2011 Bradenton Marauders Preview: Bullpen

Black will move to the bullpen in 2011.

Today we wrap up the 2011 Brdenton Marauders preview with a look at the bullpen.  So far we’ve covered the infielders, outfielders, and the starting pitchers.  When you get as low as A-ball, you’re not going to have a lot of top bullpen prospects.  Most of the top arms, even ones that are projected as future bullpen pieces, are in the rotation to maximize their innings.  The guys who are in the bullpen might have a shot at being a middle reliever one day, but for the most part they project as organizational depth.  There are a few exceptions, which we will cover first.

The Prospects

There is really only one pitcher at the level who is strictly a relief pitching prospect, and that’s Victor Black.  Black missed almost all of the 2010 season due to injuries, and as a result, will move to the bullpen full time in 2011.  He is expected to start off in high-A, and could make the jump to Altoona, depending on how he rebounds in Bradenton this year.  Black projects as a late inning reliever in the majors.  He throws 92-94 MPH, touching 96.  He previously threw a hard slider that ranged from 82-84 MPH, but will be making the switch to a curveball this year.  That switch could determine how long he will be in Bradenton, depending on how hard it is for him to make the change.

Rotation Depth

There are a few guys who have previously been starters in the minors, but who should move to the bullpen due to the amount of starting depth in the lower levels.  I went over those guys in the preview of the Bradenton starting pitchers.  Hunter Strickland is one of those options, and could be one of the first to move back to the rotation when a need arises.  Jeffrey Inman missed all of the 2010 season due to injuries, and should pitch out of the bullpen to ease back in to things.  Eliecer Navarro and Gabriel Alvarado could both see time in the rotation this year, although they profile more as emergency starters, rather than top rotation options, which should keep them in the bullpen most of the year.

Returning to Bradenton

The guys who will be returning to Bradenton could include Matt McSwain, Noah Krol, Tyler Cox, Casey Erickson, and Duke Welker.  None of them profile as top relief prospects, and if any of them happen to make the majors, it would only be as middle relief depth.  Erickson and Cox have the best chance of advancing beyond the high-A level this year.  Welker has the best tools of the bunch, with a fastball that can get up to 98 MPH, although his horrible control might prevent him from ever making it above the high-A level.  If he can get his control numbers back to where they were two years ago, and maintain the velocity he showed last year, he could potentially be a future back of the bullpen pitcher in the majors.  That would be a long shot, but not impossible.

Arriving from West Virginia

The Pirates could see a few guys arriving from West Virginia this year.  Maurice Bankston could arrive at the start of the year, or at some point early in the season. Tyler Waldron and Brandon Cumpton both profile long term as relievers, and both pitchers might be forced to the bullpen early due to the amount of top pitching prospects that are expected to start off in West Virginia.  Jason Townsend has good velocity on his fastball, throwing in the mid-90s, but lacks control.  If he can fix his control issues, he could also be a candidate to move up to Bradenton this year.

Opening Day Projection

The estimated opening day bullpen:

CL - Victor Black

RP - Tyler Cox, Casey Erickson, Hunter Strickland, Gabriel Alvarado, Duke Welker, Jeffrey Inman

Candidates to join the bullpen in May/June: Maurice Bankston, Tyler Waldron, Brandon Cumpton

Could pitch in the AA bullpen in 2011: Victor Black, Casey Erickson, Tyler Cox.

Enjoy this story? Pirates Prospects will be switching to a subscription site on 4/13, so that we can continue bringing you the best Pirates coverage there is. For a very small monthly price, you can continue getting articles like this, along with coverage from every minor league city. Get more information here, and subscribe today!

Share This Article

Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

Indians Top Yankees; Pirates’ Top Red Sox

Next Story »

2011 Prospect Watching: Allie, Archibald, Trepagnier, And Friends

Latest Analysis

  • Gregory Polanco

    Q&A: Trading Prospects For Rentals, Polanco Concerns, Meadows vs Appel

    21 hours ago

    I missed the Q&A last week due to a common problem in Spring Training: I forgot what day it was. It was around 6:00 that I was ...

    Read More
  • Nick Kingham f

    Improving His Two-Seam Fastball will Make Nick Kingham a More Effective Pitcher

    2 days ago

    With Jameson Taillon returning from Tommy John surgery, and unlikely to make an impact at the Major League level early in the year, the top prospect to ...

    Read More
  • Arquimedes Caminero 3

    The Roster Situations That Could Impact the Makeup of the Pirates Bullpen

    4 days ago

    There are less than two weeks remaining in Spring Training, and the one area where the Pittsburgh Pirates had actual position battles is heating up. There were ...

    Read More
  • Jordan Luplow

    How the Pirates are Trying to Stay Ahead of the Curve With the New Draft Rules

    5 days ago

    The 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement brought a lot of changes to Major League Baseball. The biggest change for the Pittsburgh Pirates came in the draft. From 2008-2011, ...

    Read More
  • Alen Hanson

    The Key For Alen Hanson to Help the Pirates in the Majors This Year

    6 days ago

    When the Pittsburgh Pirates moved Alen Hanson to second base last year, part of the plan was to get him to the majors faster by putting him at ...

    Read More
  • Tyler Glasnow 2

    What the Stats Don’t Tell You About Tyler Glasnow

    7 days ago

    The stat line for Tyler Glasnow’s start at Pirate City yesterday looked great: 3 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. The lone run ...

    Read More
  • JaCoby Jones Josh Bell

    JaCoby Jones Did Fine in the Move to Shortstop, But Needs to Cut Down on Strikeouts

    1 week ago

    The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted JaCoby Jones as an outfielder in the third round of the 2013 draft, then surprised everyone the following year when they moved him ...

    Read More
  • Cody Dickson is a lefty with the upside of a middle of the rotation starter. (Photo Credit: Mark Olson)

    The Mental Adjustment that Led to Cody Dickson’s Dominant 2014 Second Half

    1 week ago

    Trusting his stuff and not trying to do too much — that has been the key for left-handed pitcher Cody Dickson so far in his professional baseball ...

    Read More
  • Third Base Mathisen Luplow Joe

    Who’s on Third? In the Pirates’ Farm System, It Could Be Anyone

    2 weeks ago

    If you have ever played third base in your life — professional, college, high school, slow pitch softball — then the Pittsburgh Pirates might be contacting you ...

    Read More
  • Jason Creasy

    Another Pitcher to Watch From the Pirates’ 2011 Draft

    2 weeks ago

    The 2011 draft is shaping up to be a great class for the Pittsburgh Pirates. They picked first overall that year, so naturally you’d expect good things ...

    Read More
  • Browse More Articles