Pirates Rookie Ready For Prime Time

June 11, 2009 – 3:55 pm by Matthew Glenesk

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There’s usually not much reason to watch the Pittsburgh Pirates. And it’s painful to be one of their fans. But rookie center fielder Andrew McCutchen is certainly going to try and change that.

Now, I had a headstart on this kid because I live in Indianapolis (home of the Pirates’ AAA-affiliate). I’m not a gigantic minor league baseball fan, but Indy has one of the best minor league stadiums in the nation (some claim the best). So on a nice summer day, a slice of Americana and Indianapolis Indians baseball is in order.

Last summer, we went to check out the Indians take on the Louisville Bats and Cincinnati supposed phenom Homer Bailey. The 5-foot-11 McCutchen led off the bottom of the first inning with a leadoff bomb. And the noise of coming off his bat made you take notice. You could just tell this kid was going to be a stud.

So when the Pirates traded Nate McLouth (my fantasy gem from a year ago) to Atlanta last week, I jumped into my Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball and snagged McCutchen, 22, without verifying he was being called up. I didn’t care if he was the guy to get the call June 5. I knew he’d get the call sooner rather than later. Luckily, he got the nod.

And his performance in his first week of Major League duty (12 hits in his first eight games with five RBI) has faded some of the bad taste left in Pirates fans’ mouths after trading a young, homegrown All-Star center fielder in McLouth.

On Monday, McCutchen put the league on notice that there might be a new league’s fastest player. The Pirates rookie hit two triples against the Braves and sprinted around the bases in such spectacular fashion, ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight” timed him around the pads. He came in at 11 seconds flat.

Fox Sports South, the Braves broadcast partner, were still impressed with McCutchen’s speed three days after the fact and put together a highlight of McCLUTCHen running side-by-side against another fleet-footed outfielder - Prime Time.

Enjoy.

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