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
18. Vic Black, RHP
13. Tony Sanchez, C
11. Clay Holmes, RHP
We continue the countdown with the number 5 prospect, Luis Heredia.
5. Luis Heredia, RHP
The Pirates signed Heredia in 2010, making him their highest paid international free agent in team history. The right-hander has a ton of upside, drawing some comparisons to Felix Hernandez due to his size and potential as a top of the rotation pitcher. He was aggressively promoted to the GCL in 2011. While the numbers were poor, he showed flashes of his potential throughout the year.
Heredia entered the 2012 season with a few key issues to work on. He threw his fastball in the 92-94 MPH range, topping out at 96 in 2011. However, his fastball lacked control, leading to a high walk rate. He also didn’t have much of a changeup. At the end of Spring Training in 2012 he still had control problems, and still needed work with his changeup. However, by the end of extended Spring Training he had made some huge strides in each department.
The right-hander went to the New York-Penn League, which is a league primarily made up of college hitters. Despite being 17 years old, he put up dominant numbers. He touched the upper 90s with his fastball in Spring Training, but worked mostly in the 91-94 MPH range during the season, with much improved control. He showed a lot of comfort with his changeup, and by the end of the year he started working on a new curveball.
Heredia still had the occasional command issues, and struggled with consistency. That can be expected with his young age. He didn’t strike out a lot of hitters, which led to the new curveball. His old curveball was a slower, loopier pitch. The new pitch is a hard curve with sharp break and more velocity. He only started using the pitch at the end of the season, and finished strong, getting five strikeouts in five innings during his final start thanks to the curve.
The right-hander was very advanced for his age, showing the ability to get ahead in the count and mix in his off-speed pitches effectively. He’s got the potential for three plus pitches, and his new curveball has the look of a strikeout pitch. He’s still very young, and is great at adapting to new changes, which means we could still see a lot of improvements, such as increased velocity, more strikeouts, or the addition of more pitches. He’s got as much upside as any pitcher in the system, and that includes Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon. Heredia is a bit more raw than those two, which is why he’s lower on the list. If he continues developing at the pace we saw in 2012, while showing the maturity and an advanced approach he displayed, he’ll find himself as the top prospect in the system.