Pittsburgh Pirates Prospect Watch 6/15/11

TODAY’S FEATURED PROSPECT

I put up a survey for the site, asking for your comments and suggestions on the site.  If you haven’t taken the survey yet, please check it out and send in your comments, as I’m always looking for input (and I’m responding to every e-mail).  One of the things I noticed was that people really like the Prospect Watch.  I always figured it was a good feature, but more of a secondary feature.  Based on the comments I got tonight, the Prospect Watch is a top feature for the site, which I guess makes sense considering the theme of the site.

Always looking to improve the site, I decided to add a new section to this feature.  Each night, I’ll talk about a different prospect.  It might be a prospect who had a big day, or it might just be a guy I haven’t talked about before.  I’m also open for name suggestions for this section, other than “Today’s Featured Prospect”.  As for today’s prospect:

Calvin Anderson

Anderson is an interesting prospect.  At 6′ 7″, 240 pounds, he looks more like he should play for the Steelers than the Pirates, which is fitting, considering his Dad, Fred Anderson, played for the Steelers in the 70s.  Despite the size, Anderson hasn’t hit for much power in his career, with 12 homers in 372 at-bats in 2009, and 11 homers in 464 at-bats in 2010.  That’s changed this year.  Anderson hit his 11th homer tonight, matching last year’s totals in almost 300 fewer at-bats.  He’s currently got a .500 slugging percentage, and has been on fire in June, with a .386/.471/.727 line in 44 at-bats.

So what changed for Anderson?  A lot actually.  I talked with Calvin, and with Pirates’ farm director Kyle Stark, back during Spring Training.  At the time, Calvin was working on some adjustments at the plate.  The big adjustment was adding a load to his swing.  For those of you unfamiliar, a load is a transition of movement which allows a hitter to generate movement through his swing.  It usually involves starting with a shift to the back foot, keeping the weight on the inner portion of the leg, rather than completely shifting your weight backwards.  If done correctly, the foot, hips, back shoulder, and hands should fall in a straight line.  That allows for a lot of momentum as the player swings through the ball.

Previously, Anderson hit from the standstill position, meaning he was basically hitting without putting much of his huge frame in to the swing.  So has the load paid off?  He’s hitting a homer every 16.7 at-bats, so obviously the adjustments are working.  Honestly, anything the Pirates can do to put more momentum from Anderson’s large frame in to his swing is a good thing.  His lack of range limits him to being a poor defensive first baseman, which means the power is necessary.  As for the other tools, he still needs work cutting down on strikeouts.  He’s striking out in 38% of his at-bats, which is an alarming rate, and even up from his 30% mark last year.  He’s down a bit in June, but 10 strikeouts in 44 at-bats is still pretty bad.

The new found power is great for Anderson, but he’s still got work to do in other areas.  Hopefully the recent hot streak is a sign that he’s getting comfortable with his adjustments this Spring, and not just a short term fluke in stats.

DAILY SUMMARY

Top Pitcher: Brandon Cumpton (5.2 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 0 HR)

Top Hitter: Matt Curry (3-for-5, HR)

Home Runs: Matt Curry (2), Calvin Anderson (11), Mel Rojas Jr. (1), Jose Ortiz (2)

INDIANAPOLIS INDIANS (AAA)

Indianapolis was off tonight.

ALTOONA CURVE (AA)

Curry went 3-for-5 with a homer.

Box Score

Result: Altoona 11, New Britain 10 (10 innings)

Starting Pitcher: Michael Colla (4.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 0 K, 2 HR)

Top Hitter: Matt Curry (3-for-5, HR)

Notes: Altoona had a crazy game with New Britain, winning 11-10 in ten innings, thanks to a three run 10th, following two runs allowed in the top of the inning.  Michael Colla (3.54) pitched four innings, and didn’t have his best outing, with six runs allowed on eight hits.  Aaron Thompson (4.86) also struggled, with two runs on five hits in three innings.  Donald Veal (7.71) pitched 1.2 shutout innings, allowing four hits.  Noah Krol (3-2, 3.38) allowed the two runs in the tenth, with only one earned, but got the win.

Matt Curry (.296) went 3-for-5 with a homer, his second at the AA level.  Jeremy Farrell (.296) went 2-for-4 with a double and three RBIs.  His double cleared the bases in the seventh, bringing in three to tie the game at 8.  Jordy Mercer (.265) went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI.  The RBI came on a walk-off sacrifice fly.  Anthony Norman (.364) went 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs.  Tony Sanchez (.263) went 2-for-5.

BRADENTON MARAUDERS (A+)

Anderson went 2-for-4 with a homer.

Box Score

Result: Charlotte 5, Bradenton 4

Starting Pitcher: Brett Sinkbeil (4.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 0 HR)

Top Hitter: Calvin Anderson (2-for-4, HR, 2 RBI)

Notes: Brett Sinkbeil (5.60) pitched 4.2 innings, allowing three runs on seven hits, with a walk and three strikeouts.  Duke Welker (1-4, 3.18) pitched 3.1 innings, allowing two runs on three hits, with a walk and a strikeout.  Ryan Beckman (3.92) pitched a shutout inning, allowing a walk and a hit.

Calvin Anderson (.250) went 2-for-4 with a homer and two RBIs.  Aaron Baker (.282) went 3-for-5 with a double and a run.  Robbie Grossman (.277) went 1-for-4 with his 15th stolen base of the season.  Evan Chambers (.194), David Rubinstein (.304), and Kelson Brown (.245) each went 2-for-4.

WEST VIRGINIA POWER (A)

Rojas Jr. went 2-for-4 with a homer and a stolen base.

Box Score

Result: West Virginia 3, Greensboro 0

Starting Pitcher: Brandon Cumpton (5.2 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 0 HR)

Top Hitter: Mel Rojas Jr. (2-for-4, HR, SB)

Notes: Brandon Cumpton (7-4, 4.30) continued his strong run, pitching 5.2 shutout innings, allwing six hits, three walks, and striking out two.  Cumpton struggled on June 4th, allowing six runs in 4.2 innings, but has since pitched 10.2 shutout innings in his last two starts.  Kevin Decker (2.06) pitched 2.1 shutout innings, allowing three hits, one walk, and striking out one.  Jason Townsend (2.42) pitched a shutout inning, allowing one walk.

Mel Rojas Jr. (.250) went 2-for-4 with a homer, his first of the year, and a stolen base, his 12th of the year.  Elias Diaz (.220) went 2-for-4 with a double.  Daniel Grovatt (.289) went 1-for-4 with a double and an RBI.

DSL Pirates (RK)

Box Score

Result: Astros 7, Pirates 6

Starting Pitcher: Jimy Hernandez (4.0 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 0 HR)

Top Hitter: Jose Ortiz (1-for-5, HR, 3 RBI)

Notes: Jose Ortiz (.238) went 1-for-5 with a homer and three RBIs.  I’d mention that he’s a catcher, but saying the words “catcher” and “homer” in the same sentence is likely to get demands to call him up to the majors.  Yefaine Gerald (.320) went 0-for-4, but did walk twice and stole two bases.

VSL Pirates (RK)

Box Score

Result: Pirates 6, Phillies 2

Starting Pitcher: Roberto Espinoza (7.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 0 HR)

Top Hitter: Jose Roman (2-for-3, 2B, 2 RBI)

Notes: It’s hard to tell what’s going on with Roberto Espinoza (1-2, 5.40).  In 2009 he had a 2.74 ERA in 62.1 innings in the VSL.  In 2010 he had a 3.46 ERA in 54.2 innings.  This year, his third year in the league, he’s blown up.  Perhaps this is why he hasn’t made the jump to the states yet.  However, tonight he put up a good outing, allowing two runs on seven hits in seven innings, with no walks and four strikeouts.  Dilson Herrera (.300) went 0-for-3.  Jose Roman (.370) went 2-for-3 with a double, a walk, and two RBIs.

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