The Bradenton Marauders looked like an offensive juggernaut; They led the Florida State League in runs, batting average, on-base percentage and OPS, and the pitching was decent, too - it finished fourth in ERA.
They finished third in the league and made the FSL playoffs, although they were swept by the Charlotte Stone Crabs. But they're not that deep in prospects, at least not this season, but the couple they do have are shooting stars in the Pirate system.
The Marauders had a pair of the top young position players in the organization, catcher Tony Sanchez and outfielder Starling Marte, on the roster, but neither made it through the season. Sanchez had his jaw broken by a pitch, and Marte had hamate surgery on his hand after also being plunked. Another guy trying to make a name for himself, infielder Brock Holt, didn't play after early June.
Sanchez, 22, the team's top draft pick in 2009, fractured his jaw on June 22nd (it was the second time that month he caught a ball in the puss) and didn't play for the rest of the season. In 59 games, he hit .314/.416/.454 with 35 RBI. And he was on the fast track; his defensive skills were everything the Bucs hoped, and his bat was even better.
He'll play in the Arizona Fall League to make up for lost time, and probably will begin the 2010 season at Altoona. It's possible he could see a September call-up.
Centerfielder Marte, a 21 year old Dominican, sat out after surgery on May 8th to repair a broken hamate bone and returned to Bradenton on August 2nd. It's the same procedure that Pedro Alvarez had two years ago, and can be a power-drainer for a season or so.
Marte finished with a line of .315/.386/.432 and 26 steals in 60 games. Not only is he a fleet top-of-the-order guy, but his glovework is sometimes spectacular, although it's raw and he muffs the occasional easy ball.
He'll play winter ball, too, and should begin 2010 with Altoona. Marte is eligible for the Rule 5 draft and is sure to be added to the 40-man roster.
Middle infielder Holt, 22, hit .351/.410/.438 in 47 games for the Marauders before suffering MCL damage and a torn meniscus in mid-June. A 2009 draft pick from Rice, he's a top-of-the-order bat and a dependable fielder; the Pirates like him at second base. And you hate to see the college kids lose a year; they're the guys that should advancing through the levels.
Third baseman Jeremy Farrell, 23, posted a .298/.369/.487 line for the year, but the 2008 draft pick missed time when he fouled a ball off his shin and it became infected. In 75 games, he hit 9 homers and had 43 RBI. He's a tad old for the level, and is a fringe prospect as a bench bat. If Rendon gets picked next year, the infield corners could be set in Pittsburgh for awhile.
Catcher/OF Eric Fryer, 25, also missed time when he got hit in the face with a pitch. His line, in 83 games, was .300/.391/.474. Fryer was part of the return from the Yankees for Eric Hinske last year. He is athletic and runs OK for a big guy, but is probably organizational depth right now just because of his age.
One young guy to watch is OF Robbie Grossman, who just turned 21 after being drafted out of high school in 2008. His line was a disappointing .245/.344/.345, and he strikes out at a huge rate, though he improved in 2010, going from 164 K's to 118 between 2009-10.
But he was a 20 year old through the season, youngish for High A, and athletic enough to play all three OF spots and steal a few sacks. Grossman draws walks (12% rate), and had 29 doubles and four homers, so he has some upside to grow into.
The Marauders leader in at-bats was OF Quincy Latimore, 21, who has good power but poor plate discipline (136 Ks, 30 BBs), compiling a line of .266/.323/.444 with 19 HRs and 100 RBI. He doesn't have great range and boots more than his share of balls, but does have a rifle, with 21 assists in the past two season. His ability to whack the long fly will keep him on the Pirate radar.
6'7" 1B Calvin Anderson shows a little pop but K's a lot and has a cast iron mitt, and at 23, he's depth, as are OF Austin McClune, C Jamie Skelton and IF Greg Picard.
Their top two pitchers, Bryan Morris and Jeff Locke, both spent the second part of the season at Altoona.
RHP Nathan Adcock, 22, went 11-7 with a 3.38 ERA. Adcock doesn’t have great stuff, depending on a hard curve and 88-90 MPH heater, and probably projects as a Jeff Karstens type pitcher. He's Rule 5 eligible, and may be considered for the 40-man roster if the numbers work out right. He could move to the Curve next season.
LHP Nathan Baker, 22, joined the rotation after Morris and Locke were moved up, promoted from West Virginia to Bradenton. He throws around 88-92, and has a slider and change. Baker was 2-3 with a 3.02 ERA for the Marauders after posting a 6-5, 2.99 ERA at W VA. His peripherals were just OK; he'll probably start 2011 back in Bradenton.
RHP Tim Alderson started the year at Altoona, was terrible, got sent down and got clocked at Bradenton, too. But the Pirates are trying to simplify his mechanics and restore his velocity, which has gone AWOL. He's just 21 and was highly regarded as a Giants' prospect, so there may still be time to straighten him out.
RHPs Aaron Pribanic and Brian Leach are both 24 and both will pitch in the Arizona Fall League. Pribanic was 7-6 with a 3.33 ERA, but 71 Ks in 154 IP is a glaring red flag at this level of play. Leach was 6-9 with a 4.12 ERA. His peripherals are just OK; both are old for the level they're at, and neither looks like prospects at this point.
The Marauders bullpen starred RHP Diego Moreno, 24, who got a cup of coffee at Altoona at the end of the season before finishing on the DL with a rotator cuff strain. He can bring some serious heat with 57 K's in 38+ IP, and is a back-end prospect who has to show he can do it at the higher levels. Moreno also had some discipline problems, getting suspended, so he needs to have a solid season in 2011.