Let’s take a look at the real winner in the Neil Walker position change. No, not Humberto Cota. Steve Lerud, the Pirates’ best catcher in Single A.
Lerud was the Pirates’ third-round draft pick in 2003, but as you can see, he hasn’t exactly set the world on fire in the low minors. Due to a lack of quality catching prospects in the system, though, Lerud can get to Altoona as soon as he picks up his game. There’s no #1 pick blocking his path now.
October 13, 1984
6’1″, 205 lbs.
Here’s what Wilbur Miller has to say:
Lerud managed to stay healthy in 2006 and spent the year as the regular catcher at Hickory. He showed good power for a catcher and drew some walks, but obviously had huge problems making contact. He’s not an impatient hitter. He tries to wait on a good pitch, but when I’ve seen him it’s tended to leave him behind in the count more often than not.
He’ll be playing his 22-year-old season this year and has a legitimate chance to earn a promotion from Lynchburg to Altoona, so Lerud’s not a lost cause quite yet. He’s an above average season away from being back on the radar as a possible bench player for the future.
Here’s a bit from the P-G:
[Lerud] seldom has played in his first three professional seasons, his .239 average at Class A Hickory last season would impress no one, and neither would his 35 passed balls.
So, why is it that anytime the subject of prospects in the low minors is raised with Pirates officials, Lerud’s name is among the first mentioned?
And why has he been in the major-league camp the past two springs?
“Because the kid can hit for power,” director of player development Brian Graham said. “And he can catch. And he’s got one of the strongest arms of anybody in the system.”
A quick news item from 2006 fall ball:
“…Honolulu Sharks teammates Steve Lerud, Kanehisa Arime, and Takanobu Tsujiuchi have been named Position Player and co-Pitchers of the Week for October 10-14. Lerud, a catcher from the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, is currently batting .500 on the season. Though he only played in two games this week, he made his plate appearances count, going 5-for-8 with one home run”
But the final results…
The 22-year-old backstop was hitting .306 on Nov. 12, but went into an 0-for-17 slump over his last five games, dropping his average to .227. Lerud also struck out 26 times in 22 games for Honolulu.
What should we expect? Honestly, not a lot. But if Lerud can tear up the Carolina League in April and May, he might get a trip to Blair County Ballpark. From there, he’s only a promising season or two away from turning into J.R. House or Ryan Doumit.
Continuing with the theme of whether bad trades made in assembling the 1979 team crippled the club in the mid-80s. The subject of today’s post is possibly the worst trade made to acquire a player that played on the 1979 Pirates, the one that brought in Phil Garner. The Trade On March 15, 1977 the Pirates sent Tony Armas, Doug Bair, Dave Giusti, Rick Langford, Doc Medich, and Mitchell Page to the A’s for Chris Batton,...
How about a position player we’re looking forward to seeing in Indianapolis?
Born: 7/13/80 in� Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Ht. 6′ 5″���� Wt. 275 lbs
B: Right����� T: Right
Eldred was the Pirates’ 6th round draft pick in 2002, after he had played for four seasons at Florida International University.� In college, he was a pitcher first, though his velocity was better than his control.� He made the decision to concentrate on hitting, and hasn’t looked back.� He spent 2003 and 2004 hitting his way through Hickory, Lynchburg, and Altoona,�with a .277 AVG, 44 doubles, 66 HR’s, and 217 RBI over those two years.� Eldred�was named the Pirates’ Minor League Player of the Year and the Carolina League’s MVP in 2004.� He started 2005 again in Altoona, but after bashing 13 HR’s and 27 RBI in only 21 games, including home runs in six consecutive games, he was promoted to Indianapolis.� He continued to hit big with the Indians, slamming 15 HR’s and 13 doubles in 54 games.� There was a downside, though — he walked only 14 times, and had 57 strikeouts.� On July 22, he was promoted to the Pirates, where he hit 12 HR’s�and 9 doubles with 27 RBI in 55 games.� He continued to struggle with plate discipline, however, with 13 walks and 77 strikeouts.
Eldred returned to Indianapolis to start the 2006 season, with the goals of working on his plate discipline and cutting down on strikeouts.� He got off to a slower-than-usual start, and in the first 18 games, he hit only 3 HR’s with 10 RBI and a .226 AVG, 8 walks, and 18 strikeouts.� Then on April 23rd, he broke his left thumb when a Louisville Bats baserunner collided with him when Eldred moved off the first base bag to reach a wide throw.� He had surgery to fix the fracture, and was out for the rest of the season.� He was able to return to play in the 2006 Arizona Fall League for the Grand Canyon Rafters, where he appeared in 18 games for 65 AB’s.� He hit 5 doubles, one HR, and 8 RBI’s, with 7 walks and 13 strikeouts.�
�Eldred should start 2007 in Indianapolis again, with the same goals that he didn’t have much of a chance to work on last year.� The Pirates’ off season signing of� first baseman Adam LaRoche means that Eldred will have lots of time to work things out.� Oh, and the nickname “Big Country” came about in high school and college, due to his easy-going personality and love of country music.
On Tuesday, the Pirates played an intrasquad game in Bradenton.� Bryan Bullington pitched one inning, throwing 10 pitches, which he said were all fastballs.� He gave up one walk and no hits.� Sean Burnett also pitched, but didn’t fare as well.� He threw 28 pitches in 2/3 of an inning, striking out the first two batters he faced,�but then giving up four hits including�a home run.
The day we’ve been (sort of) waiting for has arrived; the Pittsburgh Pirates will play a (sort of) meaningful baseball game after an excruciatingly long winter. At 12:05, the pre-season officially gets underway as the annual beatdown of Manatee Community College takes place at McKechnie Field. According to Dejan in the Post-Gazette, “most of the 12 pitchers and 20 position players used in the scrimmage [yesterday] will...
Another pitcher who could be with the Indianapolis Indians in 2007 –
LHP – starter
born: 9/17/1982 in Dunedin, Florida
Ht: 6′ 1″�� Wt: 190 lb��������� B: Left�� T: Left
Burnett was the Pirates’ first round draft pick in 2000.� He had outstanding seasons in 2001 with the Hickory Crawdads and in 2002 with the Lynchburg Hillcats.� He was named the Pirates’ Organizational Pitcher of the Year in both 2001 and 2002, and the Carolina League’s MVP in 2002.�� He advanced to the Altoona Curve in 2003, where he led the Eastern League with 14 wins and was named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year.� Burnett started 2004 with the (AAA) Nashville Sounds, and in May made his MLB debut with the Pirates.� He started 13 games for the Pirates, and earned 5 wins and 5 losses, pitching 71.2 innings with a 5.02 ERA and 1.60 WHIP, with 28 walks, and 30 strikeouts.� His season ended early, though, and was followed by Tommy John surgery on his left elbow and then surgery on his left shoulder.� He spent all of the 2005 season rehabbing.
Burnett returned in 2006 to pitch for the Indianapolis Indians.� He began the season with two back-to-back wins, giving up 9 hits and 4 walks with 3 strikeouts in 10 innings.� His next two starts were total turn-arounds, though.� He gave up 13 hits and 10 earned runs in 5 innings, with 5 walks and one strikeout.� He continued to struggle as the season went on, throwing both excellent starts and starts he’d probably rather forget.� Burnett finished the season with 8 wins and 11 losses, in 24 starts and one relief appearance.� He pitched 120.1 innings, the most for any of the Indians’ pitchers, with a 5.16 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 46 walks, and 46 strikeouts.�
�An outstanding spring training could earn Burnett a spot on the Pirates’ roster.� A less-than-stellar spring training, or the desire of the Pirates’ staff for him to get more starts rather than sit in the bullpen, could bring him to Indianapolis to begin 2007.
A quick rundown of what’s being said about the Bucs around the Web: On MVN’s Outsider Radio, Brandon and Dan talked about Freddy Sanchez’ 2006 (and his possible position change), whether or not the Pirates will be decent this year, Pittsburgh’s baseball sanctuary (PNC Park) and Skyblast. I even made a quick call in to provide the black and gold side of the discussion. You can listen to the show in podcast form....