Frank Coonelly had his monthly MLB.com chat today, and he was talking young pitching. Here's what he had to say about where the Pirate prospects are likely to start 2011:
-- "If Rudy (Owens) is one of the top three starters coming out of Spring Training, Rudy will break camp with the Pittsburgh Pirates. A jump from Double-A to the Majors is unusual but would not be unheard of, and I certainly would not put it past Owens."
Now the question did specifically ask if Owens would join the big club if he were one of the 2-3 top starters in the spring, and he could conceivably slot at #3 with this rotation. But the prez seems to be saying that the team would rather polish him at Indy than throw him to the wolves as a back-ender this season. And make no mistake, the brass are high on Owens after being kinda meh in 2009, his breakout year.
-- He does like the 2010 Altoona staff, and a lot. "Decisions as to where Owens, Bryan Morris, Justin Wilson, Jeff Locke and Tony Watson will begin the 2011 season will be answered during Spring Training. As I mentioned above, it would be unusual but not unheard of for any of them to make the jump directly from Double-A to the Majors. A far more likely scenario would be for them to begin the 2011 season in Indianapolis and have the opportunity to earn a promotion to Pittsburgh at some point in 2011."
The FO, at least publicly, is saying the boys aren't that far away from the show. That, of course, would explain why they only signed Kevin Correia and Scott Olsen this year, so that the kids wouldn't be blocked from Pittsburgh and perhaps more importantly, from meaningful innings at Indy by AAAA arms. They'll need the work; Watson is the only one that's not a starter, and he was just converted to the pen last year.
-- On the 2010 pitching trifecta, FC says: "I would expect that Jameson (Taillon) will begin in Charleston, West Virginia, with the Power." He also hinted that Stetson Allie would start at State College, and last week, it was announced that Luis Heredia will start his days in the GCL. Each player was assigned aggressively, beginning his pro career a level higher than the usual prospect and hopefully will stay in the fast lane to the show.
And the heralded pitching class of 2009 should be spread over the two Class A clubs, with everyone on schedule so far, though no one is fast tracked yet, either.