The top of high Class A Bradenton’s rotation will be worth the price of admission for Pirates fans, as the Marauders roll out the organization’s top two prospects in righthanders Gerrit Cole, the No. 1 overall pick in last June's draft, and Jameson Taillon, the second pick in 2010. But don't overlook Triple-A Indianapolis, which will have a core of players on the cusp of the big leagues, including outfielders Starling Marte and Gorkys Hernandez and pitchers Jeff Locke, Kyle McPherson, Bryan Morris and Rudy Owens.
Leap of Faith
There’s no time to waste for outfielder Josh Bell, who signed for $5 million at the deadline last year as a second-round pick. He signed too late to play last summer, so the 19-year-old will make his professional debut at low Class A West Virginia. He will be joined by righthander Stetson Allie, the Pirates' 2010 second-rounder who moves up a level despite walking 29 and yielding 19 earned runs in 26 innings with short-season State College last season.
Where is that Guy?
Righthander Zack Von Rosenberg made his full season debut in West Virginia’s rotation last year, going 5-9, 5.73 with 114 strikeouts in 126 innings, but was left off a full-season roster this spring. The Pirates are holding the 21-year-old back to start the season but expect him to join West Virginia early this spring.
Time is Running Out
Tony Sanchez returns to Double-A Altoona after a forgettable 2011 season, on and off the field. The No. 4 overall pick in 2009 out of Boston College failed to follow up a breakout season in 2010, as he hit just .241/.340/.318, was benched for criticizing Eastern League umpires and local fans on Twitter, and got his jaw broken (his third such injury since turning pro) in a bar fight after the season. Sanchez has said he’s learned his lessons and expects a better showing in 2012.