The Pittsburgh Pirates begin another season in 2012 in the National League’s Central division. The club is hoping to avoid extending its U.S. professional sports record of consecutive losing seasons. The streak of futility currently stands at 19, much to the chagrin of the team’s long-suffering fans.
As part of the club’s most recent rebuilding plan, the team has invested heavily in the scouting, drafting, signing and developing of amateur talent. The team’s front office, led by team president Frank Coonelly and general manager Neal Huntington, has steadily stocked the Pirates’ farm system with some of the best prospects in baseball.
The following list includes brief looks at each of the Pirates’ minor league affiliates:
Indianapolis Indians (AAA): The Triple-A team for the Pirates, the team plays at Victory Field in downtown Indianapolis. Regarded as one of the most beautiful minor league ballparks, Victory Field is situated in a prime area for sports fans, as the stadium for the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts and the arena for the NBA’s Indiana Pacers are within walking distance.
Victory Field opened in 1996 and comfortably seats 12,200 spectators. The 2012 International League team looks to be loaded with talent to start the season, with top prospect Starling Marte manning an outfield position, and the pitching staff having many members who pitched in the majors for the Pirates last season.
Altoona Curve (AA): The Double-A affiliate for the Pirates, the Altoona Curve compete in the Eastern League. The club plays its home games at 7,200 seat Peoples Natural Gas Field. In addition to the baseball games, families can also take advantage of nearby Lakemont Amusement Park, which is visible beyond the right-field fence.
The 2012 Curve roster features 2009 #1 pick Tony Sanchez, plus another top prospect in outfielder Robbie Grossman. The team will hopefully see other top prospects join the roster from lower-level affiliates during the course of year.
Bradenton Marauders (A-Advanced): The Class A-Advanced team for Pittsburgh, the team plays at historic McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Florida. The stadium also serves as the spring training home of the Pittsburgh Pirates. It has a seating capacity in excess of 6,500.
The Marauders roster for the Florida State League season is blessed with an abundance of talent, including both 2010 and 2011 #1 picks in pitchers Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole.
West Virginia Power (A): The minor league team serving as the regular A level club for the Pirates again this year in the South Atlantic League, the club plays its home games at West Virginia Power Park. The stadium, which can accomodate 4,500 fans, sits in the heart of Charleston, WV-the state’s capital city.
The team will feature top prospects in pitcher Stetson Allie and outfielder Josh Bell, in addition to a number of other highly-touted pitchers looking to move closer to their major-league dreams.
State College Spikes (A-Short Season): The team serves as Pittsburgh’s A-Short Season ball club. They play a 38-game home schedule at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, a facility constructed on the Penn State University campus in State College, Pennsylvania. The schedule for New York-Penn League members commences in mid-June after the annual MLB draft.
GCL Pirates (Rookie): Pittsburgh’s Rookie League squad, the GCL Pirates take the field at the parent club’s Pirate City complex in Bradenton. The team starts play in the summer and generally comprises current year high school draftees, some previous year leftovers, and new Latin American talents trying pro baseball in the U.S. for the first time.
(NOTE: The Pittsburgh Pirates also field teams in the Dominican Summer League and the Venezuelan Summer League.)