by R.J. Anderson //
Baseball summers in Pittsburgh have largely consisted of apathy and agony since the departure of one Barry Bonds. This summer is a bit different from the past few, though.
General manager Neal Huntington is now adding players to the roster rather than subtracting and reshuffling. These players are worth noting because they’re all products of Huntington’s era, whether via trade or the draft. Clearly he feels they’re worth rostering right now, but should you? Let’s take a look.
SP Brad Lincoln
Drafted out of the University of Houston in the same draft that saw fellow collegiate arms Andrew Miller, Tim Lincecum, and Brandon Morrow also go top 10, Lincoln suffered a similar initial fate as most recent Pirates’ pitching prospects: He suffered an arm injury that delayed his progression through the system.
The 25-year-old has made two starts thus far, and it’s only 12 innings, but boy, what an ugly 12 innings they’ve been. He’s not missing bats or avoiding walks – his K and BB rates are identical at 3.75/9 IP, and his whiff rate is a low 3.8%. The good news is that Lincoln should be better than this moving forward. Throughout the minors he did a nice job avoiding walks, but had issues when it came to keeping the ball within the playing area (he averaged more than one home run per nine innings pitched). It’s hard to expect anything more than a league-average performance from Lincoln this year, but in NL-only leagues he’s worth a look.
OF Jose Tabata
Acquired in the Xavier Nady/Damaso Marte trade of summer 2008, Tabata is best known for his wife’s legal issues, and persistent questions about his age. He’s supposedly only 21 years old, which makes him among the game’s youngest major leaguers. Through 31 plate appearances Tabata holds a line of .259/.355/.444. That’s well above what one should expect from him when age and his Triple-A career .296/.358/.419 line are considered. Unless the idea is to try and catch lightning in a bottle, he’s probably not worth an add, outside of very deep keeper leagues.
3B Pedro Alvarez
And finally, the cream of the crop. Alvarez made his major league debut on Wednesday night. He bats lefty and plays third base – for now, at least – which gives him instant value. Prior to his promotion, Alvarez was hitting .277/.363/.533 in Triple-A, with 13 home runs in 278 plate appearances. Of the three players, it’s most difficult to be realistic in assessing Alvarez. Given his status as an elite prospect and draft pick, he very well could burst onto the scene in a fashion similar to Evan Longoria or Ryan Braun. Or he could take some lumps in his first major league taste, and be a more attractive option come 2011. Either way, he’s worth a grab, assuming he’s somehow still available in your league. If you have a FAAB budget, break the bank.