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In their quest to break their record streak of 18 consecutive losing seasons, the Pittsburgh Pirates (37-37) are expected to make three call-ups within the next week.
The first move will happen Friday, when Pittsburgh will promote infielder Chase d'Arnaud from Triple-A Indianapolis. There, the 24-year-old was hitting .280 with four home runs, 33 RBIs, 39 runs scored and 17 steals in 20 tries.
D'Arnaud is primarily a prospect because of his speed and defensive tools. The former Pepperdine star has played the bulk of his career at shortstop, but he has also played his share of second base and third base.
With a .272 career batting average and a lifetime .770 OPS, d'Arnaud is an adequate offensive performer at best. He has shown some doubles power, but for the most part his offensive value is in his batting average and his legs. The 2008 fourth-round pick averaged 32 steals a season in 2009 and 2010. He is capable of being an asset to an NL-only team if he can hold down regular playing time.
After committing 28 errors at shortstop last season at Double-A Altoona, d'Arnaud's defensive stock dropped a bit. Given his pedestrian offensive profile, shortstop might be his ideal spot for regular duty, so there's a good chance he's destined for bench time in the future. That would limit the stolen base opportunities, and steals are the sole reason why one would pick him up.
The Pirates are also expected to promote outfielder Alex Presley and right-handed pitcher Brad Lincoln next week. They will add Presley because they will need an extra hitter with the designated hitter in effect during a three-game series at the Toronto Blue Jays.
Presley, 25, is hitting .330 with eight home runs, 34 RBIs, 50 runs, 17 steals and an .881 OPS in 279 at-bats with Triple-A Indianapolis. Although he's not a burner, his 17 steals this season are one theft short of his career high, and his 89 percent success rate is by far the best of his career.
A late-bloomer in the Pirates' system, Presley came out of nowhere last year to earn Pirates organization player-of-the-year honors after he batted .320 with 12 home runs, 85 RBIs, 13 steals and an .867 OPS.
Standing at 5-foot-9, 180 pounds, the former Ole Miss star doesn't have any standout tools, but he is a well-rounded player with no glaring weaknesses. He projects as a reserve who can play all three outfield spots.
Lincoln will make a spot start during the Pirates' doubleheader versus the Washington Nationals on July 2. Lincoln, 26, has gone 6-6, with a 3.82 ERA and a 66:14 strikeout-to-walk ratio, in 77 2/3 innings with Indianapolis this year.
If Lincoln impresses, it could prompt the club to consider him for an expanded role later this year. He's not worth consideration yet and may not be even if he's promoted for good.
Cleveland Indians third base prospect Lonnie Chisenhall (concussion) came off the seven-day disabled list yesterday and put on a hitting clinic during Triple-A Columbus' 13-7 win over Toledo.
Chisenhall went 4-for-6 with a home run, a triple, six RBIs and two runs scored. This is encouraging news considering the highly touted prospect is hitting only .261 with a .769 OPS in 61 games with Columbus and the slumping Indians could use all the offensive assistance they can find.
In a game suspended by rain last night, May fanned 14 batters over seven scoreless innings while holding Tampa to two hits and a walk. In 78 innings with Clearwater this season, May has registered a 4-4 record, with a 3.23 ERA and a 102:37 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
In the past, the 20-year-old has had command issues related to mechanical problems. May averaged 7.84 walks per nine innings in his first exposure to the Florida State League, last year. This season May has trimmed his walk rate to 4.27 while maintaining a gaudy strikeout rate of 11.77 per nine frames.
The 6-foot-5, 215-pound righty attacks hitters with a low- to mid-90s fastball and two secondary offerings (curveball, changeup) that show the potential to be major-league-quality off-speed stuff. If he can continue to make improvements in his command, May has the talent to develop into a front-end starter.