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08/31/08 12:43 PM ET

Bradenton Bucs enjoy solid year

Skipper Prince impressed by several young prospects

PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates appear headed toward a record-tying 16th consecutive losing season, and the news from the Minor League affiliates this season has also been disappointing for the most part.

There has been one notable exception: The rookie league Bradenton Pirates, who posted the best record in the Gulf Coast League (37-19), and finished in first place in the Southern Division during the regular season. The young Bucs were eliminated by the GCL Phillies with a 7-4 loss in a one-game playoff that determined which team would advance to the Championship Series.

Bradenton manager Tom Prince was pleased with the performance of his club, which has a roster made up of players mostly between the ages of 18-21.

"The kids played great," Prince stated. "They had a good time down here and I think they learned a lot of baseball. We were competitive and made the playoffs. It was unfortunate that we lost the first game, but overall the kids learned baseball and the Pirates system."

A couple of the young Pirates posted outstanding numbers -- third baseman Jarek Cunningham batted .318 with five home runs and 22 RBIs, and second baseman Adenson Chourio hit .335 with 30 stolen bases.

"[Cunningham] played some shortstop and some third base," Prince reported. "He's just a solid person who went about his business very professionally and has a bright future ahead of him.

"Chourio is ... a very exciting young player and plays good defense at second base and stole a lot of bases. He just fit into the system real well." Prince also singled out a couple of members of his pitching staff.

"We had a couple of left-handers that did a real nice job for us," Prince offered. "Nelson Pereira out of Nicaragua, and Tyler Cox and Brent Klinger, a kid out of the Draft who did a great job. Klinger is a big kid who throws the ball hard. Basically we're trying to get these guys to throw strikes and they did an outstanding job."

The next stop for most of these young players will be the Florida Instructional League.

"Most everybody that we had is going to go to the Instructional League down here," Prince explained. "They are first-year players -- if they were spending their second year down here some of them would go and some won't. But most of them will be in the Instructional League."

George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.