First Pitch: Time For Alex Presley to Return?

Alex Presley hit his second homer in as many nights tonight, and his third in his last seven games. In his last ten games he is hitting for a .306/.395/.750 line in 36 at-bats. The Pirates originally sent Presley down to get last year’s swing back. The move didn’t make a lot of sense on the surface, as everyone in the majors was struggling, but only Presley was sent down.

Presley’s stat line is looking good lately, which raises the question as to whether it’s time for him to return? The Pirates’ offense has started to hit some in the last few games, but they are far from a complete offense. Garrett Jones has been getting starts in right field since Nate McLouth has been released. That’s a big upgrade over McLouth, which isn’t hard to accomplish, but Jones isn’t an everyday player, struggling against left handers. Josh Harrison has also been getting some time in right field, but isn’t an every day guy at the position.

Presley might not have a starter’s upside, but he’s got a better shot than the alternatives. His upside is a starting outfielder in a weak lineup, or a strong fourth outfielder in a stronger lineup. If he can return with his 2011 numbers, he’d definitely lock down a spot in the Pirates’ lineup. His bat is starting to heat up in Triple-A, which is something the Pirates need in the majors. And as I’ve mentioned many times, it’s unlikely for an impact trade to be made at this point in the season, which is why the Pirates need to focus on internal upgrades.

A few other upgrade possibilities:

**Jordy Mercer remains hot in Triple-A, hitting for a .358/.408/.453 line in 95 at-bats in the month of May. He currently has an eight game hitting streak after going 2-for-4 with a double today. Clint Barmes continues to struggle at the plate, despite a 6-for-15 stretch last week. If anything, the Pirates can bring up Mercer, send down Yamaico Navarro, and give Mercer a few starts at shortstop.

**Jake Fox has started to lose playing time to Jeff Clement, who is hitting for a .282/.378/.513 line in 78 at-bats in May, with four homers. Clement has already shown power in the majors, with a pace that would have put him in line for 25 homers over a full season. Unfortunately, the power came with a low average and no walks. He would be worth a gamble to see if he could add some power off the bench, and justify that power with a better average or on-base percentage this time. Casey McGehee would be the player on watch.

**Still not time for Starling Marte. He’s homered in back to back games, but you don’t want to rush him. He needs to dominate for at least a month, and ideally two so that you know it’s not just a fluke and he’s actually ready to move on to the next level. He hasn’t exactly dominated any months in Triple-A this year, and even with his hot streak he’s only hitting for an .804 OPS in his last ten games.

Links and Notes

**The Pirates won 4-1 against the Reds. Kristy Robinson’s notebook looks at James McDonald as he continues to be the Pirates’ ace.

**Once again, my article from a few weeks ago on extending McDonald.

**Prospect Watch: Indianapolis with four homers for the second straight night.

**The Pirates added Doug Slaten to the 40-man roster today.

**The Pitch F/X preview of the Reds’ starters.

**The Prospect Trends for the week ending 5/27.

**The final draft prospects rundown of the year.

**The Pirates to take a hitter in the draft?

**My look at Deven Marrero’s second half, and whether it’s enough to justify him as the pick at eighth overall.

About Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He is a credentialed media member with every team in the Pirates’ system, including the Pirates themselves. He’s a regular guest on Extra Innings on 104.7, and makes regular appearances on ESPN 970, 93.7 The Fan, and TribLIVE Radio in Pittsburgh, as well as ESPN 1430 in Altoona and ESPN 1450 in State College.
  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=72405411 Ian Rothermund

    Free Jordy Mercer!

    Barmes’ production should not be difficult to duplicate. Even by myself, and I was left handed pitcher and contact hitting 1B. Lol

  • leadoff

    When Presley is right he could probably be a starting outfielder on most teams in the majors, there are not many teams with 3 solid outfielders, practically every team needs at least one more good outfielder.

  • http://twitter.com/jlease717 John Lease

    I’d rather have Gorkys in AAA and have Presley starting then the current situation. But I don’t want them to promote Presley if he isn’t going to play. Any word on if Nate accepted a AAA assignment?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-YaZhynka/100000448392567 Richard Ya’Zhynka

    I was pleased to see that you mentioned Clement. He is worthy of another try?
    Would you consider Mercer to be a better fielder than d’Arnaud and Harrison? When I saw them play at Altoona, Mercer looked to be the most athletic of the three.

  • Kevin_Creagh

    I think the best athlete is d’Arnaud, but the best fielding SS is Mercer at this point.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-YaZhynka/100000448392567 Richard Ya’Zhynka

    Thanks. I’ve only seen them a few times, so it’s good to get a more informed opinion.