Prospect Notebook

Prospect Notebook: Vasquez, Curry, and Lambo leading the Altoona offense

Prospect Notebook: Vasquez, Curry, and Lambo leading the Altoona offense

Andy Vasquez has been a surprising bright spot in the Altoona offense.

Andy Vasquez has been a surprising bright spot in the Altoona offense.

The Curve lost their best hitter when Adalberto Santos went down with a hip injury April 15, and the offense has struggled for noticeable spells in the early season.  Santos returned Tuesday night, so there is some optimism he’ll be able to pick up where he left off prior to his injury.

Andy Vasquez has been the team’s best hitter over the past ten games putting up a .417/.432/.556 line, followed by Matt Curry’s .316/.381/.500.  Vasquez is a bit old at 25 and has never been all that highly regarded as a prospect, signing out of the Dominican Republic at age 20.  His major problem has been plate discipline, so even at points when he’s hit well, his low walk rate and high strikeout rate have made it difficult to project him as anything other than an organizational player.

In a small sample size in 2013, Vasquez has a 6.8% walk-rate about double what it was 2010-2012, and he’s already striking out less so far.  There’s not a lot of power, but he has played almost every position on the field in his career, and if he keeps hitting consistently, he could be considered a super-sleeper utility player prospect.  With Santos back in the fold at third base, expect Vasquez to play a mix of positions moving forward.

Matt Curry will reach 900 plate appearances in AA this week, and he did enough to deserve a promotion to AAA coming into 2013 (along with Santos and Andrew Lambo for that matter).  He’s up to .270 on the season, which is about where I’d expect him to be, and he has three homers in the early going.  As a first baseman, he’ll need the pop to continue moving up, and he’ll need to show he can hit lefties (3-for-25 in 2013).  His plate patience is not as good this year as previous seasons, possibly a sign he’s taking bigger cuts and starting his swing earlier to increase his power.  Or maybe that’s just the small sample size. My opinion on Curry will probably remain the same until he gets called up to AAA for a new test.

Andrew Lambo didn’t have a great week, only hitting .237/.286/.342, but he’s been one of the few bright spots in the line-up through the first month of the season.  Similar to Curry, I worry about platoon splits (3-for-25 against lefties), but Lambo has looked good at the plate when I’ve seen him, and he has always had a good swing.  Like Curry, he’s another player who has logged lots of at bats in AA (almost 1,400), and now is the time to see what he can do in AAA.

Injuries have slowed Lambo’s development, but this year he looks 100 percent.

“It’s great to feel healthy.  When something’s wrong you have to overcompensate and bad things start happening,” said Lambo.

Bottom of the line-up continues to struggle

The jump to AA is the hardest one to make for hitters, as AA pitchers are much more able to command a repertoire of pitches consistently.  Especially in the early going, it’s not uncommon to see players start slowly, and, as Cory Giger reminded me recently, Andrew McCutchen was only hitting .158 in Altoona in mid-May 2007.

Disclaimers aside, several Curve hitters have really struggled to open the season (through Monday):

Alex Dickerson: .192/.250/.359

Carlos Paulino: .193/.292/.246

Gift Ngoepe: .145/.238/.232

The sliver of good news here is that Dickerson hit his second homer (first to clear the wall) on Monday, and his swing looked better on Tuesday against Akron than when I saw it previously.  He started slow last season, and hopefully he can make adjustments to put in more productive at bats moving forward.

It’s also worth noting that while Paulino and Ngoepe have struggled at the plate, they are outstanding defenders, probably the best at their positions in the system.  Unfortunately, to have an impact, they will need to make serious advances at the plate.  Ngoepe especially looks befuddled at the plate, striking out in over 40% of his plate appearances after Tuesday’s game.

“They’re going to get better.  They can’t get much worse than that,” said manager Carlos Garcia.

You can follow me on twitter @John_Eshleman.

Pirates Prospects is FREE today in honor of the Wild Card game. You get special access to all of our content, which is typically reserved only for subscribers. We cover the Pirates 365 days a year, with live coverage all throughout the playoffs, and off-season coverage of the minor league players in the Arizona Fall League and Winter Leagues. During the season we average well over 6 articles per day on the Pirates. This is the best stop if you're a hardcore Pirates fan, and the subscription prices are very low.

Our lowest rates are $2.22 per month under our Top Prospect Plan, which also gets you a FREE copy of the 2016 Prospect Guide -- a book that features profiles on every prospect in the system. We also have a promotion with DraftKings where you can get a FREE one-year subscription to the site by signing up as a new DraftKings customer and making a $5 minimum deposit. Subscribe today for our full playoff coverage, and all of our daily coverage of the Pirates' system.
  • tripleplay24

    I wish the Pirates would have drafted Machado. just imagine him at Shortstop right now.

    • Lee Young

      I love JT’s potential, but, I, too, wanted Manny.

      oh well.

  • buster09

    John,besides the weak hitting in Altoona,they have to be the worst base running team I have seen in a total of 15 seasons of watching the Curve. And that included a number of really bad teams. I do know this : when Dale Sveum was here,what happened Tuesday night ( 3 runners picked off in 2 innings ) would have brought on some serious consequences.

  • John Eshleman

    It’s pretty bad. Garcia spun like they are trying to teach these guys to be aggressive and thinking about taking an extra base when it’s there, but Tuesday night was ugly.

Prospect Notebook

John Eshleman joined Pirates Prospects in 2012, providing live coverage of the State College Spikes and the Altoona Curve. He will return for the 2013 season to provide coverage of the Jamestown Jammers while they are in State College. He will also be providing coverage of the Altoona Curve throughout the year. John is currently earning a Ph.D in Rural Sociology from Penn State University, and he lives in State College with his fiance Allison. Also, he hates the designated hitter rule.

More in Prospect Notebook

Gregory Polanco

Winter Leagues Notebook: Pirates Have Talented Outfielders in Winter Ball

John DrekerNovember 26, 2013
The Pirates haven't just had success with their first rounders. They've been successful with middle round picks like Nick Kingham.

Prospect Notebook: What Remaining Minor League Promotions Can We Expect?

Tim WilliamsAugust 17, 2013
Clayton Holmes threw six shutout innings on Saturday

Prospect Notebook: Clay Holmes Showing Steady Progression This Year

John DrekerAugust 14, 2013
Josh Bell could crack a top 100 prospect list next year.

Prospect Notebook: Can Josh Bell Be a Future Power Hitter in the Majors?

John DrekerAugust 13, 2013
Alen Hanson 2

Prospect Notebook: Consistency is the Key For Alen Hanson

Tim WilliamsAugust 11, 2013
Luis Heredia will pitch winter ball in Mexico this year. (Photo Credit: Nick Scala)

Prospect Notebook: First Looks At Barnes and Heredia Highlight Weekend Power Series

John DrekerJuly 1, 2013

Pirates Prospects is an independent media outlet, and is in no way affiliated with the Pittsburgh Pirates, their minor league affiliates, Major League Baseball, or Minor League Baseball.

Copyright © 2015 Pirates Prospects