The Pittsburgh Pirates will promote three players from West Virginia to Bradenton this week. Stetson Allie, Joely Rodriguez, and Orlando Castro will all join the team, Pirates Prospects has learned. Rodriguez should arrive in Bradenton today, while Castro and Allie should arrive Thursday after the SAL All-Star game.
Yesterday Neal Huntington said that Allie was close to a promotion from West Virginia. On Sunday Huntington explained the potential promotion, and why the Pirates have left Allie in West Virginia to this point.
“He’s done a very nice job and the ability to drive a ball to right-center field with the authority that he does it is very encouraging,” Huntington said. “He’s got a short, clean swing for a big man. He’s got some things he can work on, and that’s where… we’ve left him there maybe a little bit longer than I think most would want us to because it’s his second or third time through the league. So those coaches have been able spot holes, so it may not be the pitcher on the mound that spots a hole, it’s a manager, it’s the pitching coach in that dugout and they can attack him. Now Stetson’s had to make some adjustments back. So sometimes that gets lost in the rush of prospects to the next level, is it may be better for a prospect to stay at a level longer, because of people knowing. It’s not that hard to blow through a system, because nobody knows you and you go do things that are a little atypical. Driving the ball to right-center field for a man as big as Stetson is atypical. Most guys are gonna look to hook and pull and they become easy to pitch. Stetson’s not easily pitched, so we’ve left him there with some patience to try to help him understand what pitchers are gonna do to him as they learn him more. But he’s certainly doing what he needs to do to move to the next level. It’s just a matter of time.”
Allie is hitting for a .324/.414/.607 line in 244 at-bats this year with 17 home runs. He will participate in the SAL Home Run Derby tonight, and play in the SAL All-Star Game tomorrow.
I mentioned over the weekend that I thought Orlando Castro was close to being promoted, and could arrive before his next start. The left-hander has a 1.93 ERA in 74.2 innings, with a 7.6 K/9 and an 0.7 BB/9. He’s got great control, plus good off-speed pitches, which combined with being a left-hander usually leads to great numbers in A-ball. Castro does throw his fastball a bit harder than most small lefties, getting it up to the low 90s at times, so he might have a better chance at carrying his success over to the higher levels. High-A hitters should provide a tougher test for him than the guys in the South Atlantic League.
One unexpected promotion is Joely Rodriguez. It’s not unexpected based on his season. The left-hander has a 2.72 ERA in 72.2 innings, with a 7.1 K/9 and a 2.5 BB/9 ratio. Rodriguez has been on fire since the end of April, with a 1.51 ERA in 53.2 innings over his last ten starts, along with a 41:11 K/BB ratio in that span. The left-hander is 21 years old, and one of the best left-handed pitching prospects in the system. He can throw his fastball up to 94 MPH, getting a lot of groundouts with his two-seamer and sinker. He has great off-speed stuff, with a mid-80s slider and a low-to-mid 80s changeup. Both pitches have good cutting action, and his fastball also has a lot of movement. One issue for Rodriguez in the past has been command. He’s struggled to command the fastball, especially in the 91-94 MPH range. That has caused him to lower his velocity, which has made the pitch less effective in the past due to the lack of separation in velocity with his off-speed pitches. This year he’s done a better job of commanding the pitch, even when it’s in the 91-94 MPH range.
Bradenton recently promoted Gregory Polanco and Nick Kingham, and last night we learned that Eliecer Navarro would be promoted to Altoona this week. Allie should replace Polanco’s bat in the lineup, and could move Jose Osuna to the outfield or split time as the DH. Castro and Rodriguez should take over in the rotation for Kingham and Navarro.
UPDATE 10:12 AM: A West Virginia press release confirms the Joely Rodriguez promotion. Jordan Steranka has been added to the West Virginia roster.