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To recap the countdown so far:
20. Jin-De Jhang, C
18. Vic Black, RHP
13. Tony Sanchez, C
We continue the countdown with the number 12 prospect, Dilson Herrera.
12. Dilson Herrera, 2B
Herrera was the second biggest international signing for the Pirates in 2010. Ever since starting his pro career he’s done nothing but hit. He had some impressive numbers in the Venezuelan Summer League in 2011, with his 19 doubles being the second highest in the league. Prior to the 2011 season he hit .304 in 112 winter league at-bats in Venezuela.
Herrera made the jump to the US after just one year in the international rookie leagues. His hitting in the GCL at a young age was impressive. He led the league in extra base hits (22), total bases (96) and was second in homers (7) and slugging (.482). Signed as a switch hitter, the Pirates had Herrera focus only on hitting from the right side, and the move has worked out well.
He was signed as a shortstop, but played mostly third base in the VSL, and played second base in the GCL. He has a quick first step in the field, a decent arm, above average speed, good range and great baseball instincts. The lack of arm strength will keep him on the right side of the infield in the future.
Most of his value will come with the bat, which has been the story so far. He hits to all fields, and while he wasn’t projected as a guy who could hit for power, his bat speed has produced some impressive power so far in his young career.
The Pirates made a lot of noise with some aggressive promotions in 2012, sending several young international players from the GCL to West Virginia. Alen Hanson and Gregory Polanco both had breakout seasons, despite the aggressive move. Herrera’s bat could allow him to make a similar move in 2013. If there’s anyone who could be next year’s version of Hanson or Polanco, Herrera would definitely be the favorite. The 2013 season could be a breakout year for the young infielder.
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Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.
Tim had him at #15 before the Winter League All-Star game.
Hmmm, observers expect Herrara to have a break out season at WV. No one expected Hanson and Polanco to have the seasons they had. So, Herrara is a bit different than those two. Edwin Espinal is a closer match to Hanson and Polanco. Like them, he’s an interesting player who struggled some in the GCL. Of course, no one expects Espinal to win a stolen base title or to vie for a Gold Glove at a high-value defensive position!
Hanson mashed the first half of the year as an 18 yr old in the GCL, so he had a bit of a track record that had some people excited.
Hanson definitely slumped in the second half of his 2011 season. He also slumped in the second half of his 2012 season. Let us see if he’s consistent throughout the 2013 season.
“No one expected Hanson and Polanco to have the seasons they had.”
Depends on the timing. I talked to a few people last year who had Hanson as a potential breakout candidate. I had both as breakout candidates in Spring Training last year.
I think Herrera is closer to Hanson. Espinal would be closer to Polanco. He’s got a lot of raw ability, but it hasn’t translated to the field yet.
You rightly identified Hanson and Polanco as breakout candidates during spring training last year. That said, the Herrera bandwagon formed early, long before 2013 spring training. If the Pirates send Herrera to State…er…Jamestown or if he struggles at all or fails to have a campaign comparable to Hanson and Polanco’s 2012 seasons, it will appear to the fans and to professional observers that Herrera is not as talented as they thought. Breakout seasons ought to be a bit surprising, I think. If so, then Herrera may have had his breakout season in the GCL, when he was a comparatively unknown and un-hyped prospect who performed rather well.
I think there’s a good reason Herrera was on the radar before Hanson and Polanco. Herrera received a $220 K bonus. Hanson ($150 K) and Polanco ($75 K) were both un-reported when they signed. Herrera was the second biggest signing by the Pirates in his year. So if there has been an earlier bandwagon for him, it’s probably for that reason.