May Prospects Rundown: Indianapolis Indians

In the month of April the Indianapolis Indians saw Pedro Alvarez and Brad Lincoln struggling, while Steve Pearce and Neil Walker had breakout months.  Walker and Pearce were both promoted to the majors in the month of May, and tons of speculation exists on whether Alvarez and Lincoln will be up in the opening weeks of June.  The Indians also saw a turnaround in their bullpen, with two surprise candidates standing out, and their disappointment section pretty much sums up the problems the Pirates are having at the major league level.

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
Pedro Alvarez - After ending up on the disappointing list in the month of April, Alvarez bounced back big time in May.  Alvarez hit for a .294/.393/.588 line, with six homers in 102 at-bats.  He also saw his strikeout ratio drop from 29.4% in April to 23.5% in May.  The strikeouts are high, but they’re not really a problem if Alvarez can hit for power, get on base close to 40% of the time, and put up an OPS close to 1.000.

Brad Lincoln - Lincoln was dominant in the month of May, a big turnaround from his month of April.  Lincoln made five starts, pitching 34 innings and putting up a 2.38 ERA.  The impressive part is that Lincoln had a 31:4 K/BB ratio.  Lincoln seems like he’s ready, and there’s a chance he could end up in the major league rotation very soon.

Jose Tabata - Tabata actually saw a decline from the month of April.  His average went up ten points to .318, but his OPS dropped almost 40 points, falling in the .763 range.  That’s mostly due to a lack of power.  Tabata stole 11 bases, and had a .361 OBP, but I wouldn’t call him the answer to the Pirates’ leadoff spot until he puts up an OPS consistently in the .800 or better range, all while drawing more walks, which is something that fell off at the end of May.

The Big Surprises
Kevin Melillo - Melillo was a huge surprise in May, hitting for a .284/.364/.537 line, with two homers in 67 at-bats.  Melillo just turned 28 in the month of May, so he’s not really a prospect, although he could emerge as a future bench player, especially if he keeps hitting like he has been hitting.  Melillo has played all three outfield positions and second base this year.  He’s also played first and third in the past.

Justin Thomas - Thomas was lights out in the month of May.  In 12 appearances, Thomas posted a 0.60 ERA, and a 12:2 K/BB ratio in 15 innings of work.  Thomas held batters to a .104 BAA, and his only run came on a solo homer.  If he keeps this up, he could end up in the major league bullpen by the end of the year.

Vinnie Chulk - Chulk bombed in April, then missed time with a visit to the disabled list.  He returned in May, and has been lights out ever since.  Chulk made ten appearances in May for Indianapolis, with a 0.71 ERA in 12.2 innings, plus a 14:2 K/BB ratio.

Kind of Disappointing
Daniel McCutchen - McCutchen was demoted to AAA at the end of April, and after a promising first start, McCutchen bombed in the month of May.  In 27.1 innings over five starts, McCutchen posted a 5.60 ERA and an 1:5 K/BB ratio, with five home runs allowed.  This is puzzling, as McCutchen didn’t have much trouble with the AAA level in 2009.

Kevin Hart - Kevin Hart didn’t pitch at all in the month of May, instead going down to a rotator cuff injury.

Donald Veal - Veal struggled in the month of May, with a 5.27 ERA in 27.1 innings.  He also saw his control issues return, allowing 14 walks in that span, after allowing nine walks in 22.1 innings in the month of April.  Veal is now injured, with no word on the severity of the injury.

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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.

Pittsburgh Pirates Prospect Watch 6/2/10

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