by, James Middleton
In a strange twist, the Cotuit Kettleers and the Major League Pittsburgh Pirates organization seem to have something very much in common this 2023 baseball season. Over the years, there have been coaches, players, and interns who get their start in Cotuit and then transition to the Pirates. This year three former Kettleers pitchers, Kyle Nicolas, Sean Sullivan, and Justin Meis, have all made the roster for the Altoona Curve, the Double-A affiliate of the Pirates. Nicolas and Sullivan played at Lowell Park in the 2019 season, and Meis played for Cotuit in the 2021 season.
Nicolas earned the opening day start for the Curve this year, and Meis was penciled in to pitch the Curve's second game of the season. Nicolas pitched four innings, striking out five and only giving up four runs in his 2023 debut. Meis threw three innings in his initial start, giving up one run and striking out three in his first appearance.
Prior to joining the Pirates organization, Nicolas appeared in twelve games for Cotuit. The right-
hander had a 1-2 record for the Ketts and posted a 6.29 earned run average while with Cotuit. He was initially drafted by the Miami Marlins, where he spent two seasons in their farm system. During those two years, he posted a combined record of 6-4. In Pensacola, the Double-A affiliate for the Marlins, he had an earned run average of 2.52 in eight starts. In his first season with the Curve, he appeared in 24 games, making 22 starts. In those games, he had a record of 2-4 and an earned run average of 3.97.
Sharing the mound at Lowell Park with Nicolas in 2019 was Sean Sullivan. For the Ketts, Sullivan appeared in eight games and posted an earned run average of 1.97. After his stint with Cotuit, he played college baseball for the University of California, Berkeley, for two more years. In both of those seasons, the right-hander had a sub-four earned run average. After California, he was drafted by the Pirates in the eighth round of the 2021 draft. In his first season with the organization, he was sent to the high-a team, the Greensboro Grasshoppers. In Greensboro, he appeared in 20 games, 15 being starts. Sullivan had a 4.68 earned run average and a record of 2-5 for the Grasshoppers.
Two years after Nicolas and Sullivan, Justin Meis debuted for the Kettleers. While in Cotuit, he played in four games, making four starts. The right-hander had a 1-1 record for the Ketts and only allowed four runs in his time on the Cape. In the 2021 draft, Meis was selected by the Pirates in the tenth round. After being selected, he was sent to play for the Bradenton Marauders, the Single-A affiliate for the Pirates. Last year, he bounced between the Marauders and Grasshoppers, appearing in 26 games between the two. He started 16 games for the Grasshoppers, and 10 for the Marauders.
In the 2022 season, the Curve had a 71-66 record in the Southwest Division of the Eastern League, which was good enough for a third-place finish. Nicolas and Meis will look to build upon their solid first appearances of the season, while Sullivan looks to build his future success coming out of the bullpen.