BRADENTON, Fla. — The Pirates had wrapped up nearly all of their minicamp workouts by noon today and quickly scattered from Pirate City. The weather was wet and windy, so the four practice fields were practically empty all day. Position players spent time in the batting cages. Pitchers worked on flexibility and strength exercises, then did soft toss. Only about half of the position players were on campus today; the rest were on a “team-building” activity organized by Neil Walker. According to manager Clint Hurdle, it was Walker who urged many of his mates via calls and text messages to attend these voluntary practice sessions.
»»» Several notable prospects also are working out at Pirate City this week: Stetson Allie, Josh Bell, Jameson Taillon, Tony Sanchez, Alex Dickerson, Luis Heredia, Quincy Latimore, Nathan Baker, Andrew Lambo, Mel Rojas, Colton Cain and Victor Black.
»»» Dickerson, a third-round draft pick last June, is someone to keep an eye on over the next few years. Management is intrigued by the first baseman’s potential to hit for a high average with decent power. Dickerson won the Big Ten triple crown (.419 batting average, 24 homers, 79 RBI) and was conference MVP at Indiana in 2010, but his numbers dropped last season when the NCAA switched to safer muted metal bats. The equipment switch was tough, but Dickerson said playing in the Big Ten presented lots of other challenges. “It’s hard because of the weather,” he said. “That affects the overall talent level in the conference. A lot of guys go play somewhere else where the weather is better. My sophomore year (2010), the weather was great and we got a full season in. But when I was a freshman and junior, it was terrible.”