Commentary

Daily prospect update: McCutchen ready for prime time

Updated: April 22, 2009, 10:51 AM ET
By Kevin Goldstein | Baseball Prospectus

Can I get a copyright on "MC-Squared"?
Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pirates (Triple-A Indianapolis)
Tuesday's stats: 3-for-4, 3B, HR (1), 3 R, 2 RBI
After two straight years of almost making the big league club out of spring training, the 2005 first-round pick is gunning to avoid another full year at Indianapolis by batting .313/.377/.625 (average/on-base/slugging) in his first 11 games. As good as Nate McLouth is, he's miscast in center, while McCutchen is outstanding there defensively. He'd make the Pirates a better team right now, and the marketing possibilities would go through the roof if they could convince their left fielder to change his name to Nyjer McMorgan.

Pitching matchup of the day
Kasey Kiker, LHP, Rangers (Double-A Frisco) vs. Jordan Walden, RHP, Angels (Double-A Arkansas)
Tuesday's stats: Kiker: 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K; Walden: 7 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K
The 12th overall pick in the 2006 draft, Kiker hit a bit of a wall in the California League last year, but he has found a bit of his old velocity this year, getting up to 94 mph with his fastball while showing a much-improved curve and changeup. The top prospect in the Angels' system, Walden received a $1 million bonus in 2007 as one of the last of the draft-and-follows, and he's seven inches taller than Kiker, with more velocity but a shallower arsenal. With both pitchers pulled after seven, and at 91 and 89 pitches, respectively, this one turned into a marathon as Frisco grunted out a run in the 13th for a 1-0 victory.

For news on Mat Gamel, Lastings Milledge, Collin DeLome, Jason Knapp, plus daily stats updates on the top prospects, you must be logged in to ESPN Insider. Insider

Our first repeat customer
Mat Gamel, 3B, Brewers (Triple-A Nashville)
Tuesday's stats: 2-for-4, HR (5), 2 R, 4 RBI
After earning praise Monday for his hot start, Gamel has followed that up with home runs in his past two games, bumping up his averages to something out of a video game at .444/.518/.911. In addition, he's hasn't made an error for two straight games, which ties a season high, believe it or not.

Message sent, but maybe not received
Lastings Milledge, OF, Nationals (Triple-A Syracuse)
Tuesday's stats: 0-for-3, 1 SB
One of the many "message moves" by the Nats early in the season; one imagines the hope in Washington was for him to dominate in the minors, learn a lesson and come back with confidence and a new attitude. Instead, he's 2-for-14 with four whiffs.

The Astros have prospects?
Collin DeLome, OF, Astros (Double-A Corpus Christi)
Tuesday's stats: 2-for-5, HR (5), 2 R, 1 RBI
DeLome has all the tools in the world, but his transition from athlete to baseball player has been a slow one, mostly because of an over-aggressive approach. Still, he hit 22 home runs last year and now has four in his past eight Texas League games, while seeing a dramatic drop in his strikeout rate. Keep an eye on this one.

Sleeper alert!
Jason Knapp, RHP, Phillies (Low-A Lakewood)
Tuesday's stats: 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 14 K
A second-round pick in June, Knapp was seen as a bit raw because of his New Jersey heritage, but his arm strength rivals anyone in the system, as his fastball has consistently been touching 97 mph this spring. Tuesday night's start was the best of his career, but his first two weren't so shabby, either, as in 18 1/3 innings for the BlueClaws, the 6-foot-5 righty has allowed only nine hits while striking out 30.

Tuesday's box score reports

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