Pittsburgh Pirates 2014 Top Prospects: #9 – Luis Heredia

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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
12. Clay Holmes, RHP
11. Tony Sanchez, C
10. Harold Ramirez, OF

We continue the countdown with the number 9 prospect, Luis Heredia.

Luis Heredia had a rough year in 2013, after showing up in camp out of shape. (Photo Credit: Nick Scala)

Luis Heredia had a rough year in 2013, after showing up in camp out of shape. (Photo Credit: Nick Scala)

9. Luis Heredia, RHP

The 2013 season was supposed to be the year where Luis Heredia made the jump to full-season ball, increasing his workload as a young starter. The expected plan was that he would join West Virginia at the end of April, missing out on the cold weather early in the season while also limiting his innings. That didn’t work as planned, with Heredia coming into Spring Training out of shape. His velocity was down in the 80s during his brief time in camp, and the lack of conditioning delayed his West Virginia debut until late June.

Heredia did get into better shape when he arrived in West Virginia. He also got his velocity back, sitting 90-92 MPH and touching 93. In the past, Heredia has gotten his fastball up to the mid-to-upper 90s. However, he lacks control at those speeds, and the Pirates have him focusing more on command. He paired that with a new slider which he switched to at the end of the 2012 season. The slider was meant to increase strikeouts, and Heredia ended up posting his best rates of his career.

He finished the 2013 season with one less inning than he threw in 2012, although Heredia did throw more innings during extended Spring Training. Still, the lack of conditioning caused him to miss out on a big innings increase, which could have put him in full season ball the following season. The bigger impact came with his lack of control. West Virginia saw Tyler Glasnow and Clay Holmes struggle with their fastball control in the first half of the season, only to show big improvements in the second half. Heredia only had half a season, and had the same control problems. With more time at the level focused on fastball command, it’s possible that Heredia could have seen the same improvements.

The thing to remember about Heredia is that he has been aggressively pushed throughout his career. He was a year younger than Glasnow, who had an aggressive placement in West Virginia. There is still plenty of time for him to develop, and the ceiling is very high. While you can project guys like Glasnow or Jameson Taillon to be an ace, you can’t make that projection with Heredia at this point. He’s still very raw, and is several years away from the majors. He could make the jump to Bradenton in 2014, although with his lost time in 2013 it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him back in West Virginia next year, trying again to get a full season’s worth of innings.

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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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  • https://www.facebook.com/mark.kridlo Mark Kridlo

    It’s a shame that the kid did not have enough maturity to come into shape LY. NH needs to establish follow ups on off season training and conditioning programs.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=68133272 George Hareras

    I think this is the year Heredia breaks out in a big way. He showed up to workouts in great shape and I bet he is ready to go.

    It’s great that any of these 1-9 prospects have the potential to be a top one or two on the list by the end of the year

  • MattInMD

    When I saw that picture I thought “Charlies? Where is a current Pirates’ affiliate by that name?” Then I realized the picture must have been taken during a throw-back day in WV honoring the old Charleston AAA team.

    Charlies may be a weird name to some people, but I like it (especially coupled with Charleston) a lot better than naming the team for the local electric supplier.

    • http://www.facebook.com/bill.kline.547 Bill Kline

      Nearby where I live there used to be a team for the Frontier League called the Johnstown Johnnies

  • https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=68131979 Tony Hareras

    I agree that Heredia is ready to make his impact and reclaim his top prospect status this season. As mentioned above and previously before, LH has gotten into much better shape. I think a lot of his delayed development was a lack of maturity. He was just a kid when he signed and was given a substantial amount of money for anyone to receive. I believe now at the age of 19, Heredia is much more focused and is ready to prove to the Pirates organization and himself that he can be great.

  • rsborelli

    To me, Heredia is good example of how the Pirates farm system has improved. It wasn’t too long ago that he was being touted as an awesome complement to Cole and Taillon, filling out a potential dynamite 1-2-3 in the rotation. Cole has arrived. Taillon is on the verge. But Heredia is still a long ways out. However, at least two other guys in Glasnow and Kingham have surpassed him in that conversation of joining Cole and Taillon. And at his age, even if he starts 2K14 at West Virginia, there is still plenty of opportunity and time for Heredia to emerge into who he was supposed to be. Same goes for a guy like Josh Bell with Polanco exploding, Ramirez emerging, and Meadows a first-rounder last year showing great promise. What a great job in the retooling process by Pirates front office! Couple years back, I was really having doubts about where all this was headed, but they have really built a fantastic foundation to pave the way for a run of prolonged success!

  • ballparkfranks

    We like to lump his fitness issue into the all encompassing “maturity” issue, referring to mental maturity. But some teenagers change physically in those teen years in a way that is not always in their control. It is very possible that his metabolisim changed or was going through a change that didn’t allow him to affect his body much. I’ve seen some teenagers that can start lifting and see immediate results, while others can lift even more and see no results at all. It could be that if he is in better shape this season, it is because his body was ready for it happen.

    • UPCHUCK

      That’s a copout.

      Heredia was immature or lazy (probably both) and figured he could skate by just on pure talent.

      Your rationalization of his weight gain reminds me of the blimps who constantly shove food down their throat and then tell everyone that they have a “thyroid problem”.

  • ncap

    Clemente’s wall had a really interesting section on AJ on whether or not he will be back. check it out its on blog spot

  • hardballbuster

    This kid is still a teenager right? This will be a make or break year for him no doubt, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater just yet folks!

  • City of ChampYinz

    Tim,

    What’s the rule on Rule V eligibility for Heredia? I love the fact that he’s still so young for his level, but I feel like I’ve been hearing about him for years now. When would he become Rule V eligible?