GCL Pirates — June 25
This is a brief report from the GCL Pirates’ 5-4, 10-inning win over the GCL Braves at Walt Disney World, which is where the Braves hold spring training. There wasn’t a great deal of action in the game, as the two starters–lefty Orlando Castro for the Bucs and righty Rafael Briceno for the Braves–dominated the first five and a half innings. Neither allowed more than one or two well hit balls. The Baby Bucs hit very little hard all game, except for a couple balls off Braves’ reliever Gardner Adams. Most of their runs scored on fielding miscues, including two delayed double steals, which should give the Braves something to work on for a few days. The one big hit for the Bucs was a two-run triple by Alen Hanson off the fence in right center.
This was my first chance to see Yhonathan Barrios in action. He was one of the Pirates’ more high-profile signings in 2008, out of Colombia. A shortstop when signed, Barrios isn’t likely to stay there due to a slightly stocky build and heavy lower body. He played third in this game and struggled a little defensively, bobbling a couple balls and making a bad throw on a routine grounder, although the error was charged to firstbaseman Jared Lakind. Barrios did make a nice, barehand play on a bunt attempt in the bottom of the tenth. At the plate he struggled with breaking stuff off the plate, fanning three times, mainly on pitches he had no chance to hit. Willie Garcia, who showed some good power potential yesterday, also struggled with offspeed stuff away.
Castro had an impressive outing, allowing no hits through the first four innings. The Braves finally got to him in the fifth on a hit batsman and two weak hits. Listed at 5’11″, Castro had surprising success with his fastball, which generally ran from 88-90, although he hit 92 at least once. He located it well to both sides of the plate and had enough movement to induce quite a few swings and misses, adding up to seven whiffs in five innings. He threw a few sliders and one curve that I saw.
Joe Parsons, recently signed as a non-drafted free agent out of Virginia Tech, followed. He has an odd delivery; imagine a stocky guy, about Tim Lincecum’s height, trying to imitate Lincecum’s delivery. His fastball was 85-86 in his first inning, 87-90 after that. He seemed to have a decent change. The Braves’ hitters had little trouble making good contact against him, accounting for three of their runs and nearly all their well hit balls.
As an aside, Parsons’ presence illustrates MLB’s mismanagement of the draft. The GCL is intended as an introductory league for high school draftees and Latin American prospects new to the US. The Pirates have drafted prep pitchers heavily the last few years, but they either don’t sign, or have their signings delayed by MLB, until mid-August. By then it’s too late for them to make more than a token appearance in the GCL. Afterward, they go to fall instructionals and, in the spring, they spend three months in extended spring training. By then, most of the team’s prep draftees are ready for the New York-Penn League. Meanwhile, the Pirates need older, non-drafted free agents (and non-prospects) like Parsons and Robbie Kilcrease to soak up innings in the GCL.
After Parsons came Logan Pevny, who was drafted out of a New Jersey high school last year and signed, at least in part, because the college coach who recruited him resigned. His fastball ranged mainly from 88-90 and he had a tight curve that was very effective. At 6’3″, Pevny is just below the Pirates’ preferred height of 6’4″ or better, but he has an easy motion and could still have some projectability left. He was only able to pitch briefly after signing last year due to injury, and being from a northern school he’d be behind most of the prep pitchers the Pirates drafted last year, as they came mainly from southern schools with longer seasons. Pevny retired all ten batters he faced, four on strikeouts, five on grounders and the last one on a soft line drive. He allowed nothing hit hard except a long drive that nearly ended the game in the ninth, but went just foul.