West Virginia Power Looking for Excitement in 2012
Yesterday was a beautiful day for media day here in Charleston, WV for the West Virginia Power, Class A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Sun, freshly cut grass, the smell of baseball in the air leading up to a season of great expectations on the ballfield.
The Power returns eight players from last year’s roster that finished 69-69 in the South Atlantic League. This along with a great mix of young talented Pirates prospects has the team looking forward to developing a strong team in the SAL this summer. With first year manager Rick Sofield their looking for a great year and he says “We’re ready, time to get on with the season”.
When asked one thing he was excited about Sofield quickly said, “The pitching staff”. According to the manager, “the bullpen is very deep and the staff has some exciting arms”. A few of them should be in the Major League mix in a couple years. Top pitchers include returning players Zack Dodson (6-4 2.57 ERA 46 SO), Zack Von Rosenberg (5-9 5.73 114) and Zac Fuesser (3-6 3.74 95) along with new prospects Nick Kingham (6-2 2.15 47 2011 with State College) and Matt Benedict (5-3 3.79 39 2011-State College).
As for the position players we will see an almost entirely new lineup on the field as only two of the thirteen players a returning from last year. Cather Elias Diaz and infielder Eric Avila look forward to playing Appalachian Power Park again this year. Both were with the Power for most of last season with Avila hitting (.216 BA 4 HR 31 RBI 9 SB) in 116 games and Diaz (.221 2 45 6) in 90 games. They will be thrown into the mix with a slew of new players to the Power’s 2012 roster. Look for outfielders Willy Garcia (.266 5 35 7 2011 with Gulf Coast Pirates), Greg Polanco (.237 3 34 18 2011-Gulf Coast) and 2011 2nd round draft pick, out of high school in Texas, Josh Bell to be a big part of the Power’s offense. Bell the 61st overall pick in last year’s draft is a stud prospect and may not be in Charleston for the whole season so you better get out to see him as soon as you can. His stats in high school last year .552 BA 14 HR 19 SB have some believing he will someday be a replacement in the outfield for current Pirates outfielders.
Newcomers to watch, in the infield, include Jodaneli Carvajal (.268 0 12 15 2011 Gulf Coast), Alen Hanson (.263 2 35 24 2011 Gulf Coast) and 2011 Draft picks Dan Gamache (6th round), Chris Lashmet (33rd round) and Kirk Singer (29th round). Diaz looks to get some push at catcher from Jonathan Schwind (.347 4 25 4 2011 Gulf Coast) as he looks to continue a hot start to his career up the Pirates catching ladder.
Opening day is tomorrow April 5th at Hagerstown and Opening day at home will be April 12th against the Greenville Drive. Looks like its excitement in tap all summer long for the WV Power as they develop future Pittsburgh Pirate players.