Lynchburg, the Pirate's High-A affiliate, started the season with a 6-5 win over Potomac. The team features two of the bright stars of the Pirate constellation, 3B Pedro Alvarez and RHP Bryan Morris.
4,000 crammed into Calvin Falwell Field to catch Pedro, and Alvarez didn't disappoint. He homered and doubled in his first game, going 3-for-4, with 4 RBI. Nice debut, hey?
They're not the only pieces of the future to be toiling for the Hillcats. SS Jordy Mercer (3rd round - 2008), 3B Matt Hague (9th round - 2008), OF Marcus Davis (18th round - 2007), LHP Justin Wilson (5th round - 2008), and RHP Ronald Uviedo (#18 prospect - Baseball America) are also on the roster.
The manager is P.J. Forbes, who coached AA Reading last season in the Philly system. Wally Whitehurst (pitching coach) and Dave Howard (hitting coach) will assist him. All three are newcomers to the Pittsburgh organization; Whitehurst came from the San Diego system and Howard from Tampa Bay.
Lynchburg Opening Day Roster
Pitchers - RH Harrison Bishop, RH Tom Boleska, RH Christian Castorri, LH Chi-Hung Chen, LH Michael Felix, RH Matt McSwain, LH Paul Mildren, RH Dusty Molliken, RH Bryan Morris, RH RJ Rodriguez, RH Ron Uviedo, and LH Justin Wilson.
The Watch List: Morris, Uviedo, Wilson. Bryan Morris was the deal-maker for the Jay Bay trade, and this will be his second season after TJ surgery. Ron Uviedo was placed on the 40-man after recording 40 saves last season; the Pirates are going to try him in the rotation this year. Wilson helped lead Fresno State to the College World Series title in 2008, and signed late with the Pirates.
Harrison Bishop and Tom Boleska both had nice seasons last year, and are young enough to continue through the ranks. Michael Felix was the second round pick in 2006, but is still looking to put a solid season together.
Catchers - Joel Collins, Milver Reyes, Kris Watts.
The Watch List: All three have the look of organizational-type players. The Bucs are top-heavy with young catchers, but not very well stocked at the lower levels.
Infielders - 3B Pedro Alvarez, 2B Ray Chang, SS Jose De Los Santos, 3B Matt Hague, SS Jordy Mercer, 1B Kent Sakamoto.
The Watch List: Alvarez, De Los Santos, Hague, Mercer. Pedro is looking to move on to Altoona sooner rather than later. Jose De Los Santos is a good glove guy and a decent singles hitter with some speed, but is squeezed between Brian Friday and Mercer. He'll log a lot of time at 2B. Matt Hague will see some work as a corner OF as the Bucs are loaded at 3B, and Jordy Mercer is advancing through the Pirate ranks on schedule.
Outfielders - Marcus Davis, Miles Durham, Maiko Loyola, Eddie Prasch, Alex Presley.
The Watch List: Davis. Marcus Davis is 24, long in the tooth for the A level, and has to get it going this year. He played his college ball at Alcorn State, and missed some time because of a knee injury. Davis is considered to have some upside in a thin Pirate minor-league OF, but the clock is ticking on his efforts to turn from project into prospect.