Four Pittsburgh Pirates trades and four former players born on this date. We also have current Pirates pitcher Mitch Keller, celebrating his 27th birthday today. He will get a bio when he’s a former player.
On this date in 1978, the Pirates sent Miguel Dilone, Elias Sosa and Mike Edwards to the Oakland A’s to get veteran catcher Manny Sanguillen, who was traded to Oakland 17 months earlier for manager Chuck Tanner. In his one season in Oakland, Sanguillen hit .275 in 152 games, with 42 runs, 28 extra-base hits, 58 RBIs and a .656 OPS. Edwards was a 25-year-old infielder at the time, with seven games of Major League experience, all coming in September of 1977. Dilone was a 23-year-old outfielder, who spent parts of four seasons with the Pirates, getting into 75 games total. He had a .145 average, but he managed to steal 21 bases. Sosa was a 26-year-old reliever, who had six seasons of experience in the majors. He was with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1977, posting a 1.98 ERA and an 0.85 WHIP in 63.2 innings over 44 appearances. The Pirates had purchased him from the Dodgers two months earlier.
Edwards spent three seasons with the A’s, the first two as an everyday player. He hit .252/.281/.300 in 310 games, while mostly playing second base. Dilone hit .229/.294/.271 in 135 games for the A’s in 1978. He stole 50 bases, but also led the league with 23 times caught stealing. He played 30 games with the A’s in 1979 before being sold to the Chicago Cubs. He would play for the Pirates again in 1983 for a brief time. Sosa pitched great in one season for the A’s before leaving via free agency. He had a record of 8-2, 2.64 with 14 saves and a 1.38 WHIP in 109 innings pitched. Sanguillen would play three seasons with the Pirates after the trade, receiving less playing time each season, until he was down to a pinch-hitting role in 1980, while occasionally playing first base. He was traded to the Cleveland Indians in December of 1980, along with Bert Blyleven. It was a deal that did not work out well, though Sanguillen never played for the Indians (or anyone else in the majors) after the trade. He had a total of 368 plate appearances during his second stint with the Pirates. As far as value, Sanguillen was slightly below replacement level each year with the Pirates, compiling -1.5 WAR after the deal. The A’s got just 0.3 WAR from the deal, but it was all from Sosa’s one season (2.7 WAR). Edwards and Dilone both put up negative WAR.
On this date in 1977, the Pirates traded minor league pitcher Randy Sealy to the California Angels in exchange for outfielder Mike Easler. This deal was one-sided as far as what happened in their baseball career, but Easler would be involved in two more deals before he finally started paying off for the Pirates. Easler would be sold to the Boston Red Sox in October of 1978, then returned to the Pirates before the start of the next season in a separate deal, which ended up being a big win for the Pirates. He played just ten big league games with the 1977-78 Pirates. Sealy was just 22 years old when the trade occurred, a fourth round draft pick of the Pirates in 1973, who had already made it to Triple-A by 1976. The Angels gave up on him quickly after a poor start in Double-A. By the beginning of 1978, he had already been with the Kansas City Royals for a time, then back to the Pirates organization. Sealy lasted just ten games in 1978 before being let go. He missed all of 1979, then finished his career in the minors in 1980. He never played in the majors.
On this date in 1963, the Pirates traded outfielder Howie Goss to the Houston Colt .45’s in exchange for outfielder Manny Mota. This trade was one-sided in the Pirates favor. Mota hit for average in the minors, but he did not hit well his first season in the majors as a 24-year-old with the 1962 San Francisco Giants. He was traded by San Francisco to the Colt .45’s four months prior to this trade. Goss was a 27-year-old rookie for the 1962 Pirates, hitting .243/.306/.351 in 89 games, with 19 runs, eight extra-base hits and ten RBIs. He would end up playing just one season in Houston, hitting .209/.264/.328, while piling up 128 strikeouts, which was the second highest total in the league. He did not appear in the majors again after 1964. Mota ended up playing six seasons in Pittsburgh, hitting .297/.337/.399 over that time, with 252 runs and 203 RBIs in 642 games. He hit .332 over 116 games in 1966, then batted .321 in 120 games during the 1967 season. After slumping down to .281 in 1968 (which is known as the “year of the pitcher”), the Pirates lost him in the expansion draft to the Montreal Expos. As far as value, Mota had 6.6 WAR with the Pirates, while Goss had 0.4 with Houston. Mota’s high average didn’t translate to huge value due to limited power/speed/defense numbers.
On this date in 1986, the Pirates traded Jason Thompson to the Montreal Expos for two minor leaguers, Ben Abner and Ronnie Giddens. The Pirates didn’t get anything from the two returning players, but they did shed the high salary of Thompson. They then watched him hit .196 through the end of June, before he was released, which ended his career. Despite the low average and low power numbers, his 18 walks in 69 plate appearances left him with a .680 OPS. Abner was a light hitting 22-year-old outfielder, who briefly made it to Double-A, before his career ended after the 1987 season. Giddens was a 24-year-old infielder, who lasted just one season in the Pirates organization, before his career ended. He never made it to Double-A. Thompson hit .259 in 671 games with the Pirates over five seasons, collecting 296 runs, 104 doubles, 93 homers, 354 RBIs and 430 walks. He was an All-Star during the 1982 season, when he had a .284 average, 31 homers, 101 RBIs and 101 walks. He hit .241/.369/.378 over 123 games in 1985, with 12 homers and 61 RBIs.
John Bormann, catcher for the 2017 Pirates. Bormann has a throwback story similar to many cases from the early years of baseball, when players were just in the right place at the right time, and they lasted just one game in the majors. The Pirates were on the road playing the Miami Marlins on April 30, 2017. Starting catcher Francisco Cervelli was unable to play that day due to a right foot injury, but the team found that out on short notice, not giving them enough time to get someone to the majors from Triple-A. Bormann was one of three catchers in Charlotte (Florida) with the Bradenton Marauders of the High-A Florida State League, but they other two were potential prospects who the Pirates likely didn’t want to add to the 40-man roster that early in their career. Bormann was the third-string catcher, hitting .136 in seven games at the time. He made the drive over to Miami and got to the park just after the game started. With the score 10-3 in the ninth inning, Bormann got to pinch-hit for Josh Harrison, and he struck out swinging. The next day he was optioned back to Bradenton and designated for assignment.
Bormann was originally drafted in 2014 by the Los Angeles Angels in the 19th round out of the University of Texas at San Antonio. He decided to return to college for his senior year, when the Pirates selected him in the 24th round of the 2015 draft. He spent his first year of pro ball with Bristol of the short-season Appalachian League, where he hit .235/.286/.286 in 25 games. He spent the 2016 season in with West Virginia of the Low-A South Atlantic League. Bormann hit .243/.287/.339 that year, with 22 runs, nine doubles, two homers and 20 RBIs in 52 games. Those two homers ended up being the only ones he hit during his pro career. During his magical 2017 season, he also had a brief stint as an injury replacement with Indianapolis of the Triple-A International League, but most of the year was spent in Bradenton. He batted .194/.287/.242 in 41 games between both stops, with 12 runs, six doubles and ten RBIs. Bormann moved around in 2018 to wherever he was needed. He ended up playing for West Virginia, Bradenton and he made his first appearance in Double-A with Altoona of the Eastern League, though he played just 31 games total. He combined to hit .228/.343/.283, with 12 runs, five doubles and seven RBIs. He was a third-string catcher with Bradenton again in 2019, though he wasn’t on the active roster most of the time. He was being utilized as a player-coach for most of the season. He played just five games all year, going 0-for-13 with a walk. He retired as a player and returned to college in 2020 to graduate. Bormann hit .220/.292/.286 in 154 minor league games, though he was known more for his strong defensive skills than his bat.
Jim Fregosi, infielder for the 1977-78 Pirates. He was already in his 17th season in the majors when the Pirates traded outfielder Ed Kirkpatrick to the Texas Rangers to get him on June 15, 1977. Fregosi was a six-time All-Star in his career, but he was also seven seasons removed from his last All-Star selection at the time of the deal. He played a full season of minor league ball at 18 years old in 1960, and then he was in the majors by September of 1961. He was originally signed by the Boston Red Sox, but his stay lasted one year in their system. His pro career began six levels from the majors in the Class-D Sophomore League with Alpine, where he hit .267 in 112 games, with 96 runs, 30 extra-base hits, 58 RBIs, 78 walks and a .773 OPS. The Los Angeles Angels took him in the expansion draft after the 1960 season. He moved up to Dallas-Fort Worth of the Triple-A American Association in 1961, skipping four levels in the process. He batted .254 in 150 games, with 54 runs, 18 doubles, six homers, 50 RBIs, 50 walks and a .663 OPS. Fregosi debuted in the majors that year with the Angels at 19 years old. He hit .222/.250/.222 in 11 games. He split the 1962 season between Dallas-Fort Worth and the majors, then remained in the big leagues as a player until 1978. He then stayed around as a manager until 2000. He batted .283/.373/.365 in 64 games with Dallas-Fort Worth in 1962. Fregosi hit .291 for the Angels in 1962, with 15 runs, ten extra-base hits, 23 RBIs and a .761 OPS in 58 games. He took over full-time at shortstop the next season.
Fregosi received MVP support (23rd place finish) for the first of eight straight seasons in 1963, when he hit .287 in 154 games, with 83 runs, 29 doubles, 12 triples, nine homers, 50 RBIs and a .748 OPS. He was an All-Star for the first time in 1964, when he hit .277 in 147 games, with 86 runs, 22 doubles, nine triples, 18 homers, 72 RBIs and 72 walks. His .833 OPS that year was the highest of his career for a full season. He finished 13th in the MVP voting. Fregosi batted .277 again in 1965, though he played 161 and saw both his extra-base hits (41) and walks (54) drop, leading to a .744 OPS. He also had 66 runs scored, 64 RBIs and 13 steals, all leading to a 21st place finish in the MVP race. He played all 162 games in 1966, when he made his second All-Star appearance. He would end up making the All-Star team in five straight seasons (1966-70). He batted .252 in 1966, with 78 runs, 32 doubles, seven triples, 13 homers, 67 RBIs, 67 walks, a .716 OPS, and he set a career high with 17 stolen bases. He finished 28th in the MVP voting.
Fregosi batted .290 in 1967, with 75 runs, 23 doubles, nine homers, 56 RBIs, 49 walks and a .744 OPS in 151 games. He won the Gold Glove award for shortstops for the only time in his career, and had his highest MVP finish, winding up with the seventh most votes. Offense around baseball was low in 1968, which led to a change with the pitching mound heights. Fregosi saw his offense suffer like many players that year. He hit for a .244 average and a .680 OPS. He managed a highlight on offense despite those numbers, leading the league with 13 triples. He had 77 runs, 21 doubles, nine homers, 49 RBIs and 60 walks in 159 games. He finished 15th in the MVP voting. Fregosi followed that up with an uptick in offense in 1969, hitting .260 in 161 games, with 78 runs, 22 doubles, 12 homers, 47 RBIs, a .742 OPS and a career high 93 walks. He stole nine bases for the third straight season, then picked up just seven more steals over his final nine seasons. After improving his OPS by 62 points in 1969, he had a big season at the plate in 1970. Fregosi set career highs that year with 95 runs, 33 doubles, 22 homers and 82 RBIs. He had a .278 average and an .812 OPS in 158 games that year. That led to a 12th place finish in the MVP voting. That was the last time that he made the All-Star team or received MVP votes. His numbers really fell off the next season, finishing with a .233 average and a .643 OPS in 107 games. He had 31 runs, 21 extra-base hits and 33 RBIs. He was then part of an awful trade with the New York Mets, at least from the New York side of things. The Angels received a young Nolan Ryan, as well as three other players in a four-for-one deal for Fregosi.
Fregosi hit .232 over 101 games during his first season with the Mets, finishing with 31 runs, 24 extra-base hits, 32 RBIs and a .655 OPS. It was the last time that he played 100+ games in a season. Just 45 games into the 1973 season, he was sold to the Texas Rangers, where he remained until he joined the Pirates four years later. At the time of the deal, he was hitting .234/.340/.282 in 144 plate appearances. He improved after the deal, hitting .268 in 45 games, with 25 runs, six homers and 16 RBIs, leading to a .764 OPS. Fregosi soon became a bench player in Texas, topping out at 78 games played during the 1974 season. That year he had a .261/.324/.439 slash line in 253 plate appearances, with 31 runs, five doubles, 12 homers and 34 RBIs. He batted .262 over 77 games in 1975, with 25 runs, five doubles, seven homers, 33 RBIs and a .727 OPS. He was an above average shortstop in his earlier days, but the Rangers had him splitting between third base and first base. Fregosi hit .233 over 58 games in 1976, with 17 runs, seven doubles, two homers, 12 RBIs and a .673 OPS. After missing the first month of the 1977 season, he played his final 13 games for the Rangers, hitting .250/.313/.393 during that time. That was followed by the June 15th trade to the Pirates. In his three full seasons and two partial seasons with the Rangers, he batted .257 in 271 games, with 28 homers and 100 RBIs.
Fregosi played 36 games for the 1977 Pirates, splitting his time between first base and pinch-hitting. He batted .286/.408/.500 in 71 plate appearances, with ten runs, five extra-base hits, 16 RBIs and 13 walks. He played 20 games for the 1978 Pirates before being released on June 1st, ending his playing career. He went 4-for-20 at the plate, with three runs scored, an RBI and six walks. He was released so he could take over as the manager of the California Angels, going right from Pittsburgh to the helm of the Angels for their game on June 2nd. Fregosi went 62-54 over the rest of the season. He remained on with the Angels for 2 1/2 more seasons, then also managed the 1986-88 Chicago White Sox, the 1991-96 Philadelphia Phillies and the 1999-2000 Toronto Blue Jays. He had a career 1,028-1,094 record in 15 seasons. He led the Phillies to the 1993 World Series, which was his lone first place finish. That year was also his only winning season in Philadelphia. During his playing career, Fregosi had a .265 average, with 844 runs, 264 doubles, 78 triples, 151 homers, 706 RBIs and 715 walks in 1,902 games. He put up 48.8 career WAR. He never played a single postseason game in 18 seasons, so his time at the helm of the 1993 Phillies represented his only playoff action in 32 years.
Les Bartholomew, pitcher for the 1928 Pirates. Bartholomew got his start in pro ball at 23 years old with the Burlington Bees of the Class-D Mississippi Valley League in 1926, where he went 11-11 in 25 appearances, while pitching 211 innings (this is missing from his online stats). On June 30, 1926, he was purchased by Pirates scout Chick Fraser on behalf of Columbia of the Class-B South Atlantic League, along with his catcher Thomas Farr. The two players were allowed to finish the 1926 season with Burlington. Bartholomew went 14-15, 3.77, with a 1.39 WHIP in 265 innings for Columbia during the 1927 season. The Pirates purchased his contract on September 11, 1927, but he didn’t join the team until Spring Training the next year. Bartholomew made the Pirates Opening Day roster in 1928. He got hit hard as a reliever in his big league debut on Opening Day against the St Louis Cardinals. He came in with a 6-3 deficit in the sixth inning, then allowed five hits, two walks and six earned runs, while recording just one out. He would make five more appearances with the Pirates during 1928, but his next appearance wasn’t until the 27th game of the season. All six of his appearances were in one-sided losses. He went 16 days between his final two appearances (May 30th and June 15th), then gave up four runs over 6.2 innings in his last game. He was released on option to Dallas of the Class-A Texas League on June 21st, but an illness limited his work over the rest of the season to a 5.18 ERA and a 1.58 WHIP in 66 innings. He finished with a 7.15 ERA and a 1.76 WHIP in 22.2 innings for the Pirates. On December 8, 1928, the Pirates traded Bartholomew and cash to Kansas City of the Double-A American Association (highest level of the minors at the time) for pitcher Heinie Meine.
Bartholomew spent the 1929-30 seasons with Omaha of the Class-A Western League, after they acquired him on April 12, 1929 in a trade for pitcher Pea Ridge Day, who had slightly more big league experience. Bartholomew went 12-12, with a 1.83 WHIP in 205 innings over 40 appearances in 1929. His ERA isn’t available, but he allowed 6.98 runs per nine innings. It was a high offense league, but that was still a high number compared to the other starters on his team. He is credited with pitching just six games in 1930 for Omaha (his 2-3 record is the only available stat), and he didn’t pitch in pro ball in 1931, yet his big league career wasn’t over at that point. He briefly reappeared in the majors in August of 1932 with the Chicago White Sox, seemingly joining them out of nowhere, in what would be the last three games of his pro baseball career. He allowed three runs over 5.1 innings during his final big league time. He was playing semi-pro ball in 1931, which he continued to do long after his days with the White Sox. He also spent brief time with Springfield of the Class-B Three-I League in 1930, and Dayton of the Class-C Middle Atlantic League in 1934, though neither of those records show up in his online stats. Three years before he debuted in pro ball, there was word that the St Louis Cardinals were interested in signing him after they saw him playing sandlot ball.
Bill Hinchman, outfielder for the 1915-18 and 1920 Pirates. He played five seasons in the majors with the Cincinnati Reds (1905-06) and the Cleveland Naps (1907-09) before spending five full seasons playing in the minors for Columbus of the American Association, which was followed by a return trip to the majors with the Pirates. Hinchman debuted in pro ball in 1903 at 20 years old, playing his first two seasons for the Ilion Typewriters of the Class-B New York State League. Stats are limited from those years, but we know that he hit .267 over 46 games in 1903, followed by a .281 average over 135 games in 1904. He played for Williamsport of the Tri-State League in 1905 (no stats available), then debuted in the majors with the Reds in late September. At the time of his acquisition, Reds president J.H. Farrell only said that he didn’t know much about Hinchman in a summary of the players recently acquired by the team. He batted .255/.415/.373 in 17 games during his first big league trial, with ten runs and ten RBIs. That helped earn him an Opening Day spot in 1906, but he was sent back to the minors by mid-May, after hitting just .204/.307/.259 in 18 games. In his first stint with Columbus to finish out the 1906 season, he hit .314 in 115 games, with 19 doubles, eight triples and four homers. The American Association was Class-A during his first three seasons with Columbus, then bumped up to Double-A during his final three seasons with the team. They were playing at the highest level of the minors the entire time, with Double-A being created for the 1912 season.
Hinchman was back in the majors with Cleveland to start the 1907 season. He hit just .228 in 152 games that year, seeing most of his time in left field. He finished with 62 runs scored, 19 doubles, nine triples, 50 RBIs, 47 walks and a .616 OPS. He batted .231 over 137 games in 1908, with 55 runs, 23 doubles, eight triples, six homers, 59 RBIs and a .655 OPS, while splitting his playing time between right field (52 starts), shortstop (51 starts) and left field (25 starts). The Naps moved on from him after the 1909 season, despite improvements across the board on offense, including a .703 OPS that was well above average during that deadball era season. He hit .258 in 139 games, with 20 doubles, 13 triples, 53 RBIs, 22 steals and 41 walks. Hinchman returned to Columbus in 1910,then stayed there until the Pirates came calling five years later. He hit .258 over 167 games in 1910, with 30 doubles, 13 triples and two homers. That was followed by a .295 average over 166 games in 1911, with 43 doubles, nine triples and eight homers. Hinchman hit .309 over 161 games in 1912, with 120 runs, 29 doubles, 20 triples, six homers and 22 steals. He batted .297 in 1913, with 120 runs, 43 doubles, 12 triples and nine homers in 167 games. He hit .366 during the 1914 season, with 139 runs, 57 doubles, 21 triples, nine homers, 21 steals, 87 walks and a 1.014 OPS, which earned him a spot with the 1915 Pirates. He also served as the manager for Columbus during his final two seasons.
Hinchman capitalized on his second chance in the majors, but it almost didn’t happen. His purchased occurred on September 16, 1914, but he immediately balked at the deal, saying that he wished to remain as a manager/player in the minors. There was even a report that the deal fell through, which turned out to be false. The Pirates were able to purchase both Hinchman and shortstop Wally Gerber from Columbus, with Gerber reporting to the team right away, while Hinchman reported in 1915. During that first season back in the majors, he hit .307 in 156 games, with 72 runs, 33 doubles, 14 triples, five homers, 77 RBIs and 48 walks. His .807 OPS was third best in the league. He led the National League with 16 triples during the 1916 season, to go along with a .315 average, which was third best in the league. He also had 64 runs, 18 doubles, 76 RBIs and 54 walks in 152 games played. His .805 OPS that year placed him sixth in the league. He finished fourth in total bases during both seasons (1915-16). He struggled badly in 1917, hitting just .189/.288/.275 in 69 games, while seeing his playing time eventually diminish into a pinch-hitting role by the end of the 1918 season. He rebounded a bit in the smaller role in 1918, going from a lowly .562 OPS in 1917, to a respectable (for the deadball era) .651 mark in 1918, which was a shortened season due to the war. He hit just .234 that year, but a solid walk rate led to a .336 OBP.
Hinchman didn’t play during the 1919 season, deciding to retire from the game, though he occasionally played for a team from Williamsport. The Pirates kept him on their reserved list during that time, and then he returned in 1920 as a pinch-hitter, getting 18 at-bats throughout the season, in what ended up being his final year of pro ball. He last played in July of 1920, but the Pirates already had him doing some scouting work before that game. In ten seasons in the majors, he hit .261 in 908 games, with 364 runs, 128 doubles, 69 triples, 20 homers and 369 RBIs. He hit .284 in 445 games for the Pirates, with 173 runs, 109 extra-base hits, 197 RBIs and a .751 OPS. He became a coach and scout for the Pirates, performing his greatest service to the team in that latter role by signing Hall of Famers Arky Vaughan and Lloyd Waner, as well as Pirates pitching great, Rip Sewell. Bill had a brother named Harry, who was his teammate with Cleveland in 1907. That was his only season in the majors, though he played 19 seasons in the minors.