Pirates minor league notebook: Mt. Lebanon grad keeping steady approach
BRADENTON, Fla. — Jordan Steranka may be just 78 games into a professional baseball career that hasn't stretched past High-A, but he already is aware of the game's ebbs and flows.
“I just to try to stay as even keeled as possible. There's going to be peaks and valleys,” said Steranka, a first baseman and designated hitter with the High-A Bradenton Marauders.
“Just having the mindset to not get too low on yourself if you go through bit of a tough streak, and don't get too high on yourself, like what's going on right now.”
A Mt. Lebanon graduate, Steranka had 12 hits in his first 32 at-bats, including a two-out, solo home run in the bottom of the ninth April 8 against Palm Beach that tied the game at 3-3. The Marauders wound up winning 4-3.
Entering Saturday night's game, Steranka was batting .333 with a .915 on-base percentage plus slugging percentage.
“If you stay even keeled,” Steranka said, “I think you're going to be OK.”
Steranka, 24, was drafted by the Houston Astros in the 30th round of the 2011 draft but chose to stay another year at Penn State before the Pirates took him during the 21st round in 2012.
Steranka hit .247 in 67 games last season with Low-A West Virginia Power.
McKechnie Field, the Marauders' home park and the Pirates' spring training home since 1969, isn't known for being kind to pitchers. According to a study by Baseball America, McKechnie averaged more than 9.9 runs per game from 2010-12, tops in the FSL.
Early this season, however, pitching has been the Marauders' strength.
Entering Saturday's game, Bradenton was second in the league in ERA (2.18) and second in WHIP (1.10) while allowing 32 earned runs. Only Dunedin (23) has allowed fewer.
Lefty Orlando Castro (2-0) has won two of his three starts while pitching to a 2.12 ERA over 17 innings, striking out 15 and walking two.
Righty John Kuchno (2-1) got roughed up April 11 against Jupiter, allowing six earned runs in 3 2⁄3 innings.
But he threw five no-hit innings during the Marauders' home-opener against Charlotte on April 5 and allowed just two hits over six innings in a win at Palm Beach.
The bullpen has gotten a jolt from Jhondaniel Medina, who has allowed one hit over five innings while striking out nine.
All of this has come without Tyler Glasnow, considered one of the Pirates' top prospects who is working his way back from a sore back he suffered early in spring.
The Marauders have swiped 20 bases, tied for tops in the FSL, but they've been thrown out 10 times, which leads the league.
But with the Marauders struggling offensively — they were hitting .240 and slugging .338 through 15 games — being aggressive on the bases is a necessity until the bats come around.
They are, however, tied for first with 41 bases on balls.
John Lembo is a freelance writer.