The Pittsburgh Pirates used a first round compensation pick in 2009 to draft Victor Black, originally getting the pick for failing to sign Tanner Scheppers the previous year. Black was considered to be a top relief pitching prospect, rated as the number 50 prospect in the 2009 draft by Baseball America. However, he worked mostly out of the rotation after joining the Pirates’ system. That isn’t unusual for top Pirates pitching prospects, as the team always tries to give their best arms maximum innings, and the opportunity to have success as a starter, which is a far more valuable role. That role will change for Black in 2011.
According to Dejan Kovacevic, the Pirates will move Black to the bullpen in 2011, after the right hander was held to just two starts and 4.2 innings in 2010 with shoulder and right biceps injuries. No word on where Black will start yet. He pitched in West Virginia in 2010, although a move to Bradenton might not be out of the question, especially with the move to the bullpen. In either case, he could be in AA by the end of the 2011 season if he remains healthy.
Black is one of the top relief pitching prospects in the Pirates’ system, ranking right behind Diego Moreno and Daniel Moskos. He throws a 92-94 MPH fastball, topping out at 96. He also throws a sharp 82-84 MPH slider, and a changeup, although neither pitch is effective as his fastball. His biggest issue is his control, highlighted by a 4.3 BB/9 ratio in State College in 2009. Black was one of the top prospects in the system heading in to the 2010 season, but will likely fall in the rankings due to his injury concerns. A solid bounce back year in 2011 could put him back near the top of the rankings.