during the 1992-93 seasons in Los Angeles and the 1999-2000 seasons in Boston. A third brother named Jesus was a pitcher with the Dodgers and got called up in 1996, but he sat in the bullpen for all 27 games without an appearance and never made it back to the majors. Ramon Martinez had an interesting footnote as a hitter during his career. He was originally a right-handed hitter for two seasons. He then hit lefty until 1998 when he started switch-hitting for two years. For his last two seasons, he went back to hitting left-handed. He was a career .153 hitter with one homer and 33 RBIs in 674 plate appearances.