Minor league teams prepare to expedite pipeline throughput- Class A
Rosters for the minor league affiliates are starting to be set. Not all the rosters are up or complete yet, but we now know where the key prospects will be playing. In this post, we will discuss the rosters of the Class A teams, the West Virginia Power and the Bradenton Marauders, both of which are going to be full of the 2008 and 09 draft picks by Neal Huntington and co.
Pitchers to watch:
- Philip Irwin (21st rd, 2009 out of Mississipi, he had a solid start in State College in 30 IP)
- Jeff Inman (overslot pick out of Stanford, 12th round, 2009)
- Quinton Miller (million dollar baby, 2008, 20th round out of high school, he had a somewhat rough go around his first time in WV)
- Hunter Strickland (Adam LaRoche trade from Boston, 18th rd pick in 2007 out of HS, a sleeper candidate for 2010, and reportedly saw his velocity rise in late 2009- some of that projectable frame starting to fill out?)
- Nathan Baker (5th round pick 2009 should be rounding out the rotation but he could have to piggyback with Jason Erickson below)
- I am not sure if Jason Erickson will start, but I really like him. Erickson, Kyle McPherson and Maurice Bankston will likely come out of the pen.
Hitters to watch:
All these guys are legit prospects, but specifically look for Baker, who would advance quickly is he can start hitting better than at State College last year, and Evan Chambers- 3rd round draft pick, 2009- who needs to find more power. Unfortunately, Chambers appears to have reached peak physical development, but his stats improved every month at State College last year. Brock Holt has skipped Class A and goes straight to high-A.
The key player here is Jarek Cunningham. If he starts out of the gate well, he will be up in high-A soon, and should be someone the Pirates look to move through their system fast. Kyle Morgan, Rogelio Noris, Ramon Cabrera and Benji Gonzalez are all worth following, although their clocks should tick a tad slower than the first 3 mentioned.
Another prospect loaded lineup. Some organization filler in Noah Krol, Casey Erickson and Mike Felix, but the rest are all where they should be, and we will likely see a couple drop out of the reckoning here in 2010.
Pitchers to watch – Bryan Morris and Jeff Locke will start here, but a good month or so should see them move to AA. Morris was good in ST, but Locke seems to be a concern.
Nathan Adcock (Jack Wilson trade) starts here as a prospect with a rapidly fading star, and this would likely be an important year for him.
Aaron Pribanic starts here too, but he has some more time, and might get most of year to crack the league.
Diego Moreno and Tom Boleska are particularly interesting. Both could move quickly through the ranks, and end 2010 in AAA or even the bigs. Boleska appears to have dominated every level so far, but has probably had injuries hamper him some.
Hitters to Watch: Tony Sanchez starts off here, and will likely be good enough to make AA by June or so. That’s when his real test will begin.
Calvin Anderson will try to turn his Ryan Howard like size into RyanHoward-like power. Brock Holt will look to build on a great start to his pro career.
Robbie Grossman will likely get a full year here, but needs to start turning his tools into results. Cutting down on the Ks is a good place to start.
Starling Marte also starts here and will likely get at least half the year at this level. He needs to keep up his performance from last year, while maybe adding some more power.
Quincy Latimore will also start here.
Future Class A-ers
I’d expect both von Rosenberg and Colton Cain to finish 2010 in Class A, depending on how polished they are. I had expected Victor Black to start in West Virginia, but it seems he will resume in State College. I expect to see him there sooner than later though. If all goes well, Brooks Pounders should finish the year in WV also, although they could move him slower, giving him the season at State College.
This might be the most exciting part of the Pirates this year, along with AA, so stay tuned. If Pittsburgh is to ever be steadily competitive in the foreseeable future, this is where the surge must start, and 2010 is going to be key!