Have a great Memorial Day. Hopefully, the Bucs are out grilling burgers and guzzling beer like their fans. Everyone needs a holiday.
We thought that we'd take the off day to sneak a peek at the Pirate minor league crop. As you'll see, Dave Littlefield didn't leave much for the new suits to work with.
His drafts favored college guys, which means the lower levels of the system are longer in the tooth than you'd like. He chose infielders that could hit rather than field.
And then he went for finesse pitchers rather than power arms, creating staffs that depended on good glovework to get them through the day from infielders slick with their bats, not leather. Not a very good mix, hey?
Here's the prospects, as best we can figure (if we've missed any give us a yell - the Pirates, too, hehe.)
GOOD ENOUGH TO PLAY EVERY DAY:
Andrew McCutchen, 21, OF (Indy) Small on stature, but huge in Pirate plans, McCutcheon will be Pittsburgh's CF and leadoff man in 2009.
Steven Pearce, 25, OF-1B (Indy) He's getting his at bats in AAA now and learning the OF trade, but should be playing RF or 1B for the Pirates next year.
SHOULD WEAR A BIG LEAGUE UNIFORM SOME DAYS, MAYBE EVERY DAY:
Brian Bixler, 25, SS (Pitt - Indy) Needs work with the stick and projects as a 2B or utilityman in the show.
Shelby Ford, 23, 2B (Altoona) Switchhitter that runs and throws well, better bat than glove.
Brian Friday, 22, SS (Lynchburg) He runs well and could end up as a leadoff hitter. He has a good arm, but inconsistent otherwise. He could also end up a Bixler clone.
Brad Lincoln, 23, RHP (Hickory) Threw 98 MPH when drafted in 2006, just returned from TJ surgery and had a couple of good outings since his comeback.
Nyjer Morgan, 27, OF (Indy) Started baseball late, has great speed but not instinctive. Role player.
Daniel Moskos, 22, LHP (Lynchburg) Last year's first round selection, timed as high as 97 MPH while at Clemson. Has a good fastball and slider, will start this year.
Neil Walker, 22, 3B (Indy) The converted C is learning 3B on the fly in AAA and struggling at the plate, but the he's still very much on the Buc's radar. Bye-bye, Joey Bats.
Duke Welker, 22, RHP (Hickory) 6'7" 2007 draftee (2nd round), needs to improve his work habits. He was hurt much of last year. Throws 92-94, needs another pitch.
We haven't included Indy's AAAA pitchers Jonah Bayless, Bryan Bullington, Sean Burnett, Brian Rogers or JVB. You know everything you need to about them.
THROW AGAINST THE WALL AND SEE WHAT STICKS:
Jimmy Barthmaier, 24, RHP (Altoona) Highly touted Astro prospect, battled elbow problems last year. The starter has very so-so stats so far for the Curve.
Charles Benoit, 23, LHP (Lynchburg) Has an average curve and a fastball with good life, and could be a back-of-the-rotation starter. Being converted to relief with little success.
James Boone, 25, OF (Altoona) Good power, lotsa K's, injury prone.
Pat Bresnahan, 23, RHP (Altoona) Reliever with some upside, currently on DL.
Justin Byler, 22, 1B - Broke his arm, out for 2008. No field, good hit, though not for power. Back to A next year.
Jesse Chavez, 24, RHP (Indy) Short reliever with a WHIP of 0.86. Came from Texas for Kip Wells. He's a fairly hard thrower, usually in the low 90s but sometimes touching 96.
Brad Corley, 24, OF (Altoona) Former pitcher, is a switchhitter with good power from the right side.
David Davidson, 24, LHP (Altoona) Set up man, was at Indy last year so the 24 year old's star is dimming.
Marcus Davis, 23, OF (Hickory) Davis has some upside. He has some tools, but came out of Alcorn and is very raw, and his age works against him.
Jason Delaney, 25, 1B (Altoona) Will go as far as his bat carries him. He doesn't run well, converted from OF. Good power numbers.
Yoslan Herrera, 27, RHP (Altoona) Cuban national player had 3-year layoff. This is probably his make or break year.
Jared Hughes, 23, RHP (Lynchburg) Littlefield pitcher, lotsa groundballs and high WHIP. Projects as possible back of the rotation type starter, but already has 7 losses in A ball.
Quincy Latimore, 19, OF (GCL) The youngster was drafted out of HS in 2007. It was a curious decision to not start him at low A ball this year, but he has upside. Athletic though not speedy.
Steve Lerud, 23, C (Lynchburg) OK bat, but huge liability behind the plate.
Juan Mateo, 25, RHP (Altoona) Mateo throws a fastball that ranges from 90-95 and figures to be used in relief role. Was on Cub's fast track until injuries slowed him in 2007.
Evan Meek, 25, RHP (Altoona) Rule 5 power arm finally at right level.
Luis Munoz, 26, RHP (Indy) Starter with spotty results for the Indians.
Jim Negrych, 23, 3B (Hickory) Pitt product, good line-drive bat, but slow and not a good fielder. Bobby Hill utility type player.
Alex Presley, 23, OF (Lynchburg) Looks like a tweener, lacking the speed for CF and the power to play corner OF.
Kevin Roberts, 24, RHP (Lynchburg) Fastball-curve pitcher, working on a change up. Moved a level at a time, has some upside in the bullpen if he conquers control issues.
Jamie Romak, 22, OF (Lynchburg) Needs better plate discipline, but learning to use all the field and showing some power. Defense and foot speed are below average, just had elbow surgery.
Marino Salas, 27, RHP (Indy-Pitt) Pirates have remade his windup, fastball, curve, slider pitcher, middle-relief potential, especially tough on RH hitters.
Romulo Sanchez, 24, RHP (Indy) Throws heat and is seen as a future closer/set up type despite his average strikeout numbers. Has control issues and needs another pitch.
Keanon Simon 23, OF (Hickory) Hit well at State College after being drafted last year, no power, some speed.
Ty Taubenheim, 25, RHP (Indy) A finesse pitcher who throws the four standard pitches, including a high 80s fastball, with good control. He adds rotation depth to the system.
Justin Vaclavik, 25, RHP - He throws a 90-94 mph fastball and a good slider. Was a closer, and is being converted to long man/starter. On the DL, should go AA upon return.
Andrew Walker, 22, C (Hickory) The TCU product is sputtering with the bat in low Class A. Decent receiver, weak arm, was drafted for organizational depth.
Tony Watson, 23, LHP (Lynchburg) His effectiveness depends on a killer changeup. He also throws a curve, and is brutal against LH batters.
Read 'em and look forward to the draft. The Pirates need a good one even more than the Steelers did. Dejan Kovacevic of the Post Gazette has an interview with the suits about the upcoming draft Pirates seek deep draft, and the Latino players and any upcoming deals will factor into restocking the system, too.
(We ranked the players from various public scouting reports we found. The ratings, of course, are fluid. Some guys will break out, some steadily move up the ladder, and others just kinda hang out. Feel free to comment on their potential or add whatever guys we may have overlooked.)