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Minor League Update

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Class AAA Indianapolis: Craig Stansberry is off to an excellent start for the Indians, hitting .341/.396/.500 in 44 at bats. Rumors that Chris Duffy has risen Phoenix-like are overblown - he has a .768 OPS, about what you'd expect from his minor-league profile and considerably less than you'd expect if you thought his 2005 half-season with the Bucs was for real. Ryan Vogelsong hasn't allowed a run in two games - when's that kid gonna get a chance in the bigs, huh? The Indians recently added former Tigers pitcher Matt Ginter, probably, as WTM writes, because they'll need him when they trade other pitchers at the deadline. Sean Burnett's last start was solid.

Class AA Altoona Curve: After a slow start, infielder Brian Bixler is adjusting to Class AA pitching - he had a .767 OPS before going 0-for-3 last night. As far as prospects are concerned, there isn't much else of interest at Altoona.

Class A+ Lynchburg: There isn't much here, either. Neil Walker is having a very bad season, perhaps because of injury problems. Brent Lillibridge will continue to try to adjust to Carolina League pitching after recently returning from the DL. New 1B Juan Tejeda is being used as a ringer for the Hillcats, but he isn't old and was considered a very good prospect until about a year and a half ago. If I'm the Pirates, I bump him up to Class AAA and see what he does. Why not? There may be some upside there, and the Bucs don't have any legitimate first basemen besides Brad Eldred under their control next year.

Class A Hickory Catcher and semi-prospect Mike McCuiston has returned from injury and is hitting well. Andrew McCutchen has hit reasonably well the last couple of weeks and now has 10 homers, which you've got to like from a 19-year-old in full-season ball. 2006 3rd round pick Shelby Ford is hitting, too - the Pirates may have a decent bunch of middle infield prospects in Ford, Stansberry, Bixler and Lillibridge. Todd Redmond now has a 2.90 ERA as a starter and a K/BB ratio better than 5:1. I'd promote him. David Davidson and Justin Vaclavik have performed well out of the bullpen, and neither is particularly old. 2006 4th rounder Jared Hughes was recently promoted to Hickory from Williamsport despite not really striking anyone out there; he picked up a win in his first start for the Crawdads despite walking five. Hickory has won eight consecutive games and will soon add Brad Lincoln to their rotation. This is the most exciting team in the Pirates organization right now.

Class A- Williamsport: This team, on the other hand, is just brutal. How brutal? They just named Kris Watts, who has a .689 OPS in 35 at bats, their player of the week. It wasn't a bad choice, either. 2006 6th rounder James Negrych hasn't hit at all yet. There are a few pitchers who've performed decently - including 2006 draftees Mike Felix and Patrick Bresnehan and Dominican Nicolas Suero - but there's little else to like about this team.

Bradenton (Rookie League): Jared Keel is still hitting like a man among boys (which he is, by the way), with a .432 average. That's fun. The more relevant Austin McClune is hitting .345. Eric Ridener has a ridiculous 21 strikeouts - with one walk - in 12 innings.