SAN FRANCISCO–Pirates first baseman Steven Pearce is having a nice year that began at high Class A Lynchburg, where he hit 11 homers in April. The 24-year-old was quickly promoted to Double-A Altoona and he’s been raking in the Eastern League, hitting .330/.397/.588 with 11 homers and 51 RBIs in 221 at-bats.
But several scouts adressed concerns about Pearce’s ability to handle quality breaking balls at the upper levels of the minors on his path to Pittsburgh.
“I think heâ€™s got to make a little bit of an adjustment with his approach,” a scout from a National League club said. “He’s a straight pull guy who swings at everything as hard as he can.
“Thatâ€™s not going to play at the upper levelsâ€”no way. Heâ€™s a pull guy that wants to go out there and get it. If he can get out there and use the other side of the field a little more they might have something. If he canâ€™t, then heâ€™ll get eaten alive.”
â€¢ Justin Upton got the U.S. on the board with a line-drive solo home run in the third inning off White Sox righthander Fautino De Los Santos, and while that blast was certainly impressive, the World righthander simply missed his spot with a 96 mph fastball.
“We were trying to go with the fastball down and in,” World third base coach Tim Bogar said. “The book on him is to bust him down and in with the fastball and then set him up away. But it rode back up and away and it was over.”
â€¢ At least one player without the name James Van Ostrand was surprised to find out they were headed to San Francisco this year. Diamondbacks outfielder Carlos Gonzalez didn’t exactly have the numbers, though the 21-year-old phenom has slowly worked them back into the respectable range.
Through 313 at-bats, Gonzalez is hitting .256/.296/.438. But he’s struck out 72 times and drawn just 19 walks, leading to his shock when he got the call he was headed west from Double-A Mobile.
“I was surprisedâ€”thatâ€™s the truth,” Gonzalez said. “My numbers are fine right now, but they werenâ€™t beforeâ€”and definitely not like last year. Now theyâ€™re back a little bit, but I never thought Iâ€™d be here. You never get tired of anything like this. You always want to be here, you always want to be in any all-star game.”
A big reason for the improved numbers leads directly to the presence of Upton in the BayBears lineup. Since Upton arrived in May, Gonzalez is seeing better pitches, batting .286 with 25 RBIs that month and has steadily improved since.
“There’s probably a little competition,” Gonzalez said, smiling. “Everybodyâ€™s always trying to make adjustments. But that helped me, having that competition and having to prove myself. Iâ€™m very happy for Justin because heâ€™s there and heâ€™s proving himself.”
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