Pirates Want McCutchen In The Zone

Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen’s No. 14 ranking in the BA Top 100 list is more a reflection of McCutchen’s considerable tools, bat speed, athleticism and above-average fielding in center field than of his current level of offensive polish. McCutchen hit just .258/.327/.383 as a 21-year-old last year with Double-A Altoona, but the Pirates think he has the raw ability to improve rapidly if he can stay disciplined within the strike zone.

"The focus for Andrew is to continue to control the strike zone, identify the pitch he wants depending on the situation and execute that plan," director of player development Kyle Stark said. "This comes down to pitch recognition, strike-zone recognition and staying within his plan consistently."

Specifically, it means steering clear of the slow stuff many pitchers have been successful in getting him to chase.

"He needs to refine his ability to recognize and lay off tough breaking balls early in the count, as well as chasing those pitches later in the count," (general manager Neal) Huntington said. "And he has to attack his pitch when he gets it."

"Pitchers at our level test that with young players," (Triple-A Indianapolis manager Trent) Jewett said. "Do I have to throw you a strike? And, if so, what portion of the plate is yours, and where can I have success? Andrew gives you the feeling that he can make those adjustments and that he can make them faster than most young players, and we did see some of that last year."