Prospect Watching: Brad Lincoln and Tim Alderson

Lincoln began the 2009 season with Altoona, and he quickly found his stride. �He earned a 1-5 record in 13 starts, but he was on a team that often did not supply him with a lot of runs. �He posted a 2.28 ERA in 75 innings, allowed 63 hits and 18 walks (a slightly elevated walk rate) and struck out 65 batters (also a higher rate than in 2008). �The Texas native started the season slowly, with a 4.26 ERA in April. �In his first four starts, he gave up 3 earned runs in each of three starts (totalling 14 innings). �On April 16th, Lincoln was the hard-luck loser, when he gave up one unearned run (due to a throwing error) in 5 innings and struck out 6, but was charged with the loss when the Curve were held to just one hit by the Erie (Detroit) pitchers. �Lincoln dominated in the month of May, allowing just 3 earned runs over 33.2 innings for a 0.80 ERA. �That month included a 2-hit 9-inning shutout on May 21st against Bowie (Orioles). �In four more starts in the first half of June, Lincoln gave up 7 earned runs in 22.1 innings (2.82 ERA). �At that point, he was promoted to AAA Indianapolis. �With the Indians, Lincoln found a tougher time than he had at AA. �He made 6 starts over the rest of June and July, earning a 2-1 record and a 4.62 ERA, with 40 hits and 22 runs (17 earned) over 33.1 innings. �He did not walk many (8) and struck out a respectable 20 batters, including 7 strikeouts in 5 innings on July 6th and 6 K’s in 6 innings on July 23rd. �The remainder of his time in Indy was about the same. �In August/Sept, Lincoln made 7 more starts for 28 innings, allowing 32 hits and 15 runs, with only 2 walks and 22 strikeouts. �He finished his time in Indy with 61.1 innings (total of 136.1 for the season), a 6-2 record, and a 4.70 ERA.

Lincoln was picked to pitch in the 2009 Futures Game, and had some fun with a frisbee during a rain delay, though his part in the actual game was not as fun. �He entered the game in the top of the 7th (which was the last, due to the rain) with two outs, two runs in, and a runner on second base. �Lincoln gave up doubles to Rene Tosoni and Dayan Viciedo, bringing in two more runs (one charged to the previous pitcher), then walked Carlos Santana before ending the inning with a pop up. �Lincoln’s other honor for the 2009 season was to be named to Team USA. �He participated in the World Cup tournament in Europe in September, making 3 starts and one relief appearance. �Lincoln earned 3 wins, including the championship game for Team �USA. �He pitched 23.1 innings in those 4 appearances, with a 2.70 ERA, and gave up 23 hits and 6 walks, with 12 strikeouts. �In the championship game, Lincoln came into the game in the 5th inning, and gave up 2 homers for 3 runs over 4.1 innings.

Lincoln was added to the Pirates’ 40-man roster after the 2009 season. �He made two appearances in Grapefruit League games this spring. �He pitched one scoreless inning, allowing 2 hits on March 4th, then two more hits and an earned run in 2 innings on the 8th. �On the 15th, Lincoln was optioned to Indianapolis, and he pitched 3 scoreless innings yesterday in the Indians’ spring training game. �Lincoln will begin the 2010 season in the Indians starting rotation. �He needs to show the domination at the AAA level that he did last year at Altoona before he will be ready to move up to Pittsburgh.

Tim Alderson is another first-round draft pick, but for the Giants in the 2007 draft. �The Arizona native pitched a few innings at the Rookie level that season, then made a splash at the A+ level (San Jose) with a 13-4 record and a 2.79 ERA in 26 starts (145.1 innings), including a whopping 124 strikeouts. �Alderson made 5 more starts with San Jose in 2009 (1-1, 4.15 ERA, 26 innings), as well as 13 starts (72.2 innings) at AA Connecticut. �He posted a 6-1 record and a 3.47 ERA there, with 76 hits, 14 walks, and 46 strikeouts. �Then Alderson was included in the trade that sent Freddy Sanchez to the Giants. �The Pirates assigned their new righty to Altoona, where he made an additional 7 starts for 38.2 innings over the rest of the season. �Alderson found things a little tougher in his new home, allowing 39 hits and 20 earned runs, with 13 walks and 18 strikeouts, giving him a 3-1 record and a 4.66 ERA. �That was a higher walk rate than any other time in his career, as Alderson is generally thought to have good command of his pitches (2- and 4-seam fastballs, curve, and change), though his velocity dropped from the low-90’s in 2008 to mid- and upper- 80’s in 2009. �Those will be things that the Pirates will be watching for in 2010. �Alderson is just 21 years old, so there is still time for development. �He could open 2010 in Indianapolis or back at Altoona, depending on how he looks this spring.

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