Pirates Midseason Report





Best player: Outfielder Alex Presley has continued to prove himself. After emerging from deep down on the depth chart to become the Pirates' minor league player of the year in 2010, he was batting .330/.382/.498 with eight home runs and 17 steals for Triple-A Indianapolis before finally being recalled to Pittsburgh June 28.

Presley, 25, was an eighth-round pick out of Ole Miss in 2006. He would have been up much sooner, but the Pirates felt they already had five outfielders ahead of him and needed to keep their bench versatile. Still, the 5-foot-9 dynamo never pouted. He addressed management's goals of improving his bunting, baserunning and outfield routes.

"Alex has done everything we've asked," general manager Neal Huntington said. "This is the kind of problem we look forward to having at all our positions."

Biggest leap forward: No one can match the surprising two-level leap of first baseman Matt Curry, promoted from low Class A West Virginia to Double-A Altoona in early June after tearing apart the South Atlantic League by batting .361/.477/.671. He also had nine home runs and more walks (35) than strikeouts (29). Curry, 22, was a 16th-round pick in 2010 out of Texas Christian.

Biggest disappointment: Outfielder Andrew Lambo, one of the Pirates' top position-player prospects entering the season, took a sizable step back. He was batting .188/.257/.292 with three home runs in 185 at-bats before being demoted from Indianapolis to Altoona on June 21. He had one hit in his final 22 at-bats there. Lambo, 22, was acquired from the Dodgers last summer with righthander James MacDonald in exchange for righthander Octavio Dotel.

TREASURE TROVE

• Outfielder Starling Marte and shortstop Chase d'Arnaud were picked for the Futures Game, though d'Arnaud was promoted to Pittsburgh before it was played. Marte, 22, was batting .319/.356/.464 with 16 stolen bases and 23 doubles in 77 games for Altoona, while D'Arnaud batted .280/.347/.418 in 62 games for Indianapolis.

• Luis Heredia, the 16-year-old righthander out of Mexico, made his Rookie-level Gulf Coast League debut June 21 and allowed two runs in 2 2/3 innings. After three starts covering seven innings, he had allowed two runs on one hit while walking four and striking out five. He has hit 96 mph with his fastball.