The farm system as a whole has been in something of a slump for a week or so, but a couple of former prospects are showing some power at the upper levels and one of the team’s top prospects is overcoming a bad start. Meanwhile, the bullpen depth has taken a hit lately.
Matt Hague, 1B (AAA): He’s past the prospect stage, but Hague could still rate consideration for a callup if the Pirates suffered a couple of injuries. He wasn’t looking like an option for a while this year, as his power disappeared on him. He didn’t go deep until well into May and he slugged only .387 in April; not good for a guy mainly limited to first base. He’s been hitting the ball with much more authority in May, with four HR and an overall line of 282/385/505. He’s done it while maintaining good plate discipline (16 BB, 18 K).
Andrew Lambo, 1B/OF (AA): One of the issues for Lambo has always been an inability to bring his raw power into play in games. He’s finally doing it this year, as he has 11 HRs, second in the farm system to Stetson Allie. Eight of them have come in May and he’s slugging .624 for the month, .538 overall. His plate discipline is a warning sign; it’s not terrible, but 18 walks and 54 strikeouts isn’t good, either. Surprisingly, Lambo is still only 24 and needs to get a shot at AAA soon.
Alen Hanson, SS (High A): After some severe struggles on offense and defense, Hanson finally seems to have come around. He’s hitting 323/383/479 in May, 375/444/600 in his last ten games. He also has only three errors in his last 35 games after committing a dozen in his first dozen games.
Stetson Allie, 1B (Low A): It seems like cheating to put Allie on this list multiple times, but the longer he keeps hitting, the more seriously people will have to take him. After cooling off for a bit, he’s batted 450/532/800 in his last ten games. He’s not just killing LHPs, either; he’s been better against RHPs. And from some comments I’ve gotten, he’s playing well defensively, too. The strikeouts remain a concern, as he’s still whiffing in a third of his ABs. It’s still quite possible he won’t hit higher level pitching, but he couldn’t be doing much better at this stage.
Joely Rodriguez, LHP (Low A): Rodriguez has always had very good stuff for a lefty, but his command has been shaky. He’s put together a strong run lately, though, posting an ERA of 0.76 in his last six starts. In his last 35.1 IP, he’s allowed 29 hits and five walks, and fanned 28. His K rate for the season (7.2 K/9) is low for the level, but it’s a drastic improvement over what he posted last year at State College (4.5 K/9).
Duke Welker, RHP (AAA): Welker had an outstanding month of April, allowing no earned runs, with just two hits and five walks, in 13 innings. In May, his ERA is 8.49. A lot of it is the disappearance of his control; he’s walked 12 in 11.2 IP while striking out only nine. Until he gets things straightened out, he probably shouldn’t be considered an option for the Pirates’ bullpen if a need arises. This greatly cuts into their depth with Vic Black on the disabled list now.
Adalberto Santos, UT (AA): Santos batted .340 at Altoona last year and was hitting .400 in April before missing some time on the disabled list. He’s stayed healthy in May, but his bat hasn’t as he’s hit only 194/313/269. That’s dropped his overall line to 237/366/339. He’s still drawing a ton of walks, but pitchers otherwise may have figured him out.
Stolmy Pimentel, RHP (AA): Pimentel was something of a sensation early in the season, allowing only one earned run in his first five starts. In his last five, however, he has an ERA of 9.38. In some games he’s struggled with his control, in others he’s just gotten bombed. He’s putting the Pirates in a tough position because he has no options left after this year and he’s never reached AAA. The Pirates could consider moving him to the bullpen, but there’s no indication they’ll do so.