May Prospects Rundown: Altoona Curve

Altoona ranks at the top of the Eastern League standings, although the team didn’t look too promising in the month of May.  Outside of Alex Presley, the hitting has been disappointing, especially from top prospects like Gorkys Hernandez and Chase d’Arnaud.  The bright side has been the pitching, with Rudy Owens and Justin Wilson stepping up in the rotation, and Daniel Moskos excelling in the bullpen.

Here is a quick breakdown of the month of May, with players who played up to expectations, some surprises, and some disappointments.
Good as Advertised
Rudy Owens - Owens made six starts, with a 2.75 ERA in 36 innings in the month of May.  Owens had a 32:8 K/BB ratio.  I’d imagine there will be a call for him to be promoted sometime soon, although I don’t see it happening.  I talked to Owens in April, and he told me that he was injured in the off-season.  The injury wasn’t serious, and is gone now, but was enough to force him to miss the instructional league in the off-season.  Owens was slated to learn a two-seam fastball during instructs, but due to the minor injury, he said he hasn’t thrown the pitch much.  The Pirates have worked on one pitch a year with Owens, going with the fastball in 2008, the curveball in 2009, and now the two-seamer in 2010.  I’d imagine Owens will get plenty of time to work on the pitch in AA, mostly due to the lost time this past off-season.

Justin Wilson - Wilson has been spectacular after a disappointing start in April.  In six starts in the month of May, Wilson has combined for a 1.38 ERA in 32.2 innings, with a 36:12 K/BB ratio.  If Wilson keeps this up, he could end up in AAA by the end of the season.

Daniel Moskos - Moskos was lights out in the month of May as the Altoona closer.  He did allow a 2.31 ERA in 11.2 innings, but only allowed seven hits, three walks, and struck out 11.  Moskos has pitched almost 175 innings at the AA level over the last two years.  It’s possible he will be in Indianapolis by this time next month.

The Big Surprises
Alex Presley - At the end of April, Presley was hitting for a .333/.377/.556 line, with two homers in 63 at-bats.  Many would have guessed he would regress from those numbers.  Instead, he actually improved, and in a big way.  Presley hit for a .391/.426/.583 line in 115 at-bats, with three homers in the month of May.  He’s been talked about for a promotion to Indianapolis, which could happen when/if Jose Tabata gets promoted to the majors.

Hector Gimenez - Gimenez has been lighting up AA pitching in the month of May, with a .394/.474/.803 line, and seven homers in 66 at-bats.  It should be noted that Gimenez is 27 years old, and spent time in both AA and AAA last year.  He’s kind of like this year’s version of Yoslan Herrera.  Great numbers, but it’s just a veteran beating up on younger talent.

Kind of Disappointing
Jordy Mercer - Mercer was strong in the month of April, but really fell off in the month of May.  Mercer hit for a .210/.278/.230 line, with 21 strikeouts in 100 at-bats in the month of May.  Mercer didn’t have any homers, and only had two extra base hits the entire month.  One area of concern is that Mercer has a .286 BABIP this season, with a .266 mark in May.  In 2009 his BABIP was .289 in Lynchburg, which means you might not be able to chalk the low average up to bad luck.

Chase d’Arnaud - D’Arnaud continued to struggle at the plate in the month of May, hitting for a .211/.313/.303 line.  The good news is that d’Arnaud’s walk rate is high, with 15 this month.  He’s also stealing bases at a good rate, going 7-for-8 in the month of May, putting him at 10-for-11 on the season.  His BABIP was .258 this past month, and is .265 on the season.  In 2009 it was .330 in West Virginia, and .335 in Lynchburg, which shows that d’Arnaud has been unlucky in his jump to AA.

Gorkys Hernandez - Hernandez saw a jump in his batting average, going from .192 in April to .250 in May, but his OPS didn’t jump nearly enough.  Hernandez had a .489 OPS in April, and only saw that increase to .595 in May.

Tim Alderson - Alderson struggled

to start the month, but finished off strong.  In his first four starts, Alderson allowed 15 runs in 20.1 innings.  I was in attendance for one of those starts, in which Alderson fell apart in the fifth inning.  In his final two starts, Alderson allowed one run in 13 innings, a big turnaround that has carried over in to June.

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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, 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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