With the low-A Hickory Crawdads, Lincoln went 5-5 in 11 starts with a 4.65 ERA. Those numbers, however, are not indicative of how well the righty pitched in the South Atlantic League. Lincoln endured three-straight difficult outings in late-June and early-July, going 0-3 with a 10.69 ERA. Without those starts, his ERA stands at an impressive 2.54. He also fell victim to a lack of run support in three other outings. In Lincoln’s two additional losses, he allowed a combined four runs in 11 innings; he received his lone no-decision despite a quality start against Asheville.
"Brad has done everything expected of him at low A, including taking the ball every fifth day, pitch healthy, throw all his pitches for strikes and be efficient in attacking hitters," director of player development Kyle Stark said. "He has also demonstrated an exceptional level of professionalism on the field and is ready for the challenges of high A."
While at times his performance in the Sally League looked easy, Lincoln’s progression to the majors has been anything but that. His career was derailed over 15 months ago when the righthander underwent Tommy John surgery to repair ligament damage in his right elbow. This came less than a year after the Pirates made him the fourth overall pick in the 2006 first-year player draft. Prior to the injury, Lincoln appeared to be the Pirates’ ace of the future after a dominating stint at the University of Houston.
Playing for a Cougars program that has produced over two-dozen major leaguers, including former Hillcats skipper Jeff Bannister, Lincoln punished opponents on the mound and at the plate. In his junior year, he was a consensus All-American as a pitcher, earning a 12-2 record with a 1.69 ERA to go along with 153 strikeouts in 127.2 innings. He also batted .295 with 14 home runs and a team-best 53 RBI.
For his performance, Lincoln was named to the All-Conference USA First Team as a DH, becoming just the second Cougar to be named to the league’s First Teams at two positions. He was also named national player of the year by four media organizations and received the prestigious Dick Howser Trophy as the top baseball player in the country as decided upon by the National College Baseball Writers Association.
Although many major league scouts felt Lincoln had the talent to go first in the draft, the enormous workload at the University of Houston may have scared off other teams, causing him to fall to the Pirates at fourth overall. After pitching 7.2 scoreless innings for the GCL Pirates, Lincoln moved to Hickory where he had a 6.75 ERA in four starts. A pair of oblique strains ended his 2006 season. Things got no better for the Clute, Texas-native in spring training the following year. While in Bradenton, the Pirates shut down Lincoln after discovering a muscle strain in his forearm, eventually leading to season-ending surgery.
On May 18th, after over a year of rehab, Lincoln took the mound in a game for the first time in over 21 months. Pitching for Hickory, he earned the win over Rome with five innings of four-hit, one-run baseball. In his final start before the promotion to Lynchburg, Lincoln shut out the Hagerstown Suns over six and two-thirds innings, allowing just four hits and striking out seven. He hopes to continue that success with the Hillcats, and continue his long road to the major leagues.
He joins another former first rounder in the Hillcats rotation, 2007 draftee Daniel Moskos. Like Lincoln, Moskos was also selected with the fourth overall pick.
Lincoln is expected to make his Lynchburg debut Friday in Potomac, Md.