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

Two Pittsburgh Pirates trades of note and five former players born on this date.

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 of the South Atlantic League. 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 without giving him a big league shot. He ended up pitching 555 Major League games over 11 seasons, twice leading the American League 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. His 2002-04 seasons were his three best during his career according to WAR, as he accumulated 7.4 WAR during that stretch. 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.

While the Pirates clearly lost the Marte trade above, this one was a minor win. Winn had -0.9 WAR after the deal, so just moving on from him would have been enough. Cangelosi was just a role player off of the bench, but he had 3.3 WAR in his four seasons with the Pirates.

The Players

Clay Holmes, pitcher for the 2018-21 Pirates. He was a ninth round draft pick of the Pirates, taken out of high school in Alabama. He received a bonus over $1,000,000, which was a record for his draft round. He signed too late to pitch in 2011, so he debuted with State College in the short-season New York-Penn League in 2012, where he went 5-3, 2.28 in 59.1 innings over 13 starts. Holmes moved up to West Virginia of the South Atlantic League in 2013 and had a 5-6, 4.08 record in 25 starts (one relief outing), with 90 strikeouts in 119 innings. That was followed by missing the entire 2014 season due to Tommy John surgery. His return in 2015 was limited to nine starts due to the timing of the surgery. He pitched three games in the Gulf Coast League and six for Bradenton of the High-A Florida State League, going 1-2, 2.48 in 36.1 innings between both stops. Healthy in 2016, Holmes spent the entire season with Altoona of the Double-A Eastern League, where he went 10-9, 4.22 in 26 starts, with 101 strikeouts in 136.1 innings. He moved up to Indianapolis of the Triple-A International League for all of 2017 and had a 10-5, 3.36 record in 112.2 innings, with 99 strikeouts.

Holmes spent most of 2018 back with Indianapolis, where he went 8-3, 3.40 with 100 strikeouts in 95.1 innings over 16 starts and six relief outings. He made his big league debut in April, but didn’t stick with the team until late August. He ended up making four starts and seven relief appearances, going 1-3, 6.84 in 26.1 innings, with 23 walks and 21 strikeouts. In 2019, Holmes struggled in the minors and the majors, though he spent more time in Pittsburgh. He had a 6.41 ERA in 19.2 innings in the minors, and a 5.58 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 50 innings and 35 appearances. He had two separate injuries that resulted in injured list stints that year. His 2020 season, which was already shortened to 60 games due to the pandemic, ended after one game when he suffered a forearm strain. He became a free agent after the season, but quickly re-signed with the Pirates. Holmes was back healthy in 2021 and had a 3-2, 4.93 record in 44 appearances for the Pirates, with 44 strikeouts in 42 innings. He was traded to the New York Yankees for two prospects in late July and he completely turned things around with his new team. After going 5-7, 5.57 with a 1.64 WHIP in 119.2 innings with the Pirates, Holmes went 5-2, 1.61 in 28 innings over 25 games with the Yankees. He walked just four batters during that time, after walking 6.3 batters per nine innings with the Pirates. Holmes threw two shutout innings in the Yankees one-game playoff appearance in 2021.

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 short-season 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 West Virginia of the South Atlantic League to Double-A Altoona of the Eastern League, while spending most of the year playing for Bradenton in the High-A Florida State League. Combined between three stops, he had a 5-1, 1.38 record and 14 saves in 72 innings over 44 appearances. He walked just nine batters all year and had 69 strikeouts. DuRapau spent the entire 2016 season in Altoona, posting a 3-3, 3.63 record in 49.1 innings over 50 appearances, with 51 strikeouts and 22 saves. He went to the Arizona Fall League after the season and had a 5.40 ERA in ten innings over ten appearances. He split the 2017 season between Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis of the International League, combining for a 2.04 ERA and 15 saves in 53 innings over 42 outings, with 62 strikeouts. He struggled in a brief stint in winter ball in the Dominican during the 2017-18 off-season, which turned out to be a rough one for him.

DuRapau failed a drug suspension over the 2017-18 off-season and he was limited to  just 30.2 innings in 2018 due to a 50-game suspension. It seemed to have sidetracked his career, as he posted a 5.28 ERA between Indianapolis and Altoona, but the Pirates were desperate for pitching in 2019 due to numerous injuries and he got multiple chances at the big league level. Those chances were helped by an All-Star season in Indianapolis, 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 for the league. 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 (though he appeared briefly in winter ball in the Dominican) 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. He spent the year with Double-A Midland, where he went 4-1, 3.98 in 54.1 innings over 37 relief appearances. He retired just prior to the 2022 season.

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 with a .601 OPS in 55 games, playing in the short-season Pioneer League with Great Falls. It didn’t take long for him to break out though. He hit .261 with 16 doubles, 17 homers, 66 RBIs and 89 walks in 123 games with Decatur of the Class-A Midwest League in 1973. He then followed it up with .298 average, 84 runs, 15 doubles, 27 homers, 95 RBIs and 63 walks in 103 games at Class-A Fresno of the California League in 1974.  Alexander debuted in the majors in September of 1975 after putting up huge numbers in Double-A. He hit .329 with 80 runs, 24 doubles, 23 homers, 81 RBIs and 76 walks in 103 games for Lafayette of the Texas League that year, resulting in a 1.057 OPS. He saw brief time at Triple-A Phoenix of the Pacific Coast League before moving up to the majors. He played just three games with the Giants in his first trial, going 0-for-3 with a walk.

Alexander hit .319 with 18 doubles, 12 triples, 17 homers and a .972 OPS while playing with Phoenix in 1976. That year he played 23 September games with San Francisco and he hit .178 with two homers. The 1977 season was split evenly between the Giants and Phoenix. 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 and 20 RBIs. He was traded to the Oakland A’s during Spring Training in 1978 and ended up splitting the season between the Cleveland Indians and A’s. The trade netted San Francisco star pitcher Vida Blue, and the A’s ended up getting seven players and $300,000 in cash. Alexander set career highs in 1978 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. He had a .723 OPS in 58 games with Oakland, while mainly serving as their DH. After a June 15th trade, he played 90 games with Cleveland and had a .761 OPS and 62 RBIs. Alexander played 110 games in 1979, hitting .229 with 54 runs, 15 homers, 54 RBIs, 46 walks and a .704 OPS. He played 76 games in 1980, hitting .225 with five homers and 31 RBIs, while posting a .647 OPS.

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. He was getting occasional starts in left field and first base, but often went long stretches without playing. He got into just one of the final 21 games of the season. Alexander made up for some lost time by playing winter ball in Mexico. He was released at the end of the 1982 Pirates Spring Training, which officially ended 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 169 runs, 45 doubles, 55 homers and 202 RBIs in 432 games. He caught 229 games in the majors, but all of 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 at 22 years old. His pro career began right away with West Palm Beach of the Class-A Florida State League, where he hit .269 with 12 doubles, five homers and 33 walks in 75 games. The next year he showed why he kept getting drafted in the early rounds. He played in Double-A with Memphis of the Southern League, where he hit .270 with 77 runs, 28 doubles, 20 homers, 114 RBIs and 70 walks in 145 games. His power numbers dropped in the high altitudes of Denver in Triple-A (American Association), batting .269 with 17 doubles and nine homers in 126 games. His .713 OPS ranked 12th among the 12 players on the team with at least 150 plate appearances, and it was an 89-point drop in his OPS over the previous season, with most of that coming from his slugging percentage. Hostetler returned to Denver in 1981 and responded with a big year, hitting .318 with 91 runs, 27 homers, 103 RBIs and 66 walks in 125 games. He saw five September games with the Expos that year. He came off of the bench in the final game of the season and went 3-for-3 with a home run, after going 0-for-3 in his previous four games. 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 that year, but it came with 22 homers and 67 RBIs in 113 games. His .733 OPS was just above league average. He finished sixth in the Rookie of the Year voting. The next season he batted .220 with 11 homers in 94 games. Despite the lower batting average, he improved his OBP 23 points to .323 by drawing the same amount of walks (42) as he did in 113 more plate appearances during the 1982 season. Hostetler 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, where he hit 29 homers and drove in 89 runs, then played the next two years in Japan. He hit a combined 42 homers in Japan, though his numbers tailed off a bit in his second season, with his OPS dropping 78 points to a .749 mark in 124 games. Hostetler signed with the Pirates as a free agent in January of 1988 and played six early season games in the majors, 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 with Buffalo of the American Association, 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 92 runs, 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 debuted in 1915 at 20 years old with Elgin of the Class-D Bi-State League. In 1916, he jumped up three levels to Topeka of the Class-A Western League, where he had a 6-8, 2.82 record in 131 innings. Despite the success, the 1917 season saw him play for two teams in the Class-D Central Association, as well as putting up a 4.64 ERA in 33 innings with Joplin of the Western League. After serving during WWI, Burwell returned in 1919 to post a 3.70 ERA in 224 innings while pitching for Joplin. 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, throwing a total of 84.1 innings. He struck out just 17 batters that year, with seven of them coming in his 11 innings as a starter. 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 1922, Burwell went 14-23, 4.47 in 304 innings for Columbus of the American Association. He moved on to Indianapolis of the American Association, where he spent the next 12 seasons, only interrupted in the middle by his partial 1928 season with the Pirates. In 1923, Burwell went 18-21, 3.58 in 342 innings over 46 games pitched. He followed that up with a 17-10, 4.10 record in 237 innings in 1924. In 1925, he went 24-9, 2.73 in 303 innings. The next year he put up 21 wins and threw 294 innings, giving him only two 20+ win seasons in back-to-back years. He wasn’t exactly on the rise before joining the Pirates. During the 1927 season he put together a 14-20, 5.10 record in 254 innings over 37 games. 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 finished the 1928 season with a 13-10, 3.16 record in 219 innings for Indianapolis. He followed that up by going 49-42 over the next three years, throwing a total of 747 innings.

The 1931 season was the last year Burwell topped 200+ innings in a season, though he was far from done at that point. He 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.