Charlie Morton threw seven innings and 97 pitches at Pirate City today against the High-A Yankees team. I didn’t follow Morton’s start much, since he didn’t have much trouble with the competition, and was mostly focused on getting up to 100 pitches. The Pirates had some interesting guys to follow at Pirate City today, as both A-ball teams were here, and the short-season team had a game. Here are the highlights from the day.
**Luis Heredia went four shutout innings today, getting closer to the start of the regular season. He was going against the short-season Yankees team, as Morton pushed every starter down a level. Heredia was sitting 91-93 MPH with his fastball, and touched 95. He had some difficulty commanding his new slurve, struggling to break a few off and leaving them high for a ball. However, he also had a few nice slurves for strikes. Overall Heredia looked good. He had a few hard hit balls, which went right to his fielders. Heredia was very efficient, throwing only 50 pitches in four innings, which led to him throwing about 10-15 pitches in the bullpen after his start to get all of his work in. He’s expected to open the season in West Virginia, and could have a shot at making it to Bradenton by the middle of the season.
**Harold Ramirez had a liner down the first base line, which he stretched for a double in the first inning. A few batters later, Reese McGuire brought him in with a hard single through the right side of the infield. The West Virginia lineup looks loaded with promising hitters, especially once Austin Meadows returns.
**Yhonathan Barrios looked good today, hitting 99 MPH in a one inning relief appearance. This isn’t a new territory for Barrios. I saw him working in the mid-to-upper 90s last year in the GCL, and he hit 99 MPH during the Fall Instructional Leagues. Barrios was signed for $250,000 in 2008 out of Colombia. He was converted to a shortstop, and eventually moved to third base. He was projected to hit for power, but that never caught on in the short season leagues. He should work out of the West Virginia bullpen this year, and is an interesting option due to his velocity and a promising slider.
**Justin Topa was drafted in the 17th round last year, and got some attention for hitting the mid-90s and putting up good numbers in Jamestown. I saw him hit 96 MPH today, and he hit the 95-96 MPH range a few times. However, he wasn’t very effective, getting hit around a bit. The 96 MPH fastball that I saw went for a triple to deep center field. Topa will be pitching out of the West Virginia bullpen.
**I got my first look at Michael De La Cruz in a game today. I didn’t get to see much, but I saw that he had a lot of range in center field, and a lot of speed down the first base line. There haven’t been many short-season games, so I’ll probably get a chance to see more of MDLC in extended Spring Training. Baseball America just named him a top 20 DSL/VSL prospect.
**One guy who stood out to me in the short-season game was Pablo Reyes. He’s a second baseman who showed a lot of speed and range at the position. He also had a good at-bat, hitting a triple down the third base line, with his speed allowing him to stretch it to three. John Dreker named Reyes one of the top ten prospects on the 2013 DSL Pirates.