Young worked for the Curve in 2010. It didn't in 2011.
Young can be exciting, especially when it consists of talent like Matt Hague, Josh Harrison, Chase d'Arnaud, Rudy Owens and Justin Wilson. Those guys won the Eastern League title in 2010.
Young also can be incredibly frustrating when it leads to inconsistency, which the Curve had in abundance as they finished in last place a year ago.
Mirror file photo
Aaron Pribanic will be part of an experienced Curve starting rotation this year.
The Pirates in recent years have made a point of sending a bunch of young players to Altoona, stocking the roster with first-year Double-A guys. It's been well-documented that strategy is a major change from the previous Pirate administration, which preferred to have a mixture of young prospects and older veterans on the Double-A roster.
The Pirates' current philosophy can work in drastically different ways, as we witnessed the past two years. It all boils down to whether or not the young players collectively are ready for Double-A, which they hear but don't necessarily understand until they get here that it's a much tougher level than high-A.
What's interesting about the Curve's opening-day roster this year is that it more closely resembles one during the Dave Littlefield administration than the Neal Huntington era.
There are some talented young players who have been pushed quickly to Double-A, but there also are a number of repeating players and guys who have extensive experience at this level and higher.
(Rather than going into specific names here, check our Curve preview tabloid, Inside Pitch, on Thursday to see examples.)
Looking back a year ago at this time, manager P.J. Forbes said, "We're young, and that's exciting."
It was exciting. In 2010.
It wasn't exciting when last year's club became the most consistently inconsistent baseball team you'll ever see, going a staggering 19 consecutive games without two straight wins or losses.
This year's squad has a good enough mixture of young and old to believe it will be a good team. How good? Let's see:
Record prediction: 74-68. For the record, I have been way off with this prediction the past two years. I didn't believe the young talent would turn out to be exceptional like it did in 2010 and predicted 73-69, while the team went on to finish 82-60. Coming off that, last year I believed the young talent was better than it actually was and predicted 76-66. That was an embarrassing prediction as the club finished 64-77.
Playoffs: No, just missing out and finishing third in the Western Division.
They'll be better if: All of the returning players take a big step forward and put up substantially better numbers than they did a year ago.
They'll be worse if: The young pitchers in the rotation and bullpen can't figure out Double-A hitters.
Biggest strength: Offense from the everyday lineup, which has six of eight players returning.
Biggest weakness: The bullpen has several inexperienced pitchers who are unproven commodities at this level.
A good sign will be: The club gets off to a good start, puts together a decent-sized winning streak and gets some separation from .500. It never did that last year, despite having a lot of talent, and big problems eventually surfaced.
A bad sign will be: The veteran pitchers in the rotation (Mike Colla, Aaron Pribanic, Aaron Poreda) struggle.
First player promoted to Triple-A: Let's go with Poreda, who's not a prospect but has extensive Triple-A experience and has been in the majors. When Phil Irwin (shoulder) returns from injury, he will join the rotation, and Poreda could be bumped up for that or if the Indianapolis club needs another pitcher. From a prospect standpoint, let's go with Tony Sanchez. If he gets off to a hot start, the Pirates may try to push him up since they're hurting for top-line catchers in Triple-A and the big leagues.
First player to reach major leagues: Sanchez.
Most exciting new player: Center fielder Robbie Grossman is, by all accounts, an advanced hitting prospect who should be able to handle Double-A pitching after spending two full seasons at high-A.
Most exciting returning player: First baseman Matt Curry is a much better hitter than he showed with the Curve last season.
Most exciting new pitcher: Right-handed starter Brandon Cumpton is said to have very good stuff and a high ceiling.
Most exciting returning pitcher: Right-hander Aaron Pribanic looked excellent at times and awful at others in 2011, so expect him to be more consistent.
Cory Giger has covered the Curve since their inaugural 1999 season. He can be reached at 949-7031 and on Twitter @CoryGiger.