Posts Tagged ‘Pittsburgh Pirates’

In Pedro They Trust

Pirates fans have plenty of reason to look at their franchise and feel a sense of doom.  It’s bound to happen when the team hasn’t had a winning season in seventeen years and call for its contraction on an almost monthly basis.

There is, however, some good stuff mixed in with the crap.  Andrew McCutchen is going to be a perennial All-Star (assuming they don’t trade him).  First round draft pick Tony Sanchez saw action with the team’s short-season, High-A and Low-A affiliates, finishing with a combined .949 OPS; I’ll bet he’s in the majors by the end of next season (assuming they don’t trade him).  Neil Walker might finally be ready to make good on his prospect status (assuming they don–you get the point).

Oh, and Pedro Alvarez is announcing his presence with authority.

Alvarez hit .288 with 27 homeruns and 95 RBI in the Carolina and Eastern Leagues this season, earning a spot on the United States World Cup team.  On Thursday, he showed why Pirates fans have reason to be optimistic:

Alvarez hit three of Team USA’s six home runs, as the Americans won their sixth straight game, beating Taiwan 14-3 in Torino, Italy. Team USA put up seven runs in the first inning, with Alvarez blasting a three-run homer as part of the rally.

Three at-bats, three homeruns, six RBI – all to different fields, all in the first four innings (he grounded out to first in his last at-bat).  That’s quite a day.

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Bus Leagues Road Trip: PNC Park, Part Deux

Just over two months after my first visit to western Pennsylvania with my brother Tim and two friends, I went back to the Keystone State, this time with my wife. Our anniversary was Friday, we both had a three-day weekend for Labor Day, and the free Pirates tickets I won in June were burning a hole in my pocket, so we each took a couple extra days off and planned a trip. She originally wanted to go to Amish country and see the sights, but I vetoed that plan as too expensive. So she opted for Plan B: two nights in Philadelphia, followed by a trip to Pittsburgh to see the Pirates.

Now, we try to keep it loose around here when it comes to the topics we cover. Generally, if something is even tangentially related to minor league baseball, it has a shot. But I’m pretty sure that there is no possible way to connect our time in the City of Brotherly Love, which was mostly spent touring historic sites, to the Bus Leagues. So I’m not going to bore you with those stories.

Okay, I’m not going to bore you much.

In fact, I’ll just do bullet points on some of the interesting stuff so we can get through this quickly and get to the Pirates stuff. I know that’s what you care about.

— We played it by ear in terms of a departure time and didn’t get on the road until about noon on Friday. Little did we realize at the time that our route, as planned by VZ Navigator, took us through the Bronx. We hit New York at about 4:30, just in time for bumper-to-bumper, Friday afternoon, rush hour traffic. Never again, I tell you. Never again.

— To get to our hotel in Philadelphia, we had to drive down a cobblestone road. My wife thought this was the coolest thing ever; all I could think of was the fact that parts were probably falling off the car from all the shaking.

Pennsylvania Pictures 048

— I come from a small town of about 5,000 people and have never lived in a city with a population of more than 90,000. Let’s just say that Philadelphia (population 1.4 million, plus tourists) was just a bit overwhelming, even for a short stay.  Big city living is definitely not for me.

— We ate dinner at the Hard Rock Café on Saturday night and were served by a waiter who resembled, in spirit if not in looks, Vince from “Employee of the Month.” It’s like he watched the movie and decided, “You know, that dude has it together. I’m gonna act like that from now on.” I bet he drives an ’81 Honda.

Pennsylvania Pictures 111

— If you go to Philly for the historic attractions, make sure to visit the National Constitution Center first, then move on to the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. We did it the other way around, and while Independence Hall was amazing, the NCC was the place that really got me fired up with some good old-fashioned, “Proud to be an American” feelings. It would’ve been awesome to bring that patriotism into Independence Hall with me, rather than going in right off the street.

— I loved the interactive nature of the displays in the NCC, but two things rubbed me the wrong way: one, some of the information needed to be proofread: New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s first name was misspelled in one area, and another exhibit featured an apocryphal story about Muhammad Ali throwing his Olympic medal in the river after being denied service at a restaurant (pretty sure that story was made up at the time and has since been proven false); and two, no pictures allowed, which was too bad because there was an absolutely outstanding exhibit featuring statues of Declaration of Independence signers. (I did make my wife turn on the camera to snap the picture you see above; it was just too cool.)

— Didn’t get to see the Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, the Second Bank of the United States (a pity, since it was right across the street from our hotel), or Citizens Bank Park. Maybe next time. I did, however, get pictures of the Rocky statue and the steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Pennsylvania Pictures 120

And that, friends, was Philadelphia.

Pennsylvania Pictures 174We left the Omni Hotel early on Sunday morning and proceeded west on I-76. The nice thing was that we were on 76 for 270 miles, which was good because I hate having to worry about changing roadways and which lane am I supposed to be in and that type of stuff. On the other hand, it sucked because we were on 76 for 270 miles. That’s almost five hours. And there were tunnels.

Pennsylvania Pictures 165(They have signs leading up to the tunnels to prepare travelers for entry. One of them said, “Remove Sunglasses,” which made sense to me because you don’t want drivers wearing shades inside a dark tunnel. My wife didn’t see it that way, instead taking it as a sign that the state of Pennsylvania was trying to impede here personal freedoms, which led to her yelling loudly at one point, “Stop telling me what to do, Pennsylvania!”)

We got to Pittsburgh at about noon, parked at our hotel right across the street from PNC Park, and walked over to take a look around before the 1:30 game. From reading up online, I realized that there were a bunch of things we had missed in June and I wanted to make sure I saw them on this trip. The highest priorities were the statues of Willie Stargell and Honus Wagner. We’d seen Roberto Clemente’s outside the centerfield gates, but had never crossed paths with Pops and Hans. Also, there was supposedly a statue of Ralph Kiner inside, just outside Section 135. This would have been really cool to see, if we could have found Section 135. Alas, Kiner was not meant to be.

What we did see as we came through the gate on the third base side was even Pennsylvania Pictures 208cooler.  We had been unable to find Stargell and Wagner right away, which was sort of disappointing.  Immediately inside the gate, however, was a statue of Josh Gibson.  Further investigation revealed more Negro League greats – Oscar Charleston, Judy Johnson, Satchel Paige.  It was unexpected because nothing I had read had mentioned this area, but I wasn’t complaining.  Just one more thing that the people who designed PNC Park did right.

On our way up to our seats, we saw the famous prize wheel that was really the reason we were there in the first place.  My wife wanted to take her chances at winning a visor, so of course we waited in line to spin it again.  She didn’t get what she wanted – it landed on a Willie Stargell plate (with a sticker on it that says it may be poisonous to food).  For my turn, I gave it a whirl…and ended up on the square for free tickets.  There’s no way I’m traveling from Pittsburgh to New Hampshire three times in less than three months, so…somebody else will get to enjoy a Pirates game this month.  Two’s my limit.

Our seats for this game were in the infield grandstand, on the 300-level, which provided an even better view than I could have imagined:

Pennsylvania Pictures 189

If someone wants me to believe that this is not the most beautiful ballpark in America, they’re going to have to convince me.  Outstanding.

Also outstanding was the way St. Louis centerfielder Colby Rasmus covered all that ground out there.  I know ballpark crowds aren’t the best judge of fly ball depth, but there were at least three or four times where a batter hit one deep, a roar went up from the crowd, and Rasmus just cruised back and handled the play effortlessly.  He also came very close to throwing a runner out at the plate, playing a line drive in front of him and uncorking a great throw that was just a second or two late.

Rasmus’s counterpart and fellow top prospect-turned-rookie Andrew McCutchen had a good day as well, finishing 2-5 with two runs scored and coming about as close as Rasmus to gunning someone down at home.  He was also one of the players featured in a video Q&A on the scoreboard in between innings.  The question was, “What would you do if you were president?”  A few different players gave the usual answers – “lower taxes” is the one I remember – but McCutchen got on the screen and started laughing.  “Oh, man,” he said,” Can I just sit back in the Oval Office, put my hands back, be like, man, president.”

I think Andrew McCutchen might be awesome.

Oh, and one of those runs?  The game-winner, scored when he came around from second on Garrett Jones’ drive into the left-center field gap with one out in the bottom of the ninth, a ball that Rasmus wasn’t able to outrun.  McCutchen crossed the plate with the Pirates’ second run of the inning, erasing a lead the Cardinals had gained on a Rick Ankiel homer in the top half, and immediately impressed me again when he led the charge to meet and celebrate Jones near second base.

I think Andrew McCutchen might be one of my favorite players.

The Pirates had lost eight straight leading up to that game and were merely postponing the loss that would give them a record seventeenth consecutive losing season, but for that moment, they might as well have been Little Leaguers celebrating after a big, well-earned win.  It was nice to see them display such heart in a game that meant relatively nothing in the grand scheme of things.

A few other notes from the game: Pirates broadcaster Steve Blass started throwing hats from the booth into the stands late in the game – a lady in the row behind me dove for one, missed, and I had to catch her; Neil Walker picked up his first major league hit in the eighth inning; my wife got a sunburn – on one side of her body; I’ve seen the Pirates play twice this year, and Paul Maholm has started both games.

On our way out, I took a few more pictures of the Negro League statues (it had been too sunny earlier to get good ones) before we went out the left field gate to see the Willie Stargell statue.  It was just as impressive as Clemente (which we saw from a distance but didn’t visit up close):

Pennsylvania Pictures 210

I tried to get a picture of just the statue, but it was a madhouse.  Even while these kids were posing, a father was getting ready to jump in and take a picture with his daughter.  So, I get a picture of Pops with a couple of random kids.

After I took my pictures, we walked the hundred yards back to our hotel to relax for awhile before going out for dinner and finding the Wagner statue.  We decided to go to Jerome Bettis Grille 36, mainly because it was within easy walking distance.

We had to wait for about fifteen minutes for a table, but it was well worth it.  The waiter was friendly, the food delicious, and the atmosphere good.  As my wife said, “I like that it’s Jerome Bettis’ place, but it’s not like, ‘Look at me, look at me.’  It’s not showy.”  And it was inexpensive, too, which was a big deal because cash was running low by that point.  The only thing I noticed that might be worth criticizing was the service – a table of six people next to us had their food brought out over a period of about ten minutes, so some people were eating while others sat and watched.  Our waiter said that when it gets really busy, the kitchen can have a hard time keeping up.  Really, though, the food was so good that it didn’t matter.  I would’ve waited.

On our way back to the hotel, we asked a guy at a valet booth about the remains of Three Rivers Stadium.  He pointed back in the direction from which we had come, where Heinz Field loomed, and said, “Well, there’s that parking lot over there, and they left up one of the gates.”  He went on to tell us a little bit about the demolition – Heinz Field was built so close that they had to take special precautions when Three Rivers came down – and answered a question I had about Forbes Field (home plate is still located in one of the buildings on Pitt’s campus), and we were on our way again.

And then, finally, Honus Wagner.  He was literally parked right in front of the main entrance to the ballpark, smaller than the other two but higher because he is on a pedestal.  The picture came out a little darker than I would’ve liked, but tell me this doesn’t look cool:

Pennsylvania Pictures 215

With that, the sightseeing portion of our trip essentially came to a close.  We went back to the hotel, passed out by 9:30, and slept for about nine hours in preparation for the ten hour drive home on Monday.  It was a long drive, fortunately light on traffic (we specifically avoided New York City and its traffic), and absolutely nothing of note happened.

The end.

Average Distance From Majors To Affiliates: National League Central

(A blog was nice enough to link to this post last week – I can’t seem to find the name – and one of the commenters noted that I had left out the Cardinals affiliate in the Gulf Coast League, which changes the team’s overall average but not it’s placement on the list. The new numbers are included below.)

Pittsburgh Pirates (average: 374 miles)
Pittsburgh to…
…Indianapolis Indians (AAA): 360 miles
…Altoona Curve (AA): 98 miles
…Lynchburg Hillcats (A): 353 miles
…West Virginia Power (A): 228 miles
…State College Spikes (A): 139 miles
…GCL Pirates (Rookie): 1,065 miles

St. Louis Cardinals (average: 630 miles)
St. Louis to…
…Memphis Cardinals (AAA): 284 miles
…Springfield Cardinals (AA): 217 miles
…Palm Beach County Cardinals (A): 1,136 miles
…Quad Cities River Bandits (A): 268 miles
…Batavia Muckdogs (A): 779 miles
…Johnson City Cardinals (Rookie): 593 miles
…GCL Cardinals (Rookie): 1,136 miles

Cincinnati Reds (average: 695 miles)
Cincinnati to…
…Louisville Bats (AAA): 106 miles
…Carolina Mudcats (AA): 538 miles
…Sarasota Reds (A): 977 miles
…Dayton Dragons (A): 49 miles
…Billings Mustangs (Rookie): 1,522 miles
…GCL Reds (Rookie): 977 miles

Chicago Cubs (average: 943 miles)
Chicago to…
…Iowa Cubs (AAA): 333 miles
…Tennessee Smokies (AA): 560 miles
…Daytona Cubs (A): 1,156 miles
…Peoria Chiefs (A): 166 miles
…Boise Hawks (A): 1,695 miles
…Mesa Cubs (Rookie): 1,749 miles

Houston Astros (average: 953 miles)
Houston to…
…Round Rock Express (AAA): 167 miles
…Corpus Christi Hooks (AA): 222 miles
…Lancaster JetHawks (A): 1,571 miles
…Lexington Legends (A): 996 miles
…Tri-City Valley Cats (A): 1,764 miles
…Greeneville Astros (Rookie): 997 miles

Milwaukee Brewers (average: 970 miles)
Milwaukee to…
…Nashville Sounds (AAA): 562 miles
…Huntsville Stars (AA): 671 miles
…Brevard County Manatees (A): 1,300 miles
…Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (A): 107 miles
…Arizona Brewers (Rookie): 1,780 miles
…Helena Brewers (Rookie): 1,398 miles

The Great Baseball Road Trip of 2009: Day Three – June 27 – Baltimore to Pittsburgh to Harrisburg

The Pittsburgh Pirates are a joke as a baseball team and an organization (and that hurts to say, seeing as Amherst, New Hampshire’s own Neal Huntington is the general manager), but this must be said: I could see a game in every ballpark, major and minor, in the world and I’m not sure I would ever find another one as beautiful as Pittsburgh’s PNC Park. From the exterior view (where you’re driving down the street, come to a traffic light at the foot of the Roberto Clemente Bridge, and BOOM, ballpark at ten o’clock) to the interior view (with multiple gold-colored bridges rising up in the background), it’s just a fantastic place to enjoy visually.

pittsburgh bridges

My biggest regret about our road trip is that we didn’t get into Pittsburgh early enough to see any of the sights around the city. I would have liked to see where Three Rivers Stadium used to be, or visit Carnegie Mellon University (where the home plate from Forbes Field still resides). It was a hit-and-run visit, however; we left Baltimore around eleven, got to Pittsburgh just in time to check out the ballpark and see the game, and burned rubber for our hotel outside Harrisburg right after the game.

roberto clemente statueWe parked near the ballpark and walked over, crossing the Roberto Clemente Bridge, which was closed to automobile traffic. There’s something strange about walking down the middle of the street in broad daylight. I kept waiting for a car horn to sound behind me and obscenities to be sent in my direction. When we made it to the other side, we were greeted by an awesome sight: a huge statue of Roberto Clemente as he was completing his swing and preparing to run to first. Milestones from his life and career were engraved into the base; a miniature baseball diamond was set up around his feet, with each “base” housing a sample of earth from someplace close to Clemente: his birthplace of Carolina, Puerto Rico and his two major league homes with the Pirates, Forbes Field and Three Rivers Stadium.

Before entering the ballpark, we separated for the first time on the colon warming uptrip. Billy, an avid outdoorsman, wanted to kayak down the mighty Alleghany River, so he broke off for an hour or so and went off on his own little adventure (he went as far as Heinz Field) while we went inside to watch batting practice. The first thing I noticed was that when you walk inside, the bullpens are RIGHT THERE. I hope Roman Colon likes an audience while he’s getting his work in, because he certainly had a sizeable one. We then ventured into the left-center field bleachers, which was being peppered with batting practice homeruns. Chris looked like he could’ve stayed there all day, but unfortunately we were in direct sunlight and I could feel myself baking, so I suggested we walk around and check out the rest of the place.

Some team employees were running a game under the bleachers where you spun a wheel and won some sort of prize. Chris and I signed up. He went first and won a hat that we had to walk clear across to the other side of the ballpark to retrieve. I followed and won a coupon for two free tickets to a Sunday-Thursday game of my choosing. My first thought was to give it away as a prize to one of our loyal Bus Leagues readers, but it will probably turn into a nice Labor Day road trip for my wife and I. Don’t worry, I gots other stuff for you people. We’ll get to that some other time.

After we walked to the other side of the ballpark for Chris’s hat, Billy caught up with us and we just soaked in the beauty of the place for a few minutes. Someone suggested moving closer to the field to take some pictures – batting practice was still going on – so we walked the main concourse until we were parallel to the dugouts and made our move.

Billy went down the steps first. For some reason, Chris and Tim were lagging behind. As I approached the steps, an usher popped out of nowhere and gruffly asked, “Something I can help you with?”

My first thought was, “Oh, no, not again.” What I actually said was, “No, we’re just looking to head down closer to the field and take some pictures before the game.”

PNC viewWithout another word, the usher gave an “Alright then son, go get ‘em” smack on the arm and walked away. I started laughing and continued down the steps. Billy had seen the usher and I talking and waited for me – he joined my laughter and we came to a sort of wordless agreement that the staff here blew the other two places out of the water. When we got to the bottom, I asked another usher about the seating capacity. He told me it was 38,000+ and they were close to a sellout tonight, with the fireworks and all (fireworks! Nobody said anything about fireworks!). If there was one area of this trip where we got just plain unlucky (besides, you know, the whole tire blowout on Day One), it was that we somehow chose games that featured two of the biggest crowds Camden Yards and PNC Park will see this season.

Our seats, then, ended up being in the general admission area in the left field bleachers. Decent seats with reasonable potential for homerun balls, but since they were general admission we lost the opportunity to get up and move around, for fear of losing the seats we had. Still, a small price to pay for a decent view of a surprisingly decent game. It was also a throwback night, with the Pirates dressed in Homestead Grays uniforms and the visiting Royals in Kansas City Monarchs gear. It was fitting, as my comment to Chris before the game was, “You know, this would be an outstanding matchup…if the year was 1979.”

homestead grays unis

(You may have noticed that with the exception of the first game, we somehow chose to see four of the worst teams in major league baseball. I have no idea how this happened.)

The saving grace of this game was supposed to be Zack Greinke. I had read that the Royals were sending Kyle Davies down and going with a four-man rotation, which meant Greinke’s turn would come on our Saturday. On Friday, though, Billy checked and saw that the Royals starter was still TBA. Coupled with rumors I had read that Bruce Chen would be getting a call-up, that seemed like bad news. “I’ll bet they’re waiting until after the game to make a roster move,” I said at the time. I’m not right often. I was right that time. We got Bruce Chen.

In the first inning, Nyjer Morgan reached base. Chen threw over once with a pickoff move that didn’t seem all that impressive. Next thing we knew, he was throwing over again…and Morgan was racing toward second. He was out by a mile. Later in the game, the same thing happened – Morgan reached base, Chen threw over, Morgan was already off to the races and out by a mile. For whatever reason, as Chris said, he just wasn’t picking up the move.

In the fourth, Chris made a bold prediction: we still hadn’t seen a homerun in almost two and a half games – Delwyn “Don’t Call Me Delmon” Young (also known as Delwyn “I’ve Never Thrown A Bat At An Umpire” Young) was going deep. At this point, Delwyn Young had four career homeruns…so of course you know that no sooner were the words out of Chris’s mouth than Young jacked the fifth homer of his career to dead center. It was just that kind of weekend.

group pic with clemente

Yadda yadda yadda, the game ended, the fireworks show was awesome, we got a group shot in front of the Clemente statue, Chris took the wheel and got us out of Pittsburgh. Our plan was to drive to Harrisburg, crash for a few hours, and head up to Cooperstown in the morning. This time, I kept Chris awake with inane conversation and approximately 352 renditions of “Once, twice, three times – ahh, ahh, ahh, oh, the humanity!” And it was a good thing, too, because there is nothing to see on the highways that cut through western and central Pennsylvania. Nothing. There were a lot of tunnels, however, which served no better purpose than to completely mess up Chris’s mind.

(For the sake of comparison, here are the videos my brother took of the fireworks in Baltimore and the fireworks in Pittsburgh. I think the latter show was better, but that’s just my opinion.)

Things started to go wrong as we approached Harrisburg, or whatever suburb of Harrisburg our hotel was in. The exit that we were supposed to take wasn’t there, so Chris got off the highway and found a convenience store where I could ask for directions. The young lady who helped us out was quite drunk and wearing a dress that left little to the imagination, but she was very pleasant and her directions for the street we were looking for were perfect. Unfortunately, we didn’t exactly follow them and had to call the hotel for help. When we got to the hotel, we were informed that there was an error in the system: since we were arriving after midnight, the system had marked us as a no-show and released our room. We still HAD a room, but the night desk clerk was new and couldn’t figure out how to get us checked in without double charging.

Chris was ready to sleep in the car by the time everything got squared away. We headed up to the room that the clerk had put us in for the few hours we would be there, opened the door, and immediately noticed that it had not been cleaned. There was trash lying around, the bed was unmade, the lights were on. It looked like somebody was still staying there. I went back to the office, got another key (for the room next door), opened it up, inspected it, and reported back with what I deemed to be the most pertinent information: “Well, there’s no dead hookers in the bathtub.” Billy and Tim grabbed the beds, Chris and I found space on the floor, and we proceeded to sleep for approximately 150 minutes before hitting the road for beautiful Cooperstown, New York.

So ended Day Three.

Rinku And Dinesh Are Officially Bus Leaguers

The moment Andrew told you about on Wednesday has arrived, ladies and gents: Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel are officially professional baseball players.

Technically, I guess they’ve been pros since they signed contracts with Pittsburgh, but now they can say that they have actually played in a game.

After their planned debuts were rained out for several days in a row, Rinku and Dinesh saw action for the first time on Saturday, pitching the seventh and eighth innings, respectively, for the GCL Pirates in a loss to the GCL Yankees.  Rinku allowed one run on two hits with one strikeout; Dinesh’s frame was spotless, requiring nine pitches, seven of them strikes.  Both featured a fastball that peaked around 83-84 miles per hour.

I have a feeling we’ll be keeping an eye on Rinku and Dinesh in the future, if only to see how far they end up going.  (Really, is there anyone out there who thinks the Pirates shouldn’t call them up when rosters expand in September, and pitch them once or twice down the stretch?  No harm in it, especially if Pittsburgh has nothing to play for.)

The Z-Meter: 6/5/2009

The Z-meter tracks the story arcs of 25 top prospects (or players we just like) on their way to the bigs. It is named after current Washington Nationals star Ryan Zimmerman, who made the transition from anchoring the University of Virginia to starring in MLB in one year.

Promoted:

Jordan Zimmermann: Syracuse Chiefs (AAA) to Washington Nationals (MLB)
Matt LaPorta: Columbus Clippers (AAA) to Cleveland Indians (MLB)
Daniel Bard: Pawtucket Red Sox (AAA) to Boston Red Sox (MLB)
Mat Gamel: Nashville Sounds (AAA) to Milwaukee Brewers (MLB)
Fernando Martinez: Buffalo Bisons (AAA) to New York Mets (MLB)
Matt Wieters: Norfolk Tides (AAA) to Baltimore Orioles (MLB)
Antonio Bastardo: Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (AAA) to Philadelphia Phillies (MLB)
Andrew McCutchen: Indianapolis Indians (AAA) to Pittsburgh Pirates (MLB)

Antonio Bastardo: Reading Phillies (AA) to Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (AAA)

Madison Bumgarner: San Jose Giants (A) to Connecticut Defenders (AA)
Yonder Alonso: Sarasota Reds (A) to Carolina Mudcats (AA)

I know a few people who live in Pittsburgh, and they are spitting, cussing mad that Nate McLouth – a rare All-Star for the Buccos – has been traded to Atlanta. From my somewhat vulturine Z-meter perch, however, I am pleased that this has happened, because it means that we finally get to see what Andrew McCutchen can do in PNC Park. Andy Mac is a pretty classic table-setter; he gets on base, is a threat to steal, and scores more than he drives in. His range in the outfield should be a serious boon to the Pirates as well. In fact, he already went 3/4 with a swipe and three runs in his debut.

To replace him, we’re going with a legacy pick. Kyle Drabek is the son of 1990 Cy Young winner (in Pittsburgh!) Doug Drabek. He appears to be following in dad’s windup, piling up enough strikeouts at Sarasota to earn a promotion to Reading just this week. This whole edition of the Z-meter has a very Pennsylvania feel to it, doesn’t it?

Wade Davis has had middling numbers so far this year, but the Rays might take a closer look at him after this week’s start. Davis threw 13 strikeouts in a game that ended up as a loss for the Durham Bulls. Still… thirteen! Poor old Carlos Carrasco finally got his first win in Lehigh, beating the McCutchen-less Indianapolis Indians on June 4th. Keep ya head up, Carlos!


The top level. These prospects are in AAA in the prime of their youth, waiting for the call that will change their lives.

Wade Davis, RHP – Durham Bulls (Rays): 11 Games – 5W – 3L – 3.51 ERA – 26 BB – 45 K

Kila Kaaihue, 1B – Omaha Royals – .278 – 36 R – 8 HR – 25 RBI – 49 BB – 0 SB – .521 SLG – .955 OPS

Alcides Escobar, SS – Nashville Sounds (Brewers): .296 – 41 R – 2 HR – 15 RBI – 13 BB – 22 SB – .399 SLG – .737 OPS

Carlos Carrasco, RHP – Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (Phillies): 11 Starts – 1 W – 6 L – 5.14 ERA – 17 BB – 63 K

Austin Jackson, OF – Scranton Wilkes-Barre (Yankees): .348 – 29 R – 1 HR – 26 RBI – 20 BB – 11 SB – .465 SLG – .885 OPS


These guys also have the potential to skip straight to the majors, but may get promoted to AAA first.

Lars Anderson, 1B – Portland SeaDogs (Red Sox): .243 AVG – 26 R – 6 HR – 30 RBI – 23 BB – 0 SB – .405 SLG – .734 OPS

Jhoulys Chacin, RHP – Tulsa Drillers (Rockies): 10 Starts – 3 W – 4 L – 3.38 ERA – 20 BB – 45 K

Carlos Santana, C – Akron Aeros (Indians): .284 AVG – 35 R – 9 HR – 37 RBI – 37 BB – 0 SB – .547 SLG – .964 OPS

Justin Smoak, 1B (injured) – Frisco RoughRiders (Rangers): .325 AVG – 28 R – 6 HR – 25 RBI – 32 BB – 0 SB – .503 SLG – .947 OPS
  
Andrew Locke, OF – Corpus Christi Hooks (Astros): .363 AVG – 35 R – 10 HR – 57 RBI – 16 BB – 0 SB – .585 SLG – .987 OPS 
 
Madison Bumgarner, LHP – Connecticut Defenders (Giants): 5 Games – 4 Starts – 4 W – 0 L – 1.86 ERA – 8 BB – 29 K
 
 
Jeanmar Gomez, RHP – Akron Aeros (Indians): 6 Starts – 4 W – 2 L – 2.77 ERA – 5 BB – 33 K
 
 
Yonder Alonso, 1B – Carolina Mudcats (Reds): .313 AVG – 3 R – 0 HR – 3 RBI – 3 BB – o SB – .500 SLG – .921 OPS
 
Kyle Drabek, RHP – Reading Phillies (Phillies): 1 Start – 1 W – 0 L – 0.00 ERA – 3 BB – 4 K
 
 

These guys have vast potential but need to work out some kinks in A-ball before they can advance.

Ian Gac, 1B – Bakersfield Blaze (Rangers): .231 AVG – 15 R – 7 HR – 20 RBI – 12 BB – 0 SB – .440 SLG – .729 OPS

Mike Moustakas, SS – Wilmington Blue Rocks (Royals): .263 AVG – 33 R – 7 HR – 35 RBI – 11 BB – 2 SB – .433 SLG – .734 OPS

Pedro Alvarez, 3B – Lynchburg Hillcats (Pirates): .240 AVG – 26 R – 9 HR – 41 RBI – 31 BB – 1 SB – .448 SLG – .792 OPS

Che-Hsuan Lin, OF – Salem Red Sox: .217 AVG – 24 R – 1 HR – 16 RBI – 21 BB – 7 SB – .289 SLG – .600 OPS

Josh Vitters, 3B – Peoria Chiefs (Cubs): .348 AVG – 33 R – 13 HR – 34 RBI – 5 BB – 2 SB – .610 SLG – .995 OPS

Shooter Hunt (injured), RHP – Beloit Snappers (Twins): 7 Games – 5 Starts – 0 W – 1 L – 10.70 ERA – 33 BB – 18 K

Collin Cowgill, OF – Visalia Rawhide (Diamondbacks): .273 AVG – 37 R – 6 HR – 33 RBI – 23 BB – 9 SB – .459 SLG – .822 OPS

Mauricio Robles, P – West Michigan Whitecaps (Tigers): 10 Starts – 4 W – 3 L – 3.91 ERA – 23 BB – 70 K

Tim Beckham, SS – Bowling Green Hot Rods (Rays): .291 AVG – 21 R – 3 HR – 29 RBI – 14 BB – 1 SB – .413 SLG – .757 OPS

Ezekiel Spruill, RHP – Rome Braves (Braves): 10 Games – 9 Starts – 7 W – 2 L – 1 SV – 3.05 ERA – 9 BB – 46 K

Brad Brach, RHP – Fort Wayne TinCaps (Padres): 23 Games – 0 Starts – 1.13 ERA – 3 W – 2 L – 15 SV – 5 BB – 32 K


NCAA: Only used if a prospect in college shows really, truly, immensely, hugely inescapable potential.

Stephen Strasburg, RHP – San Diego State: 14 Starts – 13 W – 1 L – 1.32 ERA – 19 BB – 195 K

Strasburg and the Aztecs were eliminated from postseason play in their regional. Let the draft watch begin.


Prospects chosen from Diamond Cutter’s Top 25, Baseball America, and our trademark irrational sense of whimsy.

Now Batting For The Pittsburgh Pirates…

Andrew McCutchen was called up to the major leagues yesterday by the Pirates to replace the freshly traded Nate McLouth, in a case of a team trading its best player and replacing him with its best prospect.

McLouth’s debut in Atlanta isn’t underway yet, but McCutchen got his first start for the Bucs today, leading off and playing centerfield.  In his first at-bat, he singled and scored the first run of the game.  His third time up, he walked and later scored.  His fifth time up, he drove in a run with a single, stole second, and scored on Nyjer Morgan’s triple.

To recap, a 22-year-old rookie making his debut managed to gather his first major league hit, run scored, walk, RBI, and stolen base.  The RBI, for what it’s worth, was of the two-out variety, and he managed a multi-hit, multi-run game.  Verrrrry impressive.

It wasn’t long ago that I talked about all the injuries the Mets are suffering and lamented the fact that they probably wouldn’t be at full strength when I go down there.  Well, the trip is three weeks away, and it gets more exciting by the day.  Wieters and Reimold in Baltimore, McCutchen in Pittsburgh.  Three reasons to be very excited (not that I wasn’t already).