This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: June 27th, Seven Former Players and Two Trades of Note

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

The Players

Yacksel Rios, pitcher for the 2019-20 Pirates. He was a 12th round draft pick out of high school in Puerto Rico by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2011. Rios spent his first two seasons struggling in the Gulf Coast League, where he had an 8.74 ERA and 14 walks in 11.1 innings in 2011, followed by a 6.60 ERA in 30 innings in 2012, though his control improved greatly with just nine walks. He moved up to the short-season New York-Penn League in 2013 and took on more innings, after mostly pitching in relief during his first two years. He went 5-3, 3.59 in 52.2 innings over ten starts and five relief appearances in 2013 with Williamsport. The next year he moved up to Low-A Lakewood of the South Atlantic League, where he made 13 starts and 20 relief appearances. Rios went 6-2, 3.69 in 102.1 innings. After seeing some time in winter ball in Puerto Rico that off-season, he moved up to High-A Clearwater, in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. He went 6-5, 2.75 in 88.1 innings in 2014, making ten starts and 16 relief appearances. He was a starter in the Arizona Fall League after the season, posting a 5.14 ERA in 21 innings.  Rios struggled through the 2016 season, posting a 4.58 ERA and 14 walks in 17.2 innings with Double-A Reading of the Eastern League, and a 6.14 ERA in 58.2 innings back at High-A. However, relief work in Puerto Rico that winter seemed to turn things around. He had a 1.45 ERA in 18.2 innings of winter ball, then had a 1.92 ERA in 37 appearances/56.1 innings in the minors, which was split between Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley of the International League. That performance earned him a promotion to the Phillies in late August, where he had a 4.41 ERA in 16.1 innings over 13 outings.

Rios spent much of 2018 in the majors, but did not do well. He had a 6.75 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 36 innings over 36 games. He pitched four times for the Phillies in 2019, allowing seven runs in 2.2 innings. He was struggling in Lehigh Valley when the Pirates picked him up off of waivers on August 3, 2019. He had a 7.41 ERA in 31 innings at the time, to go along with his rough patch in the majors. With the Pirates in Triple-A with Indianapolis of the International League, Rios posted a 2.35 ERA in 15.1 innings over nine appearances. He joined the big league team in September and he allowed six runs in 10.1 innings over ten games, though all six runs were scored in back-to-back outings. He was with the Pirates in early August of the shortened 2020 season, and he allowed four runs in four innings over three appearances. Pittsburgh let him go after the season and he signed a free agent deal with the Tampa Bay Rays for the 2021 season. He pitched well in Triple-A for the Rays (0.66 ERA in 13.2 innings), who sold him to the Seattle Mariners on June 4th. He gave up three runs over three innings with the Mariners, then was sold to the Boston Red Sox on June 14th. Boston used him 20 times, watching him go 3-0, 3.70 in 24.1 innings. In 2021, he signed with the Chicago White Sox, and he spent the season with Charlotte of the International League through mid-June. He has an 8-2, 5.77 record and 91 strikeouts in 96.2 innings over 89 big league games, all in relief.

AJ Schugel, pitcher for the 2016-17 Pirates. He was originally a 33rd round draft pick out of high school by the San Diego Padres in 2007. He decided to attend Central Arizona College, where he was selected three years later in the 25th round by the Los Angeles Angels. He spent the 2010 season in short-season ball after signing, posting a 1.72 ERA in 11 games with the Arizona League team (rookie ball), followed by an 8.59 ERA in six appearances with Orem of the Pioneer League. Schugel split the 2011 season between Low-A Cedar Rapids of the Midwest League and High-A Inland Empire of the California League, pitching much better at the lower level. He combined to go 5-5, 3.03 with 95 strikeouts in 110 innings over 16 starts and 13 relief appearances. Despite some struggles in the hitter-friendly California League, he moved up to Double-A for all of 2012. He was a starter at this point in his career and saw significant work for Arkansas of the Texas League, where he went 6-8, 2.89 with 109 strikeouts in 140.1 innings over 27 starts. He moved up to Triple-A, where he had to pitch in the huge offense environment of Salt Lake City in the Pacific Coast League. Schugel had a 4-6, 7.05 record in 89.1 innings over 19 starts in 2013. He went back down to Double-A for the entire 2014 season after the Angels traded him to the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three-team/six-player deal. He went 6-4, 3.47 in 147.2 innings over 26 starts in 2014 for Mobile of the Southern League.

Schugel debuted in the majors in 2015, pitching one April game before going to Triple-A Reno of the Pacific Coast League, where he got hit hard in the hitter-friendly home park in Reno of the Pacific Coast League. After five starts with Reno, he was demoted to Mobile, where he had a 2.21 ERA in 12 starts. He then returned to Triple-A and again had poor results over four appearances. Despite a 10.18 ERA in 38 innings with Reno, he returned to Arizona in September. He gave up 13 runs (five earned) in nine innings for the Diamondbacks in 2015. On December 16, 2015, he was picked up off of waivers by the Seattle Mariners, but that stop didn’t last long. Schugel was picked up off of waivers by the Pirates from the Mariners just one month after Seattle got him off waivers from the Diamondbacks. He began 2016 with Triple-A Indianapolis of the International League, but was quickly called up to the majors in mid-April. He would have three stints in the minors that year despite some solid stats in the majors. Schugel had a 3.63 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP in 52 innings over 36 appearances with the 2016 Pirates. He was in Indianapolis to start the 2017 season, and didn’t make the majors until early July, after posting a 4.17 ERA in 36.2 innings. In 32 games with the Pirates over the final three months of the season, he had a 1.97 ERA in 32 innings. Schugel was injured for a large part of the 2018 season and never made it out of the minors, putting up a 6.62 ERA in 17.2 innings for two teams. He did not play pro ball in 2019, but he was active in independent ball in 2020 and then played for the New York Mets in Triple-A during the 2021 season, where he had a 5.56 ERA in 16 appearances for Syracuse. He was playing independent ball in 2022 with Milwaukee of the American Association. In his two seasons with the Pirates, he had a 6-2, 3.00 record, one save and 73 strikeouts in 84 innings over 68 appearances.

Daryle Ward, first baseman for the 2004-05 Pirates. He was still 18 years old when he was a 15th round draft pick in 1994 by the Detroit Tigers out of Rancho Santiago College. Ward debuted in the short-season Appalachian League, where he hit .267 with five homers and a .740 OPS in 48 games for Bristol. He moved up to Low-A ball the next season and hit .284 with 75 runs, 32 doubles, 14 homers, 106 RBIs and a .769 OPS in 137 games with Fayetteville of the South Atlantic League. He spent most of 1996 in High-A, playing 128 games with Lakeland of the Florida State League, before getting a late promotion to Triple-A Toledo of the International League. Ward hit .285 with 66 runs, 29 doubles, ten homers, 69 RBIs, 57 walks and a .788 OPS in 134 games that year. He was traded to the Houston Astros in December of 1996 as part of a nine-player deal. Most of the 1997 season was spent in Double-A with Jackson of the Texas League, with another late promotion to Triple-A, getting into 14 games with New Orleans of the American Association (the team transferred to the Pacific Coast League in 1998). He hit .334 in 1997, with 76 runs, 26 doubles, 21 homers, 98 RBIs and a .928 OPS in 128 games, with slightly better results at the higher level.

Ward made his big league debut in May of 1998 for Houston, but it was just a cup of coffee, resulting in four games. The rest of the year was spent at New Orleans, where he did well, batting .305 with 78 runs, 31 doubles, 23 homers, 96 RBIs and an .886 OPS in 116 games. Ward tore up Triple-A in 1999, earning full-time work with the Astros. He hit .353 with 28 homers and 65 RBIs in 61 games with New Orleans, and then batted .273 with eight homers, 30 RBIs and a .784 OPS in 64 games with Houston. Ward was a first baseman by trade, but he was behind Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell with the Astros, so he moved to the outfield. Ward was a bench player for much of 2000, hitting .258 with 20 homers, 47 RBIs and an .833 OPS in 281 plate appearances. He had the same role in 2001, this time batting .263 with 15 doubles, nine homers and 39 RBIs in 213 at-bats spread over 95 games. He became the starting left fielder in 2002 and hit .276 with 31 doubles, 12 homers, 72 RBIs and a .748 OPS in 136 games. Ward was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in January of 2003. He hit .269 with 49 homers and 188 RBIs in 418 games during his time in Houston. In his only season with Los Angeles, he struggled badly, hitting .183 with no homers and a .403 OPS in 52 games, while also being sent to the minors for 38 games.

The Pirates signed Ward in January of 2004 as a free agent and he began the year in Triple-A with Nashville of the Pacific Coast League. He was called up to the majors in early May and he started off quickly, batting .380 with six homers during his first two weeks with the team. His production dropped off and he missed time due to a thumb injury, finishing with a .249 average, 39 runs, 17 doubles, 15 homers and 57 RBIs in 79 games. In 2005, Ward was the everyday first baseman for the Pirates, hitting .260 with 46 runs, 21 doubles, 12 homers and 63 RBIs in 133 games. He was let go after the season, then signed with the Washington Nationals for 2006. He played three seasons after leaving the Pirates, seeing time with Washington, the Atlanta Braves (2006) and the Chicago Cubs (2007-08). He was doing outstanding as a bench player for the Nationals before they traded him to the Braves on August 31, 2006. Ward was hitting .308 in 78 games, with a .958 OPS at the time of the deal. The Braves used him as a bench player as well, and he matched that .308 average, albeit in 26 at-bats over 20 games. He did even better with the Cubs in 2007 in the same role, batting .327 with 16 extra-base hits and 19 RBIs in 79 games. He couldn’t carry that bench magic into his final season, batting .216 in 89 games, though 11 extra-base hits in 102 at-bats helped him to a .721 OPS.

While his big league career was done by 2008, his pro career was far from over. He played for the Nationals and Chicago White Sox in Triple-A in 2009, while also seeing time in independent ball with Newark of the Atlantic League, where he also spent the entire 2010 season. He played some minor league ball for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2011, though a majority of his time was spent back in Newark, then in the Canadian-American Association. Ward stayed with Newark in 2012 and also played winter ball in Mexico, then 2013 was spent with Lancaster of the Atlantic League, followed by winter ball in Mexico. He played summer and winter ball in Mexico in 2014, along with time in the Atlantic League with Somerset. His career ended at 40 years old in 2015 with two Atlantic League teams, Sugar Land and Southern Maryland. He finished his big league career with .263 average, 242 runs, 131 doubles, 90 homers and 379 RBIs in 948 games. In his pro career, he had over 2,000 hits, with 290 homers and 1,291 RBIs in 2,323 games. On July 6, 2002, while with the Astros, Ward became the first player to hit a ball on the fly into the water behind the right field stands at PNC Park. Ward is the son of outfielder Gary Ward, a two-time All-Star during his 12 season in the majors.

Lee Hancock, lefty pitcher for the 1995-96 Pirates. He was a fourth round draft pick by the Seattle Mariners in 1988 out of Cal Poly Tech. He spent two full years in their system before the Pirates acquired him on May 18, 1990 for pitcher Scott Medvin. Hancock went 6-5, 2.60, with 102 strikeouts in 16 starts and 100.1 innings for Bellingham of the short-season Northwest League in 1988. He moved up to High-A San Bernardino of the California League in 1989, where he went 12-7, 2.60 in 173 innings over 26 starts, throwing five complete games. He had 119 strikeouts that year, which was his season high during his pro career. He pitched seven games for Double-A Williamsport of the Eastern League in 1990 before his trade to the Pirates. He had a 2.68 ERA prior to the deal and a 3.44 mark in 117 innings for Double-A Harrisburg of the Eastern League after the trade. Despite starting that 1990 season in Double-A, and getting a brief call-up to Triple-A Buffalo of the American Association for one game, Hancock didn’t make the majors until September of 1995. He began to pitch more in relief during the 1991 season, when he went 4-7, 4.41 in 98 innings for Carolina of the Southern League (Pirates switched affiliates that year). He made 11 starts, 26 relief appearances and he had four saves that year. In 1992, he pitched strictly in relief ( except one start) and had a 2.19 ERA in 49.1 innings over 33 appearances, split between Carolina and Buffalo.

In 1993, Hancock split his season again between Carolina and Buffalo, while returning to more of a starting role. He did much better at the lower level, posting a 2.53 ERA in 99.2 innings over 11 starts and 14 relief appearances with Carolina, while putting up a 4.91 ERA in 66 innings over 11 starts with Buffalo. In 1994, Hancock spent the entire year in Triple-A (then Calgary of the Pacific Coast League), making 30 starts and seven relief appearances. He had a 4-5, 3.43 record in 86.2 innings. The strike that year possibly kept him from debuting that season, but he would make the majors in 1995 after going 6-10, 5.07 in 113.2 innings over 17 starts and 17 relief appearances for Calgary. For the 1995 Pirates, Hancock debuted on September 3rd, and had a 1.93 ERA in 14 innings, spread out over 11 appearances. He made the Pirates Opening Day roster in 1996, pitching 13 times out of the bullpen before a few rough outings in May got him sent back to the minors. The Pirates cut ties with him that July, and by the end of next season he was out of baseball, never making it back to the majors. He had a 6.81 ERA in 18.1 innings with the 1996 Pirates. Hancock finished the 1996 season in Triple-A (Phoenix of the Pacific Coast League) with the San Francisco Giants, then had brief stints in 1997 with the Giants (Phoenix) and Chicago Cubs (Orlando of the Double-A Southern League) in the minors, resulting in a 9.20 ERA in 14.2 innings. He finished with an 0-0, 4.45 record in 31.2 innings over 24 appearances with the Pirates. His first name was a shortened version of Leland.

Elmo Plaskett, catcher for the 1962-63 Pirates. He signed with the Pirates in 1957 after scout Howie Haak saw him during a tryout on the tiny island of St Croix. Along with Al McBean and Joe Christopher, the Pirates signed three future Major League players from the Virgin Islands during the 1955-58 time frame. Plaskett debuted in Class-D ball at 18 years old, playing outfield and pitching during his first season. He hit .302 with 31 extra-base hits and 56 RBIs in 91 games between Clinton of the Midwest League (64 games) and Jamestown of the New York-Penn League, while posting a 3.65 ERA in 69 innings for Jamestown. He moved to third base during the 1958 season, which was split evenly between Class-C San Jose/Las Vegas of the California League and Class-A Lincoln of the Western League. Combined between both stops, Plaskett hit .289 with 91 runs, 20 doubles, 13 homers, 67 RBIs, 71 walks and 13 steals in 129 games. He played winter ball in Puerto Rico after the season and got in another 264 at-bats, hitting .307 with four homers and 25 RBIs. He would end up playing winter ball during much of his pro career. In 1959, he spent half of the year with Columbus (Ohio) of the Triple-A International League, and the rest of the year with Columbus (Georgia) of the Class-A South Atlantic League. He hit .333 with 18 extra-base hits and a .908 OPS in 73 games that season. In 1960, Plaskett spent the entire year in Class-C Grand Forks of the Northern League. He switched to catcher full-time that year, so they started him at a much lower level than his offensive skillset. He hit .295 with 49 runs, 32 extra-base hits and 78 RBIs in 93 games. The 1961 season was spent mostly on the sidelines with a hand injury, which limited him to 29 games, mostly spent with Triple-A Columbus.

Plaskett spent six full seasons in the minors before getting his first big league shot in 1962 as a September call-up. That year he hit .350 with 91 runs, 30 doubles, 27 homers, 96 RBIs and a 1.012 OPS in 134 games for Asheville of the South Atlantic League. He was playing in A-Ball that year, but it was such a good performance that he earned a look with the Pirates. He hit .286 in seven games, with a three-run home run to his credit, during his first cup of coffee in the majors. Plaskett made the Pirates Opening Day roster in 1963, lasting six weeks before he was returned to the minors on May 24th. He returned to Triple-A Columbus and hit .261 in 77 games, with 31 runs, 22 extra-base hits and 34 RBIs. He ended up hitting .143 (3-for-21) in ten games for the 1963 Pirates. He played minor league ball until 1969, but never made it back to the majors. He played in the Pittsburgh farm system until May of 1967, but his performance dropped off following a broken leg in winter ball after the 1964 season. He played just 39 games at Triple-A during his final six seasons of pro ball, seeing a majority of his time in the Double-A Southern Association, while also playing parts of two seasons back in A-Ball. Plaskett played for nine teams during those final six years. In 17 games with the Pirates, he hit .200 with three runs, a homer and five RBIs.

Hank Behrman, pitcher for the 1947 Pirates. He debuted in pro ball in 1941 at 19 years old, playing Class-D ball with Valdosta of the Georgia-Florida League, where he went 18-10, 3.11 in 252 innings. He moved up to the Class-B Piedmont League in 1942, where he went 14-11, 2.92 in 222 innings for Durham. After the season, he reported to the Army, where he stayed until January of 1946. He went to Spring Training with the Brooklyn Dodgers after returning and made the team.  He went 11-5, 2.93 over 150.1 innings during his rookie season in 1946, making 11 starts and 36 relief appearances. He was one of five players the Brooklyn Dodgers sent to the Pirates on May 3, 1947 for Al Gionfriddo and $100k in cash.  Prior to the deal, he had pitched just twice in relief during the first three weeks of the season, allowing four runs in 3.2 innings. Behrman spent six weeks with the Pirates before he was returned to the Dodgers. The trade came with an agreement that Pittsburgh could send players back if they weren’t performing well. With the return of Behrman to Brooklyn, the Pirates recouped some of the money from the deal, with reports being as much as half of the original price returned. With Pittsburgh, he went 0-2, 9.12 over two starts and eight relief appearances, allowing 26 runs in 24.2 innings.

After being returned to the Dodgers, Behrman had a 5.30 ERA in 88.1 innings over 38 appearances (six starts) to finish out the 1947 season. While it wasn’t an official stat then, he record eight saves with Brooklyn. The Dodgers went to the World Series that year and he was used five times in the seven-game series, allowing five runs in 6.1 innings. He was with the Dodgers during the second half of the 1948 season, pitching mostly out of the bullpen that last season, posting a 5-4, 4.05 record in 91 innings. Behrman pitched 34 times that year, with four starts, two complete games, seven shutouts and his first of two career shutouts. He spent the first two months of the season with Montreal of the Triple-A International League, where he went 8-2, 2.55 in 106 innings. He finished his big league career with the New York Giants in 1949, where he went 3-3, 4.92 in 71.1 innings over 43 appearances (four starts). He then played another four seasons in the minors before retiring. He went to the Triple-A Pacific Coast League in 1950, going 17-8, 4.25 as a workhorse pitcher for Oakland. Behrman pitched 218 innings that season over 24 starts and 38 relief appearances. He spent more than half of 1951 pitching poorly for Oakland and San Francisco of the PCL, then saw time in Double-A with Oklahoma City of the Texas League. He combined for a 4.88 ERA in 131 innings. Behrman compiled a 13-34 record during his final two seasons of pro ball, pitching a total of 315 innings for Charleston of the Triple-A American Association. He didn’t pitch as bad as it sounds, with the team going 106-201 during that time. He ended up with a 24-17, 4.40 record in 429.2 innings over 174 Major League games. He had 27 starts, five complete games, two shutouts and 19 saves.

Jackie Hayes, catcher for the 1883-84 Pittsburgh Alleghenys. He had a strong rookie season in 1882 at 21 years old, playing center field and backup catcher for the Worcester Ruby Legs of the National League. He had almost no prior pro experience, seeing three games in 1880 for Rochester of the National Association. That wasn’t that unusual, as only a handful of minor leagues existed at the time, and every team used limited rosters, so spots in pro ball during the 1880-81 seasons were nearly impossible to land. Many players made their name playing amateur/semi-pro ball at the time. Hayes hit .270 with 27 runs, 30 extra-base hits and 54 RBIs in 78 games for Worcester (the team played 84 games that season). Worcester folded after the 1882 season and Hayes signed on with the Pittsburgh Alleghenys shortly after the season ended. The local papers noted his arrival for Spring Training in 1883 by saying that he lost considerable weight over the off-season. He caught in 62 of the team’s 98 games in 1883, hitting .262 with 41 runs scored, 23 doubles, five triples and a team leading three homers. Hayes spent most of the 1884 season with the Alleghenys before being released on August 21st after batting .226/.256/.290 in 33 games. He missed time mid-season due to illness and returned to his home in Brooklyn to recover. He moved on to another American Association team to finish the season, joining his hometown Brooklyn Atlantics.  He batted .235 in 16 games with the Atlantics to finish the year.

Hayes saw sporadic playing time in the majors over the next three seasons despite batting under .200 each year. He hit .131 in 42 games for Brooklyn in 1885, posting an anemic .333 OPS. He was considered to be a strong defensive player, so that helped him stay in the majors, back when catching was much more difficult on the body than it is now (and it’s still easily the most difficult now). He spent part of the 1886 season with the Washington Nationals of the National League, where he hit .191 in 26 games, with three homers. He spent the rest of the year with Hartford of the Eastern League, where he had a .244 average in 22 games. The 1887 season saw him back in the American Association briefly, where he hit .143 in eight games for the Baltimore Orioles. He did great in the minors that year with Nashville of the Southern League, batting .336 with 53 runs and 21 extra-base hits in 61 games. There are no available stats for the 1888-89 seasons, but records show that he played with Scranton of the Central League in 1888, followed by seeing time with five teams in 1889, including four clubs in the California League. After spending two full years in the minors, Hayes made it back to the majors in 1890 when there were three Major Leagues operating at the same time. He played 12 games for the hometown Brooklyn Ward’s Wonders of the Player’s League that season, batting .190 and starting games at four different positions. He would finish his playing career three years later in the minors at 32 years old. Hayes hit .253 in 118 games for Pittsburgh. In his seven seasons in the majors, he hit .233 in 300 games, with 106 runs, 63 doubles, ten triples and ten homers. He’s recognized now by the name Jackie, but he was known as Jack during his playing days. His first name was John.

The Trades

On this date in 2014, the Pirates traded reliever Jason Grilli to the Los Angeles Angels for reliever Ernesto Frieri. The 37-year-old Grilli put in three strong seasons for the Pirates, but in 2014 he was struggling, posting a 4.87 ERA and a 1.62 WHIP in 20.1 innings over 22 appearances. After the deal, Grilli pitched well for the Angels in a short relief role. He had a 3.48 ERA in 33.2 innings over 40 appearances. Frieri had been a solid reliever for parts of five seasons in the majors, but he too was struggling in 2014 at the time of the deal. Unlike Grilli, Frieri actually got worse after the deal. He lasted just 14 appearances with the Pirates and posted a 10.13 ERA in 10.2 innings before being released on September 2nd. Grilli went on to pitch another three seasons in the majors, though the Pirates were only trading away three months of control, as he became a free agent after the season. Frieri pitched briefly in the majors during the 2015 and 2017 seasons.

On this date in 1998, the Pirates traded outfielder Jermaine Allensworth to the Kansas City Royals for minor league pitcher Manuel Bernal. Allensworth was traded at the perfect time, though the trade didn’t net the Pirates anything. Bernal was a 21-year-old pitcher from Mexico, who never actually pitched for the Pirates. He was pitching in his home country at the time and remained there as an active player until 2009. Allensworth was hitting .309/.372/.429 through 63 games at the time of the trade. After the deal, the 26-year-old didn’t even last a full year in the majors. He batted .205 in 30 games for the Royals, then hit .213 in 74 games for the 1998-99 New York Mets. Despite playing his last big league game in 1999, he played minor league ball until 2008. In three seasons with the Pirates, he hit .272 with ten homers, 98 RBIs and 33 steals.