Alex Presley's stellar 2010 season brought him awards, records and respect, and he's astute enough to realize that 2011 will offer something very different.
"Obviously expectations change after what happened last year," Presley said.
His own personal expectations have changed, plus outside expectations will be much greater given what the outfielder accomplished last year.
Mirror file photo by J.D.?Cavrich
Alex Presley set a Curve record with a .350 batting average in 2010.
Presley came out of nowhere to enjoy a breakthrough 2010 campaign. He battled for a spot on the Curve roster in spring training after two mediocre seasons in high-A, won a job and a starting spot in left field, then set an Altoona record for single-season batting average (.350).
He earned a promotion to Triple-A, and in his third game at Indianapolis he hit for the cycle. Presley batted .294 for Indy and saw his dream season end with a promotion to Pittsburgh, where he hit .261 in 19 games.
"I feel like coming into last year, I was in a totally different place," Presley said Friday night at the Curve's Spring Training Festival. "So after my success this past year, I have to change [my expectations]. I can't look at my goals and stuff like that the same way I did last year because I'm not in the same place."
Alex Presley hit .258 for Lynchburg in 2008 and .257 in 2009 before enjoying a career year in 2010.
The 25-year-old earned a spot on the Pirates' 40-man roster this offseason and hopes to compete for a big league job in spring training. Four outfield spots are already set with Andrew McCutchen, Jose Tabata, Matt Diaz and Garrett Jones, so Presley will have to beat out left-handed hitting John Bowker, among others, for a bench job.
Presley learned enough in his 25 plate appearances last season that he feels he belongs in the major leagues.
"Definitely," he said. "I had a lot of confidence. With the exception of my first couple of at-bats, I felt pretty relaxed and felt like I belonged.
"After last year being up there and in Triple-A, I know what I do is good enough, so I don't feel like I have any added pressure to try to change anything or try harder or anything. Just do what I do and let it fall."
Presley has spent the offseason trying to bulk up in the weight room and fine-tuning his approach instead of what he called "generalizing" things like he did a year ago.
Looking back over the past year, Presley said even he couldn't have imagined everything would have moved so quickly,
"Honestly, no," he said.
"Growing up and throughout playing, I knew I definitely had what it would take to make it, and I always thought of myself being a big league player. But where I was last year, that almost didn't seem like it was a realistic goal.
"So I had to just start off trying to make the Altoona team and go from there. Then as the season progressed, my goals changed and it really worked out."
We'll find out this season if Presley was a fluke last year or the real deal. Either way, he has an opportunity to showcase himself, and that's all any minor leaguer can hope for.
Cory Giger is the host of "Sports Central" from 4 to 6 p.m. daily on ESPN Radio 1430 WVAM. He can be reached at 949-7031 or email@example.com.