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Pirates notebook: Andrew McCutchen voted NL Player of the Month

| Monday, July 3, 2017, 4:45 p.m.

Andrew McCutchen was named the National League Player of the Month for June, becoming the first Pirates player to earn the honor five times.

McCutchen hit .411 with a .505 on-base percentage and .689 slugging percentage for a 1.193 OPS during the month, leading the NL in average, on-base and OPS. He hit six home runs, had 23 RBIs and scored 22 runs.

“That is great, and it shows that I have done something really good,” McCutchen said before Monday's game against the Phillies, “but for myself, I don't need that to know what I have done. I know that what I have done has been really good, so I just want to keep taking it day-by-day, keep preparing the way I have been preparing, from when I was hitting .200 to what I'm hitting now.

“I just want to keep that going and, hopefully, another month from now, we will be having the same conversation.”

During June, McCutchen raised his season average from .223 to .283. He was at .205 as recently as May 25.

Barry Bonds and Bobby Bonilla were named player of the month four times each. Willie Stargell and Roberto Clemente claimed the honor three times each.

“Winning it five times, any time I think you're the only player to do something for an organization that's been around 131 (seasons), it's pretty significant,” Hurdle said.

Santana demoted

After zooming through five levels of the Pirates minor league system over a two-year span in 2015-16 and dominating at Triple-A in April and May, Edgar Santana faced what Hurdle called “one of the first times he has faced any adversity in his young career” when he was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis to make roster room for Cervelli.

Santana allowed three runs and retired three batters over his past two appearances to balloon his ERA to 5.87. He was the odd man out when Cervelli was brought back.

“The overall experience should benefit him greatly moving forward,” Hurdle said. “And we anticipate him going back with some lessons learned here, some things case-specific to work on. Basically, it's from a consistency of execution.”

Hurdle said some flat sliders Sunday led to well-hit balls by the Giants. Less than three years into pro ball, though, Santana still has the potential to stick in the majors — possibly in a high-leverage role — in the future. Developing reliability with his changeup is a point of emphasis.

“I don't see (getting sent down) as a defeat,” Santana said through an interpreter. “My time here has been amazing. I have been treated well, and I have learned a lot. I have captured a lot and evaluated a lot about myself.

“I'm going back to Triple-A with the same mindset: to work. I have come back, produce and make sure I am here for my team.”

Santana has a 1.93 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in Triple-A this season. He had 12 strikeouts in 7 23 innings for the Pirates.

Two more picks sign

Monday, outfielder Mason Martin and right-handed pitcher David Lee were the latest Pirates draft picks to sign. Mason was a 17th-round pick from Southridge High School in Washington. The 6-foot-4 Lee was a 27th-round pick out of Florida. Lee, though, made only two appearances this past season for the College World Series champions. It was the third college he attended.

Both will report to the Gulf Coast League Pirates.

Less than a month removed from the draft, 30 of the Pirates' top 31 picks have been signed, with12th-round infielder Hunter Wolfe being the exception. Only four others among the Pirates' 42 picks remain unsigned, including three of their final five picks.

Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at cadamski@tribweb.com or via Twitter @C_AdamskiTrib.

Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen scores past Giants catcher Buster Posey during the third inning Saturday, July 1, 2017, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli jokes with hitting coach Jeff Branson during batting practice before a game against the Giants Friday, June 30, 2017, at PNC Park.
Philadelphia Phillies' Maikel Franco, left, follows through after hitting a two-run home run off Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Ivan Nova during the third inning of a baseball game, Monday, July 3, 2017, in Philadelphia. At right is Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
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