The Pirates have hurt the development of some of their young guys these past two months. Is the club utilizing Spring Training the way they should? To me, they are not.
Take Jerry Sands. The 25-year-old was initially viewed as the second-most important return of the Joel Hanrahan trade. He compiled a .288/.362/.552 line over two seasons in AAA and a respectable .258/.338//389 line in 227 PA's as a 23-year-old in 2011 for the Dodgers, for an OPS+ of 103. Not great but certainly promising in an extended audition. He got no chance in 2012, only 24 plate appearances before being sent to Boston in August and the Bucs in December.
Sands entered camp with an outside shot at earning a spot on the bench, or even as the righty side of a platoon at first or right field. Having an option left, he needed to really outperform Gaby Sanchez and/or Jose Tabata to make that happen. By going a meek 4-23 with no extra base hits, he did not do that. But I was stunned to hear his name in the first round of cuts. Why did he only get 23 PAs in 11 games when Brad Hawpe got 40 PAs? Why did Sands get cut loose before Darren Ford? I know the quality of opposition is lacking this time of the year, but wouldn't it be more of a benefit for Sands to get the major league treatment up until the last days of camp as opposed to guys who have no chance of making the team? Unlike the case of pitchers like Gerrit Cole, Sands could have "got his work in" and stayed in major league camp.
The same situation applies to Ivan de Jesus. Again, the quality of the opposition and the small sample size limits the significance of his .406/.424/.531 line. But how does the young guy--another piece the team JUST traded for--get cut performing well over others with neither the youth or the ST success?
To see Inge and Hawpe get all this time in spring training when the team could be taking more opportunities to see what they have in Sands, de Jesus and even Clint Robinson and Jordy Mercer, and more opportunities to develop and succeed at the ML level is in my opinion a big mistake.
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