September 27, 2022

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Two prospects notch MLB firsts for Pirates

4 min read
No. 25 prospect Marcano also called up for team debut

PITTSBURGH — The magnitude of the evening has yet to register in for Beau Sulser. Nor has it for Jack Suwinski. It’s not hard to understand why.

On a nondescript Tuesday evening in which the Pirates lost to the Brewers at PNC Park, 12-8, Sulser and Suwinski not only made their Major League debuts, but crossed off milestones along the way. Suwinski got his first hit. Sulser struck out his first batter, and then three more. It was an evening neither will ever forget.

“It’s exciting when you’re able to have guys make their Major League debuts and then actually perform,” said manager Derek Shelton.

For Suwinski and Tucupita Marcano, who were called up from Double-A Altoona to replace Bryan Reynolds and Cole Tucker as they hit the COVID-19 IL, the day was nothing short of chaos. When the day began, Suwinski and Marcano were preparing for a game against the Akron RubberDucks. They didn’t know what lied ahead.

When the Curve got off the team bus and arrived at their hotel, manager Kieran Mattison told the team they weren’t yet allowed to go to their hotel rooms. The Curve congregated in the hotel lobby around 2 p.m., where Mattison broke the news. Marcano originally wondered if he did anything wrong when Mattison called his name to the front, but that fear quickly turned to joy.

“It was awesome, especially with all of my teammates, my buddies being there, everyone was excited and celebrating me,” Marcano said via team interpreter Mike Gonzalez.

From there, Suwinski and Marcano took a bus to pick up a rental car, made the two-hour drive from Akron to Pittsburgh, then arrived about two hours prior to the game. Suwinski, who drove, said the two didn’t talk much during the drive, but noted that they were “probably feeling the same thing.”

“I haven’t stopped moving since the morning,” Suwinski said. “We were up so early packing for that road trip, so we were on the go all day.”

The evening would’ve been memorable regardless of how the game unfolded, but Suwinski’s maiden voyage was all the sweeter when the Pirates’ No. 30 prospect per MLB Pipeline recorded his first hit with an opposite-field single in his final plate appearance. Talk about a day.

“I know my first day, the amount of texts and support I got from friends and family is amazing, but it is hectic,” Sulser said. “For him to come out and get a hit on his first night, not even have a chance to settle in — he had to drive in from Altoona, probably wasn’t expecting it with him being in Double-A — it’s really impressive what he did.”

Marcano, unlike Suwinski, had already made his debut, having done so last season with the Padres before being traded to the Pirates along with Suwinski in the Adam Frazier deal. Still, Tuesday evening marked his first game with Pittsburgh, and the club’s No. 25 prospect made sure to leave an impression. Along with a loud double, Marcano threw out Rowdy Tellez at the plate for his first career outfield assist. When asked which he enjoyed more, Marcano leaned on what he did with the bat.

“Going into the box, I wanted to make sure I got a good pitch,” Marcano said. “I missed the first pitch, but then I was able to connect with the next one and to see the way I was able to hit it and get a double, that meant a lot to me. That was probably the best part of my game.”

By comparison, Sulser’s night was pretty calm. Sulser himself, though, was not. The 27-year-old admitted that he didn’t feel like he was part of the team until he had the opportunity to throw. Every time the bullpen phone rang in Chicago, his heart skipped a couple beats before settling back down. On Tuesday, the call was finally for him.

The first assignment of Sulser’s career? Andrew McCutchen, who’s still treated like royalty around Pittsburgh. If Sulser had nerves, they didn’t show. The rookie only needed four pitches to strike out the former MVP, setting down McCutchen with a perfectly-placed changeup that fell off the table.

“I don’t know if it’s really sunk in,” Sulser said.

For Marcano, Sulser and Suwiksi, there are few days that will rival this one, an equally memorable and stressful endeavor. Sulser and Suwinski are now big leaguers. All three of them are Pirates. Regardless of what unfolds next, they’ll always have that.

“It was a long day, a crazy day, but at the same time, a very happy day,” Marcano said.

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