Pirates Struggle To Develop Shortstops

Pittsburgh claims Wood amid Cedeno's struggles

PITTSBURGH—Ronny Cedeno's early struggles as the Pirates' shortstop underscored yet again the organization's epic struggles to produce one internally.

In the past decade, other than Jack Wilson at the top level—and even he was acquired in a trade—no shortstops of note have made it through the system. Hence, management has had to go to the outside to acquire Cedeno and a string of dubious backups.

The Pirates went out of the system again when they claimed off waivers former Angels top prospect Brandon Wood, who was finally dumped when his big league woes continued in 2011 with a 2-for-14 showing.

Pittsburgh designated for assignment Josh Rodriguez, the No. 1 pick in last December's major league Rule 5 draft who looked overmatched at the plate this season. Next in line for shortstop duty in Pittsburgh was Pedro Ciriaco.

All of which would point to no small amount of pressure on Chase d'Arnaud, the Pirates' top shortstop prospect.

D'Arnaud, 24, was off to a .310/.429/.517 start through eight games with Triple-A Indianapolis, his first experience at that level. But he also is coming off a step-backward 2010 with Double-A Altoona: He batted .247/.331/.377, striking out 102 times in 530 at-bats, and management moved him to second base because another prospect, Jordy Mercer, was better defensively.

D'Arnaud, a fourth-round pick out of Pepperdine in 2008, sounded upbeat about his Triple-A debut.

"I feel somewhat comfortable," he said. "I'm still trying to stick to my approach. I've had a couple of at-bats that got away from me, but each time I fail it's another chance to learn from my mistakes. Hopefully, the mistakes become smaller and the successes grow."

Treasure Trove

• Pirates 16-year-old righthander Luis Heredia, who is scheduled to pitch in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League this summer, has been throwing as hard as 96 mph during extended spring training. He was signed for a franchise-record $2.6 million out of Mexico last July.

• Righthander Tim Alderson, the Pirates' sole return on the Freddy Sanchez trade two years ago, was assigned to the Altoona bullpen after serving as a starter since the Giants selected him 22nd overall in the 2007 draft. Alderson struggled with delivery and velocity issues in 2010.