What Hitting Options Are Available In Indianapolis?

Today the Pittsburgh Pirates optioned Alex Presley to the minors and recalled Evan Meek. The move puts the Pirates at eight relievers, which is surely due to the amount of work the bullpen has put in over the last few days. With interleague play coming up on Friday, it seems likely that the Pirates will send down an extra reliever and call up another bat. Unless there’s an injury, that bat can’t be Presley. So what options are there in Indianapolis?

40-Man Roster

Starling Marte – Everyone wants to see the top prospect up, but Marte isn’t ready. He’s currently hitting for a .261/.323/.437 line in 119 at-bats, with a 22.7% strikeout rate and a 5.3% walk rate. I’m only listing him here to say that right now Marte needs to stay down in Triple-A.

Jordy Mercer – He’s been a hot hitter lately, with a .339/.381/.407 line in 59 at-bats in May. If the Pirates are looking for someone to serve as a designated hitter, Mercer isn’t your typical power bat for the position. But you could argue that he’s ready for a shot at the majors. It would be ideal to give him a few more weeks in Triple-A, just to show that his recent success isn’t a fluke.

Matt Hague – Hague is also hitting well in May, after struggling in April. He’s not hitting for power though, which is a big change from how he started the year. Out of the 40-man options, Hague seems the most likely to get the call, since he earned his way to the majors once already this year.

Gorkys Hernandez – He’s a strong defensive outfielder with speed, but doesn’t have much of a bat. He’s more of a fourth outfielder, and it wouldn’t make sense to have him on the roster with Nate McLouth also on the roster.

Non-Roster Candidates

Jake Fox – He was crushing the ball up until about a week ago. Now he’s hitting for a .274/.343/.435 line in 62 at-bats. He’d be a good power option, as he’s shown some power in the majors before.

Jeff Clement – He’s also been hitting well, with a .287/.380/.415 line in 94 at-bats. Like Fox, he has shown some power in the majors, but not much else. I’d actually be surprised if he got the call, since he seems to be lower on the Indianapolis depth chart than Fox and Hague.

Jeff Larish – The Pirates recently added Larish in a minor trade. I don’t see him getting the call. He seems more like the guy who will stick around in Triple-A and take over for the guy who gets the call.

If the Pirates called up one of the non-roster guys (and my money would be on Fox from that group) they would have to clear a space on the 40-man roster. If they’re only calling up a guy for the weekend series against Detroit, it wouldn’t make sense to go that route. If they’re calling up a guy for the long haul to replace Presley, it might make sense to go with someone like Fox and see what he can do in the majors. Right now, his career .237/.288/.425 line would be an upgrade off the bench, adding a power bat to the team.

Purely a guess here, as the Pirates haven’t given any indication, but I’d put my money on Hague getting the call, with Fox being another candidate if they’re looking for more than a weekend option.

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Tim is the owner, producer, editor, and lead writer of PiratesProspects.com. He has been running Pirates Prospects since 2009, becoming the first new media reporter and outlet covering the Pirates at the MLB level in 2011 and 2012. His work can also be found in Baseball America, where he has been a contributor since 2014 and the Pirates' correspondent since 2019.

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Marte probably should spend more time in the minors, I said that when he was hitting in ST, but remember the Nats wanted to trade for him and start him in their outfield at the beginning of the year and keep Harper at AAA. Marte I agree should spend more time in the minors in a perfect case scenario, but he is still a better option in the outfield than McClouth or anyone else the Pirates have on the major league club. Remember when the Nats brought Harper up he was hitting at a .250 clip at AAA, it seems that for a Pirate prospect to be ready at AAA, he has to hit homeruns and get a lot of walks and play superb defense, unfortunately not many meet all those criteria before they are brought up, in fact most of them don’t meet that criteria before they are brought up.

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