On May 30th, Pedro Vasquez threw six shutout innings for the Indianapolis Indians. The next day, he was sent back to the Altoona Curve. That’s how his month of June got started. A demotion back to Double-A after putting up zeros in Triple-A. His month of June ended much better than it started. Vasquez made five starts and looked strong in every outing, going at least six innings each time, while giving up a total of three earned runs. That’s why Pedro Vasquez is the Pirates Prospects Pitcher of the Month for June.
After returning to Altoona, the 23-year-old right-hander from the Dominican Republic, made his first start on June 4th. Showing no ill-effect from being sent down (he likely knew he was going back ahead of time), Vasquez tossed six shutout innings on five hits and one walk, with four strikeouts. Five days later he was back on the hill and had his best start of the season, and possibly the best of his career. He tossed six shutout innings on one hit and no walks, while picking up a season-high eight strikeouts.
Game three of the month occurred on June 15th and it’s his current longest start of the season. In seven innings, Vasquez allowed one run on four hits and a walk, with four strikeouts. On the road in Hartford seven days later, he battled through shaky defense to put up no earned runs on four hits and a walk, with seven strikeouts. In his final start, Vasquez fell apart (sarcasm) by giving up two earned runs over six innings on six hits, with no walks and seven strikeouts. For the month, he posted an 0.87 ERA, with a 33:3 SO/BB ratio in 31 innings. If you could throw that last Indianapolis start in there, those outstanding numbers would look even better.
Vasquez is an interesting pitcher to watch. He doesn’t throw hard, sitting low-90s, which is below the 93-95 MPH we saw later in 2017 when he saw a spike in his velocity. His curveball sits low-80s and can generate some swinging strikes, but he can also use it early in the count to get ahead of batters. His changeup is mid-80s and is a solid third offering that he uses often. Vasquez doesn’t have any plus pitches, but he has success by mixing his pitches well, pounding the strike zone and working very quickly, which seems to throw off the timing of some hitters. He gets the ball back from the catcher and he’s looking for his next sign immediately and he’s ready to go.
I expect Vasquez to return to Indianapolis in the near future. Altoona also has James Marvel pitching great over the last seven weeks, so they have two pitchers who really belong at the next level. No one has been better than Vasquez over the last five weeks though. He just needs a rotation spot to open up and a chance to show that his last start in Indianapolis wasn’t a fluke. The way he pitched in June, it seems clear that he should have stayed at Triple-A in the first place.
PITCHERS OF THE MONTH BY LEVEL
Indianapolis – Mitch Keller, RHP (1.54 ERA, 26:7 K/BB, 23.1 IP)
Altoona – Pedro Vasquez, RHP (0.87 ERA, 33:3 K/BB, 31.0 IP)
Bradenton – Gavin Wallace, RHP (0.95 ERA, 17:2 K/BB, 19.0 IP)
Greensboro – Osvaldo Bido, RHP (2.10 ERA, 31:8 K/BB, 30.0 IP)
DSL Pirates – Domingo Gonzalez, RHP (0.36 ERA, 14:8 K/BB, 25.1 IP)