Luis Heredia has been activated from the West Virginia disabled list. Heredia will return to the rotation tonight after missing about two months with shoulder soreness.
Heredia only has one real start this year, which he made on April 6th. He threw five innings, giving up four runs on six hits, with two walks and three strikeouts. In his next start, he threw one pitch, then left the game with soreness in his shoulder. That led to almost two months of rest before his return tonight.
A shoulder injury is always a concern for a pitcher, especially when it requires this much rest. The Pirates may have just been cautious with Heredia, since he’s a young arm. Even though it seems like he’s been around forever, he doesn’t turn 20 until early August. The disappointing thing about this injury is that it prevents Heredia from pitching a full season in West Virginia. He is basically a short-season pitcher once again. Last year he was expected to be in West Virginia by the end of April, but was held back due to poor conditioning. Without those setbacks, he could have been in Bradenton right now.
From a developmental standpoint, Heredia has struggled with his control, which is something that could be fixed with more time in West Virginia. Last year saw improvements from guys like Tyler Glasnow and Clay Holmes. Nick Kingham saw improvements to his control during a full season in West Virginia in 2012. Heredia didn’t get the time to see similar second half improvements.
The Pirates made a few changes with him this year, lowering his arm-slot to three-quarters, and getting him to focus on a power breaking ball, rather than his 12-to-6 curve. The change is focused on him being a power pitcher, and the lower arm slot should help avoid shoulder problems.
It’s not time to hit the panic button on Heredia just yet, but he needs to start showing improvements soon, and start to move up the ladder. If he finishes strong this year in West Virginia, I could see him moving up to Bradenton next year, despite not having experience pitching a full season.