Here's 2007's first trip around the Pirates' minor leagues. Like the Pirates, these teams have only played a handful of games, so keep that it mind.
Class AAA Indianapolis: The Indians' offense has started slowly, but Nyjer Morgan, Ryan Doumit and Carlos Maldonado have all gotten off to strong starts. Doumit's presence in AAA should severely limit Maldonado's playing time, though. Sean Burnett and Bryan Bullington posted impressive-looking numbers in their first starts, while John Van Benschoten got bombed in his, allowing five runs in 3.1 innings and struggling with his control against the Toledo Mud Hens yesterday. Kevin Gryboski has walked five batters in his first two innings, but Brian Rogers has been very good out of the 'pen.
Class AA Altoona: The Curve couldn't play its first series of the year because of inclement weather, but managed to get in its first game of the year yesterday in Akron despite more terrible weather. Randy Ruiz's solo homer accounted for all the Curve's offense. Josh Shortslef allowed three runs in four innings of work, but did manage to strike out eight Aeros.
Class A+ Lynchburg: A number of Hillcats hitters have impressive numbers so far, but a lot of that has to do with a 13-run explosion in their most recent game, against Frederick. Prospect Shelby Ford and semi-prospect Jason Delaney have been impressive so far. Kyle Bloom pitched well in his first start. Todd Redmond got pelted, although he did strike out four while walking just one in 3.2 innings.
Class A Hickory Jamie Romak, who was strangely sent to Hickory despite playing well at the same level last year in the Atlanta system, is tearing the cover off the ball, hitting .375/.500/.875 (that's AVG/OBP/SLG, not OBP/SLG/OPS) with two homers so far. A number of other Crawdads are hitting well too, including James Boone, Angel Gonzalez, Kent Sakamoto and Kris Watts. On the pitching side, Jared Hughes and Eric Krebs were both impressive in their first starts; Krebs struck out eight batters in five innings in his. A number of relievers have been hit hard, though, and 2006 second-rounder Mike Felix allowed four runs in 2.1 innings in his first outing; Thoughts of RS reports that he was having trouble gripping the ball.