I’m having a hard time getting excited about the 2007 version of the Pittsburgh Baseball Club. The shine that came from a winning second half in 2006 wore off long ago, and our marginal players are being exposed as weak spots in a rebuilding franchise.
For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been pulling double duty—writing both here and at Sandlot Swashbucklers. The minor-league blogging makes it a little easier to stomach the ups and downs of the parent team; if Jose Bautista has a rough night, I can think about the promise that Jared Keel has shown. Every time Xavier Nady limps around the bases, I remember that Brad Corley is on pace to drive in 100 runs for the second consecutive year.
What I’ve realized in two recent posts at the Sandlot—one about the Pirates’ depth at catcher and infield, and another concerning the minor-league outfields—is that our farm system is like none I’ve ever seen before.
Past Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker and Steven Pearce, we have no star power. None. But there are a dozen position players whom I look at and say, hey, this kid could turn out to be a decent major leaguer if the cards fall favorably. We have bits and pieces of legitimate ballplayers that need only cultivation (and some luck) to turn into prospects. It makes you hope for the best—while obviously, as a true Pirate fan, expecting the worst.
I look at Shelby Ford and James Negrych and dream of Chase Utley. Nyjer Morgan and Pedro Powell turn into Juan Pierre. Jamie Romak, Adam Dunn. Brad Corley, Jeff Francoeur. Jared Keel, a poor man’s Jason Bay.
That’s not to mention relative unknowns like James Boone and Alex Presley, or the short-season players with upside: Austin McClune, Marcus Davis, Keanon Simon, Brian Friday, Robert Spain, Andrew Walker.
Most are doomed, naturally, to careers as minor-league filler. But the idea of the Pirates finding a diamond in the rough takes my attention off another losing season, and it has me excited for September call-ups and fall and winter ball.