Notes: Minors, Walker, Ranaudo, 2010 Draft, Dynasty

A few notes from the last few days:

-Jennifer Langosch had some great notes on several minor league players yesterday.  A brief summary:

  • Pedro Alvarez will remain at third base, but that could be influenced by the play of Andy LaRoche or Jeff Clement.
  • The key for Neil Walker is hitting.  The article includes a quote from Kyle Stark saying the Pirates will find a place for Walker if he improves that area of his game.
  • Jose Tabata will work in center field in the minors, and could end up in left field eventually in PNC Park.
  • Chase d’Arnaud is projected to start the year at the AA level, and will likely split time between shortstop and second base, although Langosch mentions the organization sees him as a future shortstop.
  • Brian Friday is expected to open the season at the AAA level.
  • A long commentary from Stark on whether Daniel Moskos will be a starter or a reliever this year.
  • Rudy Owens is in the mix to start at AA this year, although that’s not certain.
  • Colton Cain (back), Brett Lorin (hip), and Zac Fuesser will all miss Opening Day.  Not sure how much they’ll miss beyond that.  Lorin is one of my picks for a breakout season this year in his jump to the higher levels.  Hopefully none of the injuries will linger.
-Chuck Finder had an update yesterday which included a note at the bottom that clarified that Neil Walker is officially going to be a utility player, covering 3B-2B-OF-C.  I didn’t like Walker as much when he was in line for a starter role.  Part of that is due to being blocked by Pedro Alvarez, but the bigger part is his lack of hitting.  He still needs to work on the hitting, as pointed out earlier, but I really like the value he could bring as a super utility player, especially one who can serve as an emergency catcher.
-Also in that update from Finder were quotes from Bob Nutting and Frank Coonelly on the team.  The most notable quote was when Coonelly said the following:
“The message [in the preseason talk] is that this is the group that’s going to turn this franchise around. For the first time since I’ve been with the organization, I really believe that. . . this is the first time each of the players on this team believes they are part of the team’s long-term future. . . . We are in no way shape ofr form willing to sacrifice 2010. In fact, that was one of the points that I made to the players today: ‘Don’t let people tell you that the Pirates have a great future, but it’s not today.’ Today is our future. 2010 is the beginning of the next dynasty of the Pirates for me.

Dynasty is a strong word, one that is associated with the Patriots of the 2000s, the Yankees in the late-1990s, the 49ers of the 1980s, and the Pittsburgh Steelers of the 1970s.  In fact, if I had to classify the previous dynasty, I’d say it was the 1970-1979 period in which the Pirates only posted one losing season (a .494 winning percentage), won their division six times, and won the World Series twice.  It would be hard for any team to match that performance from 2010-2019, especially a small market team like the Pirates.

I don’t care about the dynasty comment though.  It probably wasn’t the right word to use, but then again it was used in a pep talk to the team, which explains the hyperbole.  I understand and agree with the general message.  2010 is the beginning.  We’ll see guys like Pedro Alvarez, Jose Tabata, and Brad Lincoln make their debuts, guys like Andrew McCutchen, Ross Ohlendorf, and Garrett Jones to progress on their strong 2009 seasons, and the common trend is that all of these players are under control for several years.  That said, the word dynasty might be too optimistic of a prediction, at least without seeing the progress of the 2010 team.

-Anthony Ranaudo, the top pitching prospect from the 2010 draft, has been pulled from his start on Friday against William & Mary due to elbow discomfort, according to Baseball America.  Ranaudo’s injury is classified as a stress reaction which doesn’t involve ligament damage, and doesn’t appear to be a long term condition.  LSU’s coach, Paul Mainieri, said that Ranaudo could miss one start, or could be out two or three weeks.  This injury will be one to watch, and could eventually elevate the draft stock of pitchers like Deck McGuire and Drew Pomeranz.

-Jameson Taillon, the top high school prospect in the 2010 draft, is expected to make his debut tonight for The Woodlands High School.  I’ll have a tracker for Taillon, IF (and this is a big if) his stats are available to track.  Otherwise I’ll include any updates in the weekly draft prospects rundowns.  Baseball America released their High School Best Tools list for the 2010 draft, and Taillon really stood out.  He was classified with the best fastball (low-to-mid 90s, touches 96), the best secondary pitch (his curveball, which is 82-83 MPH and has a sharp, hard, two-plane break), the best command, and the closest to the majors.

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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