The Pirates Prospects 2013 Prospect Guide is now on sale. The book features over 250 prospect reports, the 2013 top 50 prospects, and the most comprehensive coverage of the Pirates’ farm system that you can find.  While the top 50 prospects are exclusive to the book, we will be releasing the top 20 prospects over the next few weeks.  Be sure to purchase your copy of the book on the products page of the site.

To recap the countdown so far:

20. Jin-De Jhang, C

19. Andrew Oliver, LHP

We continue the countdown with the number 18 prospect, Vic Black.

Vic Black
Vic Black

18. Vic Black, RHP

The Pirates drafted Black in the supplemental portion of the first round in the 2009 draft. He was viewed as a potential late inning reliever who could throw 96 MPH out of the bullpen. He had trouble staying healthy early in his career, missing most of the 2010 season, and spending most of the 2011 season rehabbing.

After missing the 2010 season, the Pirates moved Black to the bullpen to speed up his career. The  2011 season was spent with him learning to pitch in bullpen situations, such as throwing on a day’s rest, and throwing multiple times in a week. He made it to high-A at the end of the season, then was
pushed to Double-A in 2012.

Black was throwing 92-94 MPH in most outings in 2011, with a lot of movement on his fastball. He  had some rough outings, sitting in the 88-92 MPH range. By the end of the year his velocity was back,  and had improved. He was touching 98 MPH during the instructional leagues after the season. During  the 2012 season, Black was consistently 96-98 MPH, touching 99.

One big issue has been his control. The right-hander has struggled with control problems throughout his career. The walks went down slightly in 2012, but were still too high. They got worse in the AFL, with 11 walks in 10.2 innings. Black was dominant in Double-A, keeping his opposing average low and his strikeouts high. He’ll have a tougher time dominating upper level hitters.

Black added a two-seam fastball during the off-season, with the focus of adding a weapon for when he’s behind in the count. That will give him a third pitch to work with, as he already has a plus fastball and a plus slider. He was added to the 40-man roster over the off-season. He’ll go to Spring Training, but won’t have a shot at the majors out of camp. He will need time in Triple-A, but could make the majors later in the 2013 season. Black has the stuff to be a closer in the majors, and could compete for that role as early as the 2014 season.

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