The Pirates top prospect ,before Pedro Alvarez was drafted in 2008, was OFer Andrew McCutchen, but based on the spring training he is having this year, he may be ready to get rid of the prospect status by Opening Day.
McCutchen leads the Pirates in ABs this spring with 51, so they are giving him a long look this spring. In those 51 ABs, McCutchen is hitting .275, with 1 HR, 5 RBIs, 2 SBs, a .383 OBP, a .471 SLG, and a 14-9 K-BB ratio. His chieif competition,Nyjer Morgan is not hitting well at all. Morgan has a slash line of .184/.226/.265-not good for a potential leadoff hitter.
Of the Pirates other OFers, none can bat leadoff, which McCutchen is proving he can do at the major league level this spring, In AAA Indianapolis in 2008, McCutchen improved his OBP from .329 in 2007 to .372 in 2008. He also lowered his strikeouts from 94 to 87, while improving his walks from 48 to 68. These are all signs that he is maturing as a hitter. While scouts still think his power is still developing, there is no questioning that his batting eye has improved.
With the Pirates starting a youth movement with the recent changes in the front office, I think McCutchen stands a very good chance at breaking camp with the big league club.
Here is MLB.com's Jennifer Langosch chiming in in her article on Nyjer Morgan being handed the starting LF spot:
Once the season starts, Morgan's timetable to prove his ability as an everyday player won't be indefinite. Should Morgan struggle to sustain the dynamic lineup presence he established last September, the Pirates won't hesitate to make a change.
Unlike late last year, the Pirates have other options. Eric Hinske, whose Major League experience and power add a dimension that Morgan does not have, would be a candidate to capture more regular playing time, should Morgan stumble. Craig Monroe, who appears in line to win one of the open bench jobs, would also be a option.
And then, of course, there is Andrew McCutchen, who sits very close to making his debut in Pittsburgh. When McCutchen comes up, it will be as a starter. And right now, he would seem to be the natural choice to supplant Morgan.
I may be a bit biased in my opinion of him, as I do have him on my minor league roster in the UBA NL only keeper league. Should he be handed the Pirates starting CF job out of spring training, he can provide 10-12 HRs and 25+ SBs.