CINCINNATI -- Why is Stetson Allie, one of the Pirates' top pitching prospects, still in Bradenton, Fla.?
The team's stated goal for its $2.5 million second-round pick in draft last year was to open this season in low Class A West Virginia, where first-round pick Jameson Taillon currently is in the rotation. Instead, Allie is still in extended spring training, with a tentative goal of being shipped to short-season Class A State College -- a notch below West Virginia -- when that season begins next month.
Sources inside and outside the Pirates said Allie, while improving of late, has struggled mightily with his command in Bradenton going back to the spring.
"He's all over the place," one of the sources said. "The kid throws so darned hard, but sometimes has no idea where it's going. I mean, no idea."
Allie has hit 100 mph on occasion, and his fastball sits in the mid-90s.
Kyle Stark, director of player development, said of Allie's progression: "He was originally held back for a number of issues, ultimately being because of where his foundation is. This led to some struggles with control. However, he has made huge strides with that. He is not in extended simply because of an inability to throw strikes."
Allie also was a very good position player at his Ohio high school and never was a full-time pitcher until he became a professional.
The Pirates are working on having Allie consistently repeat his delivery. Stark said he watched Allie recently and that Allie did not walk a batter in three innings.
General manager Neal Huntington has been adamant when discussing the two that Allie and Taillon should be viewed independently. Huntington said that some have naturally linked the right-handers together because of their positions atop the draft class last year, but that their progressions might not always run in lockstep.
When Matt Diaz grounded out as a pinch-hitter in the top of the eighth inning to second baseman Brandon Phillips in the win Thursday against the Reds, Diaz took an awkward step as he was running to first base.
He then trotted into the dugout a bit gingerly.
Diaz, who was walking with no visible discomfort in the postgame clubhouse, insisted there is no injury.
"You know when you walk down the steps and you didn't realize there was one more left?" he explained. "That's what it felt like. Just took a weird step, felt like a cramp for a minute, but I'm good now."
Even as shortstop Ronny Cedeno went 0 for 4 in the win Thursday, the bigger picture has shown a spike in his recent offensive production.
Cedeno had two hits Wednesday and has hit safely in 15 of his past 18 games, going 18 for 56 in that span (.321).
"I just changed a little bit," Cedeno said. "But it isn't a lot. People say I made this big change or did something, but that isn't it.
"It's just 'see the ball, hit the ball.' That's all I'm doing. I'm seeing the ball and hitting it better."
• Charlie Morton's complete game was the third for a Pirates pitcher at Great American Ball Park this season. Morton has two and Kevin Correia one. The previous time a Pirates staff had that many in one ballpark was 1991, when they had four in St. Louis. Zane Smith had two, and Doug Drabek and John Smiley each had one.
• Reliever Chris Resop will be used more in a long-relief role, with Daniel McCutchen sliding out of that role and into a late-game role.
• The previous time the Pirates swept a two-game series in Cincinnati was July 23-24, 2003. The previous time the Pirates were able to sweep three games here was March 31-April 3, 2003.
Colin Dunlap: email@example.com .