-- The Pirate farm teams are not exactly sprinting out of the gates. Outside of High A Lynchburg, which is 2-1, the Bucco system has yet to notch a win: AAA Indy is 0-3, AA Altoona is 0-4, and A West Virginia is 0-3.
Indy lost 16-5, 4-2, and 5-4 to Toledo on the road. 3B Neil Walker (.385), 2B Andy Phillips (.364), and CF Andrew McCutchen (.308) are off to good starts at the plate. RHPs Evan Meek and Chris Bootcheck have been strong out of the pen, and RHP Ty Taubenheim pitched five good innings.
RHP Jimmy Barthmaier injured his elbow; the severity won't be known until an MRI is taken early next week. RHP Juan Mateo was called up from Altoona to replace him.
Altoona started by visiting the lakefront and was swept by Erie 8-7, 10-7, 2-0, and 2-1 for the worst start in its history.
RHP Jared Hughes went six innings of no-hit ball, and RHP Mike Crotta threw five shutout frames in the last two losses. SS Brian Friday is hitting .667 and 2B Jim Negrych .412; CF Jose Tabata (.235) had a three-game hitting streak stopped yesterday.
Veteran RHPs Josh Hill, who pitched for the Australian team in the WBC, and Jean Machi were promoted from State College to Altoona to replace Mateo and RHP Derek Hankins, who is on the DL with the stomach flu.
Lynchburg has taken 6-5 and 14-7 wins, and was dealt a 2-0 loss against Potomac at home. RHP Ronald Uviedo was sharp in his first try as a starter, going six innings and giving up one earned run on seven hits, with three whiffs and no walks.
Just about everyone's hitting. OF Matt Hague is batting .417, SS Jordy Mercer is at .333, and 3B Pedro has returned to earth, hitting .231 but with a team-high 7 RBI.
The bad news is that uber-prospect RHP Bryan Morris was placed on the DL with right shoulder inflammation. He had foot surgery during the off-season and came off of TJ surgery before that; let's hope his body can remain in one piece after this bout.
West Virginia was swept in Charleston by Lexington 5-4, 6-3, and 13-2. OF Erik Huber (.429), 1B Calvin Anderson (.400-2-5), and CF Robbie Grossman (.364) lead the Power attack.
RHP Chris Cullen has been promoted from the Power to Lynchburg, and RHP Brad Hinkle was called up from extended spring training to take his spot at WVA.
Hinkle is an interesting project. The 23-year old, formerly Cleveland property, is 6'10" and throws a 91 MPH heater, but it's quite effective because of his downward angle. He was 1-1 with a 3.54 ERA and 56 K's in 48 innings for short-season Mahoning Valley last year.
Short season State College starts their season on April 19th.
-- John Perrotto of the Pirates Report has this take on the Bucs' minor league system.