Pirate City Notes: Altoona Plays Longball

The Pirates’ AAA and AA teams hosted their Phillies’ counterparts today at Pirate City.  These games hold less interest for me right now than the single-A teams (which of course were on the road), as they’re made up more heavily of non-prospects.  The AAA team doesn’t even have very many interesting minor league veterans right now, because they’re mostly still in major league camp.  Until some more cuts take place, the AAA lineup features lower level organizational players like Junior Sosa and Kelson Brown.

The AA lineup provided some fireworks, though, as Alen Hanson led off the bottom of the first by going deep.  Later on, Jarek Cunningham and Willy Garcia went back-to-back with opposite field shots.  Seeing Cunningham and Garcia do that was interesting because, as hitters, they have a lot of similarities.  Both have considerable raw power, but significant issues with the strike zone.  Garcia will be debuting in AA with the same question marks that faced Cunningham when he reached the level in 2012.  Hopefully, Garcia won’t find himself there in 2016.

Casey Sadler started for the AAA team and Adrian Sampson for the AA team.  Both got hit around at times, but not severely.  Sadler sat at 91-92 with his fastball, Sampson at 92-93.  Sadler was followed by minor league free agent Brandon Mann, a lefty who throws from roughly the same angle from which Kent Tekulve threw.

The Pirates’ horde of new players just up from the Latin American summer leagues is still mostly going through drills.  This includes the most prominent prospect among them, Michael De La Cruz.

De La Cruz at the batting cage

De La Cruz at the batting cage

Author: WTM

Wilbur Miller joined the site in July 2010. He has long been known for his excellent Player Profiles, which he brought to the site in February 2011, combining them with the existing Pirates Prospects Player Pages. Wilbur maintains the player pages section of the site, and provides regular articles to the main portion of the site, including a weekly Prospects Trend piece, featuring the best and worst prospects from the previous week.

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  • Dom DiDominic

    So, De La Cruz does not look too big to me. So I jump to the player page to remind me of his size and BAM! Wilber has already added his picture.
    WTM, you are the man.
    6’1 is not too bad. He could get a little taller and when 165 turns into 190 he will be fine.
    See him swing?

    • WTM

      Saw him take BP. He’s not that strong yet, but he’s really young. Polanco was a beanpole at that age.

  • Y2JGQ2

    So- I was just cheking on Wei-chun Wang- whom was lost in the rule 5 player draft. Unfortunately (for us) he has thrown 8 1/3 innings and not allowed a run or a walk in spring training for the Brew Crew. If for any reason this kid doesn’t stick with that team, we really need to open our eyes to his ability and get him back on the road to the pirates team

    • John Dreker

      One thing to realize with Wei-Chung is that he was getting a lot of his innings after the starters were out. He did walk two batters in an intrasquad game, which obviously doesn’t count in the stats. In his second outing, which was also a Brewers/Brewers match-up, he gave up one run in one IP. So he did have two shaky outings, they were just early on. That all being said, I saw him pitch over the weekend and he recorded four outs on eight pitches, though three were fly balls to center field. The batters he faced were the starters too, as the Brewers took a beating vs the Reds and they brought him in early.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD

    Does anyone know what the final verdict was on Clay Holmes arm problem? Didn’t he have an apt with the renown Dr Andrews?

  • piraddict

    Jarek Cunningham has always been a 2B, but given the power in his bat why aren’t the Pirates trying him at 3B?