Relatively Unknown Pirate Farmhands Seeing Success

I’m tentatively planning on providing a minor-league update each Monday morning in an attempt to supplement Nancy’s coverage at Sandlot Swashbucklers. She does a great job covering the day-to-day operations of the Indy Indians, so I’ll try to focus the majority of my attention on the lower affiliates.
It usually won’t be anything more than a few quick thoughts:

  • We’ll be seeing Jesse Chavez in Pittsburgh sooner rather than later, I think. He’s followed up a strong fall ball performance with a good season at Indy. Chavez, acquired in exchange for Kip Wells at last year’s deadline, has a 3.23 ERA through 32 games and 55.2 innings. His K:BB ratio is strong (nearly 4:1). He’s been stretched out a little, routinely throwing two or three innings per appearance. If a reliever is traded over the next two weeks, then Chavez or Franquelis Osoria could get the call.
  • Two of our reclamation projects are having some success at Altoona. Dewon Brazelton, a 27-year-old starting pitcher, is the more intriguing. A former third overall draft pick, Brazelton has bounced around the minors, spending time in the Tampa Bay and San Diego organizations. He’s never gotten results above Double-A, which is probably why the Pirates have yet to promote him from Altoona. Through 33 innings with the Curve, Brazelton has a 1.91 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. He’s thrown quality starts his last three times out. Brazelton lost his prospect status a couple of years ago, but he has the kind of untapped talent that could translate into a Shane Youman-like existence in the future. Unlike Alay Soler, this low-risk, high-reward move might pay dividends.
  • Yoslan Herrera‘s stat page isn’t as clean as Brazelton’s, but he’s been slowly making progress through the first three months of the season. Herrera hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in a start since June 1. Last night, he shut out the Akron Aeros through six innings. He’s still walking a lot of batters, which might mean he hasn’t quite recovered the feel for his pitches that was lost in his two-year hiatus from competitive baseball.
  • Jared Keel is quietly having himself a breakout campaign with the Hickory Crawdads, the Pirates’ Single-A affiliate. Keel doesn’t have a true home on the field, as he’s been bounced around between first and third base, left and right field and designated hitter, but he certainly has a spot in the batting order. At 22, he could be considered old for the level—you’d like to see him at High-A Lynchburg before too long—but you can’t ignore his numbers. His .293/.420/.590 line equates to a 1.010 OPS. Through 205 at-bats, he has 14 home runs and has drawn 39 walks (to go along with 45 strikeouts). Here’s hoping he’ll earn a promotion just as Jason Delaney did, and can produce at a more age-appropriate level. Keel’s skill set seems not dissimilar from that of Jamie Romak.
  • First round draft pick Daniel Moskos still has yet to be signed. The Pirates have until August 15 to ink him to a deal, or Moskos will re-enter the draft next season and the Pirates will be compensated with the fifth overall selection in 2008.

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