While the Bradenton Marauders didn’t see any hitters promoted this year, their pitching staff saw a lot of promotions. The most notable of the crew were Kyle McPherson, who is a favorite to end up as the pitcher of the year in the entire minor league system, and Phillip Irwin, who surprised this year with strong numbers in Bradenton, and continued his success in Altoona. The Bradenton pitching staff was a little bit older than the hitters, with several guys out of the college ranks from recent drafts. Here is a rundown of how each player did, broken down by age group.
The Pirates hoped that Brandon Cumpton and Tyler Waldron would make the jump to Bradenton early in the season. After some initial struggles, Cumpton jumped up to Bradenton around mid-season, and posted some impressive results. He wasn’t exactly dominant, but did show good command of his fastball, and had some impressive outings at the end of the year. He could be a candidate to move up to AA to start the 2012 season, due to the amount of innings he saw in high-A.
Tyler Waldron didn’t arrive as quickly, and for that reason, will probably return to high-A next year. His numbers didn’t look good, although they were inflated by a poor outing in his last game, where he gave up seven earned runs in just over an inning of work.
Ryan Beckman had an impressive season out of the bullpen, working as Bradenton’s closer most of the year. He had one of the highest strikeout ratios on the team, and an impressive overall stat line. The most impressive thing is that he was the second youngest player to pitch for Bradenton this year, and the youngest player to pitch for them all season.
Quinton Miller had another disappointing season, missing a lot of time due to injuries. He probably wouldn’t have been in high-A until the 2012 season had he gone to North Carolina, although his injuries have prevented him from getting a full season of work, and his numbers when healthy haven’t been impressive.
Kyle McPherson was the top pitcher at the level in the first half, putting up some impressive numbers before getting promoted to AA. Phillip Irwin also put up some outstanding numbers before making the jump to the Altoona rotation. Both players continued their strong play at the next level, and both could be candidates to start the 2012 season in AAA.
One surprise was that Brett Lorin didn’t get the call to Altoona, despite his strong numbers in 117.1 innings. Lorin is Rule 5 eligible this off-season. He’s a little old for the level, and it would have been nice to see him make the jump to AA. I didn’t see him this year outside of Spring Training, although when I saw him last year in West Virginia he was working on fastball command, which is something a 23 year old at the time should already have learned. He seems more like a back of the rotation starter or a relief pitching prospect, although the numbers suggest that he still has a good shot at being a starter.
Nathan Baker spent the entire season in high-A, and didn’t put up the best results, although most of that was due to his poor start. He had a 5.59 ERA in 38.2 innings through mid-May. After being removed from the rotation for a turn, Baker came back and put ip a 2.47 ERA in his final 116.2 innings. One issue was that his walk rate was high, with a constant 3.1 BB/9 all season.
Jeff Inman had good numbers when he was healthy, although as has been the story of his short career, he wasn’t healthy the entire season. He could be one of the best pitching prospects on the team if he manages to stay healthy. I wouldn’t be surprised if he returns to the level next year. Victor Black has a similar issue of being injury prone, which delayed his high-A debut until late in the 2011 season. He will most likely return to Bradenton next year, pitching out of the bullpen after finally being healthy for an entire season this year.
Diego Moreno, Brian Leach, and Duke Welker are all similar stories. They’re all a bit old for high-A, all three have the upside of back of the bullpen relievers, but all three were at this level due to struggles with their stuff. Welker has been held back due to struggles with his control in the lower levels. He improved on that this year, and moved up to Altoona, where he finished off the season. The control problems aren’t totally gone, but they’re much better from when he was walking a batter an inning last year.
Leach had a lot of success as a starter in high-A last year, which makes his 2011 season a strange one. He started off in the Altoona bullpen, and was quickly demoted back to Bradenton after struggling with his control. He continued his struggled in his return to Bradenton, which is the strange part, as he didn’t have those issues last year.
Moreno probably has the best stuff of the three, but has yet to make the jump to AA. He was suspended after making the jump last year, and this year he was injured, and then developed control issues when working with Bradenton.