Tim Williams reports back from Altoona's division-clinching win last night, which certainly is nice to see. I wouldn't say this year's Curve have been loaded with talent, exactly, but this group includes a lot of the same players who won a championship with Lynchburg last year, and the Curve came by their division win honestly, with only a couple of over-aged ringers (Hector Gimenez and Derek Hankins) among their key contributors. Everyone else who came up big was 24 or younger, and 24 is a reasonable age for a Class AA player.
Nearly everyone who got a significant amount of playing time was at least competent - even the much-maligned Gorkys Hernandez wound up with a .333 OBP. The only key players who flopped completely were Tim Alderson (who wound up back at Bradenton), Jose de los Santos (who's really just a fielding specialist anyway), and a couple of relievers. That speaks well of the Pirates' coaches, I think, and also of the player development people - when the Bucs' prospects managed to stay healthy this year (which meant, you know, not getting hit in the face or the hand with a pitch), they played pretty well.
Altoona's biggest-name prospects, at this stage, are probably Bryan Morris, Andrew Lambo and Rudy Owens, but Jeff Locke might have had a better season than any of them. He struck out a batter an inning in 17 starts at Bradenton, then got promoted and arguably put up even better numbers at Altoona. Look out for him next year; he'll probably start at Altoona again, but could make it to Indianapolis by June if he gets off to a good start.