Thursday, April 23, 2009

Up, Up, and Away

A couple of thoughts and the farm report while the Bucs loll in San Diego:

-- Hey, it's great to see the Pirates playing a solid brand of winning ball early in the season. It's even creating a little buzz among the fans. But a quick start doesn't guarantee a thing.

On this day in 1962, the Bucs had stormed out of the gate, winning ten straight games to start the season. They were home at Forbes Field against Casey Stengel's expansion Mets, in their first season of existance and losers of all nine games that they played.

Money in the bank? Nah. The Mets romped, 10-1, behind a complete-game five-hitter by the ex-Red Jay Hook. Pittsburgh would go on to lose 13 of the next 17 ball games.

Just a little reminder for the 2009 Pirates - you're only as good as your next game.

-- Before the season everyone, including GW, looked at Nyjer Morgan as a placeholder for Andrew McCutchen. Well, Morgan is off to a sizzling start, batting .323 with 10 runs scored, nine RBI, six stolen bases and a .371 OBP.

Brandon Moss, on the other hand, was thought to be a potential breakout player. He's platooning with Craig Monroe, and hitting .225 with no RBI. It's early, but maybe we had our placeholders mixed up.

-- We thought that this would be a good day to take a look at how the Buc's prospects were starting off their year. The top guns, according to Baseball Prospectus:

7. Brad Lincoln, RHP: He's 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA in three starts. Lincoln has 14 K's and 2 walks in 14 innings of work.
6. Quinton Miller, RHP: Will start in June at short-season State College.
5. Robbie Grossman, CF: The high-school hot shot is batting .216 with an RBI and 21 K's in 51 at-bats at West Virginia.
4. Bryan Morris, RHP: Who knows? The injury-cursed righty has a shoulder impingement, and is out until June.
3. Jose Tabata, OF: He's hitting .234 at Altoona, with 4 RBI and 6 runs scored.
2. Andrew McCutchen, CF: Cutch is batting .315 with a HR, 4 RBI, and 14 runs at Indy. He's struck out 6 times and walked just 5 in 54 at-bats, with 3 stolen sacks.
1. Pedro Alvarez, 3B: Pedro is hitting .267 with 3 HR, 17 RBI, and a .489 slugging %. He's shown a good eye, striking out 10 times in 45 at-bats with 9 walks. The big guy has also booted 6 balls at third and looks like a first baseman playing the hot corner so far.

The guys at Indy? Tearing it up are SS Brian Bixler (.346-0-8, 15 runs scored), OF Garrett Jones (.314-1-9), and OF Jeff Salazar (.308-0-4). 1B Steve Pearce (.243-2-10), 2B Shelby Ford (.211-1-4), and 3B Neil Walker (.204-2-9) need a quick visit from Donny Long.

RHP Juan Mateo has pitched 10 innings without giving up a run on three hits and striking out six. RHP Dan McCutchen is 0-1 with a 2.25 ERA and 20 K's in 16 innings. RHP Evan Meek has a 1.23 ERA in five outings, giving up only 2 hits and striking out seven in 7-1/3 innings. But he's also yielded seven walks, and that's worrisome.

LHP Gorzo is still in a deep, dark, funk. He's 1-0 with a 4.48 ERA, with 16 Ks and 7 walks in 16 innings of work.

Other prospects: 2B Jim Negrych at Class AA Altoona is hitting .333, with a .422 OBP. He's committed fives errors on the young season, two last night, but his troubles seem correctable - he's not muffing the chance, but throwing the ball away. Footwork, Jimmy, footwork.

RHP Ronald Uviedo (0-1, 1.20) pitched five shutout innings while allowing two hits Wednesday for High-A Lynchburg. So far, his conversion from closer to starter looks like a plan. The only concern is that he doesn't have much of a K rate yet; just 6 in 10 innings. We'll keep an eye on that.

SS Chase d'Arnaud (.361-1-8) and 1B Calvin Anderson (.311-2-9) are providing the firepower for Class A West Virginia.

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