INDIANAPOLIS -- Eight of the top 30 Pittsburgh Pirates' prospects according to Baseball America
, including top ten prospects Bryan Morris and Rudy Owens, are projected to begin their 2011 campaigns with the Indianapolis Indians.
Morris, tabbed by Baseball America as the Pirates' sixth-best prospect entering 2011, started last season with High-A Bradenton where he compiled a 3-0 record and a miniscule 0.60 ERA.
With the Double-A Altoona Curve, the right-hander went 6-4 with a 4.25 ERA in 16 starts and helped lead the club to an Eastern League Championship. The Tennessee native also represented the Pirates in the All-Star Futures game at Angels Stadium in 2010. Morris was acquired by the Pirates organization in the 2008 trade that sent outfielder Jason Bay to the Boston Red Sox and outfielder Manny Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Owens, slotted as the number seven prospect in the Pirates' system by Baseball America, was named the Pirates' Minor League Pitcher of the Year following each of the past two seasons. The left handed hurler spent all of 2010 with the Eastern League champion Altoona Curve, where he paced the entire Pittsburgh organization in wins (12) and ERA (2.46). In 2009, Owens posted an 11-2 mark and 2.10 ERA in 124 innings.
Overall in his past two seasons, the Arizona native has tallied a 23-8 record, 2.30 ERA and 245 strikeouts in 274 innings. Owens was also recognized by Baseball America, prior to the 2011 season as having the "Best Control" in the Pirates' system, as the southpaw walked just 23 batters over 26 starts in 2010.
Andrew Lambo, rated as the Pirates' No. 11 prospect by Baseball America, spent his 2010 campaign in Double-A. The infielder began in the Los Angeles Dodgers' organization at Chattanooga before being traded to the Pittsburgh organization in a deadline-deal that saw reliever Octavio Dotel head to the Dodgers.
Between Chattanooga and Altoona, the California native combined to post a .272 average with six home runs and 35 RBI in 73 contests. The fourth round draft pick was chosen by Baseball America as the top prospect in the Dodgers' system prior to the 2009 season.
Alex Presley, listed by Baseball America as the No. 20 prospect in the organization, made quite the impression in his first season for the Tribe in 2010. On June 27, in his third game after being called up from Double-A, the outfielder hit for the cycle, completing the feat in his first four at bats.
The Louisiana resident's season ended with a call-up to Pittsburgh, where he played in 19 games for the Pirates. Presley was named the Pirates' 2010 Minor League Hitter of the Year, after leading Bucs' minor leaguers in hits (166), and batting average (.320), ranking second in runs scored (86) and posting the fourth-highest RBI total (85). Presley also recorded 28 doubles, 13 triples and 12 home runs in 136 games played between Altoona and Indianapolis.
Another prospect expected to return to the Indians is reliever Daniel Moskos, Pittsburgh's No. 26 prospect according to Baseball America. The left-hander split time in 2010 with Double-A Altoona and Indianapolis. The southpaw went 3-1 with a 1.52 ERA as the Curve closer, notching 21 saves in 22 chances.
The South Carolina native will look to bounce back in Indianapolis after he posted a 0-5 record and 10.38 ERA with the Tribe in 19 appearances last season. Moskos was selected as the fourth overall pick of the 2007 First Year Player Draft and was added to Pittsburgh's 40 man roster in November.
Pedro Ciriaco, declared as the No. 27 prospect in the Pirates' system by Baseball America, played for three separate teams in 2010 thanks to a mid-season trade by the Pittsburgh organization that sent three players to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The shortstop started 2010 with the Triple-A Reno Aces, then joined Indianapolis mid-season before finishing the year with a September promotion to Pittsburgh. Overall, Ciriaco played in 119 games at the Triple-A level in 2010, hitting .265 with six home runs and 65 RBI.
Matt Hague is another name expected to be heard in Indianapolis this year according to Baseball America, who named the infielder the No. 29 prospect in the Pittsburgh organization. The Oklahoma State University grad spent all of 2010 with the Double-A Altoona Curve, who were the Eastern League Champions thanks in part to Hague's efforts.
The slugger blasted 15 home runs, almost double his total from 2009, while maintaining a .295 average and driving in 86 runs in 135 contests. Hague was near the top in many offensive categories for Altoona last season, including runs (90), hits (130), walks (65), home runs, and RBI.
One more player Tribe fans can expect in 2011 according to Baseball America is Josh Harrison, the No. 30 prospect within the Pirates' system. The infielder was another member of the Eastern League champion Altoona Curve, where he hit .300 with four home runs and 75 RBI.
Harrison took off in post-season play, bashing three home runs to nearly match his regular season tally. The Cincinnati, Ohio native was also the toughest hitter in the league to strikeout, averaging only one punchout for every 11 at bats. The twenty three year-old continued his tear in the Arizona Fall League, where he chalked up a .330 average in 22 games following the 2010 season.
The Indians in recent years have seen their fair share of top Pirates prospects make their way through Indianapolis, including former number one prospects Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez. Other top prospects to spend time with the Tribe before moving on to the Major Leagues include current Pirates infielder Neil Walker and outfielder Jose Tabata.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.