Pirates Hang Onto Prospects At Deadline
PITTSBURGH — Neal Huntington did some tightrope walking in the days and hours leading up to the July 31 trade deadline.
The Pirates general manager tried to improve his major league club as it attempts to make the postseason—and have a winning season—for the first time since 1992. Yet he tried to make additions to the roster without sacrificing talent from a farm system that has gone from one of baseball's worst when Huntington took over late in the 2007 season to one of the best.
The Pirates were able to add lefthanded starter Wandy Rodriguez, righthanded reliever Chad Qualls, first baseman Gaby Sanchez and outfielder Travis Snider while sacrificing only one prospect ranked among the organization's Top 10 at the beginning of the season. Outfielder Robbie Grossman (No. 8) was one of three minor leaguers sent to the Astros in a trade for Rodriguez.
The Pirates were adamant in trade talks that they would not part with the players who they consider their top six prospects: outfielder Starling Marte (who made his major league debut July 26 after being recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis), Altoona righthander Gerrit Cole, high Class A Bradenton righthander Jameson Taillon, low Class A West Virginia shortstop Alen Hanson and outfielder Josh Bell, and short-season State College righthander Luis Heredia.
"We looked at adding rental pieces and felt like the costs were too significant to be able to take those risks," Huntington said. "We have spent a lot of time and money to acquire players in our farm system who we feel are significant assets and we would only trade them if we were going to get controllable players back."
• Bell was slow in recovering from April 27 arthroscopic surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee. The Pirates were hopeful he will be able to play again for West Virginia this season but may hold him out until instructional league begins in September.
• Rigthhander Kyle Kaminska was acquired from Miami in the Sanchez trade and assigned to Altoona. Kaminska, 23, was a combined 6-4, 5.20 with one save in 33 relief appearances with Triple-A New Orleans and Double-A Jacksonville this season but the Pirates liked his 44/9 strikeout/walk ratio in 54 innings. Kaminska was a 25th-round pick by the Marlins in 2007 out of Naperville (Ill.) High.