The Pittsburgh Pirates have promoted right-hander Jeff Inman to Altoona, per an Altoona press release. Inman was drafted in the 12th round of the 2009 draft and signed to an over-slot $450 K bonus. He came in to the year as one of the top college juniors in the draft, but fell due to injury issues.
Those injury issues have held him back in his pro career. He missed the entire 2010 season with an elbow injury, spent most of 2011 getting his delivery back and getting a feel for his pitches after missing most of the previous two seasons.
Inman sprained his ankle working out prior to Spring Training, which caused him to get off to a late start this year. He went to Bradenton, where he threw 9.2 innings with no earned runs on four hits, along with four strikeouts and two walks.
I spoke with scouts who are high on Inman, and think he can still become a late inning reliever in the majors. That’s part of why he ranked number 42 in the 2012 Prospect Guide, despite missing so much time. He throws 91-96 with his fastball, averaging 93 in the Arizona Fall League, and touching 98 MPH in the Fall Instructional Leagues last year. He’s got a good curveball, and a feel for a changeup.
Inman is a guy who could move quickly through the system once he gets going in Double-A, assuming he can stay healthy. The health is the only thing holding him back, as he has a major league arm. The Pirates don’t have a need to rush him, but there is some urgency to see what he can do in the higher levels, as he’s eligible for the Rule 5 draft after the season.