We’ve covered the 2012 West Virginia Power, the 2012 Bradenton Marauders, and the 2012 Altoona Curve. Today we wrap up the previews of the full season leagues with a look at the 2012 Indianapolis Indians.
Indianapolis will open the season with the top hitting prospect in the system, Starling Marte. They will also feature a rotation full of prospects. And, as usual, they will provide the depth for the Pirates throughout the year.
C – Eric Fryer
1B – Jeff Clement
2B – Jordy Mercer
SS – Chase d’Arnaud
3B – Nick Evans
LF – Gorkys Hernandez
CF – Starling Marte
RF – Brandon Boggs
DH – Jake Fox
The top prospect in this group is Starling Marte. The outfielder had a breakout season in 2011 at the Double-A level, and will make the jump to Triple-A for the first time in 2012. Marte is a five tool center fielder who profiles as the top hitting prospect in the Pirates’ system. If he hits as well in 2012 as he did in Altoona last year, he could make it up to Pittsburgh by mid-season.
Eric Fryer hasn’t had much playing time above high-A, and struggled at the plate in Indianapolis last year. He’ll return to Triple-A in the starting role, where he will get plenty of playing time and a chance to improve his chances of making it back to the majors.
Chase d’Arnaud and Jordy Mercer will take up the middle infield. The Pirates will go with d’Arnaud at shortstop, feeling that he needs more work at the position than Mercer, while giving Mercer more work at second base. Both are candidates for the long-term shortstop position in Pittsburgh. Mercer profiles more as an offensive shortstop, and will need to focus on improving over his numbers in Triple-A last year.
Gorkys Hernandez will start in left field, while occasionally playing some center field. Hernandez is the best defensive outfielder in the Pirates’ system, and has some speed, although he’s mostly a singles hitter, which makes his upside a 4th outfielder.
The lineup has a lot of veteran players who will serve as MLB depth. Nick Evans is the top guy of the group, and will get the majority of his playing time at third base. Evans could be a guy to watch, as he’s posted decent numbers in the majors, and has shown a good ability to hit left-handed pitching.
Jeff Clement and Jake Fox will rotate between first base and DH duties. Clement hits for power, and has shown the ability to carry that power over to the majors. His problem is that he hasn’t been able to do anything else in the majors, including hit for average or draw walks. Fox can play almost every position on the field, including catcher, but hasn’t done anything with the bat in his time in the majors.
Brandon Boggs will be the everyday right fielder. He’s shown some power potential, but hasn’t hit enough to justify keeping a spot in the majors. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Boggs get a shot at the majors if the Pirates need an outfielder early in the season.
Miles Durham, Brian Friday, Anderson Hernandez, Miguel Perez, Kris Watts
Miles Durham will serve as the primary backup outfielder, although with two legit prospects in the outfield it’s unlikely that the Pirates will need Durham to make many starts.
Friday and Hernandez will serve as infield backups. Friday looked pretty good at the plate this spring. It wasn’t long ago that he was considered the shortstop of the future in Pittsburgh. The chances of him turning things around are slim.
Miguel Perez ad Kris Watts give the Pirates two backup catchers. That will come in handy if the Pirates need to bring up Eric Fryer to the majors in the event of an injury to Rod Barajas or Michael McKenry. It’s likely that one of these two will come off the roster at the start of the year.
Jeff Locke, Rudy Owens, Justin Wilson, Brad Lincoln, Kyle McPherson (DL), Jo-Jo Reyes
The Pirates were set to have an all-prospect rotation before Kyle McPherson went down with shoulder inflammation. Jo-Jo Reyes will take McPherson’s spot until he returns. The return date for McPherson is still unknown for now.
Brad Lincoln would be the first to get the call to Pittsburgh if the Pirates needed a starting pitcher. He might have a shot at the major league bullpen by the end of the year if no spot opens in the rotation.
Jeff Locke needs a bit more work in Triple-A, but could also be an early season rotation candidate in Pittsburgh, should the Pirates need him. Locke has been working this spring on adding a Ted Lilly-esque turn to his delivery. He doesn’t profile like Lilly, but the addition of the turn is meant to help him reduce some of the command issues that he saw in his four starts in the majors last year.
Rudy Owens returns to Indianapolis after getting hit around last year. Owens was dominant in 2009 and 2010, but was hit for the first time in three years after making the jump to Triple-A. He stopped trusting his stuff, and his numbers went down from there. He looked better this spring, and will get another shot at Triple-A pitching in 2012.
Justin Wilson was moved from the rotation to the bullpen last year. He will move back to the rotation this year to work on his command issues. Wilson has some of the best stuff in the Pirates’ system, but his command issues prevent him from being a top prospect. He could still have the upside of a starting pitcher, although he threw 99 MPH out of the bullpen last year, which is very appealing out of the bullpen for a left-hander.
Jose Diaz, Shairon Martis, Daniel McCutchen, Bryan Morris, Daniel Moskos, Doug Slaten, Tim Wood
Bryan Morris is the top prospect of this group, making the jump to Triple-A for the first time. Morris has a good fastball which he throws consistently around 95-96 MPH. He’s been working on a cutter this spring, which is a variation of a slider that he threw last year. If all goes well, he could move up to the majors at some point this season. That’s almost a move he has to make, since he will be out of options in 2013.
Daniel Moskos was one of the final cuts of the spring. He could make it back to the majors, and looks to be the top left-handed relief option after Tony Watson. Doug Slaten also gives the Pirates some left-handed relief depth, although he’s further down on the depth charts, likely behind Moskos, Reyes, and maybe even Wilson.
The Pirates will stretch out Daniel McCutchen, and the right-hander will be a top option should the major league team need depth early in the season.
Shairon Martis could factor in to the rotation while McPherson is out, but for now Reyes will be the favorite.
The Pirates have two hard throwing relievers in Jose Diaz and Tim Wood. Both throw their fastballs in the upper 90s, and both have hard sliders. Diaz has always dealt with control. Wood had a great season in Triple-A last year, but his control has always taken a hit in his jump to the majors.