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Pirates Top 20 in Review

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Zach Duke

1) Zach Duke, LHP.
12-3, 2.92 in 16 starts for Triple-A Indianapolis. Fanned 9 guys in his first Major League start, but his K/IP in the minors has always been below average. An impressive young pitcher, but he doesn't have a huge margin for error, and will have to avoid Sean Burnettitis.

2) Ian Snell, RHP.
9-2, 4.06 in 16 starts in Triple-A, 90/21 K/BB in 93 innings. Has pitched 5 innings for the Pirates, allowing 7 runs. Triple-A numbers were solid, but not quite ready for the Majors in my view. Try again in September.
3) Neil Walker, C.
.275/.312/.410 for Class A Hickory, 7 homers. Doing OK, will need to show better plate discipline in order to reach his considerable ceiling in the long run.
4) Tom Gorzelanny, LHP.
4-3, 3.41 in 12 starts for Double-A Altoona, with 61/23 K/BB in 60 innings. Doing fine, seems to be showing better control this year.
5) John VanBenschoten, RHP.
Torn labrum. Out for the year.
6) Nate McLouth, OF.
Hit .303/.380/.428 with 23 steals for Triple-A Indianapolis. Ideal fourth outfielder when he gets the chance, has speed, gap power, decent on-base ability.
7) Matt Peterson, RHP.
Severe command problems: 6.59 ERA in 14 starts for Altoona, 38/42 K/BB in 72 innings, 88 hits allowed. Awful numbers, needs to go back to A-ball.
8) Rajai Davis, OF.
Hitting .288/.358/.346 with 28 steals for Altoona. Hitting for average, decent OBP, good speed, lacks power.
9) Kyle Bloom, LHP.
4-1, 1.87 in 12 starts for Class A Hickory, with 58/33 K/BB in 63 innings, allowing only 38 hits. Now at Lynchburg, was hit hard in his first start. High walk rate at Hickory is the main negative.
10) Brad Eldred, 1B.
Started off at .333/.387/.869, hitting 13 homers in 21 games in Double-A. Promoted to Triple-A, where he's at .253/.302/.445 with 5 homers in 39 games. Excellent raw power, but an all-or-nothing hitter unlikely to post good BA or OBP marks in the Majors.
11) Paul Maholm, LHP.
5-2, 3.01 in 14 starts for Altoona, 65/22 K/BB in 72 innings, 59 hits allowed, 4 homers. Pitching quite well overall, still projects as a number three guy.
12) Freddy Sanchez, 2B.
.277/.333/.380 for the Pirates, about as expected.
13) Wardell Starling, RHP.
6-5, 4.91 in 16 starts for Class A Lynchburg, 62/36 K/BB in 84 innings. Has good stuff, but still trying to develop command.
14) Bobby Bradley, RHP.
13.14 ERA in 11 games for Indianapolis, with 30 walks in just 12 innings. Completely lost all command. Was released to make room on the 40-man roster for Duke.
15) Jeff Miller, RHP.
3.02 ERA in 33 games for Indianapolis, 37/12 K/BB in 48 innings, 45 hits. Still on course to be a decent middle man.
16) Ronny Paulino, C.
Hit .292/.350/.435 for Altoona, then .384/.454/.744 in 25 games for Indianapolis. On fire offensively, he could put pressure on Ryan Doumit if his defense holds up.
17) Joe Bauserman, RHP.
Extended spring training, was just activated to pitch in the short-season New York-Penn League.
18) Eric Ridener, RHP.
Extended spring training.
19) Bryan Bullington, RHP.
3-3, 4.76 in 7 starts in Triple-A, 23/10 K/BB, 46 hits in 40 innings. Unimpressive numbers, it looks like he will never live up to the potential he showed in college.
20) Josh Sharpless, RHP.
Sleeper prospect pitched 27 scoreless innings with 46/11 K/BB at Lynchburg. Just promote to Altoona, where he has fanned 13 in his first 9 innings. Throws hard, has improved his command.

The big success story this year is the development of catcher Ryan Doumit, who could have easily slotted anywhere in this list in place of one of the Grade C pitching guys.

Overall, the Pirates system has good depth in Grade B- type prospects. There is no one here who screams superstar, but lots of guys who should be solid players, or at least useful role guys. I'm still not 100% sold on Duke, but his debut was certainly encouraging.