From the AFL: Nate McLouth

Versatility is a common thing down in the Arizona Fall League. Relievers become starters with new pitches to work on. Starters become relievers pitching in tough situations. Catchers become third basemen, first basemen become outfielders and and second basemen play everywhere.

Usually though if you come in hitting leadoff you stay at the top of the order and if you come in hitting clean up you stay in a run producing spot, but for Nate McLouth it really isn't about where he hits, just how often.

"I just like hitting, so they can put me anywhere in the order and I won't mind."

Apparently the coaches are taking him at his word. McLouth has hit everywhere from leadoff to sixth in the order. He's playing right field half the time, center field the other half. He changes his approach, but not his mindset.

"When I'm hitting leadoff I take more pitches, especially that first time up nine times out of ten I won't swing at the first pitch. When I hit leadoff that is my job. See pitches, and let the other guys see pitches."

The change in approach doesn't seem to bother him. He steals bases, he drives in runs, and he plays stellar defense.

"What I really like about being down here is the experience. This is the best pitching I've faced, so its good to get at bats against these guys."

McLouth also knows that this is a big opportunity.

"Of course I think I can make the big league roster. I think everybody down here should think that way. Keep playing hard, keep working hard, keep learning, and then take that into Spring Training, and take your shot. The Pirates are always looking for young talent, so I keep pushing myself, and the other guys down here push each other too."

While McLouth is fast, he knows defensively he needs to play smart. "I've got plenty of speed to play center, but I'm not one of those guys like Corey Patterson who is just a burner, so I work a lot on reading the ball off the bat and taking the right routes," and his arm has quickly become a stop sign to runners at third.

McLouth might not be the biggest name in the Arizona Fall League, but as he continues to impress, and improve, he might be one of the guys who's next stop is the Big League Club. For McLouth, that's the one spot he really wants to stay in.


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