2011 GCL Pirates Preview: Pitchers

The GCL Pirates began their season on Monday.  Below is a look at the pitchers who will start the year on the 2011 GCL roster.  Also, be sure to check out our preview of the position players.

Luis Heredia

Heredia is the top prospect for the GCL Pirates.

The 16 year old Heredia, who turns 17 in August, signed for $2.6 M out of Mexico last year, making him the highest paid international amateur in Pirates history.  There’s a good reason Heredia was paid that amount, and a lot of it can be seen in this video I took from Spring Training.  Heredia is very big for a 16 year old, at 6′ 6″, 205 pounds.  He already throws 92-94 MPH with his fastball, and was rumored to have touched 96 in Spring Training.  Outside of the fastball, Heredia has a slider, a changeup, and a curveball.  All four pitches have the potential to eventually be plus pitches.

Heredia is already very big for a 16 year old, although he could still fill out and add some muscle to his frame.  If he does that, he could have a shot at seeing his fastball velocity jump to the upper 90s, similar to where Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie have been known to throw.  There’s a strong case to be made that Heredia is one of the top three prospects in the system, possibly up there with Taillon and (assuming he signs) Gerrit Cole, joining them as the 1-C option.

Because of this potential, a lot of focus will be placed on how Heredia handles the Gulf Coast League.  The assignment is an aggressive one for a player his age.  Heredia is the youngest player on the Pirates’ GCL roster, with the second youngest (Jackson Lodge) being ten months older.  Heredia seems like he can handle the push, as he did well in Spring Training against lineups that are better than the ones he will face in the GCL.

International Arms

Brayan Almonte - He was signed in 2010, and pitched in the DSL last year.  The right hander has a huge 6′ 7″, 188 pound frame, giving him plenty of room for projection.  He struggled with control in the DSL last year, with a 9.6 BB/9 ratio, but made the jump to the US this year.

Orlando Castro - He made his US debut earlier in the month with West Virginia, and already has pitched in the GCL rotation as the Opening Day starter.  He has solid command of his fastball, and above average off-speed stuff with a curve and a changeup.  The left hander, who was signed out of Honduras in 2009, had a 1.17 ERA in 54 innings in his only year in the VSL.  He’s got a small frame, and only sits in the mid-80s, so he’s more of a long shot to be a legit starting prospect.

Jimy Hernandez - He pitched in the Dominican Summer League this year, with a 9.72 ERA in 8.1 innings.  Last year was his second year at the level, and he posted a 4.43 ERA in 42.2 innings, with a 7.4 K/9 and a 4.2 BB/9 ratio.  He’s 6′ 2″, 209 pounds, and throws 91-92 MPH, which might explain why he’s in the GCL right now.

Wilson Lee - He was signed out of Australia in 2010, and spent the 2010 season in the Australian Academy.  He’s making the jump to the US this year, where he’s already made his debut with the GCL team.

Jackson Lodge - Also signed out of Australia in 2010, Lodge will be making his US debut after putting up a 2.03 ERA in the Australian Academy last year.  Lodge is a left hander, at 6′ 1″, 158 pounds.

Diomedes Mateo - Mateo suddenly showed up on the roster this year, before it was discovered that he was Yoldi Sierra, who signed in 2008.  The false identity came with an age change, revealing that Mateo is actually two years older than he first appeared.  Thus, the jump to the US in 2011.

Miguel Mendez - Mendez spent the last two years as the backup catcher in State College, and now looks to be making the switch to a pitcher, similar to Jesus Brito in State College.  He’s obviously a project, although his arm strength from being a catcher should help make the adjustment easier.

Dovydas Neverauskas - Neverauskas returns to the GCL after pitching ten innings at the level last year.  The Lithuanian pitcher is 6′ 3″, 175 pounds, and was working in the low-to-mid 90s in Spring Training, which is a big change from his reported 85-87 MPH velocity when he was signed in 2009.  He’s definitely a guy to watch, as he’s only 18 this year, and already has seen a good velocity increase.

Cristopher Richardson - He signed with the Pirates in 2010, after winning a Dominican reality show called “El Rookie”.  The 6′ 0″, 184 pound left hander can touch 91 MPH with his fastball, and is making the jump to the US after just one year in the Dominican Summer League.

Isaac Sanchez – Sanchez is making the jump to the US after only 8.2 innings in the US.  He has a fastball that is a Major League-average to above average pitch, along with above average rotation on his curveball, which has power and bite.

Rinku Singh - It’s kind of a surprise seeing him back at this level, as Singh made the jump to State College last year, after having success in the GCL.  It’s unlikely that the Million Dollar Arm from India will make it to the Majors, but he’s definitely shown that he’s better than the GCL.

US Pitchers

Robbie Kilcrease - Kilcrease was signed as a non-drafted free agent this year out of Texas Tech.  The left hander will pitch in relief, and is likely to be used as an organizational guy at the lower levels.

Joe Parsons - Parsons was just signed as a non-drafted free agent out of Virginia Tech.  Like Kilcrease, he is likely to serve as organizational depth.

Logan Pevny - Pevny signed as a 49th round draft pick out of high school in 2010, and has a very projectable frame at 6′ 3″, 190 pounds.  He can already touch 92 MPH, but currently sits more in the upper 80s.  A lot of his future depends on him adding velocity going forward.

Bryton Trepagnier - Just like Pevny, Trepagnier was signed as a late round pick (41st round) out of high school in 2010.  He also has a projectable frame at 6′ 5″, 180, and touches the low 90s, although like Pevny, he usually sits in the high-80s.  He pitched 19 innings in the GCL in 2010.

Opening Day Projection

Honestly, I have no clue who will start here. So far we’ve seen two of the following players make starts (designated by an asterisk), although the rest of the rotation is unannounced, and even after one time through, things can change.  That said, my guess on the rotation:

SP1 - Luis Heredia*

SP2 - Bryton Trepagnier

SP3 - Logan Pevny

SP4 - Orlando Castro*

SP5 - Jimy Hernandez

2011 Un-Signed Draft Picks Who Could Appear on the Roster if Signed: Colten Brewer (4th round), and pretty much any prep pitcher who signs earlier than August 15th.

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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, 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.

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