Ok, we have a couple of weeks of baseball under our belts, and while it's early, we thought we'd spend our off day taking a peek at the guys who were on the cusp at camp and the second wave of young 'uns waiting to find some room at the inn.
Pitching - Everyone wants to know where Gerrit Cole is. Well, he's busy learning his craft at Indy. People were excited by a couple of competent outings in the spring, but the truth is that he's tossed two AAA games total at the end of last season, and got beat up in one of them. He's only lasted six frames in two Tribe starts this year with an ERA of 6.00. Could he master his trade in the majors as easily as in the minors was the question: the FO took the prudent financial and professional view that a little more time wouldn't hurt. He'll be here soon enough.
Lefty Andy Oliver, a once highly touted Tiger prospect, has gone two outings and pitched 11 scoreless frames with 11K. He's also lived up to his MO of a wild child by walking six, but has mitigated that a bit by allowing just five hits. Kyle McPherson has just one outing, and gave up a three-spot in three frames.
The other guys have had limited innings, but LHP Kris Johnson and righty relievers Bryan Morris, Duke Welker and Vin Mazzaro have been collecting goose eggs and punchouts when given the ball. Veterans Ryan Reid and Mike Zagurski are off to solid starts as well.
Altoona is just starting to reach the second turn in the rotation, and Jameson Taillon and Stolmy Pimentel have combined for 11 innings of six hit, shutout ball in the first go-around. There's a long line of arms behind them, but none in line for a gold star quite yet.
Luis Heredia is in extended spring training, meaning that he's probably looking at joining Jamestown in the short season NY-PA League if an opening at West Virginia doesn't appear soon. Rehabbing hurlers Francisco Liriano, Charlie Morton and Jose Contreras are all hoping to get to Pittsburgh before June, while Jeff Karstens is still in the slow lane. It's certain the staff in Pittsburgh now won't last intact into the summer.
Outfield - The pair that were the last to leave Pirate City were Alex Presley and Felix Pie, both who had strong camps. No one has many more than 20 at-bats yet, so the numbers need taken with a grain of salt, but Presley is still bopping away with a .412 BA. Pie has gone the opposite direction, with a 2-for-24 (.083) start.
The Curve have a pair of guys squaring up on everything in Andrew Lambo and Adalberto Santos. Lambo, a top LA youngster, came to Pittsburgh as part of the Octavio Dotel deal. After some injury-bitten seasons, he's out of the box now with a .417/.500./.833 line. Santos, who projects as a corner utility guy, has a scorching .450/.542/.700 line.
The lower levels have up-and-comers Gregory Polanco, Josh Bell, Barrett Barnes and Elvis Escobar working their way through the system.
Infield - Jordy Mercer is playing his usual solid game, hitting .280, while Ivan DeJesus is off to a .200 start for Indy. Brandon Inge is 2-for-23. At Altoona, neither Jarek Cunningham nor Gift Ngoepe has shown much with the stick (EDIT - an hour after the post, Cunningham doubled and homered while Gift went long!). The talent is still stacked in A Ball with Alen Hansen, Dilson Herrera and Max Moroff.
Catching - Aye carumba! Tony Sanchez is 1-for-11 to date; the cavalry of Wyatt Mathison and Jin-De Jhang is still buried deep in the misty underworld of Low A ball. Carlos Paulino and Jacob Stallings have the glove to be MLB receivers, but haven't flashed enough bat.
For five years of drafting, the upper levels are pretty bare outside of pitching and fourth outfielders. Jordy Mercer is the only infield guy who could help quickly. Those A babes better grow up in a hurry!