Pittsburgh Pirates 2013 Top Prospects: #11 – Clay Holmes

The Pirates Prospects 2013 Prospect Guide is now on sale. The book features over 250 prospect reports, the 2013 top 50 prospects, and the most comprehensive coverage of the Pirates’ farm system that you can find.  While the top 50 prospects are exclusive to the book, we will be releasing the top 20 prospects over the next few weeks.  Be sure to purchase your copy of the book on the products page of the site.

To recap the countdown so far:

20. Jin-De Jhang, C

19. Andrew Oliver, LHP

18. Vic Black, RHP

17. Adrian Sampson, RHP

16. Wyatt Mathisen, C

15. Bryan Morris, RHP

14. Justin Wilson, LHP

13. Tony Sanchez, C

12. Dilson Herrera, 2B

We continue the countdown with the number 11 prospect, Clay Holmes.

Clay Holmes

Clay Holmes

11. Clay Holmes, RHP

The Pirates gave Holmes a $1.2 M bonus as a 9th round pick in 2011, which was tied for the fourth biggest bonus in team history outside of the first round. He signed too late to pitch in 2011, and went to State College to start his career in 2012.

The right-hander entered the 2012 season already throwing 90-93 MPH and a hard curveball which acts like a slurve. The curveball acts like a plus pitch when he throws it with sharp bite. He needs to work on keeping the pitch consistently in the strike zone. There’s room for more velocity with his fastball due to his tall, projectable frame. Holmes could end up settling in the mid-90s.

Two issues heading into the 2012 season were command and the lack of a changeup. Holmes made some big strides in both areas during extended Spring Training, locking down his spot in State College. He got a feel for the changeup, with the potential for the pitch to turn into an above-average offering. That would give Holmes the potential for three pitches that are above-average or plus.

Control was still an issue in State College, and something the right-hander will need to work on in 2013. Some of the control problems had to do with Holmes not trusting his stuff. At times he would aim, rather than pitch, which made him look like a pitcher with a lot to work on. Other times he focused on throwing the fastball inside, while trusting his changeup to break away from left-handers. It was during those times that he showed a lot of promise.

Looking at the overall numbers, Holmes didn’t struggle much, even with the command issues. His numbers are impressive when you consider that he was pitching in a league filled with college hitters. The right-hander will have to work on his changeup and command in 2013. He should move to full season ball in West Virginia, which has been a difficult jump for prep pitchers in the Pirates system.

Holmes has the frame to eventually handle 200 innings a year in the majors. He’s got a smooth, clean delivery, which combined with his tall and lean frame should give him the chance to add velocity going forward. He has the makings of a good three pitch mix, with the potential for a plus fastball, plus curveball, and above-average changeup. He could have a shot at being a top of the rotation guy if everything goes as planned, but a more conservative projection has him ending up a solid number three innings eating starter in the majors.

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Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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