You know what everyone needs to take their mind off the debacle in Pittsburgh? A minor league update. Like last week, the team names are links to the stat pages, with comments underneath.
Indianapolis played their own crazy game last night against Louisville. The teams traded runs in the thirteenth and fourteenth, then Jose Tabata hit a long home run in the 15th and catcher Eric Kratz picked up the save. Tabata has two homers in the last week and is now hitting .319/.380/.431. Steve Pearce is still crushing the ball and seems likely to get a call up now that John Raynor has been DFA'd to make room for Jeff Karstens to start tonight. Pedro Alvarez is struggling a bit, hitting .250/.329/.456 with 20 strikeouts in 75 PAs, but it took him a couple months to warm up to Lynchburg last year and so there's no need for concern yet. Neil Walker is still stroking the ball, his strikeout total is creeping up (10 strikeouts and just 2 walks in his past ten games after a 1:6 ratio in his first seven). He's still hitting .309/.382/.500, though.
On the pitching side, Brad Lincoln is putting things together nicely and may be the first guy in line for a promotion out of the club's three best prospects. On Sunday, he held Louisville to five hits and one run in seven innings, striking out five and walking none. Donnie Veal and Kevin Hart are both having some success, though both are still struggling a bit with control. In the case of Hart, if the front office really thought he was throwing well, you'd have to assume he'd be back in Pittsburgh by now given everything that's going on with the Pirates.
Jordy Mercer is off to a great start here, hitting .298/.385/.474 with five doubles, a homer, and a triple. Jim Negrych (2006 draftee, repeating the level), and Matt Hague (2007 draftee, just moving a bit slower than Mercer and D'Arnaud) are also both killing the ball in the early going.
On the pitching side of things, Tim Alderson's performance is really starting to be concerning. In three starts he's gone just 14 2/3 innings and has 5 walks and 5 strikeouts, while giving up 17 hits to go with his 5.52 ERA. In conjunction with reports of severely diminished velocity, there's a lot of reason for worry there. Rudy Owens made an excellent start his last time out, going six innings, striking out five, and walking one while allowing one run on five hits. Michael Crotta continues to pitch excellently and Daniel Moskos is still pitching well out of the bullpen. Justin Wilson, who's placement in Altoona seems a bit aggressive (but is in line with his aggressive placement at Lynchburg, which took him half a season to adjust to last year), has made two ugly starts after
Ah, the great shining hope of Pirate fans. The following players are all age-appropriate and killing the ball in Bradenton: Brock Holt, Starling Marte, Tony Sanchez, and Jeremy Farrell. Quincy Latimore and Robbie Grossman are also both hitting well. To the specifics: Marte is hitting .345/.448/.473 with five doubles, a triple, and six stolen bases in six attempts. Sanchez is hitting .333/.470/.588 with two homers and seven doubles, though he's been DHing because of a sore shoulder. I know it's early, but I've got to imagine those two will be on a pretty fast track to Altoona. Farrell and Quincy Latimore are both slugging over .500, while Grossman is showing much improved plate patience over his rookie year at West Virginia and is just 20.
There's some good news in the pitching staff, as well. Bryan Morris and Jeff Locke are both repeating the level after disappointing 2009 seasons, and they're both off to great starts. Morris has 19 strikeouts and just three walks over 20 2/3 innings to go with his 1.31 ERA while Locke has a 20:5 ratio over 18 2/3. Morris is 23 and Locke is 22, so it'd be nice to see both move up pretty quickly to help their prospect status a bit. That will likely happen when the 2009 high school pitchers start to filter in to West Virginia around June. Nathan Adcock is also off to a great start, averaging a strikeout an inning in his first three starts. And Diego Moreno has been just filthy in the bullpen, striking out 18 hitters and allowing just four hits and one run, on a solo homer.
I know it's early and a lot of these numbers will level off, but this team makes me practically giddy right now.
Jarek Cunningham's kept his hot start going with a .334 average, four doubles, and a homer. Last year's 11th rounder, Aaron Baker of Oklahoma, is heating up with six hits, including two doubles and a homer, in his last four games. Kyle Morgan, a late 2008 pick, is also killing the ball. Hunter Strickland, who's repeating the level after spending most of last year in the Red Sox system is struggling a bit, but Nathan Baker and Phillip Irwin have pretty good peripheral stats, though neither is really an outstanding pitching prospect.