There is buried treasure to be found in the farm system of the Pittsburgh Pirates. I thought you and I could take a quick look at some of the prospects that are in the pipeline for PNC Park.
In the Eastern League, the Altoona Curve is hosting the 2014 All-Star festival on Tuesday, July 15 and Wednesday, July 16 at Peoples Natural Gas Field. The exhibition clash gets underway at 7 p.m. on Wednesday night.
Curve manager Carlos Garcia and his staff will manage the Western Division squad in the game while Trenton Thunder skipper Dariel Alvarez and his crew will take care of the Eastern Division squad.
For the home team, Altoona fans will get to cheer for six members of the Curve in All-Star action with righthander Adrian Sampson leading the way. Joining him will be reliever Ryan Beckman, catcher Elias Diaz, shortstop Alen Hanson, plus outfielders Willy Garcia and Drew Maggi.
Hansen is ranked fifth while Garcia is No. 11 and Sampson is at No. 20 on the 2014 MLB.com Prospect Watch.
In Gulf Coast League action last week, Austin Meadows returned from a hamstring injury and made his season debut. He played five innings of the Pirates’ 6-3 loss to the GCL Yankees.
The 6-foot-3 center fielder went 2 for 2 with two doubles, a walk, and an RBI. He was the ninth overall pick of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft by the Bucs.
The Atlanta native spent most of last season in the Gulf Coast League before earning a late promotion to the short-season Single A Jamestown Jammers. In 48 games between the two levels, Meadows hit .316/.424/.554 with seven home runs and three stolen bases.
Representing the Advanced Single-A Florida State League, Josh Bell is hitting .330 with nine home runs and 50 RBIs in 79 games for the Bradenton Marauders. The 6-foot-3 Irving, Texas native was one of two Marauders on the South Division All-Star team back in mid-June.
The right fielder was joined by left-hander Orlando Castro as the all-star contest was played at McKechnie Field in Bradenton. Bell is ranked sixth on the 2014 Prospect Watch list.
Also of note, the Pirates were represented on Monday by JaCoby Jones of the West Virginia Power, who was named the MLBPipeline.com Hitting Prospect of the Week.
In six games, the 6-foot-3, 200-pound shortstop went 12 for 24, 1.705 OPS, five home runs, seven RBIs, seven runs, one walk, seven strikeouts and one stolen base. Jones is now hitting .284/.354/.482 with 13 homers and 13 stolen bases in 75 South Atlantic League games this season.
Pittsburgh drafted Jones out of LSU in the third round of the 2013 draft on the basis of his power-speed potential. The Richton, Mississippi native is ranked 15th on the Bucs’ Prospect Watch.