Alvarez's slow start doesn't concern Bucs

Alvarez's slow start doesn't concern Bucs

LOS ANGELES -- There is still little doubt that Pedro Alvarez, the organization's top prospect, will be playing at PNC Park sometime in 2010. However, he hasn't exactly sizzled thus far in his first taste of Triple-A.

After hitting a three-run homer in Indianapolis' loss on Friday, Alvarez finished April with a .224 average, five homers, two doubles and 15 RBIs. He struck out 25 times in 85 at-bats.

The numbers -- both for average and power -- aren't what the Pirates had predicted for Alvarez, who batted .333 with 31 extra-base hits in 60 games at Double-A last year. However, no one is concerned by his slow start either.

In fact, Alvarez went through the same April struggles last year with high Class A Lynchburg (Va.). The former first-round Draft pick hit just .219 during the first month of the '09 season before finding his way in May. And when he did get on track, Alvarez never slowed down.

"This is a guy who is trying to show that he is the player they think he is," Pirates director of development Kyle Stark said. "He's probably trying to do a little too much. He did the same thing last year and bounced out of it. I think last year should show that we're not going to panic based on the numbers."

The Pirates' two primary goals with Alvarez in Triple-A were to see improvements against left-handed pitching and strides made defensively. In his first 21 games with Indianapolis, Alvarez hit just .190 against southpaws.

As for the defense: "He has improved defensively," Stark said of Alvarez, who has committed four errors. "If he continues to improve physically, it will allow him to make some improvements defensively. We're encouraged by the progress."