2011 State College Spikes Preview: Pitchers

The State College Spikes begin their season tonight.  Below is a look at the pitchers who will start the year on the 2011 Spikes’ roster.  Also, be sure to check out our preview of the position players.

Over-Slot Prep Arms

Allie is the top prospect at the level to start the year.

The top prospect at the level will be Stetson Allie, the 2010 second round pick who signed for $2.25 M.  Allie will be starting off in State College, rather than joining 2010 first round pick Jameson Taillon in West Virginia, due to some control issues. I saw those control issues in Spring Training this year, and they are very apparent in this video recap.  The control issues are to be expected, as Allie is fairly new to pitching, and is more of a thrower at this point.  He might not be at State College for long, depending on his performance in this area.  He could take the Quinton Miller path of making a few appearances at the level, before quickly moving up to West Virginia.

2010 4th round pick Nick Kingham will start the season off tonight.  Kingham received $480 K last year, which was about $225 K over slot.  He only pitched three innings in the GCL, but didn’t allow a run, allowed only three hits, and struck out two.  He was the number 21 prospect in the system, according to our pre-season rankings, mostly because of his 90-93 MPH fastball with good life.  He also has a solid-average changeup, which grades as his second best pitch.  He has the frame and ability to develop in to a 200 inning, middle of the rotation starter one day.

Ryan Hafner was drafted in the 17th round in 2010, and was signed for $450,000.  He throws in the 87-90 MPH range with little effort.  He’s got a big 6′ 6″, 205 pound frame, which combined with his low effort delivery, makes him a strong candidate to add velocity going forward.  He will join Allie and Kingham in the rotation to start the year.

JuCo and International Arms

One of the most interesting arms at the level is Joely Rodriguez.  The Dominican Republic left hander throws in the 88-92 MPH range, touching 94, and has a lot of life on his fastball.  I saw Rodriguez in State College last year, and was very impressed with his stuff.  He’s got some control issues, due to the movement on his pitches, and is more of a one pitch guy at this point, although he’s a guy to watch going forward.  He will start the season in the State College rotation.

Vincent Payne was taken in the 12th round out of the JuCo ranks last year, and put up strong numbers in the GCL rotation, with a 2.43 ERA in 37 innings, along with a 21:9 K/BB ratio.  He’s already pitched two shutout innings in West Virginia this year, with a walk and a strikeout.  He won’t start the year in the rotation, although I’d expect him to get a lot of innings out of the bullpen as a piggyback option.

Bryce Weidman is another projectable arm, taken in the 14th round of the 2010 draft.  He’s 6′ 4″, 210 pounds, and came from the JuCo ranks.  He touches the low-90s with his fastball, and improved his breaking ball in 2010, allowing him to go from being undrafted in 2009 to a 14th round pick in 2010.

Kevin Kleis is a big pitcher taken out of the JuCo ranks in the 27th round last year.  He’s 6′ 8″, 225 pounds.  In the limited time I’ve seen him he’s been wild, although that’s to be expected, as he’s fairly new to pitching, throwing only 26.1 innings in high school and JuCo before being drafted in 2010.  He’s more of a project at this point.

Cliff Archibald was also taken out of the JuCo ranks as a 36th round pick in 2010.  He had success out of the bullpen in the GCL last year, but struggled after being moved to the rotation.  He throws in the high-80s, and doesn’t have a lot of projectability with his frame, making him more of a bullpen guy going forward.

Three international prospects who will be making the jump from the GCL this year are Fraylin Campos, Emmanuel De Leon, and Joan Montero.  Campos has a small frame, and is more of an organizational arm, with an average fastball.  De Leon has had a lot of control issues, but also puts up strong strikeout numbers.  Montero pitched in relief in the GCL, which is where I’d expect him to pitch in State College.  All three are more organizational guys, although there’s a chance De Leon could surprise.

Mitchell Fienemann will rejoin the State College Spikes this season.  The Australian pitcher worked mostly out of the bullpen in 2010, which is where he should remain this year.  He’s got a projectable frame, at 6′ 4″, 186 pounds, although every time I’ve seen him he’s been working in the mid-80s.

College Pitchers

2011 30th round pick Matt Benedict will join the team, after being drafted as a college senior out of Western Carolina University.  The 6′ 5″, 220 pound right hander put up a 4.01 ERA in 85.1 innings this year, with a 70:34 K/BB ratio.  He will start the year in the Spikes’ rotation.

Justin Ennis, the left hander taken out of LSU-Shreveport in the 33rd round last year, will be returning to the level after putting up a 5.53 ERA in 27.2 innings last year.  It’s likely that he’ll also be going to West Virginia when they need a spare arm.

Opening Day Projection

The opening day rotation:

SP1 - Nick Kingham

SP2 - Ryan Hafner

SP3 - Matt Benedict

SP4 - Stetson Allie

SP5 - Joely Rodriguez

Piggyback candidates/Candidates for long relief roles: Vincent Payne, Bryce Weidman, Kevin Kleis, Cliff Archibald

2011 Un-Signed Draft Picks Who Could Appear on the Roster if Signed: Josh Poytress (LHP, 18th round), Michael Jefferson (LHP, 22nd round), Josh Martin (RHP, 25th round)

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.

2011 State College Spikes Preview: Position Players

Next Story »

Pirates Prospects on 93.7 the FAN on Saturday Morning

Latest Analysis

  • Gregory Polanco

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

    18 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