GREENSBORO, NC – I was in Greensboro at the start of this month to see the High-A team of the Pittsburgh Pirates. My attention was divided between photos, interviews, and watching the games.
We have a lot of features hitting the site over the next week from this trip, including deeper breakdowns on some of the players. To get things started, here are some notes from the trip.
There is a lot of sleeper pitching talent on this roster. The obvious highlight is Jared Jones, who gave up two runs in four innings when I saw him. The issues mostly came from one inning, which we will break down in the upcoming week. Jones has a fastball that can work upper 90s, and a ridiculous slider. He’s dealt with control issues, but what I like is that he’s trending better in this area — both on the season, and at the end of the year.
I had a chance to see Valentin Linarez, who had a solid season in Bradenton, before making two starts in High-A. Linarez is a big framed starter who has some control issues, and could end up a solid relief prospect down the line.
Domingo Gonzalez has struggled this season, but was lights out when I saw him. We’ve always gotten good reports on Gonzalez, indicating that he could be more than a lower level reliever. He has a 4.96 ERA on the season, but since the start of July he has a 2.44 ERA in 44.1 innings, working mostly as a long reliever.
I talked with Nick Garcia about his season, and will have a feature on him coming up in the next week. The same goes for Ricky DeVito, who is one of the biggest standouts to me from this trip. There are some talented pitchers here after Jones, and DeVito could have a future as a starter or reliever if things continue to click for him. I’ll have more on Garcia and DeVito next week.
I really liked the work of Gutierrez behind the plate. He’s a bigger framed catcher, so it’s not hard for him to stand out and command attention. He’s also a natural leader with an upbeat attitude. A right-handed hitter, Gutierrez has ridiculous pull strength, even with a stance that starts closed off and back.
On the subject of catchers, there was a good sequence where Eli Wilson did a great job managing his pitcher, Cristian Charle. With an 0-2 count, opposing hitter Alasander Womack took a long timeout to apply pine tar to his bat. There were some protests, but Womack was adamant to address his bat. After Womack got set in the box, Wilson called time to counter and went out to get Charle on track. The next pitch from Charle was an executed sweeping breaking ball that got Womack to chase.
I don’t focus on players from other teams, but I loved the attitude and confidence from Womack.
Fajardo has a .700 OPS this year with Greensboro, and not much power. He does have a lot of upper body torque, with the ability to pull the ball from the left side. If he can get into his legs more, he could see an uptick in his offense.
I really liked the defensive work from Finol. He moves well and can get to a lot of balls at the shortstop position. His arm is fringe-to-average, and he has a .516 OPS in Greensboro. He seems like a solid fielder to reach the upper levels, and should help his pitchers at the very least.
Jarvis showed good range to his right and an inconsistent arm at shortstop. In one play, he made a great jumping Derek Jeter throw deep in the hole. In another, he had a bad funnel while charging a potential double play ball, and didn’t get an out. Jarvis has a better bat than Finol, but Finol grades better defensively at short.
Greensboro graduated two of the bigger hitters this year in Endy Rodriguez and Matt Gorski. I didn’t get a chance to see Dariel Lopez, who is the best remaining position player on the team. I would put Gutierrez behind him. There is an interesting trio of outfielders in Hudson Head, Jase Bowen, and Sammy Siani. We will have a closer look at them in the next week.
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Tim is the owner, producer, editor, and lead writer of PiratesProspects.com. He has been running Pirates Prospects since 2009, becoming the first new media reporter and outlet covering the Pirates at the MLB level in 2011 and 2012. His work can also be found in Baseball America, where he has been a contributor since 2014 and the Pirates' correspondent since 2019.