Altoona is a very interesting team to watch for the 2010 season. It is host to some of the top prospects in the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system. The starting rotation includes top pitching prospects like Rudy Owens and Tim Alderson. The infield has three of the top middle infield prospects in the Pirates system in Chase d’Arnaud, Jordy Mercer, and Josh Harrison. Even the bullpen has talent, with back of the bullpen prospects like Ronald Uviedo and Daniel Moskos.
Matt Hague – Hague hasn’t seemed to have trouble at any of the levels he’s been at in his short minor league career. So it should be no surprise that he started out his AA campaign by hitting for a .281/.356/.438 line in 64 April at-bats, with two home runs. Hague is also doing excellent in the strikeout department (10.9%). He’s shown flashes of power, but nothing yet to pencil him in as the future first baseman in Pittsburgh.
Rudy Owens – After a breakout season in 2009, Owens has picked up where he left off at the AA level. In his first four starts of the season, Owens put up a 3.57 ERA in 22.2 innings, with a 17:2 K/BB ratio, and only one home run allowed. His K/9 ratio last year was 8.1 in low-A, and 8.5 in high-A, but is just 6.7 this year. It would be nice to see those numbers improve as the season goes on.
Daniel Moskos – Moskos is repeating the AA level, after having some success as a starter in 2009. This year he’s the closer for Altoona, and is handling the role with ease. Moskos has a 0.82 ERA in eight appearances, spanning 11 innings. He has an 11:5 K/BB ratio, a .179 BAA, a 2.14 GO/AO ratio, and five saves. It might be time to move him up to AAA, especially considering all the innings he put in at the AA level in 2009.
Ronald Uviedo – Uviedo continues to impress from the back of the bullpen, now making the jump to AA. In the month of April he made seven appearances, pitching 10.2 innings. He put u a 1.69 ERA, a 13:5 K/BB ratio, and a .061 BAA, which is phenomenal. Uviedo has only allowed a hit in two of his outings this year, and only has two hits allowed this season. He probably needs more time in AA than Moskos, but he’s another candidate to be moved up to AAA later this season.
Michael Crotta – Crotta was a big surprise in the Altoona rotation, and was the first player to receive a permanent promotion to Indianapolis. Crotta posted a 1.78 ERA in four starts with Altoona, in 25.1 innings of work. He struck out 16 and walked three, with no home runs allowed. He also held batters to a .156 BAA and a 2.75 GO/AO ratio. This is after spending the entire 2009 season in the Altoona rotation, putting up a 4.76 ERA in 143.2 innings, with a 97:33 K/BB ratio, a .304 BAA, and a 1.98 GO/AO ratio.
Josh Harrison – I was very surprised at the start Harrison got off to at the AA level. Harrison hit for a .348/.419/.424 line in the month of April in 66 at-bats. It’s not that Harrison hasn’t hit for average before. In 2009 he hit for a .337 average in low-A in 303 at-bats, before moving up to high-A. I was just surprised because Harrison hit for a .275/.310/.374 line in 211 at-bats at the high-A level. Harrison drew just seven walks in his 233 plate appearances last year in high-A. He already has eight walks at the AA level this season. Let’s hope he keeps this level of play up.
Gorkys Hernandez – Hernandez has been in a downward spiral since joining the Pirates. He had a .316 average and a .748 OPS in 212 at-bats at the AA level before the Nate McLouth trade last year. Then he posted a .262 average and a .652 OPS in 344 at-bats with Altoona in 2009. This year he’s off to an even
worse start, with a .192/.284/.205 line in 78 at-bats in the month of April.
Tim Alderson – Alderson has also struggled since joining the Pirates organization. He had a 3.47 ERA and a 46:14 K/BB ratio in 72.2 innings in AA with the Giants before the Freddy Sanchez trade in 2009. After arriving with the Pirates he put up a 4.66 ERA and an 18:13 K/BB ratio in 38.2 innings. This year he has started off with a 5.49 ERA in 19.2 innings, with a 7:6 K/BB ratio. Alderson is one of the youngest players at the AA level, so he’s got plenty of time to work things out.
Justin Wilson – Wilson is off to a slow start with Altoona, which was the same story last year in Lynchburg. Wilson had a 6.57 ERA in 12.1 innings over three starts in the month of April, with an 11:10 K/BB ratio. Wilson had the same early season problems in his debut at high-A, before turning things around in the second half with some excellent performances. Looking close at his numbers, Wilson has two decent outings, and two bad outings, both of the latter coming against Erie.