The biggest news for the farm system came at the end of the week, with reports that Josh Harrison and possibly Dusty Brown would be promoted to the Pirates to fill in for the injured Steve Pearce and Ryan Doumit. Both had been having strong seasons at Indianapolis. Otherwise, several struggling prospects started getting on track with the bat, a couple others didn’t, and a relief prospect finally emerged from the missing persons file.
Gorkys Hernandez, CF (AAA): Hernandez is doing the same thing he did last year in AA; after a slow start (.246 BA in April), he’s gradually come around with the bat. During the last week he’s gone 9-for-23 (.391). On the negative side, that included only one walk and one extra-base hit. He’s never likely to have any power, but he does have a .350 OBP in May.
Eric Fryer, C (AA): Making the most of things while stuck behind Tony Sanchez, Fryer has been scorching the ball in May. He went 10-for-17 (.588) over the past week, with two triples and a HR, and is now hitting 417/485/650 in May. Add in the fact that he’s a good defensive catcher and can play the outfield, and you’d think he’d have a very good chance of reaching the majors as a backup, despite the fact that he’ll be 26 in August.
Mike Colla, RHP (AA): Colla continued his surprising success since moving into the rotation, allowing one run in five innings in his only start for the week. Over his last four starts, he’s allowed just three runs, sixteen hits and six walks in 21 innings, while fanning 18.
Nate Baker, LHP (A+): After struggling through much of the season, Baker showed signs of coming out of it in his two starts this past week. In the first, he threw six shutout innings, allowing three hits and two walks while fanning eight. He wasn’t as good in the second, lasting just 4.2 IP, but he still allowed only one run.
Elias Diaz, C (A): The Pirates’ interest in Diaz has raised some eyebrows, as he didn’t hit much in the GCL last year and suffered through a miserable April this year, with a .436 OPS. In the past week, however, he went 7-for-13 (.538) with three walks, and finally completed the long climb to the Mendoza line. Third baseman Eric Avila has made a similar recovery in May, although a 0-for-6 line in a 19-inning game kept his numbers down for this past week.
Brooks Pounders, RHP (A): Continuing his strong season pitching in relief, Pounders threw three and a third hitless innings in two outings, walking two and fanning six. On the season he’s struck out 31 in 24.1 IP.
Victor Black, RHP (A): Black took the mound twice, which is a triumph by itself after extended shoulder problems. He retired all six batters he faced on five grounders and one flyball.
Andrew Lambo, OF (AAA): Lambo’s bad week came mostly off the field, with the Pirates stating that he was being held out of games to work on some hitting issues. He returned at the end of the week and went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. He’s now gone 0-for-18 in his last six games.
Jeff Locke, LHP (AA): Continuing a stretch of rough starts, Locke got hammered twice more in the past week, allowing nine earned runs on ten hits and six walks in ten innings. The one positive was that he fanned fourteen. He now has a 7.01 ERA in May.
Aaron Thompson, LHP (AA): Like Locke, Thompson continued to get hit hard, although he only had one start during the week. He allowed six earned runs on nine hits in five innings. During May he’s allowed 44 hits in just 27.1 IP.
Brian Leach, RHP (A+): Leach went into the season looking like a good bullpen prospect, but severe struggles at Altoona got him demoted to Bradenton. Things haven’t picked up yet. In his two appearances for the Marauders, Leach allowed three earned runs on three hits and two walks in 2.1 IP.
Mel Rojas, Jr., OF (A): After a slow start, Rojas seemed to be coming around, getting his average up around .300 earlier in May. In the last week, however, he went 5-for-30 (.167) with no walks and no extra-base hits. On the season he has just a .525 OPS to go with 46 strikeouts and only five walks.