May 26, 2010

Neil Walker Called Up

PITTSBURGH, Pa. / May 26, 2010

Neil Walker became the first of the Pirates' Big Four prospects to be called up today. He batted second and played third base as Andy LaRoche missed his fourth straight game due to back problems. Walker hit a key RBI double in the eighth. I missed the game so I can't comment on his defense, but it's hard to imagine any infielder looking worse than Delwyn Young at third base.

Walker was hitting .321/.392/.560 at Indianapolis with 18 doubles in 43 games. At this point there is nothing left for him to prove in AAA, so it's the right move to give him a shot.

The most interesting decision will come when Andy LaRoche is ready to play. LaRoche hasn't been placed on the disabled list, meaning the Pirates apparently think he'll be back at some point this week. One option is to simply make Walker the everyday second baseman. Even after getting hits in the last three games, Akinori Iwamura is hitting .166 and doesn't look worthy of blocking Walker. The other option is to make Walker an everyday utility man, rotating his position among left field, first, second and third base. And of course the worst option is to use Walker off the bench so the likes of Iwamura, Jeff Clement and Ryan Church can get into the starting lineup.

Still at Indianapolis are Pedro Alvarez, Jose Tabata and Brad Lincoln. My guess is that Lincoln (5-2, 3.77) will be the next player called up to take the rotation spot of either Charlie Morton or Brian Burres.

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