Fanatical Pirate fans will be giving most of their attention around now to the draft signing deadline, which is today (August 15) at midnight. Still, the minor league season grinds on and some of the Pirates’ hitting prospects have been turning it on in the late season. With the major league team chronically unable to field a major league lineup, the opportunities are certainly going to be there. This week, instead of the usual outbursts from Bradenton, it’s Altoona that’s seen some hitters step things up.
Matt Hague, 1B (AAA): Hague keeps knocking on the door, but it’s unclear whether anybody’s home. In his past ten games he’s hit 415/467/707, with three doubles and three HRs. Oh, well it’s not like the Pirates need any hitting . . . .
Starling Marte, CF (AA): Marte has shown he can bunch together a lot of hits in a short period of time, and this past week was a good example. Not only did he go 15-for-27 (.556), but he’s hitting for more power. He had four doubles, a triple and a HR during the week. He even had two (?!) walks. He’s now hitting 327/361/492 for the year.
Andrew Lambo, OF (AA): Lambo has had a rough year, but he finally seems to be getting things together. In the past week he went 8-for-19 (.421) with a double and a HR. He also had five walks and four strikeouts. So far in August he has an OPS of 1.109
Quincy Latimore, OF (AA): Latimore is another player who’s starting to come around after struggling much of the year. He had a big week, going 10-for-27 (.370) with five doubles and two HRs. He had an OPS of .823 in July and stands at .977 in August. Plate discipline remains an issue, though, as he’s fanned 14 times in his last ten games without drawing a walk. Since the Eastern League All-Star break he’s batted .291, but he has only five walks to counter 25 Ks.
Jeff Locke, LHP (AA): Locke’s one start during the week was his second strong August start. He went 5.2 shutout innings, allowing four hits and two walks with six Ks. So far in August he’s allowed just one run, eight hits and four walks in 12.2 IP, with 12 Ks. It obviously caught somebody’s attention, because he got promoted to Indianapolis.
Ty Waldron, RHP (A+): Despite an unsightly 4.83 ERA at West Virginia, due in large part to gopher ball problems, Waldron got promoted to Bradenton to start August. Surprisingly, he’s pitched well in three games, two of them starts. After throwing six shutout innings on Friday, he’d allowed just one run, eight hits and three walks, with eight Ks, in 13.1 innings at high A.
Zack von Rosenberg, RHP (A): Continuing his sudden turnaround, von Rosenberg threw five shutout innings last Friday, allowing three hits and three walks, while fanning four. His ERA in his last five starts: 1.33.
Zack Dodson, LHP (A): Since returning to West Virginia following a three-month absence, Dodson has started twice and allowed just two runs, eight hits and two walks in twelve innings. The one negative is that he’s fanned only four.
Wes Freeman, OF (A-): The turnaround continues. For the week, Freeman went 11-for-25 (.440) with four doubles and a triple. His season numbers are up to 297/338/493.
Ryan Hafner, RHP (A-): Hafner had two good starts during the week, going 11 innings and allowing just two runs on seven hits and a walk. He fanned five. Hafner’s not striking out a lot of hitters, but his ERA for the year is 2.83 and opponents are hitting only .226 against him.
Matt Curry, 1B (AA): Curry went through a rough stretch after his two-level promotion, but he seemed to come around after that. Not lately, though, as he’s gone 3-for-20 (.150) in the past week. So far in August he’s fanned in over 40% of his at-bats (11 of 26). Since the promotion he’s struck out in 28% of his at-bats.
Colton Cain, LHP (A): Cain got shelled in relief–he was moved to the bullpen at the end of July–on Monday, allowing seven runs, all earned, in eight hits in an inning and a third. He allowed one run in two innings on Saturday. His ERA in July and August is 6.04, so you have to wonder whether he’s wearing down.
Late Round Hitters at State College: It’s not unusual for late round college draft picks–most of whom will end up as organizational players–to make up a chunk of the lineup in the New York-Penn League, but some of the players who were expected to be lineup mainstays for the Spikes have had a tough year and a brutal August. For the month, Chris Lashmet is hitting 146/268/250, Derek Trent 167/333/250, and Alex Fuselier 103/161/138.
Having followed the Pirates fanatically since 1965, Wilbur Miller is one of the fast-dwindling number of fans who’ve actually seen good Pirate teams. He’s even seen Hall-of-Fame Pirates who didn’t get traded mid-career, if you can imagine such a thing. His first in-person game was a 5-4, 11-inning win at Forbes Field over Milwaukee (no, not that one). He’s been writing about the Pirates at various locations online for over 20 years. It has its frustrations, but it’s certainly more cathartic than writing legal stuff. Wilbur is retired and now lives in Bradenton with his wife and three temperamental cats.