8/27/2014 12:50 A.M. ET
Hurdle confident Pirates' best yet to come
By Tom Singer and Teddy Cahill / MLB.com
PITTSBURGH -- The 2014 Pirates have circled the .500 mark all season and still find themselves in the scrum for a postseason spot despite not ripping off a substantial winning streak.
"All it means to me is, we got one coming," said manager Clint Hurdle, calling on personal experience.
Hurdle's 2007 Colorado Rockies offer a pretty good precedent for what the Bucs hope to pull off.
Those Rockies bottomed out at nine games under .500 and peaked at seven games over until Sept. 16, when they took off on an 11-game winning streak that lit a fire not doused until a World Series loss to Boston.
These Pirates bottomed out at eight below, topped out at nine above and have yet to win more than four straight. They are one of only two National League teams to not have won more than four in a row (also the Mets' longest winning streak, with the D-backs' longest streak at three).
"In Colorado, we never had a big streak then caught fire late -- very late," Hurdle recalled. "We haven't yet gotten to the point where we played those complete games you need to put together a streak. I'm confident we've still got one in front of us."
Prospect McGuire racks up four hits in win
Catcher Reese McGuire, the Pirates' No. 7 prospect, collected four hits and drove in three runs Tuesday, helping Class A West Virginia defeat Lexington, 8-2.
McGuire, ranked No. 77 on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list, finished the night 4-for-5 and scored once. It was his first four-hit game of the season and matched his season high for RBIs.
Center fielder Austin Meadows, whom the Pirates selected five picks before they took McGuire in the first round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, went 1-for-3 with a walk and scored three runs in the victory.
Except for the first half of this season, which Meadows spent on the disabled list with a hamstring injury, the Pirates have kept Meadows and McGuire together. They began their careers in the Gulf Coast League and made a brief appearance with short-season Jamestown before advancing to West Virginia this year. Now, the 19-year-olds are even working on matching six-game hitting streaks.
Meadows, the Pirates' No. 4 prospect and No. 48 on the Top 100, has played 33 games with the Power since coming off the disabled list. He is hitting .318/.382/.465 with two home runs. McGuire is hitting .268/.313/.333 with two home runs in 93 games this season.
Touted trio among eight Bucs set for Fall League
PITTSBURGH -- Right-handers Tyler Glasnow and Nick Kingham and outfielder Josh Bell will get a chance to further their careers in the upcoming Arizona Fall League.
Glasnow and Bell, ranked No. 1 and No. 3, respectively, among Pirates prospects, received word of their selection to the blue-chip offseason league in the wake of their selections as Pitcher and Player of the Year in the Class A Advanced Florida State League. Kingham, No. 5 on the prospects list, is wrapping up his first Double-A season.
The trio will be among eight Pirates prospects playing in the six-team league for the Scottsdale Scorpions, who will be managed by Jeff Banister, the Major League club's bench coach.
Catcher Elias Diaz, a fast riser in the organization, is one of five other farmhands chosen to participate in a loop commonly referred to as a "finishing school" for top prospects.
The others are right-hander Adrian Sampson, lefties Joely Rodriguez and Tom Harlan, and infielder Dan Gamache.
Glasnow, a fifth-round choice in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, dominated the FSL this season, pitching shutout ball in half of his 22 starts. In 118 1/3 innings, he notched 148 strikeouts and held batters to an average of .167.
The AFL assignment is the latest recognition of Bell's affirmative comeback from a knee injury that all but wiped out his first pro season in 2012. The second-round pick in 2011 -- right after Gerrit Cole -- also represented the Bucs in the 2014 Futures Game in Minnesota.
Bell earned his Player of the Year honors despite leaving the league in a promotion to Double-A Altoona at the Minor League All-Star break. After hitting .335 in 84 games with the Marauders, he batted .287 in 24 games with the Curve before landing on the DL a week ago with a left knee contusion.
Kingham, a 2010 fourth-round pick, is another big arm in the Pirates' system. He has split the season between Altoona -- where he had an odd 1-7 record despite a 3.04 ERA -- and Indianapolis, where he is 5-4 with a 1.03 WHIP.
Top position prospect Bell shifting to first base
PITTSBURGH -- In response to what is already being called their "dream outfield," the Pirates are moving top position prospect Josh Bell to first base.
Bell, freshly named the Florida State League's Player of the Year as an outfielder, has been working out at first base since his mid-July promotion to Double-A Altoona.
Bell has yet to play at the new position, but he will do so in the upcoming Arizona Fall League for the Scottsdale Scorpions -- who will be managed by Jeff Banister, the Major League club's bench coach.
"It's a good situation," said Pirates general manager Neal Huntington. "Jeff will be able to keep an eye on how this goes and keep us updated."
Rated No. 3 among Pittsburgh prospects, Bell has a high ceiling, but perhaps little chance of reaching it at his original position with the Bucs. Despite Gregory Polanco's recent return to Triple-A Indianapolis, the Pirates figure to be set for years with an outfield of Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen and Polanco.
"He'll first go to the instructional league after the season and continue working there," Huntington said of Bell, "then he'll get his first game action at the position in the AFL.
"It's an opportunity for him to get at-bats in a very competitive environment, and to give first base a go. We just want to see how he takes to it and whether that can become an option for him."
• The Bucs entered Tuesday's game in one of their homer-or-bust offensive moods: Their five runs in the prior two games all scored on home runs, as well as 15 of 23 runs in the last four games.
• McCutchen's next home run at home will be his 61st at PNC Park, tying the yard record held by Jason Bay.
First number, last word
.275 Left-handed batters' average this season against southpaw Francisco Liriano. In 2013, lefties hit Liriano at a .131 clip.
"We play with the same urgency all year. We don't hit another gear with 30 games left. We want to hit that gear throughout the season. The results may not always be there, but the preparation and focus never vary."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. Teddy Cahill is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.