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Insider Only Tuesday’s News & Notes; Pitcher Rankings through 11 days of workouts; ETA 2009 for Alvarez?

Brian Kelly from Bradenton reports the following
Infielder Luis Cruiz will miss 7-10 days with a hip injury. Tough break for Cruiz. Team seems high on him and he’s a sleeper in spring training to make the squad. From what I’ve seen from him, he is a better option than Brian Bixler whose time in the organization is hanging by a thread.
Middle infielder Ruben Gotay is seen as a good depth acquisition throughout the organization. The Pirates could still add a few more players in the next 4 weeks as the team has an offer on the table to reliever Will Ohman and remains interested in Pedro Martinez.
Eight pitchers threw practice today: Daniel McCutchen, Jeff Karstens, John Grabow, Paul Maholm, Jason Davis, Zach Duke and Denny Bautista. All pitchers threw live batting practice.
Daniel McCutchen, a sleeper in camp threw well today. He’s not a power pitcher but has good off-speed pitches and works the count well. Management seems to really like him.
Philadelphia Phillies vs Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday. Chris Bootcheck, Matt Capps, Donald Veal, Romulo Sanchez, Ronald Uviedo, Juan Mateo, Craig Hansen, Evan Meek and Jesse Chavez will all throw one inning each.
Hansen needs to get off to a good start tomorrow. He has been very erratic in pitching sessions. Hansen and Andy Laroche, two key components in the Jason Bay trade, are looking like busts based on performance last season and thus far in spring training.
The starters will begin to pitch on Thursday with Ian Snell (two innings),and Ross Ohlendorf (two innings) headlining the group.
Ohlendorf has been the Pirates top pitcher in Spring Training thus far. We’ll see if he can continue his strong performance once the games begin.
Current management seems high on Duke despite being 5-14 last season. He has struggled in camp but is currently #3 on the depth chart.
Heading into the spring training games, Ohlendorf currently has a slight edge according to my source on Daniel McCutchen, Tom Gorzelanny and Jeff Karstens who are battling for the #4 & #5 spots in the rotation.
Starting Pitcher rankings based on performance (7 pitchers under consideration for rotation) through the first 11 days of workouts.
1. Ross Ohlendorf – Very good since workouts began. Has been successful with his fastball inside which Kerrigan has been preaching.

2. Paul Maholm – leader of the staff, has pitched well in live batting practice
3. Ian Snell – Kerrigan has been working with him on his control. Mixed results
4. Tom Gorzelanny – losing the extra weight appears to be helping his stamina
5. Jeff Karstens – A bit inconsistent to start camp. Was hit hard the other day with Hinske taking him deep twice
6. Daniel McCutchen – had a strong performance today. Still under consideration
7. Zach Duke – Has been hit hard in live practice on two occasions. 5-14 last season, he shouldn’t be guaranteed a spot but he will get one no matter what
# 12: 3B Pedro Alvarez (# 2 overall pick in 2008)
Estimated Arrival: 2009
# 33: OF Andrew McCutchen (#11 overall pick in 2005)
Estimated Arrival: 2009
#75: OF Jose Tabata (signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2005 by the New York Yankees.)
Estimated Arrival: 2010
Analysis: #12 ranking for Pedro Alvarez is questionable. Some Baseball experts have him in the top 5. What is surprising is Baseball America has 2009 as the Estimated Arrival for Alvarez. The Pirates I’m sure will decline that notion. Heck, Neil Huntington is getting upset with the Media here in Bradenton because everybody is raving about Pedro Alvarez, while he wants people to start talking about players who will be on the major league team at the start of the season.
McCutchen has the ability to start the season with the big club but it’s not going to happen no matter how good he performs in Spring Training. With McCutchen starting the season in AAA, Tabata will begin the season in AA but will be in AAA sometime in the season.

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