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Huntington: Jung-Ho Kang 'one of the best 25,' belongs on roster

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Notes from Sunday's press meeting with Neal Huntington:

Kang is "one of the 25 best," belongs on roster

The Pirates are comfortable that they know what they have in Jung-ho Kang.

Brushing aside questions about whether consistent playing time might both help the club better assess whether Kang is major-league ready and help in his overall development, Neal Huntington said Kang has "earned the opportunity to be on this club."

"There are times that guys graduate the level from which they came," Huntington said. "We have ton of respect for what he did in Korea. We have a ton of respect for what our scouts saw. And we have tremendous respect for what we've seen so far. He is one of the best 25, as well as being one of the 25 best."

"We want him to develop and become accustomed to the culture in our environment, in our city, in Pittsburgh," Huntington added. "And the best way for him to get used to hitting major-league pitching is to hit major-league pitching, albeit in a limited role."

Huntington called the "narrative" that Kang is not getting much playing time "inaccurate."

"We're one of the very few teams in baseball right now that have role players that have 10 plate appearances at this point in the season without platoons or injuries," Huntington said. "He's doing what basically every role player in the big leagues does. And he's getting a spare start here and there and he's getting some pinch-hit appearances here and there. We'll talk about this much later in the summer if he's not getting playing time."

Next step for Morton

Huntington said that Charlie Morton is "feeling better."

"The body is working for him like it has in the past," Huntington said. "He never felt right in spring training. The body just didn't function the way the body functioned before the surgery. We're getting closer to where Charlie feels he can just go compete and he doesn't have to work through making sure he feels right."

The Pirates are leaning towards having Morton pitch another extended spring training instead of moving up to a competitive minor league level.

"We can control the environment completely in extended spring training," Huntington explained.

In his next outing, the Pirates plan on having Morton throw 65 pitches over four innings.

Sanchez and Diaz splitting time at Triple-A

As Clint Hurdle mentioned earlier this week, Huntington confirmed that the plan is to have Tony Sanchez and Elias Diaz split catching duties in Triple-A on a two-day on, two-day off schedule. There are no immediate plans for Sanchez to take reps at first, but it is something they may explore down the road.

Glasnow working on changeup

Huntington said that Tyler Glasnow was making "good progress," and that the organization was "very pleased" with his development.

The next step is to have the right-hander work on his changeup.

"We still have changeup development that we need to get with," Huntington said. "But he throws hard and with the breaking ball as well as he's throwing it, we're doing the hitters a favor working on the changeup. That's something we'll continue to work with him on."

Tucker ready for full season in Class A

Huntington expressed confidence that 2014 first-round pick Cole Tucker was ready for full season baseball, even though he will be young for the level. Tucker turns 19 during this season and is younger than most in his class.

"In Cole's mind and in our minds, he's an advanced young man on and off the field," Huntington said. "We felt like he was more than ready to handle that level and we may be proven right and we may be proven wrong. But advanced mindset, advanced preparation and the skill set we think plays there, despite being that this is arguably his senior season age-wise."