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Insider Only Pirates stick to plan in demoting top prospect Andrew McCutchen

By John Perrotto_Nyjer Morgan hasn’t exactly won the Pirates’ starting left field job this spring.
However, the Pirates said before spring training began that left field was Morgan’s to lose and he didn’t. The Pirates reassigned top outfield prospect Andrew McCutchen to their minor-league camp Monday, ensuring that Morgan will be their leadoff hitter in next Monday’s opener at St. Louis.
Morgan went into Monday’s exhibition game against the Cincinnati Reds hitting .203 with a .250 on base percentage in 76 plate appearances this spring. McCutchen, meanwhile, hit .318 with 10 extra-base hits and a .423 OBP in 78 plate appearances.
However, the Pirates decided the 28-year-old Morgan is the better fit now than the 22-year-old McCutchen, who will go back to Class AAA Indianapolis for a second season despite Baseball America ranking him as the International League’s No. 2 prospect last year.
“You have to be careful not to base all of your decisions on spring training, you have to consider the entire body of work,” Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said.
“Even though Nyjer has struggled at times this spring, he played extremely well over the last six weeks of last season. Andrew had an outstanding spring but he showed last year at Indianapolis that he was not the finished product.”
Huntington went on to add that he fully expects

McCutchen to make his major-league debut something this season, though he couldn’t pinpoint a date. The over/under seems to be July 1.
Even if Morgan falters early in the season, the Pirates aren’t likely to bring up McCutchen before at least Memorial Day.
Thus, the back-up plan would be to platoon left-handed hitting Eric Hinske and right-handed hitting Craig Monroe in left field and call up veteran outfielder Jeff Salazar from Indianapolis to help what would be a greatly weakened bench.
*John Perrotto covers the Pirates for Baseball America, Piratesreport.com and major league baseball for baseball prospectus

About The Author

John Perrotto

Pirates Insider

John Perrotto is a contributor to Inside Pittsburgh Sports, covering the Pittsburgh Pirates, MLB. John has covered the Pirates for over 20+ seasons and is an exclusive member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

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