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10/28/08 12:51 PM ET

Alvarez showcases talent for Bucs

Top pick impresses coaches with instructional league play

PITTSBURGH -- Pedro Alvarez, the Pirates' now-storied first-round Draft pick, recently finished his introductory taste of professional baseball. And needless to say, he left encouraging signs behind.

"He is as advertised," said farm director Kyle Stark, who headed the organization's one-month instructional league workouts in Bradenton, Fla. "[Scouting director] Greg [Smith] always says you should be able to tell who the first-round Draft picks are, and when you see [Alvarez] play, that's the case. He has a very business-like approach. He wants to get after things."

After agreeing to a four-year Major League contract on Sept. 24, Alvarez joined other players from the June First-Year Player Draft to participate in supervised workouts and game play. His short time in Bradenton gave the organization its first opportunity to work hands-on with the former Vanderbilt third baseman.

Alvarez had been working out primarily on his own during the interim period between leaving college and signing with the club.

"It was his first taste of professional ball, so he had to adjust to it," Stark said. "He had to work to get back into playing shape, but the bat speed was there, quickness was there and the tools were there like we expected."

While relatively informal in structure, the instructional league offered Stark and other coaches the opportunity to assess Alvarez's physical conditioning following the layoff. Stark said that Alvarez did arrive in satisfactory playing shape, but that the focus this offseason will be for Alvarez to continue to improve on that conditioning.

"His goal now is to be ready to go for Spring Training," Stark said. "He's got a specific routine and specific strength and conditioning program until then."

Between now and February, Alvarez will spend most of the winter at Vanderbilt, where he will have the equipment and facilities necessary to conduct his conditioning program. While the Pirates had held onto an outside possibility of Alvarez playing organized winter ball somewhere, that is now out of the question.

The No. 2 overall pick will be invited to the Pirates' Major League camp in February, though he is expected to start the year at one of Pittsburgh's two Class A clubs. Alvarez's instructional league showing wasn't used to determine his exact placement, as that will come this spring.

"We haven't had enough time to spend with him to be able to identify areas that we need to specifically target yet," Stark said. "The focus with Pedro is physically that he is ready to go the start of next year. This was a crash course, and next spring is really when we'll delve into the evaluation process."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.