The Altoona Curve split a double header with the Richmond Flying Squirrels tonight, losing game one 6-2, then winning game two 4-3. Kyle McPherson started game one, and had a rough outing. Aaron Pribanic started game two, striking out eight batters, but also getting hit around a bit. Below are a few impressions from tonight’s games.
Kyle McPherson had a rough first inning, giving up three of his four runs. He gave up a leadoff double, then two runs scored on a Little League home run. McPherson gave up a single to Francisco Peguero, which got past center fielder Starling Marte, allowing the runner to advance to third. The throw came in to the cut-off man, Josh Rodriguez, who threw wild to Jeremy Farrell at third base, allowing Peguero to score. A walk, a single, and a sacrifice fly brought in the third run of the inning.
McPherson was in the 91-94 MPH range in the first inning with his fastball. He was 90-92 MPH in the second, and 90-93 in the third, showing good command of his fastball. His curveball was very effective, getting a strikeout looking to end the fourth inning. A few batters squared up on his fastball for hard hits. He was saved twice by line drives right to Quincy Latimore, and saved once by Starling Marte, who ranged to the deepest part of the park to make a running catch on the warning track.
Obviously it was not a good start for McPherson, and the defense did him no favors. He dropped to the 87-91 MPH range in the fourth and fifth innings, but was pounding the zone, throwing a lot of first pitch strikes. He finished with 69 pitches and 42 strikes, allowing four runs on seven hits in five innings, with two walks and three strikeouts.
Last year I saw Alderson a bit at the AA level, and he mostly sat in the 84-86 MPH range, while largely being ineffective. During Spring Training, and when I saw him in April and May, he was sitting 87-89 MPH, and getting much better results. He’s been getting roughed up lately, and part of that is due to what I saw tonight. Alderson’s fastball was back down to the 85-87 MPH range tonight, and I’ve been told he’s been closer to the mid-80s recently.
A walk and two singles brought in a run to lead off Alderson’s first inning. A ground rule double brought in a second run, and actually saved a third run, which would have scored if the park would have held the deep fly ball, which went over the left-center field wall on a bounce. He got the job done in his second inning, but was still in the 85-87 MPH range. Alderson’s off-speed stuff looks good, but he needs a fastball, and one closer to the mid-80s isn’t going to cut it.
The biggest concern with Marte comes with his walk and strikeout numbers. A concern, and something that is mentioned frequently, is that he has bad plate patience, swinging at anything. That wasn’t the case tonight. Marte led off the game with a walk, swinging at one of the five pitches he saw. The only pitch he swung at in at-bat number two was a single. He came up for his third plate appearance with runners at second and third and two outs. After laying off two pitches outside of the zone, he was intentionally walked.
Marte had a double in game two in his second at-bat, then struck out in his third at-bat. The strikeout was a result of some good pitching by Clayton Tanner, rather than bad plate patience by Marte. He took the first two pitches, which were both strikes. Marte fouled the third pitch off, then was caught swinging on a nice inside curveball. If anything, Marte could have been more aggressive in the at-bat.
It’s not just this game. I’ve seen Marte several times this year, and was surprised at his plate patience, mostly because he has the reputation of being a free swinger. He does better on pitches inside, and is more prone to swinging at bad pitches on the outside. However, he also makes good contact, allowing him to turn some of those bad pitches in to hits.
Sanchez started game two, and had a nice night at the plate. In his first at-bat he singled through the left side of the infield. He homered to left field in his second at-bat, his fifth homer of the year. He hit a hard bouncer back to the mound in his third at-bat, which was snagged by Tanner. One game is a small sample size for hitters, but the power was nice to see.
This is the third time I’ve seen Pribanic this year, and the fifth time Pirates Prospects has covered him. Nothing has really changed from the times I’ve seen him before. He had a good night tonight, allowing three runs in six innings, with no walks and eight strikeouts. He was mostly working with his fastball, sitting in the 89-92 range, and touching 93 all throughout the game. He was pounding the zone, with 55 of his 72 pitches going for strikes.
The thing about Pribanic is that he’s mostly a one pitch guy. He throws a nice sinker, but his secondary stuff isn’t as strong. He was hit hard a few times tonight, with one homer, and a few deep shots, including a fly out to the wall in left, and a double to the wall in deep left center. However, he also got a lot of strikeouts tonight, and a 7:3 ground out to fly out ratio, showing how effective his sinker was. The problem is that with just one pitch, and a lack of strikeouts in the long run, he profiles more as a middle reliever. Unless he improves his secondary stuff, that profile isn’t likely to change.