To follow up on another favorite ex-Oriole of mine, Calvin Pickering was finally called up by the Royals on Sunday and hit three homers in his first two games subbing at DH for the injured Ken Harvey. Despite going homerless in the three games since, his batting line still reads .263 BA/.333 OBP/.842 SLG for a 1.175 OPS. This came after Pickering put on an awesome hitting display at Omaha of the Pacific Coast League:
Rob Neyer and Rany Jazayerli of the weblog Rob and Rany on the Royals express mixed feelings about Pickering's promotion. While they are glad that C. Pick is finally getting his chance on the big stage, they fear that it may be too late for him to make a lasting impact on the team. Years of watching the Royals' torturous mismanagement have imbued Rob and Rany with an instinctive pessimism, and they wonder if Allard Baird and the powers that be in K.C. truly recognize the value of Pickering's bat, given how long it took them to call him up and that it took the injury to Harvey (.747 career OPS) to force their hand.
There are quite a few similarities between Pickering, who got some pub here back in April, and Jack Cust, who has fallen out of favor with the O's this year. Both are powerful hitters with lousy defensive reputations who have gotten stuck at the Triple-A level. At 27 (he'll turn 28 in a month), Pickering is about two years older than Cust, but because Pickering missed a lot of games in the past due to injury, his minor-league statistics and Cust's through 2003 look like mirror images of each other. (Click the links above and you'll see what I mean; Cust walks a good deal more, but their rate stats and games played at each level are uncannily close.)
The two sluggers' fortunes have diverged in 2004, however, as Cust has struggled to find his swing for most of the year while Pickering has been locked in launch mode. Despite Cust's relative youth, I think that Pickering is the better bet to succeed in the majors, based on their recent performance. If the Royals let go of Pickering at year's end, he would not be a bad pickup for the Orioles—or any other team in need of a DH, for that matter.