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2008 Fantasy Sleeper: Pittsburgh Pirate OF Steve Pearce

The Pirates recently announced that 1B/OF Steve Pearce will become a full-time OF in 2008. The only question left to answer is whether he will begin the season in AAA Indianaplois or with the Pirates. With Xavier Nady planted in RF and Jason Bay in LF, the answer seems clear. Pearce will patrol a corner outfield spot in AA.

The more obvious question is why the Pirates would allow Xavier Nady to block the 25-year-old Pearce's path. Nady is not in possession of any skill that would help the Pirates become less of a moribund franchise. 29-year-old 20 HR/70 RBI/.270 hitters do not elevate a cellar dwellar even one stair towards respectability.

However, a 30+ HR rookie with 40+ doubles and double-digit speed does. Pearce can help usher in a new Pirates' era. While old for his level, he has reached the majors in 2.5 years - a path that would have a player considered a star if he had done it folling his junior year in college. Unfortunately, Pearce was drafted after his senior year and has to live with the stigma of being too old.

Stigma aside, Pearce is going to get a starting gig with the Pirates this season if, in fact, the organization is intent on changing its fortunes. Get ready to grab Pearce as he can be this year's Jack Cust - just with a better AVG and stolen bases.

2005 A- 26 7 52 2 35 43 0.301 0.381 0.474
2006 A/A+ 40 26 98 8 49 97 0.273 0.353 0.523
2007 4 levels 45 31 119 16 52 82 0.328 0.388 0.595