PITTSBURGH -- In an effort to enhance his versatility, Josh Harrison will head down to the instructional league at the end of the regular season to get some reps in as a shortstop. Harrison's stay in Bradenton, Fla., is expected to last about 10 days.
Shortstop isn't an entirely foreign position to Harrison, though there is likely to be some rustiness as he steps back into a position he hasn't played regularly in years. Outside of one game with Triple-A Indianapolis this year, Harrison last played short in high school and college. The Pirates have used him only at second and third in the Majors this season.
"I feel like I can do it," Harrison said of playing short. "I know I've done [it] before. I'm a confident guy and I know my abilities and I'm a quick learner. I'm going to go down there and learn as much as possible while I am down there."
Harrison's best chance at being on next year's Opening Day roster is to fill the role of a backup infielder. Proving to the Pirates that he can hold his own defensively at short would make Harrison a more attractive option for such a role.
"Any other position I can play adds more value, which is more helpful when [manager] Clint [Hurdle] is putting up a lineup or needs to make a double switch," Harrison said. "I want to try to be helpful in any way I can."
Harrison has played sparingly since Pedro Alvarez returned from Triple-A earlier this month. In 61 games this season, Harrison has hit .265 and posted a .276 on-base percentage.
Prospects Grossman, McPherson earn awards
PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates handed out their annual Minor League awards on Friday, with outfielder Robbie Grossman earning Player-of-the-Year honors and Kyle McPherson being named Pitcher of the Year.
Grossman, 22, made headlines late in the year when he became the first Minor Leaguer in seven years to score 100 runs and draw 100 walks in a season. He finished with 127 runs, a total that hadn't been reached by a Minor League player since 1999.
He finished the year with a .294 batting average, 34 doubles, 13 homers and 56 RBIs. All of those numbers were career bests for the switch-hitting Grossman, who was taken in the sixth round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft.
"I was in position to get on base and let the other guys behind me drive me in," said Grossman, who is headed to the Arizona Fall League next month. "I used that to my advantage and just ran with it from there."
McPherson, 23, ended the season as the organizational leader with 142 strikeouts. No Pirates Minor Leaguer had amassed that many since 2006. Among all Pirates Minor League players, McPherson also ranked second in wins (12) and third in ERA (2.96).
"There are a lot of outstanding pitchers in this organization and it's stiff competition all the way up," McPherson said. "You just have to go out there and hope you can separate yourself from them every single day."
The righty split the season between high A Bradenton and Double-A Altoona, and his numbers hardly dipped when he made the jump up. After posting a 2.89 ERA in 12 starts with Bradenton, McPherson had a 3.02 ERA over his 16 starts in Altoona.
McPherson's season was also highlighted by a near no-hitter. He lost that bid with one out in the ninth in his second-to-last start in high A.
"It was the best moment of my career and my life in baseball," McPherson said of that game.
The Pirates have still not named a starter for Wednesday's season finale in Milwaukee. Jeff Locke, Brian Burres and Aaron Thompson remain candidates for the call.
Manager Clint Hurdle will spend part of October observing Minor League players in both Instructional League and the Arizona Fall League.
Ryan Doumit entered Friday having hit .404 with eight extra-base hits and six RBIs in September. He ranks third in batting average and sixth in on-base percentage (.436) among all National League players this month. Doumit was back in the starting lineup on Friday.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.