Today was a camp day in Pirate City, with two inter-squad games taking place, and all of the action finishing up around 11:30 AM, as opposed to around 4:00 PM on previous days. Despite the shortened day in camp, there was plenty of action going on.
Chris Snyder was back in camp today, and saw ten at-bats, after seeing five yesterday. The only one that I remembered was at the start of the game, when he struck out on a low and away 91 MPH fastball from left hander Aaron Thompson. Clint Hurdle said that his back felt fine, and he should return to the Pirates’ lineup tomorrow.
The action started off with Luis Heredia pitching in the lower levels game. I posted video and notes from the appearance earlier today. Heredia looked great, throwing 92-94 MPH fastballs effortlessly, and dominating his opponents. He struck out two, and had a two strike count before the inning was called after he reached his pitch count.
Jeffrey Inman threw two innings today, ranging from 90-93 MPH with his fastball. Heading in to the 2009 season, Inman was one of the top juniors in the country, pitching for Stanford. After a series of injuries, he went from a potential first round pick to a 12th round pick with the Pirates. The Pirates signed him for $425 K, but he’s only pitched four innings since, missing the entire 2010 season. When healthy, Inman was throwing in the low-90s, touching 96 at times. His velocity dropped in his junior year, but was back up to 93-95 MPH with the Pirates at the end of the 2009 season. Inman potentially has one of the best arms in the system, but his health has held him back the last two years, and could put his career at risk. That’s why it’s great to see him doing well today, although it would be ideal for him to get his velocity closer to the mid-90s going forward.
If you missed it today, Colin Dunlap had an article today on Craig Hansen, and his fall from top prospect status over the last few years, mostly due to a rare nerve condition. Hansen pitched this afternoon, but didn’t have the velocity on his fastball, throwing around 88-89 MPH.
Cesar Lopez, the recently signed Cuban pitcher, came on to pitch in the lower level game. As Wilbur reported last week, Lopez didn’t have much velocity, down from the reported 94 MPH. Today he was sitting in the upper 80s, hitting 87 a lot, and topping out at 89. This could just be a case where he is behind everyone else, due to signing so late. Lopez should start in the GCL, which means he doesn’t have to be ready to compete for a few months. Lopez did get two swinging strikeouts on curveballs, with his curve registering in the mid-to-high 70s.
Jarryd Sullivan, one of the pitchers the Pirates have signed out of Australia over the last few years, also pitched in the lower level game. He was mostly hitting in the upper 80s, hitting 87 frequently, and topping out at 90 MPH. He had a 4.11 ERA in 35 innings in the Gulf Coast League last year.
Nathan Baker, Aaron Thompson, and Jared Hughes were among the other pitchers who threw in today’s games, although they were all basically in their normal pitch ranges. Thompson and Hughes both threw multiple innings, which is interesting, since they both project as relievers. Perhaps one, or both, could be used in a starter/piggyback role in either AA or AAA this year. Thompson is currently slated to go to Altoona.
On the position player side, Matt Curry really impressed me with his defense. He had quick reactions at first, good glove work, and made a few flashy plays. The first was a diving stop on a hard grounder down the first base line. The play went for a single because Jhonathan Ramos didn’t cover the bag quick enough. Later, Curry made a nice over the shoulder catch in foul territory, shown below:
Dan Grovatt, the 11th round pick out of UVA last year, was impressive defensively, displaying a strong arm from right field. That is especially notable, considering that Grovatt had a partially torn UCL last year, and there were concerns over whether he could re-injure the elbow, which was one of the reasons he signed with the Pirates. Grovatt is a strong hitter, but doesn’t have much power, which means he will need the strong defense.
Speaking of outfield defense, today was the third day in a row that Calvin Anderson played in the outfield, and this time he played in left field. If you’re wondering what the Pirates might do with Anderson and Aaron Baker, don’t rule out Anderson playing in the outfield. And if you’re in Bradenton for those games, it might not be pretty. Today Anderson mis-played a liner that was right to him. It was one of those difficult to judge hits for outfielders, although Anderson didn’t play it well, with his first step coming in. That caused the ball to go over his head, which I didn’t think was possible for the 6′ 7″ giant. It remains to be seen whether he can play in the outfield. It’s still early, so to expect good results off the bat would be unreasonable, but at the same time, I don’t see him as a strong defender in the future.
The 2010 Altoona Curve team received their championship rings today. Check out my pictures from the ring ceremony. Some quick hits from the game:
-Brian Burres lacked command and left his pitches up in the zone
-Andrew McCutchen hit a homer early in the game that was a bit wind aided, although it was a nice swing from McCutchen
-Pedro Alvarez hit a homer to center field, the deepest part of the park, and it wasn’t wind aided
-Ryan Doumit was just horrible on the base paths
-Chris Resop, Evan Meek, and Michael Crotta all looked good out of the bullpen. Tyler Yates ran in to some trouble.
-I’m thinking that Pedro Ciriaco deserves to make the team.
-If Lyle Overbay carries his success from Spring Training in to the majors, he will end up being well worth the $5 M price tag.
Tomorrow morning I will be back at Pirate City, and tomorrow night I’ll be down in Sarasota, catching the major league game. Check the site throughout the day for updates. I expect Stetson Allie will be pitching tomorrow, so I’ll try to get video and pictures, just like with Heredia today.