Minor League news and notes
We’ll get back to big league stuff in a minute, but for those of you with one eye on the organization’s Minor League system heading into 2010, here are some notes you might be interested in. Information is courtesy of farm director Kyle Stark (I’ll thank him for you)…
- Pedro Alvarez: The plan is to keep him at third base, though that could eventually change for one of two reasons. One, how Jeff Clement and Andy LaRoche fare at the big league level could play a role in whether the Pirates think about using Alvarez at first. Two, he has to continue to shore up his defense and conditioning to stick at the hot corner.
- Neil Walker: For all the talk about where Walker might be able to play, the key is this: If Walker is going to get a strong look from Pittsburgh, he’s going to have to hit. As Stark put it, “If Neil’s bat progresses, we’ll find a spot for Neil.” The plan is to try him out in a few spots this spring to improve his versatility. He’ll keep playing third, but will also likely get continued work at second and learn the corner outfield spots.
- Jose Tabata: Though Tabata’s most likely spot in Pittsburgh is right field, he’ll keep getting a lot of work in center as long as he’s in the Minors. The Pirates have not ruled out using Tabata in left field eventually because of how spacious it is at PNC Park.
- Chase d’Arnaud: After splitting the ’09 season between the two Single-A levels, d’Arnaud is projected to begin the year with Double-A Altoona. It’s an agressive move, but the organization wants to get him hitting against Double-A pitching. D’Arnaud will likely have to split time between short and second there because of the number of middle infield prospects expected to be with Altoona. But long-term, the Pirates see him as a shortstop.
- Brian Friday: He spent all of 2009 at Altoona, but is expected to open the season as Indianapolis’ everyday shortstop.
- Daniel Moskos: I asked the usual Spring Training question… is Moskos going to start or relieve? The answer: TBD. Stark: “That is a discussion every day. I think that Danny has put himself in position where he’s trying to make 1 of 12 spots as opposed to 1 of 5 (starting spots) or 1 of 7 (relief spots). There are some things that say the starter role will be the best value and have the best upside. Then there are some things that make you think this guy needs to go pitch in the bullpen. I think that regardless of what we do, we’re going to try and get at the bullpen mentality of competing. Last year going through starting, there was some sense of trying to pace himself to get through six or seven innings, and so I think that regardless of whether it’s in that role or in the bullpen, that the attack mentality is the thing that we’re going to focus on with him.”
- Rudy Owens: The left-hander is in the mix to start at Double-A this year, though it’s not a certainty. Even if he does start at high-A Bradenton, the expectation is that Owens will be in Altoona before the end of the season.
- Stark noted three Minor Leaguers who are going to be sidelined to start the season. Colton Cain (8th round, 2009) has dealt with a back injury this winter which will keep him from being ready on Opening Day. However, Cain has been cleared to begin workouts, so the injury is not expected to linger. Brett Lorin (acquired in the Seattle trade) will miss the start of the season because of a hip injury. Zac Fuesser (34th round, 2009) is also out with an injury.
Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB