With the Bucs being rained out, GW thought he'd take a peek at the retooled Indy club after a week of play. Now six games is an awfully small sample size, but a couple of early trends are popping up.
First, the 1-5 record indicates that the guys, a mix of borderline Bucs and Altoona prospects, are still feeling their way around in AAA.
Late cuts Andy Marte and Pedro Ciriaco are having a tough time at the dish - Marte is hitting .111, Ciriaco .100. Both are sitting at about 20 plate appearances, which isn't much to go on, and probably are suffering from the cut-down blues, a common enough phenomena and usually a short-term condition.
But the holes they had at camp are still showing in AAA. Marte has struck out 8 times in 18 at-bats, and Ciriaco has drawn just one walk in 20 at-bats. Both have plate discipline issues that they have to correct to take the next step.
Another ice-cold starter is Andrew Lambo. In 20 at-bats, he has one single and a sky-high 11 Ks. He'll bear watching, although an acclimation period is to be expected - he's only 22 and has just 73 games at the AA level, so he was advanced fairly aggressively.
Other guys are off to flying starts. Alex Presley is hitting .500, and last year's Altoona infielders Chase d'Arnaud (.381) and Matt Hague (.348) don't appear overmatched. Gorkys Hernandez, perhaps the most gifted defensive OF'er in the Pirate system, is hitting a solid .298 and has drawn four walks. At 23, he's begun to show some flashes at the plate over the past two seasons.
The only drawback is none of the above have shown much power, although d'Arnaud has four extra base hits. He, Presley and Hernandez all profile as top-of-the-order guys, so that's OK, but Hague is a first baseman and will have to develop some pop.
Corey Wimberly is the fourth outfielder, transitioning from the infield to the pasture. He hasn't seen much action yet, getting into two games, with a pair of singles in five trips to the plate.
The other notable stat is aggressiveness on the bases; the go-go Tribe has 20 stolen base attempts in what seems to be a system-wide emphasis on playing high-pressure ball. The only problem is that they've succeeded just 10 times, so base-stealing is obviously a work-in-progress.
Still, Indy is a better place to hone that art than Pittsburgh, and it's about time the organization began to stress the running game, especially given the speedy but punch-and-judy makeup of the Indy order.
Pitching is tough to read; only Brian Burres has made more than one start, and he's already a known factor. Brad Lincoln, Rudy Owens and Justin Wilson have fared OK in their lone outings; Sean Gallagher not so well.
But the bane of the big team is shared by the AAA club. Burres, Owens, Lincoln and Danny Moskos (Joe Beimel, too, if you care to count him) have shown the ability to throw strikes, but the rest of the staff...well, as a group, they've walked 28 batters in a half dozen games (4.6 free passes per nine innings). And that's just what Ray Searage doesn't need to hear.
Hey, it's early, and so far Indy has produced the expected mixed bag of results. We'll have a better gauge a few weeks down the road.