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Wednesday, December 7, 2022

First Pitch: Indianapolis Providing Depth For the Pirates

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

**Minor League Schedule: Nick Kingham Looks to Get Back on Track

**Prospect Watch: Wyatt Mathisen Homers Again, Waldron Making Most of Opportunity

**Draft Prospect Watch: Casey Gillaspie Hits Two Homers, Sean Newcomb Throws Two-Hitter

**Stolmy Pimentel to DL, Cumpton Sent Down, Hughes and Mazzaro Return

**Reese McGuire Returns to West Virginia Roster

**Pirates Trade Benji Gonzalez to San Diego Padres

**Another Big Hit From Alen Hanson, Lambo’s Latest Homer

**Andy Oliver Dominating, But Still Has Questions With Control

+ posts

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.


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Frank Micko

There’s no reason to not give Lambo starts at first. Ike is a cheaper clone of the 2013 Garrett Jones.

Monsoon Harvard

Yes, Martin needs to be retained. He cannot be replaced. I like Tony Sanchez, but he is not Russell Martin. He is more like a modern day Mackey Sasser – good hit, no arm.
I doubt that Nutting will put up the money though to retain Martin after letting Marlon Byrd & A.J. Burnett get away so easily.


IMO, right field is a big problem for the parent club, but I believe it more of a problem defensively than offensively, they just don’t have a pure right fielder on the 25 man roster. Polanco would fix this problem, I don’t believe Lambo would. Defense has been and still is the Pirates main problem this year, pitching will show up bad with bad defense, they can’t keep giving 4 and 5 outs away, when the Pirates lose, they lose cheap. Too me the Pirates spend so much time on shifts as the cure for a bad defense and not much time on execution of routine plays.


There is something called fielding independent pitching, by FIP and xFIP Pirates pitchers 15th in the NL. Everyone wants to complain about the offense or fielding, it starts with pitching, the Pirates are last in the NL strikeouts/9 and give up way to many homeruns for playing in a home run suppressing park.


All indications are that Polanco should fix the RF issue . I would be shocked if they call him up before Mid to late June to get passed the super 2 status issue .


I absolutely agree that a Martin signing should take preference . I don’t agree that Sanchez is capable of being a number one catcher . His achilles heel is his throwing and until he gets that right he is not ready to be number one . Hoping that Lambo gets called up , still think he has a lot to offer to the club .


I would say that apparently Alvarez should not be a N0.1 third baseman
either, he can’t throw either! Alvarez’s achilles heel is also his
throwing. Sanchez throws are mental and mechanical, not physical, a
simple throw to 1st base can be corrected and in no way is a problem
that causes a team to give up on a catcher, he is too good at too many
other things. They have coaches, I would say that it is their job to fix this problem. In case anyone was noticing, it took a miracle to keep some of the wild pitches Sanchez was handing from going to the backstop. Maybe they should start to consider McGuire with that 80 arm he has.


First let me say that I am a Tony Sanchez fan , he has more personality than most and I continue to root for him . The issue is not the throw to first it is his throwing period . When compared to Martin , well you can’t compare him to Martin . You have to remember Sanchez is into his sixth year in pro ball . I think the most under rated player on the team is Martin and totally agree with B. Thomas that we should pull out the stops and resign him or find someone comparable if there is one out there . I don’t know Leadoff maybe it is time to think about another position for him , maybe first ? As far as McGuire I saw a lot of him in the Spring and believe he is the real deal but still remains several years away from the Majors . He does have one heck of an arm by the way ! Do I hope I am wrong about Sanchez , you bet I do !!

B Thomas

My opinion, Russell Martin should be offered an extension for at least 2 more years. There is nothing wrong with having two starting capable big league catchers on your roster. Having Martin/Sanchez would make the Pirates have one of the strongest tandems behind the dish in the MLB.

R Edwards

Agreed….Plus Martin can also play and spot start at 3B and the OF in order to help get both catchers their at at bats…you cannot have a guy like Stewart as your backup catcher, unless you have a very strong hitting lineup elsewhere – and we do not have that now.

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