Altoona Updates: Leach, Moreno, Hughes, Alderson
-Brian Leach will not be in the starting rotation. Instead, Leach will move to the bullpen. In the long term, Leach is more of a relief pitching prospect, although the decision to move him to the bullpen so early is a bit of a surprise. It could also mean that Leach could now be on the fast track to the majors, assuming he does well at the AA level. He throws a 94-96 MPH fastball, and could emerge as a future late inning relief option.
-Speaking of late inning relief options, Diego Moreno was left off the roster, which raised some questions as to whether he would go to AAA, or return to Bradenton. The answer is neither. Moreno is dealing with forearm tightness, and will start the season on the Altoona disabled list. That isn’t really surprising to me. I was at Pirate City for an entire week, and didn’t see Moreno pitch at all. I chalked it up to the fact that the AA/AAA teams played a few road games (I also missed out on guys like Nick Kingham and Colton Cain for the same reasons).
-Jared Hughes will take the final rotation spot, while Tim Alderson will work out of the bullpen. Hughes has been at the AA level for parts of the last three seasons, including the entire 2010 season. He doesn’t really profile as a starting prospect, and does have potential as a sleeper middle relief prospect. The link above has some comments from Kyle Stark about the decision to put Alderson in the bullpen. Stark mentions they want Alderson getting the ball more often, which to me sounds like they are working on something with him, and don’t want to wait five days between each outing. That could explain why Hughes is starting, and Alderson is in relief.