Dominance in the middle of the order
Though Gregory Polanco has stolen most of the thunder this season in Indianapolis, Andrew Lambo has been almost equally as impressive.
Polanco had a 10-game hit streak earlier in the season and has been the talk of the town with visits from ESPN, Sports Illustrated and Yahoo. This attention fails in comparison to the excitement and the buzz that Polanco’s future promotion to Pittsburgh has caused with fans and the media. Plus Polanco’s numbers do not lie. He is hitting .398 with 13 extra base hits in 25 games.
However, lost in this mix may be Lambo, who is equally as impressive. Lambo is hitting .354 with 11 doubles. He is also making a case to earn a call up prior to Polanco. One of the aspects that seemed to have been missing from Lambo’s arsenal was the long ball. However, Lambo has knocked in a pair of home runs this week — his first since September.
Pitchers to Pittsburgh
With injuries and inconsistency, combined with strong starts by Brandon Cumpton and Casey Sadler, each has found their way to Pittsburgh. It appears that with a shortened outing on Thursday that Jeff Locke could soon make it a trio from Indianapolis with the Pirates.
Prior to their call ups, Sadler had an ERA of 1.67, while Cumpton boasted of an even more impressive 1.42 ERA. While Cumpton appears in the big leagues to stay, Sadler was called up just to provide bullpen help and Locke could possibly be called up for a spot start, due to rain outs in Baltimore pushing everyone back.
Though Locke’s ERA is over five, he has struck out 17 hitters in 19 innings. In addition, his run totals may be boosted by a couple tough innings. In his first start, he gave up five earned runs with four on a grand slam. In his second start, he gave up back-to-back home runs.
Bullpen help on the way?
A major league team can never have too much bullpen depth within the organization. This is a luxury that the Pirates have.
Jared Hughes has bounced back and forth from Pittsburgh to Indianapolis. He even picked up a win with the Pirates and a save with the Indians three days later.
The run totals of Andy Oliver, Josh Kinney, Vin Mazzaro, are also impressive. Mazzaro has struck out eight in 10.2 scoreless innings of work since being outrighted to Indianapolis after the start of the season. Outside of one tough outing, Oliver has allowed just one earned run in 14 innings of work. Over the season, he has struck out 22 hitters. Despite a tough outing on Saturday night, Kinney had allowed just one earned run in 10 innings in 2014.
With their performances, Hughes and Mazzaro were both rewarded by being recalled by Pittsburgh on May 3.
Catcher of the future?
Along with Hughes, Tony Sanchez has also been living out of suitcase in the early season. While he is getting an audition for a possible starting role in Pittsburgh with the injury to Russell Martin, Sanchez figures to spend much of the season in Indianapolis to keep fresh and play everyday.
In his brief time in Triple-A this season, Sanchez did not disappoint. In just five games, Sanchez hit .250 with a home run and a double. Sanchez figures to be back to Indianapolis when Martin is activated from the DL in Pittsburgh.
All in all, with all of the prospects and media attention coming through, this may arguably the most exciting season in the history of the Indianapolis Indians. And this is after just one month of the 2014 campaign.
Links and Notes
Ryan has been following Indianapolis baseball for most of his life, and the Pirates since they became the affiliate in 2005. He began writing for Pirates Prospects in 2013, in a stint that ran through 2016 (with no service time manipulation played in). Ryan rejoined the team in 2022, covering Indianapolis once again. He has covered the Pirates in four different big league stadiums. Ryan was also fortunate enough to cover the 2015 Futures Game in Cincinnati.