Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus 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 split between 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, where he hit .217/.283/.278 in 37 games for Vancouver of the Pacific Coast League. He would be sold to the Kansas City Royals that June, though he spent the rest of the season in the minors. After spending all of 1988 in the minors as well, he signed with the Pirates as a free agent prior to the 1989 season. He would hit .171/.211/.274 in 52 games with the Pirates between the 1989-90 seasons, before leaving via free agency. He did much better during his 1989 time, putting up a .619 OPS in 33 games. His 1990 time was limited to 19 games, partially due to a .200 OPS during that time. He was eligible for the postseason, but did not appear in the NLCS. Bilardello finished his eight-year big league career with two seasons (1991-92) for the 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 two years later. 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, 55 walks and a .731 OPS. Susac played for Richmond of the Double-A Eastern League in 2013, hitting .256 in 84 games, with 32 runs, 17 doubles, 12 homers, 46 RBIs, 42 walks and an .821 OPS. He went to the Arizona Fall League after the season, where he hit .360/.508/.480 in 17 games, with seven runs, two homers, seven RBIs and 16 walks. He spent most of the 2014 season with Fresno of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, where he batted .268 in 63 games, with 34 runs, nine doubles, ten homers, 32 RBIs and an .830 OPS. He played 35 games that year for the Giants, putting up a .273 average, with 13 runs, eight doubles, three homers, 19 RBIs and a .792 OPS. He was rated by multiple sources as a top 100 prospect in baseball going into the 2015 season. That year saw him spent most of the year as a backup in the majors, where he hit .218/.297/.368 over 148 plate appearances, with 14 runs, 12 extra-base hits and 14 RBIs in 52 games (33 starts). His minor league time that year consisted of a .943 OPS over 12 games.
Susac spent the start of the 2016 season in Triple-A with Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League, until an August 1st trade sent him to the Milwaukee Brewers. He was hitting .273/.343/.455 over 58 games at the time, playing in a hitter-friendly park/league. He saw brief Triple-A time after the deal, struggling with a .125 average and a .313 OPS in 11 games for Colorado Springs of the Pacific Coast League. That was followed by nine games in the majors, where he hit .235/.316/.471 in 19 plate appearances, with a double, a homer and two RBIs. 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. Susac had a .205 average and a .710 OPS in 51 games for Colorado Springs in 2017. Two separate minor injuries caused him to spend time on the disabled list during the early and late parts of the season. He went 1-for-12, with a single, no walks and six strikeouts, during his brief big league time that year. He had a .256 average and an .861 OPS in 42 games for Norfolk of the Triple-A International League in 2018. Susac went 3-for-26 with the Orioles that year, finishing with a double, no walks and 12 strikeouts. A wrist injury ended his season in late July.
The Orioles sold Susac to the Kansas City Royals on April 2, 2019. He spent the entire 2019 season in the minors, though that amounted to an .807 OPS over 26 games with Omaha of the Pacific Coast League. His season ended in late May due to another wrist injury. Susac signed with the Pirates as a minor league free agent in January of 2020. He stayed at the Alternate Training Site in Altoona, which was used in place of the minor league season that year, until getting into the final game of that shortened season. He went 0-for-2 with two walks during his only game of the year. Teams were allowed to have taxi squads that year, which accompanied teams on the road. He was part of that group multiple times before finally getting activated at the end of the season. He was designated for assignment after the season, but he remained with the Pirates in 2021 on a minor league deal. His 2021 season ended after one month due to injury. He hit .222/.300/.444 in 11 games for Triple-A Indianapolis, in what ended up being his final action in pro ball. He had a .219 average over his six seasons in the majors, 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 short-season New York-Penn League, where he hit .256 over 58 games in 2008, with 17 runs, 15 extra-base hits (all doubles), 17 RBIs and a .652 OPS. Despite the slow start in pro ball, he was putting up big stats in Double-A by the end of 2009. He split the 2009 season between St Lucie of the High-A Florida State League (which was not the best park/league for hitters), and Binghamton of the Double-A Eastern League, Davis hit .298 that year, with 58 runs, 31 doubles, 20 homers, 71 RBIs, 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 until after just ten games with Buffalo of the Triple-A International League in 2010, before they brought him to the majors and gave him the starting first base job. He tore up Buffalo in that brief time, posting a 1.136 OPS in 42 plate appearances. He hit .264 in 147 games as a rookie, with 73 runs, 33 doubles, 19 homers, 71 RBIs, 72 walks and a .791 OPS. 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, 17 walks and a .925 OPS in his abbreviated season. He contracted Desert Valley Fever during the off-season, which put him on a slow pace to start the 2012 season. He managed to bounce back with a nice display of power that year. Davis hit just .227 in 156 games, but it came with 66 runs, 26 doubles, 32 homers, 90 RBIs and 61 walks, giving him a .771 OPS.
Davis had a rough 2013 season, and even spent a month back at Triple-A, where he put up a 1.091 OPS in 21 games with Las Vegas of the Pacific Coast League. He hit .205 that year for the Mets, with 37 runs, 14 doubles, nine homers, 33 RBIs, 57 walks and a .661 OPS in 103 games. 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, Davis was hitting .208/.367/.375 in 12 games, with one homer, five RBIs and six walks. Davis batted .235 for the 2014 Pirates, with 39 runs, 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, then played just 82 big league games after leaving the Pirates. He got into 74 games for the 2015 A’s, and another 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. He then missed the last six weeks of the year with a left hip injury. He hit .229 during his season with the A’s, with 19 runs, 17 doubles, three homers, 20 RBIs and a .652 OPS.
Davis signed as a free agent with the Rangers prior to the 2017 season, but they released him in June without any big league time. He has hitting .268/.350/.437 in 39 games with Round Rock of the Pacific Coast League at the time of his release. He signed with the Yankees the day after being cut by Texas, but he was designated for assignment just 12 days later, then spent the next seven weeks in the minors before being released. Davis went 3-for-14, with two runs, an RBI and a walk in his last big league stint. His minor league time with the Yankees saw him put up a .217 average and a .709 OPS in 26 games for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre of the International League. 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. However, he didn’t return in 2018. His time as a hitter in 2017 resulted in a .670 OPS over 35 games with Oklahoma City of the Pacific Coast League. He played for Team Israel in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. In seven seasons in the majors, he hit .239 over 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 five big league players. Morse had a very slow start in pro ball, starting at the bottom rung of the ladder, while moving one level each year, never reaching a .700 OPS in his first four seasons. His first season saw him hit .256 in 46 games, with 32 runs, six doubles, two homers, 25 RBIs and a .642 OPS for the rookie level Arizona League White Sox. He remained in short-season ball in 2001, playing for Bristol of the Appalachian League. He hit .227 in 57 games, with 23 runs, 14 extra-base hits, 27 RBIs and a .688 OPS. The 2002 season saw him go to Kannapolis of the Low-A South Atlantic League. He batted .257 in 113 games that year, with 43 runs, 30 doubles and 56 RBIs. His OPS stayed low (.672) due to putting up two homers and 25 walks. Morse moved up to Winston-Salem of the High-A Carolina League in 2003, where he hit .245 in 122 games, with 45 runs, 30 doubles, ten homers, 55 RBIs and a .690 OPS. He finally started doing well at Double-A Birmingham of the Southern League in 2004, then got traded to the Mariners that June as part of a 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 48 runs, 19 doubles, six triples, 17 homers, 71 RBIs and an .837 OPS. He played in the Arizona Fall League following the season (stats are unavailable), then moved up to Tacoma of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League for the 2005 season. Morse put up a .253 average and a .723 OPS in the hitter-friendly park/league over 49 games before joining the Mariners for his debut on May 31st. He had 20 runs, 18 extra-base hits and 23 RBIs for Tacoma.
Morse hit .278 as a rookie in 2005, with 27 runs, 14 extra-base hits, 23 RBIs and a .718 OPS in 72 games. 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. He batted .248/.300/.403 over 57 games. He did well during his limited big league time, batting .372/.396/.488 in 21 games, while playing four positions. A broken hamate bone cost him time in 2007, and it limited his big league experience to eight games that year. He played 76 games for Tacoma that year, finishing with a .309 average, 48 runs, 26 doubles, six homers, 39 RBIs and an .829 OPS. He had a 1.056 OPS in 20 plate appearances for the 2007 Mariners. His 2008 season ended after just five games due to a shoulder injury suffered while trying to make a diving catch. He was 2-for-9, with a double and a walk at the time. 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/.353/.523 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 with Syracuse of the International League until late August, when he got called up to the majors. He hit .250/.291/.481 in 55 plate appearances over 32 games with the Nationals. His Triple-A time in 2009 shows a .322 average in 110 games, with 59 runs, 26 doubles, 16 homers, 86 RBIs and an .894 OPS.
When Morse finally received regular playing time in 2010, he responded with some strong offense, while mostly playing right field. He hit .289 in 98 games, with 36 runs, 12 doubles, 14 homers, 41 RBIs and an .870 OPS. His best big league season came in 2011, when he hit .303 in 146 games, with 73 runs, 36 doubles, 31 homers and 95 RBIs, leading to a .910 OPS, as well as some mild MVP support (19th place finish). It was a one-year peak, though he was still productive in 2012. He had a .291 average in 102 games, with 53 runs, 17 doubles, 18 homers, 62 RBIs and a .791 OPS. He was sent back to the Mariners after the season as part of a three-team/five-player trade. Morse’s stats really dropped off in 2013. He posted a .215 average, 34 runs, 13 doubles, 13 homers, 27 RBIs and a .651 OPS in 88 games. He split that 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 that year, with 48 runs, 32 doubles, 16 homers, 61 RBIs and an .811 OPS in 131 games. His offense was strong, but 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. He hit .213 in 53 games, with eight runs, four doubles, four homers and 12 RBIs. 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/.390/.391 in 45 games for the 2015 Pirates, getting 82 plate appearances and 15 starts at first base. Between both stops that year, he had a .231 average, 14 runs, 13 extra-base hits, 19 RBIs and a .649 OPS. He was with the Pirates on Opening Day in 2016, but he didn’t last long. Morse 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, then a concussion that ended his season on May 29th. He finished the year with a .194/.250/.306 slash line in 40 plate appearances. 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.
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 and a 2.00 WHIP over 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 and a 1.35 WHIP. During his first season with Augusta of the Low-A South Atlantic League in 1994, Phillips posted a 6-12, 6.73 record and a 1.90 WHIP in 23 starts, though he showed some potential with his 108 strikeouts in 108.1 innings. He pitched mostly in relief during the 1995 season for Augusta, going 4-3, 3.60 in 80 innings over six starts and 24 relief outings, finishing with a 1.61 WHIP and 65 strikeouts. 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 and a 1.38 WHIP. 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 and a 1.14 WHIP, 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. Despite the ERA heavily favoring Nashville, he had a 1.41 WHIP with Carolina, and a 1.60 WHIP with Nashville.
Phillips made the big league Opening Day roster in 1999 as a reliever. He 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 Nashville, where he made just one appearance before missing the rest of the season with a right shoulder injury. He was released after the season, though he 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 with Altoona of the Double-A 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 Akron of the Eastern League and Buffalo of the Triple-A International League, finishing the year (combined with his Pirates stats) with a 4.50 ERA, a 1.32 WHIP and 49 strikeouts in 68 innings over ten starts and 14 relief outings. During the 2002 season in Cleveland, Phillips posted a 1-3, 4.97 record in 41.2 innings over in six starts and two relief appearances. He went 7-4, 3.39 in 98.1 innings over 16 starts that year with Buffalo, posting a 1.07 WHIP. His 2003 big league season consisted of three relief appearances in May, with five runs allowed over five innings of work. Phillips had a 10-1, 2.12 record and a 1.02 WHIP as a starter for Buffalo that year, before finishing the season in Japan.
Phillips pitched until 2005 in the minors, while spending parts of two seasons (2003-04) in Japan. He finished out the 2003 season with Orix in Japan, where he went 2-3, 6.98 in 38.2 innings over seven starts. He remained with Orix during the 2004 season, putting up a 2-7, 7.78 record and a 1.85 WHIP in 59 innings over 12 starts and two relief appearances. His final season was spent with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, where he had a 5.70 ERA and a 1.59 WHIP in 101 innings at Triple-A with Durham of the International League. Phillips also allowed three runs on eight hits and two walks in a five-inning start with Montgomery of the Double-A Southern League. He finished his big league time with a 1-4, 6.20 record, a 1.66 WHIP and 32 strikeouts 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, 42 strikeouts and a 1.36 WHIP in 59 innings over six starts and 17 relief appearances. He went 4-8, 4.75 in 106 innings over 20 starts for Bakersfield of the Class-A California League during the 1986 season. He had 78 strikeouts and a 1.72 WHIP. With Vero Beach of the Class-A Florida State League in 1987, he went 16-5, 2.17 in 170.1 innings, with 148 strikeouts and a 1.21 WHIP. He needed 14 starts with San Antonio of the Double-A Texas League, then another ten in with Albuquerque of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, before the Dodgers called him up to the majors in August of 1988. He had a 13-6, 2.58 record, a 1.22 WHIP and 138 strikeouts in 153.2 minor league innings that year. That was followed by a 3.79 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP 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 Albuquerque and the majors, putting up strong numbers at both levels. His minor league time amounted to a 10-2, 2.79 record over 18 starts, with 127 strikeouts and a 1.26 WHIP in 113 innings. In 15 starts for the 1989 Dodgers, he had a 6-4, 3.19 record, 89 strikeouts, a 1.22 WHIP 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, which included three shutouts. He made his only All-Star appearance that year, while finishing second in the Cy Young voting to Doug Drabek of the Pirates. He also 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, a 1.18 WHIP 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 and a 1.45 WHIP in 211.2 innings. He led the National League 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 119 strikeouts and a 1.27 WHIP. 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 and a 1.25 WHIP. 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. He had 133 strikeouts and a 1.42 WHIP. His innings dropped to 133.2 in 1997, when he made 22 started. He posted a 10-5, 3.64 record, with 120 strikeouts and a 1.43 WHIP. 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 and a 1.15 WHIP in 101.2 innings. Martinez moved on to the Boston Red Sox to continue his rehab in 1999, where he was able to make four starts late in the year. He saw more minor league time that year during his rehab, throwing a total of 36 innings over ten starts. His limited big league time saw him post a 3.05 ERA in 20.2 innings. He posted a 10-8 record in 27 starts for the 2000 Red Sox, but that came with a 6.13 ERA and a 1.64 WHIP. He averaged less than five innings per start, throwing 127.2 innings on the year.
The Pirates signed Martinez 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. He stepped into the Pirates rotation just three days after signing and made four starts. He never got past the fifth inning in any of those starts, and Pittsburgh lost all four games. Martinez decided to retire after his start on May 1st, 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 minor league pitcher with the Dodgers, who got called up in 1996, but he sat in the bullpen for all 27 games without an appearance, then 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.