Today was a pretty big day as far as gathering content goes. The AAA and AA teams were out of town, leaving just the A-ball teams. That wasn’t a big concern, as I’m more interested in the A-ball teams. I’ve seen so much of the AAA and AA guys over the last two years that one week isn’t going to drastically change my view of these guys. However, for most of the lower level guys, this might be the only time I get to see them pitch, although I anticipate seeing some of them in State College and West Virginia this year.
Jameson Taillon threw three innings in one game against the New York Yankees’ A-ball team. Zack Von Rosenberg followed Taillon with four innings of work, followed by some instruction from pitching coordinator Jim Benedict. I got video of both pitchers, and the video will go up next week. I also got an inning of Casey Sadler pitching, which will also go up next week.
Speaking of Jim Benedict, I spoke with him for about half an hour after the day was over. He explained his role and daily duties as a pitching coach (he’s waking up and going to work about two hours after I finish writing articles and go to bed), and we talked about specific players in the system, which I’ll use for more features.
As for features, in the last day I’ve uploaded features on Taillon and what he’s working on in camp, Jeffrey Inman and his attempt to rebound from missing the 2010 season, and Calvin Anderson and all of the changes he has made this off-season. I’ve got a two or three part interview with Neal Huntington, the Benedict interview, the videos mentioned above, and a conversation with Kyle Stark about numerous players, which should be factored in to individual features next week. Tomorrow is my last day in camp, but the site will be loaded with great content for the next few weeks, and then the regular season will (finally) begin. Now, on to the day’s notes.
Taillon pitched three innings, needing only 31 pitches in his dominant performance. In the feature on Taillon, he mentioned that Jim Benedict has been working with him on removing a jump in his delivery, which will allow him to keep the ball down. Benedict told me today that this was the first start for Taillon since they started working on that. It seems to have had an immediate impact, as Taillon was working down in the zone today.
In the first inning, Taillon was sitting around 94-95 MPH, and hit 96 twice. He threw one curveball and one changeup, and had a perfect inning. In the second he was sitting at 95 MPH. He was wild on a changeup, throwing it over the batter’s head at one point, although it was only one pitch. He allowed a broken bat single on a 93 MPH fastball, although that was erased on a tailor made 6-3 double play. Through two innings he only had 24 total pitches.
In the third, Taillon worked in the 93-94 MPH range, topping out at 95. He threw seven pitches, all fastballs. Benedict pointed out that even with his fly balls, batters were having to scoop under the pitch to elevate the ball in the air, showing that Taillon keeping the ball down is working.
Zack Von Rosenberg
Von Rosenberg came on to pitch the next four innings after Taillon. In the first he was around 88 MPH, with a nice 78 MPH curveball. He was hit pretty hard, giving up a double, followed by a single, which resulted in a run. After that he got a double play and a groundout to escape the inning. In the second he threw 89 MPH, and had the nice curveball again, getting a strikeout on the pitch.
In the third, Von Rosenberg threw 88-90 MPH, although he dropped to 85 MPH toward the end of the inning. His changeup was 79-81 MPH. He allowed a bases loaded triple to get some damage. He returned for a fourth inning, throwing around 85 MPH, although he did touch 90. He was hurt by the defense in his fourth inning, with two errors.
Getting hit was largely the result of throwing mostly fastballs. His curveball looks great, and if he can get the fastball command down, and maybe increase his velocity, he could become a very effective pitcher.
-Trent Stevenson pitched two innings, working in the 88-90 MPH range. He was also hit, allowing a triple and a home run for two runs in the first inning.
-Casey Sadler was throwing 91-92 MPH, and was getting hit hard. He was also hurt by an error by third baseman Walker Gourley.
-Yerfi Tavares threw a very quick, very efficient perfect inning. He threw 90-92 MPH. To give you an idea of how quick it was, I saw him come in to the game, took a few pictures on the other field, and when I went to take pictures of Tavaras, the inning was over.
-Kevin Decker threw an inning, working in the 88-90 MPH range. He allowed one hit.
-Got a few pitches from Zach Foster, who threw 91-92 MPH in a small sample. Von Rosenberg came back on, so the gun went back to him.
I didn’t pay too much attention to the hitting prospects, in part because there aren’t many that stand out in the lower levels. I did notice the following:
-Mel Rojas Jr had a great throw from center field to second base, on a line. It was just a bit late, through no fault of Rojas, but displayed his strong arm strength.
-The Pirates have some tall, projectable hitters that they’ve signed out of the international ranks. A few that stand out that seem to have the best power potential are Gregory Polanco, Jose Osuna, and Luis Urena.
-Finally, two cool base running pictures. The first is Yhonathan Barrios stealing second base. The second is Gift Ngoepe on third base. Ngoepe was very fast on the bases, and displayed some good base running skills.