Some of the hitters in the system started picking it up in the past week. Apart from hitters mentioned here, Robbie Grossman and Tony Sanchez started showing some signs of life. Alen Hanson just keeps hitting; I’m going to give him a rest for a week.
Jake Fox, 1B (AAA): Fox has been hot since he got healthy and joined Indianapolis. In 13 games so far, he’s hitting 342/432/605. He’s fanned only three times in 38 ABs, while walking six. Fox doesn’t really have a position, but the Pirates don’t really have an offense right now, so if Fox keeps on hitting, they might want to try to find a way to utilize him.
Jordy Mercer, SS (AAA): Over the last week or so, Mercer has shown signs of starting to figure out AAA pitching. In the past week he’s gone 10-29 (.345) with three doubles and only two Ks (although no walks, either). On the season he’s up to 264/352/396 with decent plate discipline (12 BBs, 23 Ks). His OPS is almost 40 points above the league average, as offense is down everywhere now.
Jeff Locke and Rudy Owens, LHPs (AAA): The two Indianapolis lefties keep rolling along. In his one start during the week, Owens allowed two runs in eight innings, while fanning seven. His season ERA is now 2.12 and opponents are hitting just .205 against him. He’s walked just two, leaving him with an outstanding WHIP of 0.79. Locke was even better; in two starts he allowed no runs and just seven hits over 14 innings. His ERA stands at 2.31 and his WHIP at 1.14.
Bryan Morris, RHP (AAA): Morris pitched twice during the week, allowing no runs, two hits and no walks over 5.1 IP. On the season he’s allowed just ten hits and two walks in 15 IP, while fanning 15. His merely decent ERA of 3.60 is probably a fluke, as exactly half the runners he’s allowed to reach base have scored.
Matt Curry, 1B (AA): Curry clearly has made some adjustments to deal with AA pitching. From the start of the season he’s been making better contact, but he had no HRs until the past week. In that week, though, he went 11-29 (.379) with three doubles and two HRs. On the season he’s hitting 317/377/465, with a vastly improved BB:K ratio of 11:17. It’s worth keeping in mind, too, that Altoona’s ballpark severely depresses HR totals.
Tim Alderson, RHP (AA): Alderson made three appearances during the week, allowing no runs over six innings. He has yet to allow a run in eight games in AA, while giving up only eight hits and three walks in 13 innings, with 12 Ks.
Josh Poytress, LHP (High A): Poytress opened the season in spring training, but was soon assigned to West Virginia, where he pitched well in three relief appearances. The Pirates moved him up to Bradenton and he has yet to allow a run in 16 innings there. For the week he threw nine scoreless innings, allowing just five hits. The highlight was six shutout innings in an 18-inning game on Sunday.
Jose Osuna, 1B (Low A): For the week, Osuna went 10-26 (.385) with four doubles. For the year he’s hitting .312, but he has yet to hit a HR. Osuna is still only 19, so the power could still come.
Willy Garcia, OF (Low A): Garcia broke out of a slump to go 9-29 (.310) with a double and three HRs. He has five HRs on the year, which is welcome in a power-starved system, but his BB:K ratio of 4:28 doesn’t bode well for the long term.
Gorkys Hernandez, OF (AAA): Despite going 4-7 over the weekend, Hernandez went only 5-27 (.185) over the past week. For the year he’s now at 241/326/289. His power, which was limited to begin with, has been nearly non-existent; he has just four extra base hits, all doubles, in 83 ABs. If the Pirates have a need to clear a space on the 40-man roster, Hernandez should be a leading candidate despite his prodigious defensive talents.
Elevys Gonzalez, IF (AA): Gonzalez has been a dark horse prospect the last couple years, hitting better than expected and earning increasing playing time. He opened 2012 without a regular job, but has been playing most of the time since Jarek Cunningham got hurt. It hasn’t gone well, as he’s hitting only 177/261/258 on the season and fanning in a third of his ABs. In the past week he went 1-17 (.059).
Bradenton Hitters (High A): The Marauders haven’t had much offense all year. Drew Maggi is having a good year. Mel Rojas, Jr., is having an adequate one. Minor league veteran Stefan Welch has been hot lately. And organizational utility player Andy Vasquez has hit well in very limited action. Other than that, nobody is hitting much at all. Wes Freeman has an OPS of .420. Evan Chambers and Carlos Paulino are both below .600. Alex Dickerson, Justin Howard, Dan Grovatt and Gift Ngoepe all range from .652 to .612.
Zack Dodson, LHP (Low A): Dodson got bombed in his one start during the week, allowing six runs on ten hits in 3.1 IP. His ERA for the year is 6.17 and his WHIP is 1.71. Considering that he’s repeating the level, he needs to make a better showing soon.
West Virginia Relievers (Low A): Excluding Poytress, ERAs of Power relievers with three or more relief appearances: 4.79, 2.00, 2.55, 4.24, 4.76, 7.04, 9.26, 12.79, 9.53. The 2.00 is swing man Mike Jefferson, who’s made only three relief appearances. The 2.55 is Rinku Singh.
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.
I think I’ll skip the Trending Down section next week. The Bucs depress me enough…lol