The Indianapolis Indians clinched the playoffs a while ago, and next week they will start their post-season run. The only problem is that their playoff-bound roster will be raided when rosters expand in September.
That’s not a problem. The purpose of a minor league system is to provide players for the big league clubs. Development and providing the big league club with help are the top priorities. Winning in the minors falls way behind that. But the Pirates do have to field a team in Triple-A.
That shouldn’t mean keeping guys like Jeff Locke or Justin Wilson down to give Indianapolis a better chance of winning. It could mean keeping someone like Matt Hague down to get every day playoff experience, rather than coming up and being a pinch hitter only, and just another player on the first base depth chart with Garrett Jones, Gaby Sanchez, and Jeff Clement.
The Pirates will probably take a lot of Indianapolis players when rosters expand. They’ve been filling roster spots in Triple-A throughout the year. Veteran players like Jeff Larish and Dallas McPherson have been added to the organization to help Indianapolis down the stretch. We’ve also seen some late season promotions, such as Brock Holt and the recently promoted Gerrit Cole. But the team will need to fill roster spots in Triple-A, and a perfect place to look would be Altoona.
The need for players in Indianapolis would provide a great opening for a few guys in Altoona who could be making the jump to the next level in 2013. Not only would they get their first Triple-A experience (most of them anyway), they would also be playing in some meaningful games.
Here are five players who should serve as candidates to move up to Triple-A next week and replace some of the guys who were called up to the majors.
Matt Curry - The first baseman has struggled in the second half for Altoona, hitting for a .223/.310/.385 line in 148 at-bats since the Eastern League All-Star break. That follows a .320/.376/.533 line in 244 at-bats before the break. Alex Dickerson will be moving up to Altoona next year, and it would be best for Curry to move to Indianapolis. With Jeff Clement in the majors, plus Matt Hague a potential September callup, Indy could use some first base help, and Curry could use a taste of Triple-A.
Adalberto Santos - He’s put up some ridiculous numbers this year, with a .347/.434/.444 line in 216 at-bats. His season was shortened by an injury, but he’s been a great hitter when healthy. I’m not sold that he’s this good, but I do think he could be a .300+ hitter, and he’s got enough at-bats in Double-A that a shot in Triple-A wouldn’t hurt.
Victor Black - In 57 innings this year, Black has a 1.74 ERA and an 83:28 K/BB ratio. With the Indianapolis bullpen about to be raided, a guy like Black would be useful in the late innings during the Triple-A playoffs.
Mike Colla - He’s spent the last two years in Altoona, and this year he has a 2.91 ERA in 46.1 innings as a reliever, with a 39:12 K/BB ratio. He could be a middle reliever in the majors one day, and he’s looking ready to jump to Triple-A in a relief role.
Kris Johnson - He’s an organizational guy who has pitched 45.2 innings with Indianapolis already. He will almost certainly go back up to Triple-A. Johnson isn’t a prospect like the previous four players, but he could help fill some innings in Triple-A.
**Brandon Cumpton – Already past his career high in innings and going to the AFL. Might not have the innings.
**Jeff Inman – Late inning stuff out of the bullpen, although he doesn’t have the dominant numbers Black has.
**Hunter Strickland – Can get the ball up to 96 MPH, and converted to a reliever in Altoona. Also hasn’t put up dominant numbers.
**Tim Alderson – Numbers have been better in relief this year. Only four career innings in Triple-A, which all came this year.
**Ramon Cabrera – Might not be room with Tony Sanchez and Jose Morales on the roster.
Links and Notes
**The Pirates beat the Cardinals 5-0.