Earlier today, the Pirates announced that Brad Lincoln would be moving from Altoona to Indianapolis. Given Lincoln's dominance of the Eastern League this year, this was unsurprising news. Much more surprising, however, is the news (via John Perrotto) that Pedro Alvarez is being promoted from Lynchburg to Double-A Altoona.
Alvarez, who was given the day off today, was off to a good but unimpressive start with the Hillcats, hitting .247/.342/.486 with 14 homers and 70 strikeouts in 284 plate appearances with Lynchburg. The power numbers are great, but the strikeouts are pretty troubling, especially for a guy who's biggest rap as a college hitter was his tendency to swing and miss a little bit too much. There has been some thinking, though, that the high strikeout rate is a product of lower quality pitchers focusing solely on Alvarez and feeding him a heavy diet of breaking pitches. In certain cases, some prospects get sick of walking and start swinging at everything, creating a line like the one Alvarez has put up so far in Single-A.
I haven't seen Alvarez play (and actually, I don't know many people that have), so I'm a little slow to give him the benefit of the doubt on something like that. If you look at his splits, his numbers have improved in May and June, but his strikeouts really haven't. That's not to say that I'm convinced that's not the case either, I just don't know enough about the situation to make a judgment either way.
It's certainly possible he'll go to Altoona and start destroying the ball and I'm more than rooting for that, but as his K's and inconsistent performances kept piling up with Lynchburg, I've started to mentally adjust my expectations for him downwards towards a Carlos Pena-type three true outcomes big league career.
The question I currently have deals with the reasoning behind the promotion. Was it done because Kyle Stark, Huntington, and whoever else figures in on this decision think that the Single-A pitching was affecting Alvarez's development and not aiding his growth? Or was it done because they hope that's the case and they don't know what else to do with him?