I’ve had a lot of questions early in the year about the progress of Luis Heredia. The right-hander is in extended Spring Training, and hasn’t thrown in many games. He has been throwing on the side, and pitched a live batting practice earlier this week.
Back in the middle of March I spoke with Pirates farm director Larry Broadway, who said that the team would probably take a similar approach with Heredia as they did with Jameson Taillon in 2011. Taillon was held back in extended Spring Training for the first month of the year, then went to West Virginia at the end of April. The purpose for the delay was to make sure Taillon had enough innings to finish the year in West Virginia, as opposed to being shut down late in the season once he hit his innings limit. The Pirates also wanted to avoid him throwing in cold weather in the early part of the season with West Virginia, but the innings count was a bigger concern.
That’s the same focus with Heredia right now. Last year he threw 66.1 innings in State College, plus his innings in extended Spring Training. However, he’s only 18 years old this year, and pitching a full season would be a huge jump for him, which isn’t good at a young age.
I spoke with Heredia at Pirate City this week, and he mentioned that he will be throwing in some extended Spring Training games starting next week. The plan is still for him to go to West Virginia, and that could happen in early May.
Rinku Singh and Zack Dodson Slated For Bradenton
Two left-handers have been playing in extended Spring Training, and both are slated to join the Bradenton Marauders at the end of the month.
Rinku Singh has been rehabbing from a forearm injury he suffered in the Australian Baseball League over the winter. He has been throwing in camp, and is slated to return about a week from now. Last year Singh threw 72 innings in West Virginia, with a 3.00 ERA, an 8.1 K/9 and a 2.2 BB/9 ratio.
Zack Dodson is currently serving a 50 game suspension that he received in late July for a substance of abuse. Dodson had about 20 games remaining on his suspension this year, which will put him on pace to return late next week. He is currently listed as an inactive player on the Marauders’ roster, which is an indication that he will be heading across town to Bradenton when he is done. Dodson made a start in extended Spring Training this week, and should make at least one more before he’s ready to return.
The Australians Have Arrived at Pirate City
During the 2012 international signing period, the Pittsburgh Pirates signed two Australian players: Sam Kennelly, a shortstop, and Nick Hutchings, a right-handed pitcher. Both players arrived in Bradenton last week, and they’re both participating in extended Spring Training.
Neither player will play in the Gulf Coast League this year, as both have to finish their final year of school in Australia. The plan with both is to spend a few weeks in camp, then return to Australia on May 4th for the school year. They might return for the Fall Instructional League after the season, and both should be in Spring Training next year.
Kennelly has played all over the infield, but has only been playing shortstop in his time in camp. He’s been working on his hitting and his defense, and focusing on getting stronger before he goes back home.
“I’ve had an amazing time here,” Kennelly said. “Great coaches, great players. Couldn’t ask for anything better.”
Hutchings throws a fastball, curveball, slider, and a changeup. His fastball sits in the upper 80s right now. He’s more comfortable with his curveball than his slider, and the Pirates want him focusing only on the fastball, curve, and changeup for now. He might re-introduce the slider in the later parts of his career, which is a pretty standard approach for the Pirates with younger pitchers.
He threw his first bullpen on Wednesday, and has been focusing on location and repeating his delivery.
“It’s gone good,” Hutchings said of his progress. “I’m being consistent, which is probably the number one thing you can be as a pitcher, consistency. So I’m pretty comfortable with my consistency at the moment. Just having a good crack at it.”
Both players should play in the Australian Baseball Academy, and will eventually get time playing in the Australian Baseball League over the winter. They have both played in the ABL in the past. Kennelly talked about the difference in talent between the ABL and what he’s seen in his first week in the US.
“It’s a lot different than what you see in Australia,” Kennelly said. “You see the guys that play everyday before they sign, and it shows when they go out there and play. And just a whole lot different in talent from what you get in Australia.”