Presley Stating His Case

Pirates outfielder continues to progress





PITTSBURGH—It would appear Alex Presley has had just about every honor bestowed upon him by the Pittsburgh Pirates except, conspicuously, being a Pittsburgh Pirate.

Presley, 25, was the organization's minor league player of the year in 2010 after spanning three levels to bat .320 with 12 home runs and 85 RBIs. He was a September callup and saw only 23 at-bats, then impressed again in spring training before being sent back to Triple-A Indianapolis. He was the Indians' player of the month for April and, through 34 games, was still sizzling at .351/.400/.511. His 46 hits led the International League.

"Alex just continues to progress," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said.

Well, except for one way: Presley remains stuck in the minors with no clear place in Pittsburgh, even though he can play all three outfield positions and even though he fits manager Clint Hurdle's wish to add speed. The outfield starters are Andrew McCutchen, Jose Tabata and Garrett Jones while veteran Matt Diaz has a two-year contract for the bench, and Xavier Paul was claimed off waivers from the Dodgers in late April.

Management discussed Presley before claiming Paul, but decided Paul was worth it.

"It obviously heightens Alex's awareness," Hurdle said. "He says, 'You know what? I can be that guy. I need to keep doing what I'm doing.' And he's gotten off to a pretty good start in Triple-A."

Presley has been highly productive at the plate since finding a groove early last year, but his defense and baserunning had been questions. In the early going this year, he had just one error in the outfield, and he stole nine bases in 11 tries. He hardly sounds surprised by any aspect of his start.

"Not really," Presley said. "It's a great start, but I have confidence. I don't want to sell myself short. I try to get a hit every time that I get up there, no matter what my average is. I try not to throw away any of my at-bats, even if we're up big late in the game. It's easy to do, and it's easy to just take it for granted."

Treasure Trove

• Lefthander Justin Wilson moved to the head of the promotion line for the Pirates' starting pitching prospects, going 3-3, 2.36 through seven starts for Indianapolis. He still was walking too many—19 in 42 innings—but his stuff and durability were more prominent.

• A radar gun clocked Double-A Altoona center fielder Starling Marte making a 101-mph throw to home plate in late April. Marte, a potential five-tool type, was batting .326/.353/.450.