Pittsburgh Pirates pitching prospect Kyle McPherson has been out of action all year with shoulder inflammation. McPherson went down with the injury in the final weeks of Spring Training after struggling in his first start in minor league camp after being cut from big league camp on March 18th.
Since then, the right hander has been participating in a throwing program to get his arm strength back, and has been working on getting stretched out to return to a starting role. The rehab appears to be going well, as McPherson recently pitched in an extended Spring Training game, showing his old velocity.
“Kyle threw a simulated game, an extended spring training game,” Neal Huntington told the media on Sunday. “Velocity was 90-95. He felt good. We’re looking forward to getting him out and getting him active in our system. I’m not sure if we will jump him right into triple-A. We’ve got to get him built back up, but he’s on a good track coming back and we’re looking forward to getting him built up and back into that Indy rotation.”
McPherson was the organization’s Pitcher of the Year last year, after combining for a 2.96 ERA in 161 innings, along with a 142:27 K/BB ratio between high-A and Double-A.
Stetson Allie Ready to Start His Career as a Hitter
The Pirates recently transitioned Stetson Allie from a pitcher to a position player. With extended Spring Training coming to an end, and short-season leagues starting up next week, some decisions will have to be made soon on the level where Allie will start, and where he will play on the field.
Allie’s strong arm profiles best at third base, although his build and his lack of playing time at the position could make him more of a first baseman.
“We’re still working through where Stetson is as a position player,” Neal Huntington said. “It’s been a couple years down. He’s taken some batting practice. He’s actually DH in a couple of games here and there. Where is he defensively? We’re throwing a crash course at him and trying to get as quick as we can where he’s ready to go compete then put him at that level. It could be Gulf Coast. It could be somewhere above there. We’re not sure yet.”
An assignment in the Gulf Coast League would make the most sense, considering how much time Allie has missed on the field. He was a full-time third baseman until his senior year of high school in 2010. He then converted to a pitcher, although he still played in the field when he wasn’t on the mound. Since joining the Pirates, he has exclusively been a pitcher.
The GCL would give Allie a more comfortable environment, going up against mostly high school and international league talent, and playing games in front of the 2-3 people who are in attendance for GCL games.
There have been questions about whether Allie was on board with the move off the mound, although Huntington mentioned that Allie is looking forward to the transition to playing every day.
“I think he’s fired up,” Huntington said. “I think he’s excited to get back out and compete on a nightly basis. He’s an athlete. He’s a competitor. He loves to swing the bat. He loves to play third base. He also loved 100 and throwing power sliders. We had some rough patches there and as we worked through it with Stetson, I do think he’s looking forward to getting out there on a nightly basis.”
Robbie Grossman Misses a Week of Games Due to Internal Issue
Outfield prospect Robbie Grossman has missed the last week with what the team has only referred to as an internal issue. Cory Giger of the Altoona Mirror talked to Grossman, who spoke about acting in a professional manner going forward. Giger also confirmed that the issue isn’t a legal issue.
When asked about why Grossman was out, Neal Huntington didn’t provide much of an answer, again keeping the issue internal.
“Robbie has missed the last week of games due to an issue internally. We’ll leave it at that,” Huntington said.
Does the Earlier Deadline Benefit Development?
The new draft signing deadline has been moved up a month, with this year’s deadline on July 13th. In previous years, the deadline was in mid-August. For players who signed close to the deadline, that made it nearly impossible to get any time in the pros.
Last year Tyler Glasnow signed on August 3rd. Clayton Holmes signed on August 15th. Neither player got in to game action in the Gulf Coast League due to the late signings. Outfielder Candon Myles signed on August 11th, and only saw six at-bats.
By comparison, the Pirates have already signed Wyatt Mathisen this year, and the prep catcher is expected to play the entire GCL season. And at the latest, players will sign on July 13th, giving them a month and a half before the minor league seasons end.
Pirates’ General Manager Neal Huntington talked about the earlier deadline, along with how it can benefit teams and individual player development.
“It can,” Huntington said. “It depends upon what they’ve been doing. The high school player maybe that’s been down, the high school pitcher that’s been down since May it’s a little more of a challenge because the longer he’s been down, the longer it takes to get him built back up again. Then you’ve got to make the evaluation of how much is he really going to benefit from getting him built back up again, heating him up, cooling him down, heating him back up again.”
“It does. I think in a perfect world, if you ask most clubs you’d like the deadline to be earlier. It’s a process of negotiations and we understand that but the quicker we have the deadline, the quicker we have a chance to get these guys out and play. And that for us is the most important part in the process, getting them out and getting them playing. I can’t imagine as a young player trying to go and play 142 game season for a first time as a pro. That experience, whether it’s 30 games or 50 games, that experience, that first summer is something that’s irreplaceable. I think a lot of guys struggle with it that first time out trying to go 140 straight. They’re playing three, four days a week is very different from playing seven days a week with eight to twelve hour bus rides mixed in.”