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Pirates Option Presley to AAA, Recall Meek; What About Starling Marte?

The Pittsburgh Pirates have optioned struggling outfielder Alex Presley to its AAA affiliate in Indianapolis and have recalled relief pitcher Evan Meek to the majors, the team announced today.

Presley, 26, impressed after coming up as a late-season call-up in 2011. He finished the year with a .298 average, four home runs and nine stolen bases in 52 games. He also had a decent OPS of .804, hinting that perhaps Presley was ready to join the Major League club full-time as a top of the order hitter.

The lefty got off to a nice start this year with hits in 17 of his first 19 games and a 12-game hit streak from mid to late April. On April 28, Presley’s batting average sat at .303.

Less than a month later, that number is .220. Presley has just three hits in all of May. He has 26 hits on the year with 30 strikeouts.

Presley had been splitting his spot in the outfield with Nate McLouth and Yamaico Navarro.

The Pirates offense has been struggling mightily, and that surely can’t be helped by making McLouth and Navarro near-everyday outfielders. Hopefully Presley can find his swing in AAA and make a return to Pittsburgh soon.

The right-hander Meek will replace Presley on the 25-man roster. He was originally optioned to Indianapolis on April 30 after racking up a 5.59 ERA in nine appearances in Pittsburgh. He’s made four scoreless appearances for Indianapolis.

This all brings forward the burning question of when the Pirates will call up outfield prospect Starling Marte, he of the ridiculous 2012 Spring Training.

Some will be surprised when they find out Marte is only batting .261/.323/.437 in 131 plate appearances in AAA this year. He missed a few games this week after taking a pitch off the hand.

While few expected Marte to replicate his spring success in Indianapolis, most expected the 23-year-old’s average to be above the .300 mark, not borderlining Garrett Jones territory.

I don’t think Marte is ready yet. He’s clearly not hitting AAA pitching like we want him to. Feeding him to major league pitching wouldn’t be a great idea, especially if his confidence level is anything less than full.

The Pirates will likely leave Meek up with the big club for this series with the Nationals, but could make a move to bring up another hitter for the weekend series in Detroit, where the team will need a designated hitter.

I don’t expect to see Marte up this weekend. Matt Hague seems the more likely choice to come up and get some major league at bats.

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