West Virginia has been the level recently where young players break out and establish themselves as legit prospects. That happened last year again with Mitch Keller, although the Pirates didn't get an extreme version like Keller with this year's West Virginia team. The 2017 team wasn't packed with prospects, but they had two of the biggest movers among prospects in pitchers Eduardo Vera and Oddy Nunez. They also had shortstop Adrian Valerio, who was able to show why he was ranked in our top 50 two years before he showed any offensive potential. The list below really drops off after the top four prospects, and some of the best prospects who saw action for West Virginia this year didn't play long enough for the team to qualify for the top ten list. So keep those two things in mind while looking at the list. Here are the reports on the top prospects at the level.
TOP 10 WEST VIRGINIA POWER PROSPECTS
The cutoff for eligibility on this list was 140 at-bats, 40 innings pitched, or 20 relief appearances. That left off a lot of interesting prospects, as you will see in the section of other notable players at the bottom. This has typically been the level over the last few years where the biggest breakouts have come from, and that happened again this year, though no one from the level moved to the top level of the prospect list for the entire system. However, just like the lower levels, these players are still graded mostly based on projection rather than actual results, so there is time for them to establish themselves as top prospects.
1. Luis Escobar, RHP - Escobar was the top prospect for this team coming into the season and he remained in that top spot all year. The 21-year-old righty didn't make huge strides this season, though he did lead the entire system and the South Atlantic League with 168 strikeouts. Escobar showed the same three-pitch mix that got him rated high coming into the year and still had the occasional inconsistencies that keep him out of the top ten prospects in the system. He throws a mid-90s fastball that touches 97 MPH. He has a big breaking curveball and a changeup with late drop and good separation, with all three pitches being used as out pitches. He doesn't always fill the strike zone though, which led to 60 walks and 13 hit batters. At Low-A, you can still get away with not throwing a lot of strikes due to impatient hitters chasing pitches, but he needs to improve his control for it to work at the upper levels. Escobar will move up to Bradenton next season, where he will continue to work on his control, and he remains a potential breakout prospect.
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