Earlier today the Pittsburgh Pirates cut ten players from Major League camp. Andrew Lambo, Chase D’Arnaud, and Brian Friday were all among the cuts, although because they were non-roster invitees, we didn’t initially learn about their assignment. According to Jenifer Langosch, all three players will go to Indianapolis, starting the season in AAA.
That assignment is somewhat of a surprise for Lambo and D’Arnaud. Lambo came to the Pirates in the July 31st trade for Octavio Dotel. Prior to the trade, he had a .271/.325/.420 line in 181 at-bats with the Dodgers’ AA affiliate in 2010, with his season shortened due to a 50-game drug suspension. His numbers in Altoona don’t show it, but he actually improved his power after the trade. Lambo hit for a .275/.353/.352 line in 91 at-bats with Altoona. He started off hitting for power, hurt his shoulder, and saw his power drop off due to the injury. That power returned in the Eastern League playoffs, and carried over to the Arizona Fall League. Lambo will join Gorkys Hernandez and Alex Presley in the Indianapolis outfield.
D’Arnaud had a down year in his jump to AA, hitting for a .247/.331/.377 line. His plate patience numbers were in line with his numbers in A-ball from 2009, although his walk rate was down by about 2%. He also hit for decent power, with a .130 ISO, although that was also down from his 2009 numbers. His main problem was that his average was down, mostly due to a slow start to the 2010 season. After the Eastern League All-Star break, he hit for a .262/.343/.419 line in 191 at-bats. He also had a strong showing in the Eastern League playoffs, followed by a strong performance playing for Team USA.
D’Arnaud and Friday provide a crowded middle infield in AAA. There is a chance that Friday could be traded or released to make room. He is coming off a .257/.347/.378 line in 288 at-bats in AAA in 2010. The Pirates could also have other options for the middle infield in AAA, such as Josh Harrison, Jordy Mercer, Pedro Ciriaco, Josh Rodriguez, and Corey Wimberly, which could decrease the chances of Friday remaining in the organization. On the flip side, Langosch mentions that D’Arnaud will play short, and Friday will play second, so there could be a chance that Friday holds someone back, like Josh Harrison or Jordy Mercer. Friday shouldn’t be blocking Harrison from moving up and starting, but Mercer could use more time in Altoona at the start of the season.