Minor League Roundup

Class AAA Indianapolis: Brian Bixler continues to have a stellar year, posting an OBP-heavy .840 OPS and stealing 20 bags while only being caught once. There isn't much left to report here, unfortunately; Jesse Chavez and Franquelis Osoria are next to board the reliever train, but that's about it. Bixler, Yurendell DeCaster and Bryan Bullington will play in the AAA All-Star game, which is on Wednesday.

Class AA Altoona: Neil Walker and Steve Pearce lead the Altoona offense. Walker has struggled a bit recently, while Pearce has thrived. Jason Delaney has hit very well since being promoted from Lynchburg a couple weeks ago. It should be noted, though, that Pearce and Delaney are old for their level, and in an organization with better prospects, they wouldn't seem so exciting.

Class A+ Lynchburg: Jamie Romak hit .333 in June and now has his average at .252, which is far better than it was a few weeks ago. His power numbers are just excellent - in 200 total minor league at-bats, he has 30 extra-base hits. He also has 44 walks. He could end the year as one of the Pirates' best prospects if he can keep his average up. After a very sluggish start to the season, infielder Shelby Ford has started to turn it on recently, hitting .343 in his last nine games. Todd Redmond has been the only pitcher worth watching at Lynchburg this year, but even he is starting to fade - he's had four consecutive unimpressive starts.

Class A Hickory: Jared Keel, 22, was drafted in the 31st round in 2006 and started the year as a part-time player, but he's just about the most exciting thing Hickory's got going right now - he's currently hitting .289/.418/.567. Outfielder Alex Presley, 21, has also had a good couple of weeks, with 22 hits in his last ten games. 22-year-old reliever Olivo Astacio - whom you may remember from Williamsport's no-hitter last year - whiffed six of the seven batters he faced in his last outing on Saturday, and he now has 67 strikeouts in 46.7 innings.

Class A- State College Spikes: Most of the strongest hitters for the Spikes so far are non-prospects, but two slightly more age-appropriate hitters bear watching: catcher Andrew Walker, the Bucs' 5th round pick this year, and outfielder Austin McClune. They've only played a handful of games, so it's hard to make much of a judgment on either of them, but it appears that McClune is still mostly just hitting for average - he has little power and only a few walks so far. Anthony Watson still looks like the top pitching prospect here, even after striking out only one batter in his last start.

Rookie-league Bradenton: 2007 4th-rounder Quincy Lattimore, 18, is off to a great start, hitting .286/.407/.408. It's very early, of course, but he's got more walks than strikeouts right now, which is a great sign from a player whose strikeouts were a concern before the draft. No one else on this team looks especially interesting so far.

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