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Pirates Win Series in Milwaukee; Huge Tony Sanchez and Stetson Allie News

I’ll try and wrap up the ridiculous day/night that was yesterday in Pittsburgh Pirates baseball with this post.

- First thing’s first: the Buccos beat the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park and won the series there for the first time in over a year.

The six runs Pittsburgh scored came mainly via the long ball as is so common in Milwaukee. Andrew McCutchen (9) and Garrett Jones (7) hit back-to-back two-out jacks in the fifth inning while Rod Barajas (5) and Clint Barmes (3) each homered later.

James McDonald had another great start and lowered his ERA on the season to 2.14. He gave up three runs in six innings though only one of them was earned thanks to an error on Barmes in the first that cost the team two runs. J-Mac struck out eight, walked one and gave up only four hits on the day.

The run was solo shot by Nyjer Morgan in the sixth inning.

Juan Cruz, Jason Grilli and Joel Hanrahan would close the game out for the Pirates. Both Cruz and Hanrahan gave up solo home runs, but Hanrahan ended up recording his 14th save of the season anyway.

Neil Walker went 3/5 with a double in the first inning.

The series win moved the Pirates ahead of .500 (27-26) and also into second place in the division, 0.5 games ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals and three games behind the Cincinnati Reds for the NL Central lead.

Speaking of the Reds, the Pirates start another series with them tomorrow night at 7:10 PM. This one is in Cincinnati. If the Bucs can win two of the three-game set, they’ll have won four consecutive series, all against divisional opponents.

- After the game last night, the Pirates announced the promotion of catcher Tony Sanchez from AA-Altoona to the team’s AAA affiliate in Indianapolis.

Sanchez was the team’s first round pick (fourth overall) in the 2009 draft. Seen as a late first to second round prospect, the Pirates surprised (or didn’t) many when they took the light-hitting-but-solid-defensively catcher so high.

Sanchez handled the A levels well after signing with the Pirates. In 48 games in 2009, Sanchez hit .309 with seven home runs at the team’s A-/A/A+ affiliates.

In 2010, Sanchez hit .314/.416/.454 with four home runs in 59 games at A+ Bradenton before being hit in the face with a pitch and breaking his jaw, effectively ending his season.

Sanchez finished the year ranked as the team’s number three prospect in the system only to have a disappointing 2011 campaign.

Then 23, Sanchez hit just .241/.340/.318 with five home runs in 118 games at AA-Altoona. He wasn’t good defensively, either, causing some to ask whether he’d ever be a major league catcher.

This year, Sanchez began the season at Altoona again. He’s been better. In 40 games there, the 24-year-old hit .277/.370/.390, though he didn’t hit a home run.

He also threw out 27% of AA base runners this season, his best mark since 2009. He did have seven errors and seven passed balls, though, which is bad for a catcher who projects to not have much of a bat at the Major League level.

We’ll see how Sanchez handles catching duties at AAA. There is very little chance he gets called up to the majors at any point this season unless the Pirates are out of contention come September.

A good showing in AAA could give Sanchez a head start on the MLB job for 2013.

- After the Sanchez promotion, we found out the Pirates are converting 2010 second round pick Stetson Allie from a pitcher to third base in a totally unexpected move.

The fireballer, who didn’t take up pitching until his senior year of high school, didn’t handle professional pitching very well. He recorded a 7.76 ERA with 23 earned runs, 37 walks and 29 strikeouts in 26.2 innings between level A- State College and level A West Virginia last season and this season.

Allie was considered a third- to fifth-round prospect as a third baseman his draft year. I’ll have a post up in the coming days with my thoughts on the position change.

The Bucs are off today but open the aforementioned series with the Reds tomorrow night.

Follow Troy on Twitter @TroyPfaff for more Pittsburgh Pirates content