Pittsburgh Pirates: Altoona Curve offense explodes in series versus Richmond

Oneil Cruz during warmups. Photo Credit: Murphy Sports Blog

 The Altoona Curve wrapped up their lone series in Richmond against the Flying Squirrels, winning four of six games.

It was a big week offensively for the Curve, who mashed their way to a series win in Richmond, playing against the San Francisco Giants farm team. Altoona is the home to some of the bigger prospects on the hitting sides of things for the Pittsburgh Pirates, with a couple on pace to be helping the big club sooner rather than later.

In the meantime, Altoona combined for wins in four of six games, scoring 34 runs in the process and showing an impressive blend of speed and power. Of the 59 hits they collected as a team, Altoona collected 15 doubles, three triples and seven home runs. On top of that, they swiped ten bags in the six games.

Ji-Hwan Bae has been the team's table setter all season as the lead off hitter and he was able to show off his dual-threat ability in Richmond. The 21-year old Bae is ranked as the 14th best prospect in the Pirates system, according to MLB.com, and he showed some of that upside this week.

For the week, Bae hit to a batting slash line of .524/.565/.762, with three doubles, and a triple while swiping two more bases. His signature game came on Saturday, where he went 4-for-6 with two of those doubles, also driving in two.

Maybe the most intriguing hitting prospect in the Pirates' system, Oneil Cruz is a total enigma. They know he can hit, but some are still divided where he will play defensively. For now, the Curve's shortstop extended his hitting streak to ten games, batting .375 in his five games played during the week.

June 2 will be a game that most will be able to turn just to show the talent that Cruz possesses. The native of the Dominican Republic collected four hits, one of which was fifth home run of the season, drove in four runs and stole three bases. 

An amazing display of skill for the giant 22-year old prospect.

Manning the hot corner, Rodolfo Castro made his major league debut this season, playing one game with the Pirates before the minor league schedule started. In the middle of the order, Castro showed the power he brings to the table, slugging .739 this past week, and logging 17 total bases. He also drove in eight runs, four of which was on June 5th where he went deep twice and collected four total hits.

An intriguing name to keep track of this season, not may prospects in the Pirates system have the raw power that Mason Martin possess. It was also going to be if he could make consistent enough contact to make it to the majors.

He showed just that struggle this week, as he launched his fifth home run of the season this past week but also struck out 12 times against Richmond. Mason joined in on Altoona's offensive outburst on the fifth, collecting three hits, one of which was a double.

Cal Mitchell went on to hit .238/.304/.381 on the week, adding three doubles to his power totals. Mitchell has done a good job limiting the strike outs with just 16 on the week compared to 10 walks. He punched out just three times for the week against Richmond.

While those are the majority of players that the Curve rely on offensively, they aren't the only players to contribute with the bat in their hands this week, here's a quick run down of a couple more.

>>Arden Pabst went 2-for-4 with a home run in the series opener on Tuesday.

>>Daniel Amaral went 5-for-13 and batted .385/.467/.769. He hit two doubles and a home run while driving in two for the week.

>>Brent Citta hit a triple and drove in two runs for the week in limited action.

After the series victory, Altoona improved to 18-11 on the season, which is good for fourth place in Double-A Northeast - Southwest division. They play the Akron Rubberducks this upcoming week at home. 

Who was your biggest star of the week for the Curve? Let us know in the comment section below, subscribe to the site with the link at the top, and follow the site @SportBlogMurphy and me @AJ_Murfy on Twitter.

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