Pirates' McCutchen cut, assigned to Altoona
Sunday, March 25, 2007
By Dejan Kovacevic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Pirates today reassigned outfielder Andrew McCutchen, their top prospect, and two other players -- reliever Jim Brower and infielder Yurendell DeCaster -- to the minor-league camp in spring training.
McCutchen, 20, will open the season with Class AA Altoona, something of a surprise considering management was weighing the possibility of sending him to Class AAA Indianapolis. General manager Dave Littlefield explained that because McCutchen has spent only 25 games above Class A -- all with Altoona at the end of last season -- the team felt that level was the better choice.
"I just think it makes sense," Littlefield said. "He spent a short time there last year. It's a very good environment, and he'll be comfortable having already been there. It will be his second full season in the minors. He'll start there, and we'll take it from there."
And how long might McCutchen stay in Altoona?
"The ball's in his court," Littlefield said. "That's the great thing about this. He's done a great job. We're very pleased with his progress. He's very advanced and performing well in all phases of the game."
McCutchen batted .308 -- 16 for 52 -- with a home run, three RBIs and a steal. He also was exceptional in the outfield.
"I think I had a terrific spring training," McCutchen said after being told of the cut. "I had a lot of at-bats, a lot of chances to play and ??? to still hit above .300 and do well, it feels good to perform and show Jim Tracy and everyone that I can handle this level."
He showed no disappointment at being sent to Altoona rather than Indianapolis.
"That was my mindset coming in. I've just got to get revved up for the season, and we'll see what happens from there."
Brower and DeCaster were assigned to Indianapolis.
Also this morning, Littlefield said that second baseman Freddy Sanchez and reliever John Grabow could be placed on the disabled list if their injuries do not improve soon. But it still has not been ruled out that one or both could start the season on time. Sanchez has a sprained right knee, Grabow a sore elbow.
More details in tomorrow's Post-Gazette.