Callups, or the possibility of them, gathered a lot of attention during the past week. Injuries forced the Pirates to bring up two relievers and more injuries, combined with anemic offensive production, has fans discussing the possibility of still more. Several Indianapolis Indians added some urgency to the discussion by doing something almost nobody on the big league team is doing: hitting the ball.
Chase d’Arnaud, SS (AAA): Although he went hitless in his last two games, for the week d’Arnaud went 10-for-28 (.357) with a triple and a HR, as well as a 5-RBI game. After a rough April in which he posted an OPS of .696, he’s posted an OPS of .813 and .969 in May and June, respectively. He’s also committing only one error every eight games at short, after committing one every four games last year. He’s making a strong case for a September callup, if not sooner.
Alex Presley, OF (AAA): Things haven’t really changed much with Presley. He’s just kept hitting all year. In the past week he went 9-for-23 (.391) with two doubles and a triple. With the Pirates struggling to score runs and nearing a stretch in AL parks with the DH, he’s making it nearly impossible for them not to call him up.
Eric Fryer, C (AAA): Fryer has gotten off to a running start in AAA, going 8-for-19 (.421) with three doubles and a HR in the past week and 300/404/550 in twelve games since his promotion. He’s controlling the strike zone fairly well, with five walks and nine strikeouts, and he’s even stolen two bases in two attempts. With Dusty Brown hitting absolutely nothing and Wyatt Toregas likely to hit even less (he was 1-for-29 in AAA before being promoted), the Pirates will face increasing calls to give Fryer a shot, although they almost certainly won’t give in even if they’re unable to trade for a catcher. They’ll need to put him on the 40-man roster after the season anyway to avoid losing him in the Rule 5 draft, so the need to make a roster move shouldn’t be a barrier.
Starling Marte, CF (AA): It’s hard to put Marte on this list because he hits about the same every week. This past week was better than usual, though, as he went 12-for-24 (.500) with two doubles and two (!) walks. It may seem like he should move up, but the Pirates have to be concerned about a guy with 45 strikeouts and only nine walks.
Robbie Grossman, OF (A+): Grossman slowly but surely is getting his numbers up. For the week he went 8-for-21 (.381) with nine walks and five whiffs. That gave him 17 hits and walks in just six games. He has a .399 OBP on the season, but the power isn’t coming, as he’s slugging only .381. He’s taken enough of a step forward that it’s not hard to see him reaching the majors, but he’s looking more like a fourth outfielder than a possible regular.
Quinton Miller, RHP (A+): Miller’s one start of the week was easily his best of the year. He threw seven shutout innings, allowing five hits and two walks, and fanning five. His previous start was solid, so maybe he’s turning a corner.
Duke Welker, RHP (A+): No, really. Welker got through three outings, covering 4.1 IP, without walking a batter. He allowed three hits and no runs, while striking out three. Since the beginning of May, he’s thrown 17.1 IP, allowing 13 hits and eight walks, with 17 strikeouts and a 1.56 ERA. With an upper 90s fastball, it’s not totally unthinkable that Welker could turn into a prospect.
Drew Maggi, SS (A): Still recovering from a miserable 141/267/188 April, Maggi went 9-for-26 (.346) for the week, with five walks, a double and a triple. His approach at the plate is very good by various accounts, and despite his struggles he has the same number of walks as strikeouts (31) on the year. He’s only hitting .235, but his OBP is a respectable .339.
Colton Cain, LHP (A): Cain’s one start during the week was a strong one, as he went six innings, allowing just four hits and a walk while fanning eight. He gave up two runs, one earned. For the season, hitters are batting .205 against him.
Brandon Cumpton, RHP (A): Cumpton recovered from his first bad start since his string of three horrific outings to start the season. In his one start, he threw five shutout innings, allowing five hits and a walk, and fanning five. He also got chosen for the South Atlantic League All-Star game.
Dan Grovatt, OF (A): Grovatt drew at least one walk in every game during the week and now has a streak of walking in ten straight games. He’s drawn 42 on the year, resulting in a .427 OBP. He’s hitting a lot of doubles (17), but has only one HR, which will limit him to prospective-fourth-outfielder status if it doesn’t change.
Andrew Lambo, OF (AAA): Things just aren’t getting better for Lambo. For the week he went 1-for-15 (.067) and his playing time is becoming sporadic. You have to wonder whether the Pirates are thinking about demoting him, because there’s no sign at all of him starting to figure out AAA pitching.
Evan Chambers, CF (A+): Chambers could easily appear here every week. This week was fairly typical: 4-for-22 (.182), leaving him at 191/321/294 on the season. He’s still drawing loads of walks, but he’s also striking out in a third of his ABs.
Eric Avila, 3B (A): After a terrible start, Avila seemed to be coming around, but not this past week. He went 3-for-19 (.158) and committed four errors, giving him 24 on the season.