Earlier this week, the Pittsburgh Pirates promoted their top two hitting prospects, C Neil Walker and OF Andrew McCutchen, from High A and Low A, respectively, to their AA Altoona squad for their play-off push.
While neither has dominated their respective levels, I was more surprised to see McCutchen promoted two levels. He is a year younger than Walker and will remain qualified for any Teen Night's at the local dance clubs until after the season ends. (Andrew, don't bring your younger sister if Paul LoDoca is attending!)
What McCutchen did at Low A as a 19-year-old is good. His 14 HR were a marked improvement over the two he hit in rookie ball.
His walk rate decreased substantially from 17.6% of ABs to 9.0%. His strikeouts relative to his BBs also increased dramatically (.81 to 2.16).
Those two stats are the main reason I was surprised about the two level promotion. Subsequently, I have read reports that he was pitched around at Low A and that fact mitigated the decrease in plate discipline indicators.
So I suspended further judgment. (Not the least of which was the fact I took him in my minor league draft this past April and want to see my prospecting ability furthered.)
After three games, McCutchen is validating the Pirate's decision to jump him a couple levels. He is 5-14 with a HR but has yet to take a walk. That, however, is secondary for a 19-year-old in AA!
And when any player reaches AA, he is only a fortuitous break or two from being a major leaguer, and I can see that happening as soon as next season.