The Pirates have had several hot teams in the farm system recently, especially at the plate. Coincidentally, both Indianapolis and Altoona have gotten red hot with the bats at the same time the Pirates’ lineup has started hitting. The hitting combined with a strong rotation has made the Indians the dominant team in the International League. The GCL Bucs have been hammering the ball early in their young season, too.
Starling Marte, OF (AAA): After slumping through most of May, Marte has been increasingly hot. He’s especially been on fire in the last week, hitting 15-31 (.484) with two doubles, two triples and three HRs. Through Sunday, he’s had seven straight multi-hit games. In June, he batted 325/385/558. He’s hitting for more power than ever and his walk rate has improved, although the strike zone issues haven’t gone away. With the Pirates getting almost no offensive production and weak defense from Jose Tabata, it’s hard not to think Marte could be an upgrade now.
Gorkys Hernandez, OF (AAA): Hernandez has heated up along with many of his teammates, batting .375 (9-24) in the last week. It’s still hard to see him as more than a fourth outfielder, but he’s another guy who could provide an alternative to Tabata.
Stefan Welch, UT (AA): Since his promotion from Bradenton, Welch has been one of the keys to Altoona’s recent offensive explosion. Since joining Altoona, he’s hit 431/516/745 in fifteen games, culminating in a two-HR, four-hit game on Sunday. This has to be taken with a grain of salt, as Welch spent nearly four years in high A. On the other hand, he’s a month younger than Matt Curry.
Matt Curry, 1B (AA): Curry’s been hammering the ball lately, too, going 10-25 (.400) in the past week, with five doubles, a triple and two HRs. For the year, he’s now hitting 301/363/507, which is much closer to the level of dominance he needs to show as a soon-to-be 24-year-old in AA.
Brock Holt, SS (AA): Another hot hitter, Holt has batted 368/442/605 in his last ten games. He has five doubles and two triples in that time, leaving him at 325/387/446 on the year. But he seems trapped in AA.
Robbie Grossman, OF (AA): A suspension for undisclosed reasons seems to have lit a fire under Grossman. In the past week he’s gone 10-26 (.385) with three doubles, one HR and eight walks. In June he batted 312/424/532.
Vic Black, RHP (AA): Black hasn’t allowed a run since May. Since the beginning of June he’s had ten scoreless outings covering twelve innings. He’s fanned 17 in that time.
Kirk Singer, IF (High A): Another player who’s gone on a tear since being promoted, Singer is hitting 304/385/457 in 13 games with Bradenton.
Alen Hanson, SS (Low A): Hanson is at it again, hitting 462/533/872 in his last ten games, with five doubles, a triple and three HRs. On the season, he’s up to 334/398/601.
Gregory Polanco, OF (Low A): The “other” breakout player at West Virginia has gone 12-26 (.462) in the past week, with six doubles, a triple and a HR. A 5-5 game with four extra base hits on Sunday raised his season’s numbers to 308/369/507.
Taylor Lewis, OF (Low A): Since moving up from extended spring training about two weeks ago, Lewis has hit 305/328/503 in 14 games. It’s a nice turnaround for a guy who struggled last year, but the two walks and 13 strikeouts are something of a red flag.
Luis Heredia, RHP (Short Season A): Heredia is off to a very strong start as a not-quite-18-year-old competing in a league intended primarily for college draftees. He had trouble with his control last year, but seems to have made great progress with it. In three starts so far, he has an 0.64 ERA and only two walks in 14 innings. He’s allowed 12 hits and fanned ten.
Clayton Holmes, RHP (Short Season A): Holmes also is off to a good start in his first pro action. He had some control problems in his second start, but through two games has yet to allow an earned run in ten innings. He’s given up just four hits, while walking six and striking out nine.
Wyatt Mathisen, C (Rookie): The GCL Bucs have had a number of offensive explosions early in their season and Mathisen has been one of the hottest hitters. Although he’s cooled off over the last several games, he’s still hitting 379/448/414 in eight games. He even has four steals in five tries.
Dilson Herrera, IF (Rookie): Herrera has been the most impressive of the GCL Bucs’ hitters so far. Despite not being a big guy, he’s already got four HRs in ten games. He’s hitting 279/340/698 overall.
Luis Urena, OF (Rookie): Urena is a very raw player signed out of the Dominican two years ago. The Pirates thought he had power potential, but he didn’t show it in his first two years. This year he has seven extra base hits, including his first two pro HRs, in just eight games. He still has serious contact issues–he’s fanned 11 times in 29 ABs–but he’s hitting 310/375/759.
Tony Sanchez, C (AAA): Sanchez is struggling in his introduction to AAA, and it’s getting worse. In the last week he’s gone 3-18 (.167), leaving him at 200/235/262 since his promotion.
Gift Ngoepe, SS (High A): Ngoepe has been struggling lately, going 5-25 (.200) over the past week. He striking out better than once every three and a half ABs, which is unsustainable even for a power hitter, something Ngoepe isn’t.
Tyler Waldron, RHP (High A): Waldron has struggled badly since the end of May. In June, he had an ERA of 11.12, as opponents batted .386 against him. Things didn’t get any better in his first July start on Sunday, as he allowed six earned runs in five and a third innings.