The Pittsburgh Pirates started their minor league schedule today, playing three games against the Philadelphia Phillies’ farm system, and one game featuring the lower level guys going up against Team Canada. Luis Heredia started the contest against Team Canada, throwing two innings.
Heredia only needed 24 pitches to get two shutout innings, allowing one hit, no walks, and striking out one. He ranged anywhere from 88-93 MPH with his fastball, and was averaging 91. The video of the day below shows his second inning of work.
The right-hander left a few balls up in the zone, and was a little off on his command, although he got away with it today. He displayed a nice breaking ball to get his only strikeout, which can be seen against the first batter of the video below. Heredia got a few ground balls, including an inning ending double play in the second.
He’s not likely to make his 2012 regular season debut until the end of June in State College, so Heredia has a long way to go from here.
ALDERSON BACK TO FORM?
Tim Alderson threw two innings in relief during the AA game, and looked very good with his fastball. In his first inning of work he sat 89-91 MPH with good command of his fastball, and his usual deceptive delivery. In the second inning he was hitting 91-92 MPH. He got a lot of ground balls during the outing, most of them off his curveball. A few of those grounders found their way through the infield in the second, causing him to end his inning early due to his pitch count.
Alderson was throwing in the upper 80s last year, and had a lot of success in the first half. He dropped back down to the mid-80s in the second half of the season, and the numbers took a dive.
There’s a lot of questions that need to be answered before we say that Alderson is back. Can he continue to throw at this velocity, rather than dropping off like last year? Could he do this as a starter?
The former first round pick doesn’t have much of a future if he’s throwing in the mid-80s. His chances improve if he’s in the upper 80s, due to the fastball velocity combined with his deceptive delivery, with his above-average curveball mixed in. If he could maintain this velocity, he could get back on track and at least become a Major League reliever.
In the past when I’ve seen right-hander Logan Pevny, he’s been working in the mid-to-upper 80s. When I saw him today, the first few pitches looked like the same thing. Pevny hit 86, 88, and 87 with his first three pitches. From there he never dropped below 88. His next seven pitches were either 88 or 89 MPH.
After throwing ten pitches, Pevny stepped it up a notch, throwing four more pitches in the inning, with one at 90 MPH and three at 91.
“I felt good,” Pevny said of the outing. “Mechanics felt very smooth. I’m just working on my front side, getting to that back side ankle. Everything felt very good. Felt it in the bullpen. Wasn’t ahead in the count too much, but was able to keep the ball down, get contact when I needed it, and I thought I did well.”
The right-hander, taken in the 49th round of the 2010 draft out of high school, had previously hit 92 MPH. He credited the mid-inning change to keeping the balance in his delivery on the backside, focusing on keeping the weight on his heel and ankle. He did leave a few balls up in the zone, but had a quick outing, only needing 14 pitches to get through the inning.
**Jordan Cooper, who the Pirates drafted out of high school in 2009, and again out of college in 2011, was throwing 89-92 MPh, touching 93.
**Hunter Strickland, who missed the entire 2011 season, was throwing 90-96 MPH. He gave up a home run in the first inning, but his pitches looked good, with a good slider and change-up to go with his fastball. I only saw him briefly since he was throwing at the same time as Heredia.
**Jose Diaz was bringing the heat today, throwing 94-96 MPH, and mixing in an 84 MPH slider every now and then. Diaz has very little wind up. He more of less just steps to the plate and throws it as hard as he can, and the ball ends up going pretty fast every time.
**I watched Jarek Cunningham hit a nice double in the AA game, then steal third on a ball in the dirt. I was impressed with Cunningham’s speed. He did steal 11 bases in 2010, and while the key to the middle infielder’s game is his power, he could also add some value on the base paths.
**Carlos Paulino made a good throw to nail a runner trying to steal second. The most disappointing thing about Tony Sanchez’s 2011 season is how it will affect the catching situation in Altoona and Bradenton. Both Ramon Cabrera and Paulino should move up based on their 2011 seasons in Bradenton. But if Sanchez returns to Altoona, one of the two will likely have to return to Bradenton until a spot is opened in AA.
**Edwin Espinal is a huge third baseman, listed at 6′ 3″, 210 pounds. He might be bigger than that, and he’s already earned the nickname “Tank”. He showed a great arm from third base today, which matches up with his scouting reports. He also had a broken bat single. He’s slow, and his size might eventually require a move to first base. The appeal at third is his arm. The Pirates signed him as an international free agent last year.
**Speaking of large international players, another 2011 signing, Jin-De Jhang, showed some surprising speed on the bases for his size. He stole second base against Team Canada, then in typical Spring Training game fashion, the Pirates brought in a pinch runner so Jhang could put on his catching gear for the next inning. Jhang is 5′ 11″, 200 pounds and is built like a wall, with a very thick frame. He has a good arm from behind the plate, and makes good contact with the bat. The Pirates signed him for $250 K last year.
VIDEO OF THE DAY
Luis Heredia, throwing his second inning against Team Canada. His lone strikeout came against the first batter. Be sure you set the video to the highest quality for the best results.