When doing these recaps I notice trends for each team. One trend I noticed this year is that State College has a lot of young pitching talent, and not a lot of young hitting talent. The opposite is true for West Virginia. The big story this year was the hitting talent in West Virginia, but the young pitching talent was lacking. There were a few good stories, such as Nick Kingham’s finish to the year, and the emergence of Robby Rowland, but the scales tipped in favor of the hitting in West Virginia this year.
Below are the stats from each pitcher in West Virginia, broken down by age groups. The first age group is where you’ll find the majority of prospects. The second group can include prospects, but these guys are getting closer to being too old for the level. The final group is mostly organizational depth. A breakdown of each group can be found below.
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The top pitching prospect at the level coming in to the year was Stetson Allie. The 2010 second round pick showed improvements in his command during Spring Training, but didn’t carry that over to West Virginia. He made two appearances, combining for less than an inning of work, and in the process walked eight batters. Allie went to extended Spring Training, where his control issues became worse. He eventually made the switch to being a hitting prospect, which didn’t work out so well in the GCL.
Nick Kingham entered the year as the second best pitching prospect at the level. He struggled early in the season, putting up a 5.22 ERA before the All-Star break. Kingham finished strong, with a 3.69 ERA in 68.1 innings after the break, including a 61:17 K/BB ratio. He also had a 2.36 ERA in 53.1 innings over his last ten starts.
Ryan Hafner had a good season in State College last year, but dealt with some big control issues in his jump to West Virginia. Hafner walked over a batter per inning, with the control issues continuing after a move to the bullpen. He was sent back to State College, where his control issues continued.
The Pirates acquired Robby Rowland from Arizona for Brett Lorin, who was lost in the Rule 5 draft. Rowland had an 8.07 ERA in 68 innings last year, but saw some big improvements this year, all while moving up a few levels. Rowland attacked hitters with his sinker, leading to an impressive 1.71 GO/AO ratio.
Zack Von Rosenberg continued dealing with fastball command issues, leaving too many pitches up in the zone, which led to a lot of homers. Those issues continued in Spring Training, leading to the right-hander remaining in extended Spring Training to start the year. Von Rosenberg was inconsistent in West Virginia this year, leading to a few horrible starts. He also had some good outings, including five earned runs in 25 innings over his last four starts. His home run ratio was more than cut in half from last year, and his BAA was down a bit. He showed some good signs, but he’s not living up to his potential yet.
Orlando Castro put up some good numbers. He’s hit 88-92 MPH in the past with his fastball, although that has been inconsistent. He has good breaking stuff, which usually gives left-handers a big advantage in the lower levels. Until he has success in the upper levels, it will be hard to consider him a legit prospect.
The 2009 prep pitchers took a hit in this group. Zack Dodson returned to low-A and had an inconsistent year, then was suspended for 50 games in July for failing two substance of abuse tests. Dodson has a good mix of pitches, and some good upside, but the inconsistent play in his return to West Virginia, plus the suspension, definitely is a blow to his prospect status. The other 2009 prep pitcher, Trent Stevenson, struggled at the start of the year and retired.
Josh Poytress had limited time at the level this year, and put up good numbers. Poytress eventually moved on to Bradenton, continuing his success and looking like one of the better left handed relief prospects in the system.
Pat Ludwig, taken in the 10th round of the 2012 draft, moved up quickly to West Virginia and had some decent results in his limited time. Ludwig could move up to Bradenton to start the 2013 season.
Zac Fuesser, Matt Benedict, and Mike Jefferson all spent significant time in the rotation this year, but all three are better as relief prospects.
Nathan Kilcrease and Robert Kilcrease both put up good numbers out of the bullpen. Despite their last names, the two have no relation. They both profile as organizational arms.
Ages 24 and Up
Rinku Singh had some impressive numbers, but he was a bit old for the level. That can be ignored due to his background. The other disclaimer is that he’s a soft tossing left hander with good breaking stuff, which usually leads to his high strikeout numbers in low-A. The odds of him doing this in the upper levels are slim.Pirates Prospects is FREE today in honor of the Wild Card game. You get special access to all of our content, which is typically reserved only for subscribers. We cover the Pirates 365 days a year, with live coverage all throughout the playoffs, and off-season coverage of the minor league players in the Arizona Fall League and Winter Leagues. During the season we average well over 6 articles per day on the Pirates. This is the best stop if you're a hardcore Pirates fan, and the subscription prices are very low.
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