It's very early, of course, but here's a guess at who could take playing time at West Virginia this year. The pitching staff will get the bulk of the attention, and deservedly so, with Jameson Taillon, Zack Von Rosenberg, Colton Cain and several other prospects likely to be part of the staff. But the hitters aren't bad either, and catcher is really the only position where the Pirates don't have an obvious prospect to play.
WTM's site is a great resource, and his organizational depth chart provides a template for these kinds of posts, so thanks, WTM.
The catching situation in West Virginia is uncertain. My best guess is that the majority of at-bats will go to Elias Diaz, whose defense appears to be strong and who received a lot of at bats in the GCL last year. It would be great if 2009 draftee Joey Schoenfeld (who got a bonus of almost $200,000) won the job, but the Pirates have moved him so slowly so far that he could be at State College. Recent signing Kawika Emsley-Pai could get some time at West Virginia as well, along with Matthew Skirving.
2010 draftee Justin Howard, who will be 24 in June, should receive plenty of at bats here. It's also possible that Matt Curry could play first as well. Finding playing time for both between first and DH shouldn't be a huge problem, but let's hope the Pirates like Curry enough to send him to Bradenton.
Adalberto Santos is supposed to be able to play second, but he didn't actually do so until last year, so until I see anything that suggests otherwise, I'm guessing we'll see a lot of Gift Ngoepe at second and 2010 big-bonus signing Drew Maggi at shortstop. It would be cool if Jorge Bishop showed enough in Spring Training to make it to West Virginia, but I think it's at least as likely he'll be at State College. Kelson Brown will probably be a backup for the Power, perhaps along with Adenson Chourio, who is pretty clearly an organizational player at this point.
Hopefully this will be Eric Avila, who hit very well in the GCL last year. In the Pirates Prospects Prospect Guide, Tim points out that since Avila spent three years playing for the Pirates in the Dominican, he's eligible for minor league free agency after 2013, so it behooves the Pirates to figure out what they've got. If Avila isn't the starter, the Pirates could play Jesus Brito (who would be returning to the level) or 2010 late-round pick Chase Lyles. Elevys Gonzalez could also take playing time at third or in the middle infield, but hopefully he'll be in Bradenton after a surprisingly strong season for West Virginia last year.
2010 third-rounder Mel Rojas Jr. should be the Power's starting centerfielder. Hopefully, Exicardo Cayones will occupy one of the corner outfield spots, and the other will be taken by 2010 11th-rounder Dan Grovatt. Santos could also play outfield, and perhaps also some DH. Cayones will play this year at age 19, so if he can stick at West Virginia, that bodes well for his prospect status.
2008 draftee Wesley Freeman will probably still be around, but it's hard to see him as much of a prospect at this point. The speedy Justin Bencsko will likely be a spare outfielder.
Tim recently wrote that he didn't think Jameson Taillon would start the year in a full-season league, but I disagree. True, the Pirates' usual pattern has been to have high school draft picks pitch in the short-season leagues first - that's what they did with Quinton Miller, Zack Von Rosenberg, and so on. But Taillon is an exceptional case. He's more talented than any pitcher the Pirates' current administration has drafted before, and it's not that uncommon for teams to send first-round high school pitchers to full-season leagues the year after they're drafted. Shelby Miller of the Cardinals is one example - he had a great year for Class A Quad Cities, at the same level as West Virginia. So that's where I think Taillon will go.
Stetson Allie might be a different story. He isn't as polished as Taillon, and didn't face very tough competition growing up in Ohio. My guess is that he'll start the season at State College.
The Pirates had a number of prospects from the 2009 draft at State College last year, and there's really no reason to hold any of them back. The Power's staff will almost certainly include Von Rosenberg, Colton Cain, Zack Dodson, Trent Stevenson, Zac Fuesser, and Brooks Pounders. In addition, there's Tyler Waldron and Brandon Cumpton, who are college pitchers from the 2010 draft. Including Taillon, that's nine starting pitchers, and injured 2009 draftee Jeffrey Inman is also in there as a wild card, so it looks like the Pirates will adopt some sort of piggybacking system. 2010 draftee Kevin Decker, who's fringier than the rest but who can eat innings, is also a possibility.
There aren't a lot of high-upside relievers for West Virginia, so piggybacking should work out fine. The Pirates like Jason Townsend's velocity, and he'll probably be there. Casey Sadler received a $100,000 bonus last year and pitched well at State College, so he should be at West Virginia as well. After that, there will probably be some even more marginal players, like Ryan Beckman, Rinku Singh, Mitchell Fienemann, Jhonathan Ramos, Justin Ennis and Brandon Holden. I'm guessing that Mike Williams and Marc Baca, who pitched in West Virginia's bullpen last year, will probably be gone, although they also could go to Bradenton, given that the Bucs won't have quite as much pitching depth there.
I also think it's reasonably likely that if Victor Black is healthy, he'll be at Bradenton. He isn't getting any younger, the Pirates really like his arm, and West Virginia is pretty jammed with pitching talent.