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