First Pitch: Which Hitter Not Named Gregory Polanco Should Come Up?

Injuries have been the unfortunate theme for the Pirates’ minor league system this year. Their top pitching prospect, Jameson Taillon, went down for the season with Tommy John surgery. Several other top ten prospects, including Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows, have dealt with injuries this year. Most of the injuries are irrelevant in long-term considerations. For example, Meadows has had some setbacks with his hamstring, but it’s not like the Pirates are in any rush to get him to the majors with a future outfield of Andrew McCutchen, Gregory Polanco, and Starling Marte.

The biggest injury so far this year was to Taillon, and that’s especially true with the starting rotation struggling in Pittsburgh. Perhaps the second biggest injury is the recent injury to Andrew Lambo.

The Pirates will be sending Phil Irwin back to Indianapolis, presumably to call up a hitter. Lambo went on the disabled list today with a bruised thumb, meaning he won’t be that hitter who is coming up. That’s unfortunate, as Lambo has a .344/.430/.570 line in 93 at-bats this year with the Indians. He’s almost doing as well as Gregory Polanco, and since there aren’t the same Super 2 concerns with Lambo, the Pirates could bring him up anytime.

For the next two weeks, the Pirates will have an extra roster spot, allowing them to call up an extra hitter, in place of their fifth starter, who won’t be needed until May 24th. This would have been a perfect spot for Lambo to come up for a few weeks and get a shot in the majors.

Now the Pirates have their choice between the following players:

Jaff Decker – He has a .222/.317/.322 line in 90 at-bats this year, although he has been hitting well the last few games.

Brent Morel – .215/.279/.312 line in 93 at-bats won’t cut it.

Chris McGuiness – He’s not struggling as much as the others, but has a .214/.350/.405 line in 84 at-bats.

Gregory Polanco – Don’t expect him to come up before the Super 2 deadline.

Chris Dickerson – He’s the best performer of the group, with a .309/.378/.469 line in 81 at-bats. However, he’s not on the 40-man roster. The Pirates could just designate one of the above players for assignment, with the top option being Morel. That would open up a spot for Dickerson, who is the most deserving of the non-Polanco guys.

Of course, all of this depends on how long Lambo will be out. If he’s able to return early next week, then the Pirates would only be calling up a guy for three games over the weekend, until Lambo returned and became the top option once again.

Links and Notes

**Prospect Watch: Cumpton With a Strong Return; Rojas and Mathisen Homer

**Minor League Schedule: Adrian Sampson Tries to Continue Breakout Season

**Phil Irwin to Be Optioned Back to Triple-A

**Draft Prospect Watch: Jeff Hoffman to Have Tommy John Surgery, Prep Arm Pulls Out of Draft

**MLB Removes Several Podcasts From iTunes, Including P3

**Andrew Lambo Placed on the Indianapolis Disabled List

**Prospect Highlights: Gregory Polanco Drives a Double to the Gap

Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • Monsoon Harvard

    I hope the answer is that Polanco agrees to an extension and it’s him that comes up. Otherwise I might call up any shortstop in the world since it would be hard not to outhit Jordy Mercer right now.

    • pilbobuggins

      I agree with that sentiment 100%.

    • emjayinTN

      MH: Yes, if not Polanco, then probably somebody from AA. And the SS at AA is Alen Hanson. He has moved the average up to .260, but I think he currently has 8 errors. For all of his lack of offense, Mercer is still the 10th rated SS defensively with only 2 errors. And, if the last two games pitched by SP’s Charlie Morton and Gerrit Cole are any indication, I would want the better defensive SS out in the middle of the infield. At the plate, JHAY and then Snider yesterday have been giving us a lot out of the RF/leadoff position the past week, so why bring anybody up, including Polanco. Knowing Hurdle, he is going to ride the hot hitter, which is what he needs to do. Therefore, nobody is coming East until JHAY records a few 0′fers. To win though,we need for Liriano to match Morton and Cole.

      • leowalter

        Hanson isn’t ready for Prime Time yet emjay. Ya have to trust me on that.

        • emjayinTN

          leo: I am hoping he can get that number of errors down below 25 this season. 40 at Lo A in 2012, 32 last year between Hi A and AA, and anything less than 25 this year is a move in the right direction. This is his age 21 season, and I expect he will continue to get more instruction as he moves along. Last year he was making those errors that drive a Manager crazy. Fielding everything well that was difficult and then blow an easy ground ball or muff a throw – errors of youth. But, before this team tries to go out and get another “hope”, I would move him to the majors and let him develop there.

          • leowalter

            Here is what I see em : he still isn’t aggressive enough fielding ground balls. He has a tendency to stand back and wait on ground balls…unless they are hit in the hole to either side. He has the range AND the quickness,but he just has to charge groundballs at SS. 2nd base you can play like that, but MLB SS ? That won’t do. Like you, I am hoping he will get over that sooner than later.

  • pilbobuggins

    Honestly the only outfielder that makes any sense is polanco, they really need to come to an agreement on a contract soon. Otherwise, how is d’arnaud hitting ? ( or any other middle infielder for that matter) The mercer,barmes show is downright pathetic both on offence and defence. I guess since Tim gave us some homework I have to pick Dickerson, he has mlb exp. and at least the rest of the league needs to see what he can do so he could at least be trade bait if he does well. I’m pretty sure nobody wants tabata or snider in a trade, tell me who would want to trade for an underachieving outfielder?

    • http://@gwbicster gwbicster

      Dickerson wasn’t in the Indians’ lineup tonight, I think it’s him.

      Unless he ends up being hurt, like the Lambino was.

      • SportOMania

        I was at the game and not only was Dickerson not in the lineup I do not recall seeing him or Matt Hague anywhere,

  • Scott Kliesen

    If Pirates brass believes a long-term deal w Polanco is going to happen, be it this month, or next couple years, then go ahead and call him up. Clearly he is way more deserving than the cast of characters listed above.

    They’ve got 3 w Cards, 3 w Brewers and 3 w Yankees in next couple weeks. Pirates need to at least hold their own, or the season may be too far gone by mid June.

  • Ron Loreski

    If the Pirates are already trying to work out an extension with Polanco now, bring him up! F**k the Super 2 deadline, unless the Pirates really think they’re not gonna be able to extend him.

  • http://hiddenvigorish.com Twitter@piratesvigorish

    If not Polanco it has to be Chris Dickerson. It sends a bad message to agents and other potential future players to bring in a non-roster invitee with major league experience and not give him a promotion when warranted. He played well in spring training and has played well in Indy. Not to mention he is actually an asset defensively and on the bases.

  • CTBucco

    Isn’t Super 2 about accumulated days of service time in the year? If so, why not call up Polance now, until Lambo is ready. Swap them when Lambo is OK keeping Polanco down long enough so that his service time accumulation is below the Super 2 number, then bring him up to stay.

    Or does the Super 2 clock start (and not stop) once the player comes up?

  • bmcferren

    drop Decker – call up Dickerson

  • marty34156

    Decker blows, McGuiness is even worse, Morel is the worst of the bunch, Dickerson has proven to be an AAAA guy. No one deserves a call up EXCEPT Polanco. Yet they won’t call him up because of money. How sad.

    • leowalter

      Same with the Cardinals and Taveras Marty ? Afterall,they are the smartest guys in the room,right ?

  • Douglas Byrd

    We shouldn’t pretend to know the value of winning, or that somehow we know the value of Polanco now rather than mid-June. We don’t know. One win might make all the difference. Maybe Polanco comes up and stinks. We can’t know. But our best outfield has Polanco in it. I’d follow a simple rule: field the best players. This is especially after the possibility of losing a year is gone.

    If we were winning of course it is a bit different. But we are in trouble. Call him up.