Six former Pirates players born on this date, plus a trade of note. Before we get into those things, current Pirates pitcher JT Brubaker turns 29 today. He debuted in the majors in 2020 and made nine starts and two relief appearances. During the 2021 season, he went 5-13, 5.36 in 124.1 innings over 24 starts. He went 3-12, 4.69 in 28 starts in 2022, with 147 strikeouts in 144 innings.
On this date in 1933 the Pittsburgh Pirates traded longtime left fielder Adam Comorosky and second baseman Tony Piet to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for pitcher Red Lucas and outfielder Wally Roettger. For the Pirates, who finished in second place with an 87-67 record, it was their biggest move of the off-season going into 1934. The trade seemed fairly even at the time, but Lucas was the only one to put in significant time with his new team. In five seasons with the Pirates, he went 47-32, 3.77 in 684.1 innings, and he was known as one of the best hitting pitchers in baseball, getting occasional pinch-hitting at-bats throughout his career. In 1936, he posted a 15-4 record and he was used as a pinch-hitter in 43 games. Roettger played just 47 games in the fourth outfielder role with the Pirates, posting a .245 average in 109 at-bats. That was his last season in baseball. His numbers were actually slightly better than the previous season, improving his OPS by 13 points over his 1933 numbers.
Piet slumped down to a .259 average in 1934 and he was not known as a strong fielder. He played until 1938, but never approached the 154-game total he played with the 1932 Pirates. His .298 career average at the time of the trade was down to .277 by the time he retired. He had a .756 OPS with the Pirates, and a .644 mark with the Reds. Comorosky was a regular outfielder in 1934, hitting .258 in 127 games with no homers and 40 RBIs. The following year, which was his last in the majors, he hit just .248/.290/.328 in 137 at-bats. That’s a far cry from the player the Pirates gave up. In 1930, he had 47 doubles, 23 triples and 12 homers. He’s the only player in MLB history to reach those three numbers in the same season. He had a .770 OPS with the Pirates, and a .625 mark with the Reds.
Elias Diaz, catcher for the 2015-19 Pirates. Diaz was a low-priced international signing out of Venezuela in 2008, joining the Pirates just a few days before his 18th birthday. He moved slowly through the lower levels of the minors, reaching the big leagues as a September call-up in 2015. He debuted in the Venezuela Summer League in 2009, where he hit .272 with 20 extra-base hits, 36 RBIs and a .769 OPS in 64 games. He moved up to the Gulf Coast League in 2010 and batted just .218 with 20 runs, 20 RBIs and a .590 OPS in 41 games. His defense was advanced enough that he skipped to Low-A West Virginia of the South Atlantic League in 2011, where he batted .221 with 38 runs, 28 extra-base hits, 45 RBIs and a .607 OPS in 90 games. He repeated West Virginia in 2012 and his offense actually took a step back. He hit .208 in 92 games, seeing a 58 point drop in his already low OPS. He had 32 runs, 18 extra-base hits and 26 RBIs. Diaz finally broke out with the bat in 2013, both in the summer and in winter ball. Playing in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League, he hit .279 in 57 games, with 30 runs, 16 extra-base hits, a 31:33 BB/SO ratio, and a .781 OPS. He played winter ball in Venezuela in a league that was about the same level as Double-A. He held his own against mostly older/more advanced competition, finishing with a .256 average and a .698 OPS in 20 games. Diaz spent most of 2014 with Double-A Altoona of the Eastern League. He also played ten games for Triple-A Indianapolis of the International League. He hit .328 with 41 runs, 20 doubles, six homers, 54 RBIs and an .823 OPS in 91 games with Altoona. He struggled a bit in his brief Indianapolis time, posting a .425 OPS in 37 plate appearances. The Pirates sent him to the Arizona Fall League after the season and he had a .763 OPS in 15 games. He also put in another 14 games in Venezuela that winter, though he had a .153 average and a .577 OPS.
Diaz opened up 2015 in Indianapolis, where he hit .271 with 33 runs, 24 extra-base hits, 47 RBIs and a .711 OPS in 93 games. He played just two games off of the bench during his first taste of the majors as a September call-up, then went to Venezuela and had a .717 OPS in 30 games. He played one July game with the 2016 Pirates, while missing most of the season with an elbow injury. Diaz was limited to 34 minor league games that year, which were spread over three levels. He had a .290 average and a .670 OPS, spending most of his time with Indianapolis. He got to make up for some missed time in Venezuela in the winter, though he wrapped up play after 12 games. He finally got his first real chance with the Pirates in 2017 and hit .223 with 18 runs, 14 doubles, one homer and 19 RBIs in 64 games. He played above average defense, finishing with an 0.7 dWAR. Diaz had his big season for the Pirates in 2018, hitting .286, with 33 runs, 12 doubles, ten homers, 34 RBIs and a .792 OPS in 82 games, while once again providing above average defense. He was sidelined by a severe illness during Spring Training of 2019, and it not only kept him out of action for much of the early season, he also played poorly once he returned. In 101 games, he hit .241 with 31 runs, 14 doubles, two homers, 28 RBIs and a .603 OPS, while showing a dip in his defense, leading to a -1.1 WAR for the season. He was let go after the season and signed with the Colorado Rockies for 2020. In 26 games during the shortened 2020 season, he hit .235 with four runs, two doubles, two homers and nine RBIs. Diaz batted .246 with 52 runs, 18 doubles, 18 homers, 44 RBIs and a .774 OPS in 106 games during the 2021 season. He played 105 games in 2022, finishing with a .228 average, 29 runs, 18 doubles, nine homers, 51 RBIs and a .648 OPS. In his eight seasons in the majors, he has a .243 average in 487 games, with 167 runs, 78 doubles, 42 homers and 186 RBIs.
Ty Taubenheim, pitcher for the 2008 Pirates. He was originally drafted in the 44th round of the 2002 draft out of Edmonds Community College by the Oakland A’s. He decided to return to school for one more year and he moved up to a 19th round pick by the Milwaukee Brewers. He debuted in pro ball with Helena of the short-season Pioneer League, where he had a 6-1, 2.05 record and 44 strikeouts in 50.1 innings. He played with Beloit of the Class-A Midwest League in 2004. He had a 5-3, 3.61 record, 17 walks, 106 strikeouts and 12 saves in 92.1 innings over 47 appearances. Taubenheim pitched in relief during his first two seasons in pro ball before switching to a starting role. He made 16 starts in the High-A Florida State League with Brevard County in 2005, going 10-2, 2.63 in 106 innings. He also made 11 starts for Double-A Huntsville of the Southern League, going 2-6, 4.36 in 64 innings. He combined for 119 strikeouts that season, averaging four fewer strikeouts per nine innings compared to 2004. He was traded on December 7, 2005 to the Toronto Blue Jays, where he made his big league debut in 2006. The Blue Jays had him in Triple-A to start the 2006 season, before coming up in mid-May for almost two months. He went 2-4, 2.85 in 75.2 innings with Syracuse of the International League that season. Taubenheim made seven starts and five relief appearances during his rookie season in Toronto, posting a 1-5, 4.89 record in 35 innings. He made one big league start in June of 2007 and allowed five runs over five innings. A majority of the 2007 season was spent in Syracuse, but he was doing so poorly at one point that he was sent back to Double-A for five starts. He had a 6.37 ERA in 89 innings with Syracuse, and a 2.01 ERA in five starts with New Hampshire of the Eastern League.
The Pirates acquired Taubenheim on December 3, 2007 as a waiver pickup. He spent the year struggling with Triple-A Indianapolis of the International League, going 4-9, 5.60 in 98 innings over 19 starts, but his year had one major highlight. On June 28, 2008, he started for the Pirates against the Tampa Bay Rays and pitched six strong innings, allowing two runs. The Pirates ended up winning the game in 13 innings. That was his only game with the Pirates and the last Major League game of his career. Taubenheim spent all of 2009 with Indianapolis, doing better than the previous year, by putting up a 7-9, 3.65 record in 106 innings over 19 starts and seven relief appearances. He pitched winter ball in Mexico during the 2009-10 off-season, posting a 4.66 ERA in six starts, before finishing his pro career in 2010 in the Philadelphia Phillies system. He saw a majority of his time in Double-A that year, going 4-2, 4.80 in 45 innings with Reading of the Eastern League. He also had a 2-4, 4.26 record in 38 innings with Lehigh Valley of the International League. He signed with the Texas Rangers for 2011, but he was released right before the season started. Taubenheim went 1-5, 5.09 in 46 innings over nine starts and five relief appearances in the majors.
Jim Mann, relief pitcher for the 2003 Pirates. He signed as a 54th round draft pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in 1993 out of Massasoit Community College, though he was a draft-and-follow player back when draft rules allowed teams to do that. He actually signed in May of 1994, shortly before the deadline to sign or reenter the draft. He spent his first season of pro ball in the Gulf Coast League, where he went 3-2, 3.74 in 53 innings. Mann pitched for Medicine Hat of the short-season Pioneer League in 1995, where he had a 5-4, 4.29 record and 66 strikeouts in 77.2 innings over 14 starts. He made 23 starts total in his first two seasons of pro ball, then three more games in the final 12 seasons of his pro career. Mann was still in short-season ball in 1996, playing for St Catharines of the New York-Penn League. He had a 3.62 ERA, 37 strikeouts and 17 saves in 27.1 innings over 26 games. He finally made it to full-season ball in 1997, and split the year between Low-A Hagerstown of the South Atlantic League and High-A with Dunedin of the Florida State League, with poor results at both levels. Mann combined to go 1-1, 5.44, with 43 strikeouts in 44.2 innings over 31 appearances. His 1998 season was spent back in High-A Dunedin, where he had a 3.04 ERA, 59 strikeouts and 25 saves in 50.1 innings over 51 games. He started off strong with Double-A Knoxville of the Southern League in 1999, allowing one run in 9.2 innings. The rest of the year was spent with Syracuse of the Triple-A International League, where he had a 6-5, 4.64 record in 66 innings over 47 games. He finished with 84 strikeouts in 75.2 innings.
The Blue Jays lost Mann in the 1999 Rule 5 draft to the New York Mets, though the teams worked out a deal in March of 2000 for him to remain in New York. Mann pitched two games for the Mets in 2000, allowing three runs in 2.2 innings. The rest of the year was spent with Triple-A Norfolk of the International League, where he went 3-4, 2.98 in 81.2 innings, with three saves and 74 strikeouts. He became a free agent after the season and signed with the Houston Astros, where he saw the majority of his big league time. He earned his big league shot by posting a 2.51 ERA, 81 strikeouts and 27 saves in 68 innings over 53 games with New Orleans of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. Mann gave up two runs over 5.1 innings in four appearances with the Astros in 2001. He then posted a 4.09 ERA in 22 innings over 17 big league appearances in 2002. He had 22 saves in the minors that season with New Orleans, though it came with a 4.15 ERA in 34.2 innings. The Pirates acquired him via waivers just days after the 2002 season ended. He pitched two games for the Pirates in 2003, appearing on back-to-back days (July 31/August 1), allowing four runs over 1.2 innings. His full time spent with the Pirates was five days and he was designated for assignment on the same day he made his final appearance. He returned to the minors and had a 3-2, 3.06 record in 62.1 innings over 51 appearances with Nashville of the Pacific Coast League.
The Pirates let Mann go at the end of the 2003 season, but they signed him again in June of 2004 after he was released by the New York Yankees. His second stint with the team lasted until he became a minor league free agent in October of 2004. He had a 3-1, 5.97 record in 37.2 innings over 25 appearances with Columbus of the International League while with the Yankees. He struggled mightily after rejoining Nashville, going 1-3, 11.47 in 24.1 innings over 20 games. After his second stint with the Pirates, Mann spent a brief time in 2005 with the Boston Red Sox in Double-A Portland of the Eastern League, while also putting in three years of independent ball. He had a 1.80 ERA, 12 saves and 34 strikeouts in 25 innings with Portland, while spending the rest of 2005 with Nashua of the Atlantic League, where he had a 1.50 ERA, 16 saves and 37 strikeouts in 30 innings. Mann played for Long Island of the Atlantic League in 2006, posting a 11.57 ERA in 11.2 innings. He finished up with Nashua again in 2007, this time in the Canadian-American League, where he went 1-2, 5.49, with 24 strikeouts in 19.2 innings over 20 games. In his four partial seasons in the majors, he went 0-1, 4.83 in 31.2 innings over 25 relief appearances. He pitched 499 games and compiled 136 saves between his time in the minors and independent ball.
Tom Dettore, pitcher for the 1973 Pirates. He was drafted three times by the Pirates, finally signing as a third round pick in the 1968 draft. He was selected in the 26th round out of high school in Canonsburg, PA in 1965, then went in the ninth round out of Juniata College in 1967. He debuted in the minors in 1968 as a catcher, hitting .244 with 23 runs, 13 extra-base hits, 27 RBIs and a .654 OPS in 73 games for Gastonia of the Class-A Western Carolinas League. He pitched twice that season, giving up two runs over six innings, then took up pitching full-time the next year and had immediate success. During his first full season as a pitcher, he went 12-3, 1.91 in 141 innings for Gastonia. Dettore still did some hitting when he wasn’t on the mound, and he put up interesting numbers, finishing with a .319 average and an .823 OPS in 90 plate appearances over 42 games. He also got a brief trial with Triple-A Columbus of the International League, where he allowed three runs over seven innings of work. The Fall Instructional League was more organized in 1969 than it is now. It involved more advanced players, and they kept stats. Dettore had a 4.03 ERA in 29 innings that fall, with 16 walks and 12 strikeouts. He was in Double-A with Waterbury of the Eastern League for all of 1970, where he posted a 6-11, 5.04 record in 125 innings over 22 starts and one relief appearance. He finished with a 61:58 BB/SO ratio that year. He repeated Waterbury in 1971 and had a 9-8, 2.40 record in 154 innings, with 12 complete games in 21 starts. He improved to 98 strikeouts, while walking four fewer batters than the previous year, all while throwing 29 more innings.
Dettore was back at Triple-A for the first time in three years (Pirates affiliate moved to Charleston of the International League in 1971). He went 11-7, 3.06, with 108 strikeouts in 159 innings over 22 starts in 1972. His big league debut came in early June of 1973, though he finished the season in the minors after spending five weeks in Pittsburgh. Dettore had a 9-5, 2.16 record in 129 innings with Charleston in 1973. In one start and 11 relief appearances in Pittsburgh, he went 0-1, 5.96 in 22.2 innings. That turned out to be his only season with the Pirates. Prior to Opening Day in 1974, the Pirates traded Dettore to the Chicago Cubs for veteran infielder Paul Popovich. Dettore bounced between Triple-A and the majors during the 1974-76 seasons. He had a 3-5, 4.18 record in 64.2 innings for the 1974 Cubs, with nine starts and seven relief appearances. He improved his strikeout rate with Wichita of the Triple-A American Association that season, going 5-6, 3.95 with 104 strikeouts in 132 innings.
Dettore had a 5-4, 5.38 record in 85.1 innings for the 1975 Cubs, this time making five starts and 31 relief appearances. He impressed with Wichita that year, going 7-1, 2.83 in 70 innings. His time in the majors in 1976 was limited to four appearances that totaled seven innings. He allowed eight runs during that brief time. He went 8-10, 5.10 in 157 innings over three seasons in Chicago, which was his only other big league time outside of Pittsburgh. He was released by the Cubs in early 1976 and signed with the San Diego Padres. The rest of the year was spent with Hawaii of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, where he went 11-15, 4.33 in 210 innings over 28 starts, with 16 complete games. His final time in pro ball was spent in Triple-A New Orleans of the American Association, which was the affiliate for the St Louis Cardinals in 1977. Dettore went 3-4, 5.34 in 59 innings during his final season. He played in Italy for a time after his minor league career was over. After his playing days were over, he took up a second career as a pitching coach, which began in 1985 and ran into the 2012 season. It included time back with the Pirates (1989-98), spending time with five different affiliates before taking an organizational overview role for the final four years.
Orlando Pena, reliever for the 1970 Pirates. He spent 14 years in the majors pitching for eight different teams. He won 56 games and picked up 40 saves in his career. His pro career lasted 21 seasons, starting in 1955 when the Cincinnati Reds signed him out of Havana, Cuba at 21 years old. He played Class-D ball in his first season and dominated the level, going 21-8, 1.96, with 172 strikeouts in 253 innings for Daytona Beach of the Florida State League. He moved up two levels in 1956 to play for High Point-Thomasville of the Carolina League, where he went 19-12, 2.46 in 286 innings, with 176 strikeouts and 26 complete games. The Reds had their Triple-A affiliate in Pena’s hometown of Havana (International League) and that’s where he spent the 1957-58 seasons. He went 12-10, 2.76, with 94 strikeouts in 140 innings in 1957, then had an 11-10, 3.27 record in 154 innings, finishing with 120 strikeouts. He got his first chance in the majors with the Reds that season and impressed, allowing one run in 15 innings over nine relief appearances. He saw plenty of big league time in 1959, but didn’t have the same success as his first big league trial. Pena went 5-9, 4.76 in 136 innings, with eight starts and 38 relief appearances. While it wasn’t an official stat until later in his career, he was credited with five saves that season. His big league time in 1960 was limited to four relief appearances in September, in which he allowed three runs over 9.1 innings. He spent the rest of the year with Havana, which also played in Jersey City that year. Pena had a 13-11, 3.30 record and 127 strikeouts in 207 innings in the minors that season.
Pena spent all of 1961 in the minors, split between Jersey City and Toronto of the International League. He went 12-8 with 131 strikeouts in 211 innings over 41 games. He joined the Kansas City A’s in 1962 and spent parts of four seasons there. He began the year back in Toronto, going 9-9, 3.12 in 153 innings, with 137 strikeouts. He debuted with the A’s in early August and had a 6-4, 3.01 record in 89.2 innings over 12 starts and a relief appearance. In 1963, he led the American League with 20 losses, despite putting up a 3.69 ERA. He had 12 wins, nine complete games, three shutouts and 128 strikeouts in 217 innings. The 1964 season saw him set career highs with 219.1 innings and 184 strikeouts. He allowed 40 homers, which led the National League, and it’s a total that has been topped just 14 times in baseball history (at the time it was the fourth highest total ever). He finished that 1964 season with a 12-14, 4.43 record in 32 starts and eight relief appearances. Pena would play for the Detroit Tigers during the 1965-67 seasons, pitching strictly in relief the entire time. In his first season in Detroit, he went 4-6, 2.51, with four saves and 55 strikeouts in 57.1 innings over 30 outings. He pitched 54 times in 1966, going 4-2, 3.08 with seven saves and 79 strikeouts in 108 innings. He gave up three runs over two innings for the 1967 Tigers before he was sold to the Cleveland Indians on May 6th. Pena had a 3.36 ERA and eight saves in 88.1 innings over 48 games during his only season in Cleveland. He was in the minors for all of 1968 and 1969, before joining the Pirates. He was a member of the Seattle Pilots for two months during the 1968 season, but the actual big league team didn’t play until the 1969 season. Pena had a 7-6 record in 132 innings over 56 games in 1968, splitting his time between Seattle and Portland of the Pacific Coast League. He then had a 9-3, 4.34 record in 87 innings for Omaha of the American Association in 1969.
Pena was signed by the Pirates as a free agent on June 9, 1970 at 36 years old, and he was released just over two months later. When he signed with the Pirates, he was serving as the batting practice pitcher for the Kansas City Royals. The two clubs played a mid-season exhibition game on June 8th, and then he signed the next day. He went 2-1, 4.78 in 37.2 innings over 23 relief appearances during his only season in Pittsburgh. After he left Pittsburgh, Pena played for the Baltimore Orioles in 1971 and 1973, the St Louis Cardinals in 1973-74 and the California Angels in 1974-75. His time with the 1971 Orioles was limited to five appearances and he wasn’t around when Baltimore played the Pirates in the World Series. He had a 3.07 ERA in 14.2 innings with the Orioles, then spent the rest of the year with Rochester of the Triple-A International League and Miami of the Class-A Florida State League. He dominated the younger players, posting an 0.70 ERA in 115 innings with Miami. Pena played for Rochester and Miami again in 1972, combining to go 22-3, 1.25 in 180 innings, with 187 strikeouts. He had a 4.03 ERA in 44.2 innings with the 1973 Orioles, making two starts and nine relief appearances. He then improved greatly with his move to the Cardinals mid-season, where he had a 2.18 ERA in 62 innings to finish out the 1973 season.
Pena had a strong 1974 season as well with St Louis and California, posting a 5-2, 2.21 record and four saves in 53 innings over 46 games between both stops. His time with the Angels was limited to eight innings that year, but he threw shutout ball. His big league time in 1975 was brief, but at 41 years old, he still had a 2.13 ERA in 12.2 innings. He finished the 1975 season in Triple-A with the Oakland A’s affiliate, going 2-6, 6.27 in 56 innings over 21 games. Pena then pitched one game in 1979 with Miami of the Inter-American League, which was his final pro outing. He allowed one earned run over six innings that day. Including his minor league stats and a season in Cuba, he threw over 3,000 innings in pro ball and he won over 200 games. His big league stats over 14 seasons show a 56-77, 3.71 record in 1,202 innings over 427 games. Pena made 93 starts and picked up 40 saves in the majors. He had 21 complete games and four shutouts. He turns 89 years old today.
Don Flinn, outfielder for 1917 Pirates. He played pro ball from 1914 until 1926, but his big league career consisted of just one month with the 1917 Pirates. He debuted in the Class-D Western Association at 21 years old in 1914, where he split the season between Muskogee and the Joplin-Webb City affiliate. He had a .328 average, 58 runs scored, 42 extra-base hits and 15 steals in 101 games. The 1915 season had an interesting split, as he played at three different levels and did much worse the higher he went up the minor league ladder. He batted .358 in 58 games for Newnan of the Class-D Georgia-Alabama League. He hit .259 in 54 games for Norfolk of the Class-C Virginia League. Finally, he batted .182 in 18 games with Class-A Atlanta of the Southern Association. He combined to hit .295 in 128 games, with 26 doubles and 21 homers. It was reported that he would be given a trial with the New York Yankees late in the year, but he never appeared in a game for them. In fact, it was falsely reported that he was sold to the Yankees for $1,500, but weeks later it was corrected to say his rights still belonged to Newnan. In 1916, Flinn hit .365 in 68 games for Newnan, while also seeing time with two teams in the Class-B Texas League, Waco and San Antonio. Individual stats aren’t available for those two stops, but he’s credited with hitting .313 that year between all three stops in 101 games.
Flinn spent the 1917 season in the Texas League, where he hit .300 with 24 doubles, five triples, ten homers and 24 stolen bases in 109 games, splitting his season between San Antonio and Shreveport. He also pitched 56 innings that year, but didn’t see any mound time with the Pirates. Flinn was purchased by the Pirates on August 10th from the Shreveport Gassers, though he was allowed to finish his minor league season first before reporting to Pittsburgh. He joined the Pirates on September 2nd, and got into that day’s game as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning. He ended up playing 14 games for the Pirates, hitting .297/.316/.378 in 38 plate appearances, finishing with a double, triple, RBI and run scored. Shortly after the 1917 season ended, the newspapers reported that Flinn would likely return to the minors, because despite the high average, he showed very little during his time in the majors. It didn’t take long to become official. The season ended on October 1st and exactly one week later, the rights to Flinn were returned to his Shreveport club.
Flinn is credited with playing just eight games with Shreveport in 1918. He missed the rest of the season while serving in the military in WWI, for which he received a Purple Heart. He joined Dallas of the Texas League in 1919, where he hit .341 in 79 games, with 19 doubles, three triples and eight homers. He struggled with Dallas in 1920, batting .241 with nine extra-base hits in 30 games, while also doing some pitching. The 1921-22 seasons were spent playing independent/semi-pro ball, before he rejoined the professional ranks at the lower levels. He played for Waco and Austin in the Class-D Texas Association in 1923, combining to hit .354 in 93 games, with 20 doubles, nine triples and 22 homers. Flinn then saw action with three teams in 1924, one Class-C club (Springfield of the Western Association) and two Class-D teams, returning to Austin, while also playing with Marshall of the East Texas League. He ended up batted .332 with 31 extra-base hits in 69 games that season, playing at least 22 games with all three teams. After playing semi-pro ball in 1925, he finished his pro career with two Class-D clubs in 1926, hitting .393 with 30 extra-base hits in 55 games split between Jonesboro of the Tri-State League and Gulfport of the Cotton States League. The Texas newspapers often referred to him in print as the “Wild Irishman”. During his time in Pittsburgh, and for most of his career, he was called “Flynn”.