I talked to 18-year-old, right-handed pitcher Vince Deyzel after yesterday’s game. He is one of two players from South Africa on the GCL Pirates. The other is shortstop Victor Ngoepe, the younger brother of Gift Ngoepe. The conversation yesterday was a follow up on one we had about three weeks earlier after he struck out four batters in two innings of work. Back then he mentioned an adjustment he made suggested by Tom Filer, who is the Assistant Pitching Coordinator for the Pirates, and who works with the young pitchers now in the GCL.

” I had been struggling with my breaking balls to find the right movement and even when I got the right movement it was all over the place,” Deyzel said. “Coach Filer helped me out with a simple thing. Just to drive towards the mitt with my shoulder and keep it closed and that really helped my slider and curveball. So now that I got my breaking balls coming along I think more strikeouts are going to come along with it.”

In that game, Deyzel got the last strike on his four strikeouts on a slider, fastball, slider and a curve, in that order. He also throws a changeup, but it’s the weakest of the four pitches, saying “I throw a changeup as well, but I don’t think its a strikeout pitch yet. For now, it’s more to get those ground balls.”

That’s the makings of a nice four-pitch mix for now, which gives him a good starting point. On Tuesday, he was working mostly on fastball command down in the zone and he had a lot of success with it, throwing three shutout innings against the best team in the GCL. Throwing the ball on a downhill plane is something the 6’2″ Deyzel was having an issue with, so it’s no surprise that they concentrated on that in this last outing. When it came to the strikeouts though, he went to his slider each time.

Obviously being in the GCL, he is a far way away from making the majors at this point, but it’s good to see a player take to the teachings so quickly. He made a slight adjustment after Tom Filer pointed it out and just days later he was using both breaking balls for strikeouts in a game. He needed to work on getting a good downward plane on his fastball and keep it down in the zone, and he did that for three innings against the team that was leading the league in OPS going into the day.

**Might as well update Victor Ngoepe after I mentioned him above. He is hitting .224/.316/.284 in 19 games, collecting hits in each of his last five games. Strikeouts have been a bit of an issue with 20 in 67 at-bats. He is 6-for-7 in stolen bases. Ngoepe is obviously a bit raw coming from South Africa at the age of 18, where the best pitchers he faced while he was playing club ball there was Vince Deyzel. You may remember him from the last five paragraphs you just read. Quick fun fact about the two of them: They were both born on February 9, 1998.

Ngoepe has a lot of the same qualities as his brother, with good speed and excellent defense. When we say excellent defense for a GCL player, that usually means compared to players at his level. Gift Ngoepe has excellent defense compared to a Major League shortstop. Victor Ngoepe is still rough around the edges, but he has already made some above average plays you usually don’t see at that level, unless you were watching last year when Adrian Valerio was there.

Here is where you can make the interesting comparison. Victor Ngoepe came to the U.S. a year younger than his brother, who put up a .238/.341/.281 slash line in 47 games with the GCL Pirates back in 2009. He had 52 strikeouts in 160 at-bats. So the offensive numbers have been very similar, which is a good sign for the younger Ngoepe. Back in 2009, Gift ended up playing mostly at second base, seeing just 12 starts at shortstop.

So Victor is a year younger than his brother in their first seasons and he his playing shortstop full-time. There is a chance we could see his brother make the majors this September, so that’s a good person to be compared to at an early age.

PIRATES GAME GRAPH


Source: FanGraphs

TODAY’S SCHEDULE

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pirates won 3-2 over the Brewers on Tuesday night. They now send Jeff Locke to the mound for his 18th start. His last appearance came as a reliever and he threw 2.1 scoreless innings, allowing five hits and no walks, with one strikeout. Locke faced Milwaukee once this year back in mid-April and allowed three runs over 4.2 innings. The Brewers will counter with Chase Anderson, who is also making his 18th start. He has a 5.44 ERA in 86 innings, with 67 strikeouts and a 1.42 WHIP. He has not faced the Pirates this season. Anderson hasn’t reached five innings in any of his last four starts.

In the minors, Ryan Vogelsong will start for Indianapolis and he is scheduled to throw 90-95 pitches. He threw six shutout innings in his last start while with Altoona. Mitch Keller gets the start for West Virginia, coming off seven shutout innings in his last outing, with just two hits allowed and no walks. He ranks first in the South Atlantic League with an 0.83 WHIP, fifth with a 2.64 ERA and sixth with 94 strikeouts.

Altoona has a doubleheader today. Bradenton has a morning start time. Nestor Oronel starts for Bristol and Miguel Hernandez goes for the GCL Pirates. Morgantown has the day off.

MLB: Pittsburgh (48-44) vs Brewers (39-52) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Jeff Locke (5.26 ERA, 32:53 BB/SO, 101.0 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (49-49) vs Lehigh Valley (57-40) 1:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Ryan Vogelsong (NR)

AA: Altoona (52-42) vs Hartford (51-42) 1:00 PM DH (season preview)
Probable starter: Alex McRae (8.13 ERA, 11:23 BB/SO, 34.1 IP) and John Kuchno (9.82 ERA, 3:4 BB/SO, 3.2 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (51-43) vs Clearwater (55-39) 10:30 AM (season preview)
Probable starter: JT Brubaker (4.93 ERA, 8:21 BB/SO, 34.2 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (48-46) vs Charleston (53-40) 7:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Mitch Keller (2.64 ERA, 11:94 BB/SO, 88.2 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (15-17) vs Connecticut (20-12) 7:05 PM 7/21 (season preview)
Probable Starter: Danny Beddes (3.16 ERA, 9:21 BB/SO, 25.2 IP)

Rookie: Bristol (12-13) vs Bluefield (10-14) 7:00 PM (season preview)

GCL: Pirates (10-12) vs Phillies (15-7) 12:00 PM (season preview)

DSL: Pirates (14-24) vs Indians (18-19) 10:30 AM (season preview)

HIGHLIGHTS

Here is the last out of Steven Brault’s six no-hit innings, which just happened to be the best hit ball off him all night.

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

7/19: Francisco Cervelli activated from disabled list. Erik Kratz designated for assignment.

7/19: Jameson Taillon activated from disabled list. Chad Kuhl optioned to Indianapolis.

7/19: Frank Duncan placed on disabled list.

7/19: Elias Diaz assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.

7/19: Justin Topa assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab.

7/17: Jonathan Schwind assigned to Altoona.

7/16: Elias Diaz assigned to Altoona on rehab.

7/16: Gerrit Cole activated from the disabled list. Josh Bell optioned to Indianapolis.

7/15: Pirates sign Austin Shields. Assigned to GCL Pirates.

7/15: Pirates sign Boomer Synek. Assigned to GCL Pirates.

7/14: Francisco Cervelli assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.

7/14: John Kuchno assigned to Altoona.

7/14: Jordan George promoted to West Virginia

7/13: Daniel Zamora placed on West Virginia disabled list.

7/13: Colten Brewer activated from temporary inactive list. Nick Neumann placed on Bradenton disabled list.

7/12: Rob Scahill claimed off waivers by Brewers.

7/10: Ryan Vogelsong assigned to Altoona on rehab.

7/9: Jonathan Schwind promoted to Indianapolis.

7/8: Pirates sign Josh Outman.

7/8: Josh Bell promoted to Pittsburgh. Tyler Glasnow optioned to Indianapolis.

7/8: Nick Kingham assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab.

7/7: Juan Paula promoted to Morgantown.

7/7: Tyler Glasnow recalled. Kyle Lobstein optioned to Indianapolis.

THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY

Three former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including a Hall of Fame outfielder. We also have a game recap from the 2002 season. Starting with the two lesser known players born on this date, we have pitcher John Lamb and outfielder Harry Cassady. Lamb was a member of the 1971 World Series champs. He also played for the team in 1970 and 1973. He signed with the Pirates out of high school in 1964 and spent all 11 seasons of pro ball in the Pirates’ system. Cassady joined the Pirates in August of 1904 and hit .205 in 12 games before he was loaned to a minor league team, which ended his time in Pittsburgh. He played one more season in the majors, seeing time with the 1905 Washington Senators.

The Hall of Fame outfielder born on this date is Heinie Manush, who played briefly for the Pirates in 1938-39. He was used almost exclusively as a pinch-hitter, making one appearance in the outfield during his 25 games in Pittsburgh. He went 4-for-28 for the Pirates and when they released him, it was to make room for Chuck Klein, who is also a Hall of Fame outfielder. Manush was at the end of his big league career when the Pirates got him, but he was a much better player in his prime. He hit .330 during his 17-year career.

On this date in 2002, the Pirates got a big day from Adam Hyzdu during a 15-6 win over the Cardinals. He homered twice and drove in seven runs. He hit three-run homers in the first and fifth innings. This big game came one day after he hit a grand slam in a 12-9 win over St Louis. You can find the boxscore for the 15-6 game here. The link above has a full game recap.

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10 COMMENTS

  1. Listening to Josh Taylor and Adam Berry on the Triblive Pirates Podcast right now defending Jeff Locke. Jeff Locke is like the Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice of Pirates pitchers.

  2. John … I have been seeing that comment a lot in regards to keeping the shoulder closed. To me this seems like more than a control fix, it is could also be a “keep the shoulder healthy fix.”
    If you let your shoulder fly open, I would assume your putting a lot of stress on the shoulder tendons, ligaments, and muscles as you bring I forward in more of a whip like motion – almost hyperextending the shoulder joint. Have you heard anything to that effect?

    • Well if a pitcher has improper and inconsistent mechanics, then that could cause an injury, but it is always better if the power comes from the bottom half/torso/torque than to put more emphasis on the arm doing most of the work.

      As Deyzel pointed out though, it’s a simple fix once the pitcher realizes he is doing it and that leads to better control. You will often see a catcher catch a pitch, then take the ball and tap their shoulder before throwing the ball back to a pitcher. He is doing that to remind the pitcher not to fly open

  3. Ahhh….Gift up to the big club, really?

    Locke and Anderson looks like a very even matchup.

    Altoona looks to have pitchers with the worst ERAs possible in a DH. Yeah, it’s a really, really SSS for Kuchno.

    Is Mitch Keller ready for a move up anytime soon?

    • Sure, Ngoepe has a great glove and speed, so I could see him sitting at the end of the bench for Hurdle to use as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement. As of right now, he already has half the battle won by being on the 40-man roster, although that could change before September. He’s not going to come up and see regular playing time or pinch-hit at-bats in big spots, but the Pirates have said in the past they want to cover every situation in September. So it can’t hurt to have a strong defensive shortstop with speed.

      It is unlikely Keller moves up for a couple reasons. The Pirates don’t do that with younger pitchers in their first season of pro ball and he probably won’t be starting straight through until the end of the season. He’s on pace for 140 innings and they like to cap them out at around 120, so I’d either expect them to skip him in the rotation a couple times or limit his innings per start very soon. With a forearm strain last year, I can’t imagine he is the first young pitcher they push well past 120 innings

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