Pittsburgh Pirates 2014 Top Prospects: #12 – Clay Holmes

The Pirates Prospects 2014 Prospect Guide is now on sale. The book features prospect reports on everyone in the system, the 2014 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. Michael De La Cruz, OF
19. JaCoby Jones, OF
18. Barrett Barnes, OF
17. Cody Dickson, LHP
16. Blake Taylor, LHP
15. Joely Rodriguez, LHP
14. Andrew Lambo, OF
13. Stolmy Pimentel, RHP

We continue the countdown with the number 12 prospect, Clay Holmes.

Holmes had a rough start to the season, but quietly finished strong. (Photo Credit: Robin Black)

Holmes had a rough start to the season, but quietly finished strong. (Photo Credit: Robin Black)

12. Clay Holmes, RHP

A quick glance at the numbers from Holmes in 2013 would suggest he didn’t have a great season. Taking a closer look at the season shows that he made improvements to his game throughout the year, and quietly ended up with a dominant season after some struggles in the first two months. Holmes had a 6.08 ERA in his first 40 innings, walking 30 batters and striking out 27 during that time. For the remainder of the season he had a 3.01 ERA in 80.2 innings, with just 39 walks and 63 strikeouts. The K/BB ratio got stronger as the season went on, with the walks going down and the strikeouts increasing.

The season by Holmes is very similar to the season Nick Kingham had in West Virginia in 2012. A slow start hid some strong numbers in the final months of the season, and disguised the fact that Holmes improved his stuff throughout the year. Prior to the season he was sitting 90-93 MPH with his fastball, occasionally touching higher. He was able to get his fastball up to 94-95 MPH throughout the 2013 season, and did a better job holding his velocity deeper in starts as the year went on.

Holmes pairs his fastball with a sharp curveball that sits in the upper 70s, and a mid-80s changeup. His curveball lacked consistency at times, and when it was off it looked like he was trying to aim the pitch. When the curveball is working, it is an out pitch, but the sharp break can also generate ground balls. Holmes did a great job generating grounders this season, getting them at a 58% rate. That was in part due to the curve, but also due to the downward plane on a fastball being thrown by a 6’ 5” pitcher.

The Pirates usually keep prep pitchers in West Virginia for a full year, then allow them to move at their own pace once they reach Bradenton. That could be the case for Holmes in 2014, starting in Bradenton and eventually having the chance to finish in Altoona. He still has some control issues to work on, and he will need to develop his changeup more at the higher level. In the future Holmes profiles as a strong number three starter who has the frame that could allow him to pitch 200 innings per year. The earliest he could arrive in the majors could be in mid-season 2016.

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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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