Pittsburgh Pirates Prospect Watch 4/18/10

INDIANAPOLIS INDIANS (AAA)

Indianapolis won 9-6 against Toledo, although most of the game wasn’t as close as the final score indicates.  Kevin Hart got things rolling with a solid outing, going 4.1 innings, and allowing three runs on four hits, with two walks and six strikeouts.  Hart only ran in to trouble in the fifth inning, which could possibly be due to pitching on four days rest.  Hart threw three innings on Wednesday in relief of Brad Lincoln before facing a three game suspension for throwing behind Carlos Santana in his first start.

Hart’s breaking ball looked good, getting several strikeouts, both swinging and looking.  While it’s important to note that Toledo isn’t known for plate discipline, it should also be noted that the performance by Hart in the first four innings wasn’t all due to Toledo’s impatience.  Hart threw 80 pitches, with 49 strikes and 31 balls.  Hart was helped by seven runs in the first four innings, thanks to home runs from Neil Walker, Jonathan Van Every, and Brandon Moss.

Walker had the best day at the plate, going 3-for-5 with the homer, a double, and a single.  Moss and Van Every each had two hits.  Pedro Alvarez went 1-for-4, striking out in his first three at-bats, but delivering a two RBI single in his fourth at-bat, which ended up giving Indianapolis some much needed cushion later.

Justin Thomas made his Indianapolis debut to relieve Hart, going 2.1 innings with two runs on three hits, with a home run allowed.  Thomas was the pitcher of record, getting the win.  Jean Machi came on in the ninth inning for his second save of the season.

ALTOONA CURVE (AA)
Altoona lost 8-2 to Erie.  Justin Wilson ran in to some trouble, only lasting 4.2 innings, and allowing five runs (four earned) on six hits, with three walks and four strikeouts.  Wilson ran in to the bulk of his trouble in the fifth inning, when he walked the first two batters, then allowed the bases to be loaded when he recorded a fielding error on a sacrifice bunt.  Derek Hankins came on for 2.1 innings of relief, allowing three runs on five hits.  Michael Dubee pitched a scoreless inning in relief.

Altoona’s hitters had trouble against Andy Oliver, managing only three hits and one run in six innings.  Altoona had the same results in the final three innings.  Jordy Mercer had the best day at the plate, going 1-for-2 with an RBI double and two walks.  Jim Negrych went 1-for-4 with a run.  He scored in the first on a sacrifice fly by Miles Durham, who went 0-for-3.

BRADENTON MARAUDERS (A+)
Bradenton was rained out.
WEST VIRGINIA POWER (A)
West Virginia lost 6-3 against Asheville, going down 5-0 in the first two innings, and failing to recover the rest of the game.  Hunter Strickland struggled in his start, pitching five innings and allowing five runs on nine hits, with two walks and four strikeouts.  Strickland is off to a rough start this season, with a 6.60 ERA in his first 15 innings over three starts.  This is puzzling, since he had a 3.49 ERA in 126.1 innings in the South Atlantic League last year.  ERA isn’t the best evaluator of talent, but Strickland’s ratios are also struggling.  Last year he put up a 5.3 K/9, a 1.35 BB/9, and a 1.0 HR/9.  This year he’s putting up a 4.2 K/9, a 3.0 BB/9, and a 1.2 HR/9.  Hopefully it’s just a rough start, and not an injury issue.

The offense didn’t get going until the eighth inning, scoring three runs.  Benjamin Gonzalez went 2-for-4 with a run.  Evan Chambers went 1-for-3 with a walk and two RBIs.  Jesus Brito also went 1-for-3 with an RBI.  West Virginia batters struck out 11 times in 32 at-bats today, which wasn’t good.  The West Virginia bullpen was solid, with Maurice Bankston pitching two no-hit innings, allowing just a walk and a strikeout.  Ryan Kelly pitched the last two innings, allowing just a solo homer and two hits, plus one strikeout.

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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