Despite the individual nature of most of the instruction minor league players receive as they work their way through the system, some basic principles apply to everyone.

Roughly two-thirds of the players selected in the first round of baseball's amateur draft eventually make it to the majors. That number decreases for players selected deeper in the draft.

"You get one legitimate major league player out of a draft and then a couple of other guys who help your major league team, that's probably an average draft," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said.

Pitchers face an even tougher path. To give as many pitchers as possible the best chance for success, the Pirates stress some fundamentals to everyone, high among them the need to consistently locate a fastball in the lower half of the strike zone.

"Is it mandatory? No," said special assistant to the GM Jim Benedict, who works with the organization's pitchers in addition to scouting. "But if you want to develop the masses, get a lot of guys to the big leagues, you're going to do it with a fastball as a priority."