Ryan Doumit tore the cover off of the ball (.415/.493/.717 in 53 AB) during a rather pointless demotion to the minor leagues. With the Pirates as offensively challenged as they are, Doumit at the very least should be utilized fairly often off of the bench. He’s back up with the Pirates, and had himself an excellent game today (4 for 4, including a double and a home run.) I wonder about Doumit’s long-term future with the team. He is an intriguing everyday option as a catcher, possessing above-average power and a strong arm. However, the Pirates seem committed to Ronny Paulino as the everyday backstop, and have concerns about Doumit’s ability to block balls. Adam LaRoche blocks his path at first base, and the team does not seem convinced that Doumit can play a passable right field. He seems like a guy who could become trade bait at some point. A number of teams could use a potent offensive option behind the plate.
Sean Burnett (4.35 ERA, 6/9 K-BB in 20.2 IP), Bryan Bullington (1.52 ERA, 13/10 K-BB in 23.2 IP), and John Van Benschoten (3.05 ERA, 15/8 K-BB in 20.2 IP) have posted nice ERA’s, despite mediocre periphial numbers. With Tony Armas Jr. often going 5 innings and giving up runs in bunches, one of the three could get an opportunity in the rotation later in the season.
Andrew McCutchen (.186/.247/.314 in 70 AB) has had a rough beginning to the season. I wouldn’t draw much of any conclusion from the slow start, as McCutchen was very productive in a short stint at Altoona in 2006, and looked fairly polished in spring training. He’ll be fine.
Neil Walker (.286/.338/.429 in 70 AB) continues to hit for average without a whole lot in terms of secondary skills. As a catcher, Walker’s hitting skills separate him from many prospects. But as a third baseman who has a lot to learn defensively (7 errors already this season)? At some point, Walker is going to have to tap into the raw power that scouts have been talking about since he was drafted in 2004. Walker has talent, but would you rate him ahead of any of the following third base prospects?
Ryan Braun, Brewers
Andy LaRoche, Dodgers
Van Pope, Braves
Billy Rowell, Orioles (Granted, his size will likely necessitate a move to first base)
Scott Moore, Cubs
Josh Fields, White Sox
Ian Stewart, Rockies
Brandon Wood, Angels (likely his final destination)
Angel Villalona, Giants
Evan Longoria, Devil Rays
Yoslan Herrera (7.71 ERA, 8/3 K-BB in 14 IP) has gotten off to a rough start for the Curve.
High A Lynchburg
Stephen Pearce (.329/.400/.786 in 70 AB) is abusing High-A pitchers. Pearce has certainly been impressive in the early going, but it’s important to keep his line in perspective. Pearce is a 24 year-old product out of South Carolina, so one would a polished college player like him to perform well here. As a first baseman, Pearce also faces an uphill battle to become more than a bench bat, as the offensive demands of the position are extremely high. We’ll learn more about Pearce if/when he’s promoted to AA Altoona.
Recent high-round picks Shelby Ford (.227/.316/.379 in 66 AB) and Brad Corley (.205/.244/.329 in 73 AB) are struggling for the Hillcats. Corley continues to show no semblance of patience at the plate (1 BB to this point.)
James Boone (.338/.414/.558 in 77 AB) continues to hit. Like Pearce, we’ll know more about the 24 year-old Boone if he’s promoted to a more challenging level and is able to remain healthy.
University of Pittsburgh product Jim Negrych (.309/.375/.400 in 55 AB) is doing what he’s known for- making contact and spraying hits to to all fields. Negrych has a solid approach at the plate, which will have to carry him in his career. Negrych has mediocre range, arm strength, and speed.
Jamie Romak (.284/.388/.567 in 67 AB) has a lot of raw power and draws a good deal of walks, but his lack of contact ability (24 K already) tempers your enthusiasm. Romak, 21, will likely have to try to shorten his swing as he progresses through the system.
Jared Hughes (3.92 ERA, 17/5 K-BB in 20.2 IP) has gotten off to a solid start. The 6-7, 220 pound Hughes has some talent, possessing a low-90’s fastball and a solid slider. However, Hughes is not the power pitcher that his frame would suggest and struggles with his changeup.
Minor League Roundup