Shelby Ford — Bats Both / Throws Right; 6′ 3″, 190 lb
Ford was chosen by the Pirates in the 3rd round of the 2006 draft. He struggled with injuries during the 2007, 2008, and 2009 seasons, and then struggled at the plate when he was healthy. A stint in AAA Indianapolis in 2009 was disappointing, yielding only a .188 average with 4 homers and 16 RBI in 86 games. He was sent back to AA Altoona to finish that season, and was again in Altoona for most of 2010. In 56 games for the Curve, Ford hit .245 with 4 homers and 16 RBI. He was also sent to A+ Bradenton (where they were struggling with injuries) at the end of July, where he remained until the end of the season. In Bradenton, Ford hit .244 with 2 homers and 17 RBI. Ford will likely be filling in at Altoona again in 2011, where he will try to take advantage of his defensive versatility — he played all of the infield positions plus left field in 2010. But at age 26, if he doesn’t get the bat going, then he is going to be squeezed out when the better-hitting infielders come along.
Jim Negrych — Bats Left / Throws Right; 5′ 10″, 180 lb
Negrych was the Pirates’ 6th round pick in 2006. He has hit well at every level as he moved up through the organization, but almost an opposite to Ford, Negrych’s defense is often shaky. He began the 2010 season in Altoona, where he he .274 in 75 games, with 11 doubles, 3 triples, a homer, and 35 RBI. He was promoted to Indianapolis for about 2 months in the middle of the season, where he hit even better, going .295 in 48 games, with 3 homers and 19 RBI. Negrych played mostly second base in Indianapolis , though he also got in a little time at third and in left field. He did a lot of DH’ing for Altoona, and also played second base and left field there. It’s going to be crowded in the infield in Indianapolis to begin the 2011 season, so look for Negrych to return to Altoona, where he’ll probably DH again, and share some infield time with Ford. If only the Pirates could fuse Ford and Negrych together, and get a hybrid who could hit well and have reasonably solid defense…..