Late Start, Quick Recovery
PITTSBURGHOutfielder Jorge Cortes got a late start on spring training this year, but that didnt have any bearing once the regular season started.
Cortes, a Colombian native, missed nearly two weeks this spring because of a visa issue but quickly caught up and was tearing up the low Class A South Atlantic League. Cortes was hitting .374-4-30 for Hickory, and even more impressive had walked 24 times while striking out 12, for a .484 on-base percentage.
Its all pretty heady stuff for a guy who spent the past three years at short-season Williamsport. In his third stint last season, Cortes began putting it together, hitting .328-1-35.
"He goes out every day with a plan," minor league field coordinator Jeff Banister said. "He prepared himself. Hes a guy who is trying to attain reachable goals for himself. He is prepared to hit on every single pitch.
"He has a unique knack for knowing the strike zone, and when he gets a hittable pitch, he doesnt miss it too often."
Cortes, 22, has been the hottest hitter in the organization so far this season after a slow climb through the system.
"It doesnt surprise me because hes experienced and he showed signs last year of being capable of hitting like this," farm director Brian Graham said. "He is an extremely focused player."
Cortes had primarily been a corner outfielder and first baseman until this season. He has been seeing time in center field and has played the position well.
"If you can get a center fielder that hits like Jorge does, then you really have something," Graham said.
Righthander Bryan Bullington, the No. 1 pick in the 2002 draft, missed a start at Hickory when he strained his lower back avoiding a ball hit back through the box. He was dominating the SAL, going 3-0, 0.94 in his first five starts.
Outfielder Tony Alvarez was suspended for a week at Triple-A Nashville for what the Pirates termed "his failure to conform to the personal conduct standards" of his contract. The Pirates would not elaborate.
Previous organization report: Brian Meadows
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