The Pittsburgh Pirates have called up top prospects Brad Lincoln and Jose Tabata, both of which could make their debuts tonight. Lincoln definitely will make his debut, as he is the scheduled starter against Washington.
Lincoln was on fire in the month of May, with a 2.38 ERA in five starts for Indianapolis, spanning 34 innings, with a 31:4 K/BB ratio. In his two most recent starts, Lincoln combined for 11 shutout innings, with five hits allowed, two walks, and 13 strikeouts.
Tabata has been great at the plate this year, hitting for a .308/.373/.424 line in 224 at-bats, with a career high 25 stolen bases. Tabata still has the potential to increase his power, but for now he looks like a good leadoff option, giving the Pirates a strong top of the lineup with Andrew McCutchen and Tabata likely filling the top two spots.
To make room, the Pirates optioned Jeff Clement to AAA, and designated Jack Taschner for assignment. This is Clement’s last option year, which means after this season he either has to be in the majors, or would need to be removed from the 40-man roster. Taschner was owed $835,000 this year. The Pirates will be on the hook for the rest of that salary, unless they can trade Taschner, or unless another team claims him. The Pirates have ten days to trade, waive, or release Taschner. The 2010 40-man roster/payroll projection has been updated with the moves. There is also a spot open on the 40-man roster now.
My guess is that Garrett Jones will move to first base, with Tabata taking over in right field. Things will get very interesting when Pedro Alvarez is promoted. That should put a roster crunch on Lastings Milledge and Andy LaRoche, although it might be hard to find playing time for LaRoche with Alvarez expected to be the everyday third baseman. I’d also guess that Jeff Karstens will be moved from the rotation to the bullpen with the addition of Lincoln.
One interesting thing to watch will be the chain reaction that the Lincoln promotion creates. Jeremy Powell will take over Lincoln’s spot in the rotation for now, although there are starters at every level who could be promoted. My guess is Jared Hughes from AA to AAA, either Nathan Adcock or Jeff Locke from high-A to AA, and Nathan Baker from low-A to high-A.