Luis Heredia to Join the Marauders Tomorrow, Featuring an Old Look

Luis Heredia will finally be leaving Pirate City tomorrow, heading across town to McKechnie Field, where he is expected to join the Bradenton Marauders rotation this weekend. Not only will he be returning to action after a month and a half delay in extended Spring Training, but he will also be bringing back his old arm slot.

Heredia was in extended Spring Training for conditioning issues. He looked to be in better shape than he was when he had similar issues prior to the 2013 season. At the time, he weighed 280 pounds. He lost about 40 pounds heading into the 2014 season, and looks to have kept the weight off this year. However, there was still work to be done.

“I wasn’t 100%, but I was better than two years ago,” Heredia said.

Another focus while he was at Pirate City was changing back to his old arm slot, which was a change that was first made back during the Fall Instructional League. When he was signed, Heredia came in with an overhand arm slot. The Pirates changed that last year, dropping him down to a high three-quarters arm slot, while adding a power curve to his mix. The results weren’t good.

With the overhead slot, Heredia was showing control problems, while also lacking a plus breaking pitch for strikeouts. There was also concern that the arm slot could lead to shoulder issues, and he did miss time with a shoulder injury last year. However, the new arm slot was worse. Not only did Heredia lack control, but his new breaking pitch was worse. He went from a guy who was a top prospect in the system and had some work to do to be a Major League starter, to a guy who looked like a project, no different than your average mid-round projectable prep pitcher.

The new arm slot should at least be easier for Heredia, since he’s more familiar with it. He said that he feels loose, and that he’s getting a good angle on the ball. The arm slot means that he’s back to his old 12-to-6 curveball, rather than the slurve he was developing the last two years. He’s throwing the curve a little bit harder, sitting in the mid-70s rather than the low-70s.

“It’s a lot different than last year,” Heredia said. “It’s a more athletic arm. I’m just loose and throw the ball downhill, like I was when I signed.”

Heredia repeatedly said that he feels like himself now with the old slot back. For some pitchers, a change can work for the better, but in this case the adjustment made by the Pirates led to a setback. Heredia is still a project. Even with the old arm slot, there will still be question marks. There are still concerns about the continued conditioning issues. But Heredia with the old arm slot is better than where he was with the new slot last year. The next step will be seeing how he performs in High-A, starting this weekend.

“It’s really hard, but I’m feeling a lot better, and I learned a lot to get better,” Heredia said on what he learned while in extended Spring Training. “It’s going to be different.”

Pirates Prospects will have live coverage from Heredia’s first start with the Marauders.