Triple-A Report: Walker in position for a callup
It’s crucial year for 2004 1st round pick Neil Walker who in the eyes of the Pirates organization is in a make or break year.
The Pirates are hopeful to develop Walker in a utility who can fill a void at 4 or 5 positions and thus far the team has been pleased with his progress this season.
Through 20 games, Walker has seen time at 2B, 3B, RF, LF and the former first round pick is off to a strong start.
Walker capped off a two-run rally Wednesday night, in the top of the ninth inning with a one-out RBI single as Indianapolis Indians overcame an early 9-3 deficit to defeat the Pawtucket Red Sox 10-9.
Walker who started in left field, went 4-for-4 with including 3 RBI’s and was a triple shy from hitting for the cycle. He had two singles, a home run and a double in the game.
Walker is batting .333 on the season.
Centerfielder Jose Tabata went 1-for-4, with a triple and three runs scored in the game. Tabata is batting .296.
Top prospect Pedro Alvarez was 0-for-4 with two strike outs and is now batting .237 on the season.
Double-A Report: Rudy Owens goes six strong
The bats came alive on Wednesday morning at Blair County Ballpark for the Altoona Curve as they rattled off 10 runs on 15 hits in their, 10-2, win over Akron. Altoona sent nine men to the plate in the fourth inning and pounded out six runs on six hits to put the game out of reach.
Akron briefly led the game for half an inning when they scored in the top of the first. In the bottom half of the frame, Miles Durham smacked the first of his three singles and drove in Jordy Mercer with two away to tie up the game.
Altoona took the lead and never gave it back in the third against Akron starter Zach Putnam (2-1). Chase d’Arnaud started the inning with a single and then came around on a Jim Negrych triple to put the Curve in the lead, 2-1. Mercer followed the triple with a groundout that scored Negrych from third and after three innings, Altoona led, 3-1.
The Aeros pulled within one in the fourth when Carlos Rivero hit into a fielder’s choice to score Matt McBride but they would score no further as the next seven runs of the game belonged to Altoona.
Shelby Ford doubled to start the big fourth and he would come around to touch home plate when Mercer doubled him in four batters later. Mercer’s double also drove in d’Arnaud and it gave the third baseman his second and third RBIs of the game. The inning rolled on with another RBI single by Durham and a bases-clearing, two-RBI triple by Alex Presley. Josh Harrison drove in the final run of the inning when he singled in Presley to widen the lead to 9-2.
Starting pitcher Rudy Owens (2-0) pitched six innings for Altoona and allowed two runs on five hits to pick up his second win in as many starts. The bullpen duo of Derek Hankins and Ronald Uviedo combined for three shutout innings of baseball to close it for Altoona. Uvideo did not allow a hit in his two innings of work and opposing hitters are now hitting just .061 (2-for-33) off the reliever in 2010.
Offensively, the two through five hitters in the lineup combined to drive in nine of the 10 runs in the game with Mercer leading the way with three. Presley ended the day a home run shy of the cycle in the contest to run his team-leading hitting streak to 13 games. The Monroe, La. is hitting .339 with one home run and nine RBI through the first 19 games.
First-place Altoona (13-6) enjoys its first off day of the season on Thursday and then will take to the road when they head to Harrisburg to open a three-game series with the Senators at 7 p.m. on Friday. RHP Mike Crotta (2-0, 1.78) will be on the hill for the Curve while Harrisburg sends out LHP Aaron Thompson (1-1, 2.87) in the opener.
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