Organizational depth is a great thing for preparation for injuries at the Major League level. However, it is not always the best thing for getting prospects needed reps to allow them to grow and develop.
Indianapolis has a few of these situations.
First, is the recently publicized log jam at the catcher position with up-and-coming Elias Diaz and the recently optioned odd man out Tony Sanchez. When Sanchez joined the Triple-A squad, it was announced by management that it was going to be an every two-day rotation behind the plate, with the odd man out serving as the DH many of those nights.
With the schedule conducive to this plan – with many AL affiliates coming up – does it really benefit either player in their growth?
One of the strengths for Diaz is his ability as a polished defensive catcher with a strong arm and blocking ability. However, with this rotation, he loses valuable experience in calling games and getting to know the tendencies of the prospect starting pitchers.
For Sanchez, much was made about his improved throwing ability in Spring Training. He has not shown as much of this with Indianapolis yet, but it is difficult to keep a rhythm going in that regard when he is the DH three to four times per week.
The two on and two off system was designed to keep the players in a rhythm, but I just think that it has flaws when trying to get both players much-needed reps.
There is also a log jam in the outfield with four players. Early in the campaign, Gorkys Hernandez has established himself as the every day center fielder. However, this leaves Mel Rojas, Jr., Jaff Decker, and Jose Tabata competing for playing time at the other two positions.
While there is depth within the organization in the outfield, each player is looking to crack the next level. Decker is looking to build on a strong Spring Training that ended with a calf injury. Rojas is looking to continue a strong 2014 season both offensively and defensively. Tabata is looking to get back to the level that allowed him to sign that large extension just a couple of years ago.
Playing in a platoon will make is difficult of any of this trio to do that. In addition, there are another wave of outfield prospects coming from Altoona as well with Willy Garcia, Keon Broxton, and Stetson Allie. So not only are these three trying to improve, they are also looking to avoid being passed up by other younger players.
Finally, with Pedro Florimon clearing waivers, there is now a similar platoon at shortstop with Gustavo Nunez. While neither player looks like they will have a huge impact with the Pirates, both are smooth defenders and could be a short-term band-aid with an injury.
With the positional battles in Indianapolis, there are several players just working to get on the field. With this, consistency becomes an issues while not getting the reps that are needed to keep that rhythm. Typically, these issues play themselves out, but until they do, there is a logjam at several positions at Indianapolis.
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.