Highlights From Tuesday’s Action in the Instructional League

We have some highlights from Tuesday’s action in the Fall Instructional League. Both Pittsburgh Pirates teams were home yesterday, with team one(Pirates 1) facing the Phillies and the younger players were going up against an Orioles squad. Videos are courtesy of the FIL fan page and come from late in each game. For team one, the FIL schedule has just one game left and four more days until they break for the winter. Many players have left already, going to the AFL, which started last night, or to their winter ball club. Team two still has four more games on the schedule(they could add more) and they end next Sunday.

Luis Perez batted .302 this season
Luis Perez batted .302 this season

The pitchers late yesterday were Cory Rhodes and Sam Street, who is shown below warming up in the bullpen. Rhodes is a big kid, signed this year as a non-drafted free agent after his senior year at King University. He pitched briefly for Bristol after signing, getting hit around in his first two appearances before throwing no-hit ball in his last two relief outings. Street is an interesting player, he doesn’t throw hard, but his sidearm delivery adds some deception and he put up excellent numbers for Jamestown this year.

As for the batters, there wasn’t much going on. Lots of long at-bats in the videos, but almost all of them ended with either a walk or a strikeout. Players that I saw during the videos that aren’t shown below are Jerrick Suiter, Chase Simpson, Yoel Gonzalez, Michael de la Cruz, Chris Harvey, Nelson Jorge and Eric Thomas Jr. Suiter didn’t swing the bat once during his six pitch walk, which isn’t a surprise. He drew 41 walks in 55 games for Bristol. He’s a big strong kid at 6’3″, 210 pounds, but doesn’t hit for any power and his speed is average, which doesn’t give you a lot of hope for a corner outfielder. If he could start hitting for power, combining that with his excellent plate patience and athleticism, it would give you a nice bat to watch.

On to the videos and we start with a first look at Luis Perez. It’s not really an interesting at-bat, but he is an interesting player. At the start of the DSL season this year, he wasn’t getting a lot of playing time and he signed at age 19, which usually isn’t a good sign to begin with. Around mid-season, he started getting some at-bats and really hit well. Perez finished with a .302 average and a .457 OBP, thanks to a 25:13 BB/K ratio. He also stole 11 bases in 12 tries. He plays second base, but he can fill in at shortstop if needed. His downside is his size at 5’10”, 170 pounds and the fact he is just a slap hitter at this time. You can tell on the swing below he is just trying to put the ball in play.

The second video is one I’ve been waiting a long time to see. Back in March, I got word of a new player in the DSL camp that was extremely fast. A 19-year-old rookie usually throws up some red flags and hearing that he was really fast, made me think he was more like the players we have seen in the past that are extremely fast. They try to put the ball in play and get on with their speed as opposed to hitting with any authority. Victor Fernandez not only showed he was fast on the bases and in center field, he also proved he could hit. He had a .289/.407/.461 slash line in 45 games this year, collecting 17 extra-base hits and stealing 14 bags.

In the video below, you get a chance to see the speed that was called “game-changing” by more than one person I talked to. It’s a long at-bat, which is a good sign of his plate patience. At 1:54 into the video, Fernandez fouls a ball off his left leg and was hobbled. On the next swing, he lines one into left field and you can watch the rest…

Finally, the last video is the aforementioned Sam Street in the bullpen, warming up and getting some instructions. Street had an 0.98 ERA in 27.2 innings with Jamestown after getting drafted in the 16th round this year. He had a 21:4 SO/BB ratio, with an 0.61 WHIP, .135 BAA and 1.38 GO/AO ratio. Street finished strong, throwing 10.2 shutout innings over his last six appearances, giving up just three hits. Baseball America said in their draft report, that he has the potential to be a middle reliever in the majors, which is a good get for the Pirates in the middle rounds.

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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God bless Chris Harvey! I hope the Pirates can do something with him. He never really got much of a chance at Vanderbilt after skipping his senior year of high school to go there. Seems to have a lot of potential, but that is all it is right now.

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