In a week when the Pirates narrowly missed being no-hit, and when their offensive ineptitude increasingly began to look like it might reach historic levels, it’s ironic that Indianapolis managed to be even more inept, getting shut out four straight times, and five times in six games going back to the previous week. Worst of all, the Pirates’ top upper-level hitting prospects either slumped badly (Starling Marte and Robbie Grossman) or continued hitting at a mediocre level (Tony Sanchez). Aside from the Indians’ offensive offensiveness, especially good or bad performances were difficult to find over the past week, so this edition will be a little light.
Tim Wood, RHP (AAA): Wood got off to a terrible start in 2012, but suddenly settled down about a month ago. In his last nine outings, he’s allowed just one run in 17 IP (o.53 ERA). He’s given up just six hits and one walk, and fanned 15. Of course, Wood has generally put up very good performances in AAA only to struggle whenever he’s been called up to the majors.
Kelson Brown, IF (AA): Brown is just an organizational utility infielder, but he was Altoona’s best hitter while the Curve had several starters out with injuries. Over his last ten games, Brown has gone 13-28 (.464), raising his average to .333. And now that Jarek Cunningham is back from his wrist injury, Brown is back on the bench.
Gerrit Cole, RHP (High A): Cole started only once in the last week, but in his last four starts he’s allowed only four runs in 23 IP (1.57 ERA), on 12 hits and five walks, while fanning 20.
Starling Marte, OF (AAA): Since returning from his hand injury, Marte has gone 3-26 (.115) with eight strikeouts. Hopefully, he’ll pick things up as the hand gets better. For now, he’s hitting 239/305/391.
Robbie Grossman, OF (AA): A week ago, Grossman seemed to be in the process of turning things around. In the past week, though, he’s gone 2-23 (.087) with nine strikeouts. He’s now hitting .214.
Alex Dickerson, 1B (High A): Dickerson’s past week was brightened only by a 3-4 game on Saturday. In his other five games during the week, he went 0-14. He hasn’t had an extra base hits in ten days.
Prep Pitchers from the 2009 Draft Class: This draft is looking more and more like a disaster. Not one of the prep pitchers is having even a passable year. The closest is Colton Cain, who was also the only one to get promoted. He currently has an ERA of 5.18 and a WHIP of 1.42, and is striking out 6.5 batters per nine innings in a league where the average is 7.4. Zack Dodson has a 6.17 ERA and 1.57 WHIP in a league that he’s repeating. Zac Fuesser (actually drafted out of junior college rather than high school) has an ERA of 5.00 and WHIP of 1.58 while also repeating the league. Trent Stevenson had a 9.26 ERA and retired. And Zack von Rosenberg has struggled so much that he’s still in extended spring training. Individually, maybe it’s too soon to give up on any of these guys (except Stevenson, of course). As a group, though, somebody should have stepped forward by now. Instead, they’ve all taken significant steps backward this year.
Having followed the Pirates fanatically since 1965, Wilbur Miller is one of the fast-dwindling number of fans who’ve actually seen good Pirate teams. He’s even seen Hall-of-Fame Pirates who didn’t get traded mid-career, if you can imagine such a thing. His first in-person game was a 5-4, 11-inning win at Forbes Field over Milwaukee (no, not that one). He’s been writing about the Pirates at various locations online for over 20 years. It has its frustrations, but it’s certainly more cathartic than writing legal stuff. Wilbur is retired and now lives in Bradenton with his wife and three temperamental cats.