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Top prospects get back into the swing of things

By BRANT JAMES

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 11, 2001


Hernando County has a storied baseball history, one that will add a few more stories this year. Local products will compete at every level from the major leagues down this spring, so we've assembled a primer to help you know whom to watch.

Bronson Arroyo, Pittsburgh Pirates: The Hernando graduate went 2-6 with a 6.40 ERA as rookie pitcher last year, but he might have to fight harder for a spot on the big-league club this spring.

Arroyo, will see extra competition for a starting spot from free agent signee Terry Mulholland and Jason Schmidt, who missed much of last season with a shoulder injury.

Bert Snow, Oakland Athletics: The Hernando grad had a Texas League-best 27 saves and 98 strikeouts in 67 2/3 innings of relief pitching for Double-A Midland last year.

A.J. Pierzynski, Minnesota Twins: OK, he was born in New York and went to high school in Orlando, but the catcher spent his formative baseball years in Brooksville, playing on the same youth team as Arroyo and Snow.

Pierzynski enters spring training as the Twins' top option at catcher.

Brent Stentz, Minnesota Twins: The former Leopard went 4-2 with 13 saves and a 1.93 ERA for Triple-A Salt Lake last summer. The pitcher could make his big-league debut this year.

Tyrone Woods: The Korean Baseball Organization's single-season home run champion (42) may not have a season unless labor issues are resolved.

The Hernando alum finished with a .315 batting average, 39 homers and 111 RBI last season, just missing his second home run title in three seasons in Korea.

Chris Cole, Florida State: Snubbed in the First Year Players Draft despite batting .520 as a Hernando senior, Cole earned a partial scholarship from the Seminoles, then took full possession of first base.

He's 2-for-5 with a home run and three RBI in two games for the seventh-ranked team in the nation.

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