Yesterday, Baseball America released their figures from the 2010 international signing class, noting that the Pittsburgh Pirates spent an estimated $5 M on international bonuses in 2010, which was the fourth most in the majors. Ben Badler of Baseball America also released a review of the signings in the NL Central (subscribers only). One interesting part came in the discussion of right handed pitcher Jonathan Herrand.
Herrand was signed by the Pirates back in May 2010 out of the Dominican league La Javilla for a $185 K signing bonus. At the time it was reported that Herrand threw a fastball between 93-95 MPH, along with a good changeup and an excellent curveball. His mechanics were compared to a young Pedro Martinez. Herrand played in the Dominican Summer League, but struggled with his control, putting up a 6.9 BB/9 ratio.
In the NL Central article, Badler had a bit of a different report on Herrand, noting that he threw 88-93 MPH last year, and that he works off of his fastball/changeup combo, while still needing to develop a good breaking ball (which suggests he doesn’t have an excellent curveball like previously reported). The most interesting part was when Badler mentioned Herrand was touching 96-97 MPH at the instructional leagues.
A lot of focus goes to the young arms that were signed last year due to their velocity. Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie both throw in the 97 MPH range, and Luis Heredia was reported by Badler to have touched 94-95 MPH. The Pirates have focused a lot on tall, projectable pitchers who could potentially see an increase in velocity, although the addition of the Big Three lessens the need for some of those projectable pitchers to jump to the next level. That doesn’t mean that the need is gone. You can never have enough pitching, and pitchers like the Big Three that were signed last year are far from a guarantee. Herrand’s control issues leave him out of the Taillon/Allie/Heredia class for now, but the fact that he’s touching 96-97 MPH at the age of 19 makes him a prospect to keep an eye on. He should make the jump to the GCL this year, where he would focus on fastball command, a key thing to have when you’re touching 96-97 MPH.