Bob Smizik: Down on the farm

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An early look at some of the Pirates best prospects, including those in the top 10 as ranked by MLB.com (all stats through games of Thursday).

Class AAA Indianapolis

Gregory Polanco (ranked No. 1) has been spectacular in the early going and causing fans to clamor for his promotion. That is about six weeks away at the earliest. But there’s no question Polanco, 22, is dominating International League pitching. He had a rare hitless game on Wednesday but responded to that with three hits and a homer Thursday. He’s batting .420 with an 1.139 OPS.

Andrew Lambo, 25, also is playing well but without the home run power that drew him so much attention last year and earned him first a promotion to AAA and then to the Pirates. In 58 at bats, he has yet to homer. He is batting .310 with an .869 OPS. The acquisition of Ike Davis has made Lambo less important to the Pirates future.

Outfielder Jaff Decker, 24, who the Pirates acquired from San Diego in the offseason, is off to a slow start. He is more an on base guy than a power guy and his on-base percentage is more than 100 points higher than his batting average, which is always a good sign. The problem is that is batting average is .193 with a .527 OPS.

Catcher Tony Sanchez, 26 next month, is 4-for-12 (.333) with a home run since joining the Indians this week.

Among pitchers who might have a future with the Pirates, Casey Sadler, 23, has looked the best. He is 3-0 with a 1.67 ERA and a .185 BAA. Jeff Locke, who was so successful for the Pirates in the first half of last season, is coming back from the disabled list. In two starts at Indianapolis, he is 0-1 with a 5.73 ERA. The good news is that the second start -- six innings, two earned runs -- was considerably better than the first.

Class AA Altoona

The most exciting news coming from this team has been the play of first baseman Stetson Allie (not ranked), 23, who was drafted as a pitcher, failed miserably, and is trying to make it as a first baseman. Allie dominated low Class A in 2013 but failed badly in high Class A. Still, the Pirates promoted him and the move is paying off. After a slow start, he had six home runs and 16 RBIs in 57 at bats with a .298 batting average and a 1.122 OPS. Just as significantly, his strikeout percentage, 35 percent at high Class A, is a respectable 25 percent.

Shortstop Alen Hanson (ranked No. 5), 21, is the highest-rated position-player prospect at Altoona. He got off to a terrible start, but has come up on lately and had his average up to .247.

Right-hander Nick Kingham (ranked No. 8), 22, is the top pitching prospect at Altoona. He allowed one earned run in his first three starts (17 innings), but gave up three in 5 1/3 innings Wednesday. Kingham is a candidate to be in the Pirates rotation next year.

Class A Bradenton

Outfielder Josh Bell (ranked No. 6), 21, was the recipient of a $5 million signing bonus after being selected in second round of the 2011 draft. He is batting .268 with a .715 OPS. He has one home run in 71 at bats.

Right-handed pitcher Tyler Glasnow (ranked No. 3), 20, made his 2014 debut last night. He pitched five innings and allowed no run and two hits while walking three and striking out six.

Class A West Virginia

Catcher Reese McGuire (ranked No. 7), 19, was batting .224 in 49 at bats with an OPS of .539.

Outfielder Harold Ramirez (ranked No. 9), 19, is batting .200 (15 at bats) with a .533 OPS.

Right-handed pitcher Luis Heredia (ranked 10), 19, was 0-1 with a 7.20 ERA in two starts.

Outfielder Austin Meadows (No. 4) had yet to begin his season due to injury.


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