The big news of the week, of course, was the no-hitter by Justin Wilson and two Indianapolis relievers. Wilson’s been on and off with his control this year, but two other starters in the system, Jameson Taillon and Rudy Owens, have been pitching consistently well lately. On the hitting front, not so much has been going well.
Starling Marte, OF (AAA): Marte didn’t have a very good weekend, going 1-8 with four strikeouts, although he did hit his second HR. Over his last ten games, though, he’s hitting 342/432/632, and he’s making progress in areas that have been a concern. He started hitting for more power last year, and he drew five walks over those ten games, giving him six on the year. It’s not a lot, but his walk rate is now nearly double what it was last year. He’s also shown improvement in his base stealing efficiency, another area of concern, stealing nine in ten tries on the season.
Rudy Owens, LHP (AAA): Owens has thrown shutout ball over his last two starts, totaling 14 innings, and has allowed only two runs over his last 21. On Saturday he walked his first batter of the year; overall he’s walked just the one while fanning 19 in 26 innings. Opponents are hitting just .200 against him and his ERA is 2.08. If the Pirates need a starter, he should provide a viable option so they’re not forced to turn to somebody like Jo-Jo Reyes.
Victor Black, RHP (AA): In three outings over the past week totaling four innings, Black allowed no runs on two hits and two walks, while fanning seven. On the season he’s fanned 14 in 10.2 IP. His ERA is 0.84, but that’s a little misleading because three of the four runs he’s allowed have been unearned and his WHIP is a mediocre 1.41. Still, given how little pro experience he’s managed to gain, and considering the control issues he’s had, it’s very encouraging that he’s able to pitch this effectively at the AA level.
Jameson Taillon, RHP (High A): Other than a shaky first start, Taillon has been showing the form that made him the second overall pick in the 2010 draft. This past week he allowed no runs over 11 innings. In his last four starts he’s allowed just two runs, 13 hits and two walks over 21 innings, with 22 strikeouts. His big issue last year was keeping his fastball down. This year he has yet to allow a HR.
Alen Hanson, SS (Low A): The hits just don’t stop coming. Hanson’s hitting streak ended at 16 on Friday, but that didn’t stop him from going 10-26 (.385) for the week. Hanson’s plate discipline is a concern; over his last ten games he’s fanned ten times and walked only once. He’s only 19, though, and it’s not surprising he’d need to refine his approach at the plate.
Zach Fuesser, LHP (Low A): After struggling badly with his control in his first two starts, Fuesser is pitching more like a guy who’s ready to move up, which he needs to do soon since he’s repeating the level. In his last ten innings he’s walked just one while fanning 12. He allowed only six hits and one unearned run, and opponents are hitting just .170 against him on the year.
Eric Fryer, C (AAA): With Jose Morales hurt and Rod Barajas making Lyle Overbay look like a great signing, Fryer had a brief window to establish himself at least as a potential option. Instead, he has just one hit in his last 24 ABs. On the season, he’s hitting 232/259/304 and has two walks and 18 strikeouts.
Tony Sanchez, C (AA): So far, the improvement that Sanchez needed to show after a poor 2011 season isn’t happening. He played only four games in the past week and went 2-16 (.125), both doubles, with six Ks. On the season he’s hitting 236/323/364, which isn’t much better than last year. His plate discipline has declined; he has six walks and 17 Ks.
Robbie Grossman, OF (AA): Grossman continues to struggle with AA pitching. Despite back-to-back 2-3 games, he still went only 4-24 (.167) in the past week. For the year, he’s hitting 198/301/284.
Nate Baker, LHP (AA): Baker opened the season with two strong starts, but his last two starts have been anything but. He’s allowed 12 runs, 10 earned, over eight innings on 12 hits and five walks. For the year he has the same number of walks as Ks (10).
Mel Rojas, Jr., OF (High A): Positive developments from the Marauders’ hitters have been scarce lately, and Rojas especially has struggled. A 2-5 game on Sunday stopped a hitless streak of 25 ABs. After a good start, he’s now hitting just 238/299/350, and has a 6:21 BB:K ratio.
Alex Dickerson, 1B (High A): Another of the struggling Bradenton bats, Dickerson seemed to be coming out of it until going 2-22 (.091) over the past week and 1-19 in his last five games.
Ryan Hafner, RHP (Low A): After missing the start of the season due to a groin injury, Hafner has struggled in his first two starts, both in the last week. He’s allowed 11 hits and six walks, while fanning only three, in 6.2 IP. His ERA is 13.50. Hopefully, this is just a product of the late start to his season.