Last July, Neal Huntington had the privilege of searching the trade market in hopes of acquiring major-league talent at the deadline. The Pirates were buyers for the first time in two decades and Huntington was able to land two bats (Ryan Ludwick and Derek Lee) for marginal minor league talent.

This season, the forecast for roster moves looks extremely good, both on the trade front and in minor league player movement.

Once again, the Pirates are hanging around the .500 mark a month and a half into the season. And, once again, the team is winning because tremendous pitching is covering up below average hitting. If the Pirates continue to compete throughout the year, they'll most assuredly become buyers at the trade deadline this season. In that case, the front office would have to search for a solid hitter to bat in the fifth spot behind Pedro Alvarez.

Or, the team could completely cave as we've grown accustomed to over the years, which would force Pittsburgh to sell off pitchers Erik Bedard or AJ Burnett, or both. Either way, at least one trade will be made around the deadline; not that it should be a surprise given how frequently players are moved in baseball.

Pittsburgh could go another route of player movement in the form of calling up prospects.

The Pirates were hoping that Starling Marte would make his Major League debut in June but that plan has been put on hold due to inconsistencies at the plate and now a hand injury. At 23 years old, Marte has the potential to be a very good outfielder and figures into the plan for the Pirates' winning future. With a status to his injury still unclear, all Pirates' fans can do is hope he can get back to playing soon.

After a terrible 2011 campaign for AAA Indianapolis, Rudy Owens has been dominant in the early 2012 season for the Indians. In five starts this season, Owens is 1-0 with a 2.12 ERA while striking out 26 and walking just two in 34 innings. With the major league club pitching so well as a collective group, Owens is stuck in AAA until a move is made. Then again, he could also be part of a trade to land a solid hitting prospect.

Meanwhile in Bradenton, two former first round picks are lighting up the Florida State League. Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon have been outstanding for the Marauders and could make their way to AA Altoona soon. In his second professional season, Jameson Taillon is enjoying a 1.72 ERA with 33 strikeouts and six walks over 30.2 innings. Cole, the first overall pick last season, has a 3.54 ERA with 34 strikeouts and ten walks over 28 innings. With both players pitching so well, Taillon and Cole could be on the fast track to see the majors as early as 2013.

There are a lot of potential moves for the Pirates in this upcoming season. This time, it will be on the basis of actually improving the club and moving in the right direction towards being a competitive team. The days of selling off stars for prospects will never cease to exist in a small-market city. But, for now, let's sit back and enjoy the progress the organization is making and hope that their next big move puts them in a spot for contention.

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