Pittsburgh Pirates 2013 Top Prospects: #5 – Luis Heredia

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

11. Clay Holmes, RHP

10. Nick Kingham, RHP

9. Kyle McPherson, RHP

8. Tyler Glasnow, RHP

7. Barrett Barnes, OF

6. Josh Bell, OF

We continue the countdown with the number 5 prospect, Luis Heredia.

Luis Heredia

Luis Heredia

5. Luis Heredia, RHP

The Pirates signed Heredia in 2010, making him their highest paid international free agent in team history. The right-hander has a ton of upside, drawing some comparisons to Felix Hernandez due to his size and potential as a top of the rotation pitcher. He was aggressively promoted to the GCL in 2011. While the numbers were poor, he showed flashes of his potential throughout the year.

Heredia entered the 2012 season with a few key issues to work on. He threw his fastball in the 92-94 MPH range, topping out at 96 in 2011. However, his fastball lacked control, leading to a high walk rate. He also didn’t have much of a changeup. At the end of Spring Training in 2012 he still had control problems, and still needed work with his changeup. However, by the end of extended Spring Training he had made some huge strides in each department.

The right-hander went to the New York-Penn League, which is a league primarily made up of college hitters. Despite being 17 years old, he put up dominant numbers. He touched the upper 90s with his fastball in Spring Training, but worked mostly in the 91-94 MPH range during the season, with much improved control. He showed a lot of comfort with his changeup, and by the end of the year he started working on a new curveball.

Heredia still had the occasional command issues, and struggled with consistency. That can be expected with his young age. He didn’t strike out a lot of hitters, which led to the new curveball. His old curveball was a slower, loopier pitch. The new pitch is a hard curve with sharp break and more velocity. He only started using the pitch at the end of the season, and finished strong, getting five strikeouts in five innings during his final start thanks to the curve.

The right-hander was very advanced for his age, showing the ability to get ahead in the count and mix in his off-speed pitches effectively. He’s got the potential for three plus pitches, and his new curveball has the look of a strikeout pitch. He’s still very young, and is great at adapting to new changes, which means we could still see a lot of improvements, such as increased velocity, more strikeouts, or the addition of more pitches. He’s got as much upside as any pitcher in the system, and that includes Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon. Heredia is a bit more raw than those two, which is why he’s lower on the list. If he continues developing at the pace we saw in 2012, while showing the maturity and an advanced approach he displayed, he’ll find himself as the top prospect in the system.

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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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  • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 Lee Young

    Cole, JT and Heredia, along with some of our other pitchers like Kingham, Holmes and now Glasnow, give me LOTS of hope in our footure.

    • http://www.deanmanifest.blogspot.com Dean Manifest

      I know, I love it. Huntington has had his ups and downs, but the one thing I’ve unequivocally loved is his commitment to acquiring tall, big-framed power arms and having them focus on developing a fastball-curveball-changeup repertoire. Remember all the TJ under Littlefield? Not only is Huntington getting high upside arms, but he’s keeping them healthy.

      • http://www.facebook.com/david.donahue.100 whiteAngus

        dont jinx it, brudder. :-x

        • http://twitter.com/AppDevRecruiter AppDevRecruiter

          I’m all for nojinx, wA, but I think DM just means to highlight that NH is, for the most part, avoiding the slider in pitcher development – the slider being harder on arms than other pitches.

          correct me if i’m wrong here, Dean. i’m on board with avoiding the slider (although you can’t with a guy like Cole).

          • http://www.deanmanifest.blogspot.com Dean Manifest

            That’s definitely part of it. Body type too. Skim through the recent prospect posts….at first glance practically all the arms below AAA look like the same guy.

  • tempman89

    Just imagine if NH didn’t mess up the sano signing

    • NastyNate82

      Yeah, I don’t remember that. Cause he didn’t.

    • City of ChampYinz

      Yeah, the Sano non-signing is one of the biggest moments of Huntington’s tenure. Can’t help but imagine what the system would look like if you added a hitter like Sano. I’d argue #1 in the majors by a quite a margin.

      I think Huntington was being kind of cheap with Sano. He probably could have been signed easily for $3-$3.5 million at the outset. He ended up signing with the Twins for $3.15mil. The Pirates reportedly offered him $2.6 million. Losing a player of his caliber over $550K is inexcusable. Especially given that 2009 was the year we went with Sanchez in the draft, saving a bunch of money. A point made even more painful by the production of the other 2009 draft picks.

      Too bad we’ll never know what could have been had the Bucs just been willing to pony up an extra $600K for Sano in the first place.

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