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Bucs prospect Luplow recalled from Triple-A

MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- After having dinner with his grandparents in downtown Indianapolis on Wednesday night, Jordan Luplow's phone rang with a call from Triple-A Indianapolis manager Andy Barkett. Luplow feared he'd been traded.

Barkett asked Luplow what he was doing, then how long his grandparents would be in town. Until Tuesday, Luplow responded.

SAN DIEGO -- After having dinner with his grandparents in downtown Indianapolis on Wednesday night, Jordan Luplow's phone rang with a call from Triple-A Indianapolis manager Andy Barkett. Luplow feared he'd been traded.

Barkett asked Luplow what he was doing, then how long his grandparents would be in town. Until Tuesday, Luplow responded.

"They might need to grab a plane to San Diego," Barkett told Luplow, "because you're going up to The Show."

After only 21 games in Triple-A, Luplow joined the Pirates at Petco Park and started Friday's series opener in right field, batting seventh against the Padres. To make room for Luplow on the active roster, Pittsburgh optioned left-hander Steven Brault to Triple-A.

Luplow went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts as the Pirates fell to the Mariners, 3-2.

A year ago, Luplow was riding buses around the Florida State League. A month ago, he was in Double-A. Now, he's in the big leagues. Luplow admitted it feels like his ascension happened in a hurry. But he would not consider it a surprise.

"I set out for a goal this season," Luplow said. "Sometimes you don't reach your goals, but this was one of my goals coming into the season."

The Pirates are cautious with their prospects, typically letting them develop in Triple-A for an extended period. They made an exception with Luplow, who will provide manager Clint Hurdle with another outfield option while Gregory Polanco is on the disabled list.

"It's an aggressive move, but I think it's also the culmination of work we've seen every step of the way," Hurdle said. "This guy's a very good baseball player that has earned the opportunity to move up levels. Then the battle in the box became significant this year. The power has shown up."

Luplow, a former Fresno State teammate of Yankees star Aaron Judge, began the season with Double-A Altoona and earned a promotion by posting a .287/.368/.535 slash line with 16 home runs in 73 games. Luplow hit .324/.407/.568 with five homers in his first 21 games for Triple-A Indianapolis. His 21 total homers lead the Pirates organization this season.

"It goes back to [improving my] approach, talking to different people, learning from guys," Luplow said. "Judge, me and him talk a lot during the season. If I'm going through something, he'll help me. I have a lot of other people I fall back on, but he's been the big one for me this year."

Luplow, 23, is the Pirates' No. 20 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com. A third-round pick in the 2014 Draft, the right-handed hitter was not invited to big league Spring Training, but made a handful of appearances in the Grapefruit League -- one in which he doubled off Red Sox lefty Chris Sale.

Brault, the Pirates' No. 7 top prospect, pitched four innings over two appearances after being called up Saturday. Friday's move also served to balance the Bucs' roster; Pittsburgh had been carrying eight relievers and a four-man bench since calling up Brault and placing Polanco on the disabled list.

Around the horn
• Top prospect Austin Meadows (strained right hamstring) began a rehabilitation assignment Friday with the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Pirates. Meadows started in right field and went 1-for-2 with an RBI double in his first game action since June 21.

• Polanco (strained left hamstring) worked out on the field Friday afternoon. He played catch, fielded balls in the outfield and performed agility drills. The Pirates have not set a timeline for his return.

• The Pirates promoted infield prospect Edwin Espinal to Triple-A on Friday. Espinal, 23, hit .283/.322/.474 with 15 home runs and 72 RBIs in 95 games for Double-A Altoona.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

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