Two More Rounds Of Reassignments, Plus Game Notes

Catching up after being away for a few days…

On Saturday, the Pirates sent four pitchers to minor league camp:
RHP Bryan Morris and RHP Kyle McPherson, both on the 40-man roster, were optioned down, with Morris going to AAA Indianapolis and McPherson going to A+ Bradenton.   
Two lefties, Rudy Owens and Justin Wilson, were also sent to the minor league camp, and though their exact level is still not official, both should begin the season with the Indy Indians.  

More moves were made today:
From the 40-man roster–
LHP Jeff Locke, LHP Aaron Thompson, and RHP Ramon Aguero were optioned to AA Altoona 
LHP Daniel Moskos and LHP Tony Watson were optioned to Indianapolis
Outfielders Gorkys Hernandez and Alex Presley were optioned to Indianapolis
Moskos and Presley both spent part of 2010 with Indianapolis, while Watson and Hernandez will make their debut at the AAA level.  Locke, Aguero, and Thompson all spent part of 2010 with Altoona.

Not on the 40-man yet –
Infielders Chase d’Arnaud and Brian Friday and outfielder Andrew Lambo were reassigned to minor league camp.  Friday played in Indianapolis for most of 2010 and should return there.  D’Arnaud and Lambo were in Altoona for 2010;  Lambo is ready for AAA, though d’Arnaud may be asked to go back to Altoona for part of 2011.  

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2011 Prospect Watching: Lambo, Chalk, and Pearce

Finishing up our look at the outfielders in the Pirates’ minor league organization:

Andrew Lambo  –  L/L,  6′ 3″,   190 lb
Lambo is a 22-year-old California native, who came to the Pirates’ organization at the end of July 2010 in the Octavio Dotel trade.  He had been the Dodger’s 4th round draft pick in 2007, and actually played in 8 games at the AA level that season.  He went 14-for-36 in those few games, but when he returned to AA in the 2009 season, he slipped — .256, with 11 homers and 61 RBI.  Lambo began 2010 back in AA Chattanooga.  He began the season better, but after just a few weeks, he was suspended for testing positive for a “drug of abuse” –presumed, but never confirmed, to be marijuana.  Between the suspension and his less-than-stellar hitting stats in 2009 and again after the suspension, Lambo found his star falling instead of rising in the Dodgers’ system.  When the opportunity came up for a trade, Lambo was on his way to the Pirates.  He joined AA Altoona, where he started off hitting well.  In the first two weeks of August, Lambo had a .400 average for the Curve, with 7 RBI.  But when Lambo ran into the outfield wall, he injured his shoulder.  He was not playing much outfield after that, but doing a lot of DH’ing.  His hitting slipped again, and he finished the season with a .275 average in 26 total games, with one double, 2 homers, and 10 RBI.  Lambo got a charge in the playoffs, as the Curve earned the Eastern League championship.  He hit .286 over the course of the playoffs, with 2 homers and 7 RBI.  He went to the Arizona Fall League to help make up for some of the lost time during the regular season, and continued to show some better work there.  He hit .274 in 28 games, with 8 doubles, 4 homers, and 23 RBI.  Lambo is in the big league spring training camp as a non-roster invitee, hoping to boost his standing in the eyes of the management.  Lambo has expressed his appreciation for the Pirates’ willingness to give him the chance to make a new start.  He’s determined to not waste the opportunity.  The plan is to have him begin the 2010 season in AAA Indianapolis, probably in right field.  

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Rule 5 Minor League Portion: Chalk, Scott; and Valdez

After the major league part of the 2010 Rule 5 Draft, in which the Pirates chose SS Josh Rodriguez from the Cleveland Indians, the draft moved on to the minor league section.

In the AAA part, the Pirates chose OF Brad Chalk from the Padres.  Chalk, who will turn 25 in January, was drafted by the Padres in the 2nd round of the 2007 amateur draft.  He played at A level Fort Wayne in 2008, and hit .275 with 43 RBI.  He moved up to A+ Lake Elsinore in 2009, where he hit .301, with 2 home runs and 63 RBI. The South Carolina native split the 2010 season between Lake Elsinore, AA San Antonio, and AAA Portland.  About half of his season was at the AA level, where he hit .214 with 15 RBI in 65 games.  At AAA Portland, Chalk hit .313 with 5 RBI in 27 games, but in late June, he was sent to AA, and then in early August, he was moved down to A+.  Not clear what was going on there.  Not a lot of power in his swing, but at least at the AAA level, he was getting on base often.  

C Travis Scott was chosen from the Angels in the next round of the AAA part of the draft.  This Milwaukee native was drafted out of college in Illinois by the Mariners in the 20th round of the 2005 draft.  He moved slowly up through the Mariners’ organization, reaching as high as AA West Tennessee for 4 games in 2010.  Scott began the 2010 season with A+ High Desert, where he hit .269 with 5 homers and 22 RBI, then was moved to West Tennesee at the end of May.  But after just those 4 games, he was released.  Scott played for Rockford in the independent Northern League for 65 games, where he hit .300, with 5 homers and 29 RBI.  He must have been picked up by the Angels at some point, but did not get to play in their organization before being selected in this draft.  

Because Chalk and Scott were chosen in the minor league portion of the draft, they do not have the same requirement to stick with the big league club for the season.  The Pirates can assign them where ever they see fit.  

Also joining the Pirates’ organization today is starting pitcher Cesar Valdez.  Valdez is the player-to-be-named in the trade that sent Zach Duke to the Diamondbacks.  Valdez is a Dominican native, who made 18 starts (plus 2 relief appearances) for AAA Reno in the D’backs’ organization in 2010.  He earned a 6-10 record with a 5.90 ERA.  In 97.2 innings, he allowed 110 hits and 64 runs, with 49 walks and 92 strikeouts.  Valdez also pitched for Reno in 2009, with slightly better results:  a 7-6 record and a 4.78 ERA in 96 innings, with 103 hits, 51 runs, and 30 walks.  He had only 30 strikeouts that season.  Valdez has been playing in his native Venezuela this winter, making 7 starts and one relief appearance for Los Toros del Licey.  He has a 3-1 record with a 4.14 ERA.  In 37 innings, he has allowed 36 hits and 10 walks, with 21 strikeouts.  Valdez is not automatically added to the 40-man roster, though it’s likely he’ll be invited to big league camp for spring training and be given a shot to make the major league team.

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