Notes: Nogowski acquired; Walker honored

July 7th, 2021

PITTSBURGH -- Instead of turning to an option at Triple-A to fill the injury-marred first-base position, the Pirates acquired from the Cardinals on Saturday for cash considerations.

Nogowski, 28, has played in only 20 MLB games over his first two seasons, primarily as a pinch-hitter, and he’s hit 2-for-22 (.091) in that span. In his last full Minor League season, the former 34th-round selection out of Florida State recorded an .889 OPS over 117 games with 22 doubles and 15 homers with the Triple-A Redbirds.

“I know he’s a guy we liked previously, even earlier in the year coming in to the season,” manager Derek Shelton said. “With our first baseman being down, once we get him in, get him through protocols, he’s going to get an opportunity to give us some at-bats at first.”

Even with injuries to Colin Moran (left pisiform bone fracture) or Erik González (right oblique strain) -- Pittsburgh’s main first-base options -- the move was not entirely expected. In the Pirates’ system, first baseman has hit 13-for-60 (.217) in 18 games with the Pirates this season, and he’s seen an uptick in his production at Triple-A recently. He slashed .324/.392/.592 with two doubles and four homers in June.

So why not call Craig up instead of making a move outside the organization? Reading between the lines, Craig is out of options, and the Pirates have inherited a short-term injury problem. If the Pirates called Craig up to fill in just to designate him when either Moran or González returned, it would open up an opportunity for another team to take a flyer on Craig via waivers.

Nogowski will also likely be used off the bench while Phillip Evans sees some reps at first base, where he has played at in 15 games this season.

Pirates honor The Pittsburgh Kid

On Saturday, the Pirates honored one of their former players -- and a son of Pittsburgh.

Neil Walker, who retired earlier this year after 12 seasons as a Major Leaguer, threw out the first pitch after being recognized and congratulated by his former club, whom he was Drafted by in 2004 and with whom he spent the first seven seasons of his career. He got a video tribute before firing the first pitch to his brother-in-law, Don Kelly, who is the Pirates' bench coach.

Walker is also a native of Pittsburgh, attending Pine-Richland High School in Gibsonia, Pa., only a few miles north of downtown. He has continued to stay active in the baseball community in Allegheny County and said earlier this year that he could have a future serving the Pirates.

“I'm going to take the next several months to kind of play catch up with my life and then kind of figure out what the next move is moving forward,” Walker said in April. “But conversations have happened a little bit internally with the Pirates.”

The Pirates are already letting Walker get a taste of the organization’s “inside baseball.” Walker said he’s sat in on some scouting and Draft meetings. He did a hit on AT&T Sportsnet during Saturday’s game, when it was announced he’d serve a game on Aug. 13 as the broadcast’s color analyst. He even accepted an offer to announce the first overall pick in this year’s MLB Draft next Sunday in Denver.

“If I can be an asset for this organization, I feel like it’s my responsibility,” Walker said.