Not everyone is going to hit the ground running when the regular season starts. Some will take a little bit to get acclimated to the level they are playing in.
That can be especially be true for teenagers making the leap to full-season baseball for the first time.
One player on Bradenton that is doing that is right-handed pitcher Alessandro Ercolani. Signed out of San Marino, the 19-year-old spent the previous two seasons in the FCL, pitching 48.2 total innings in that span.
He saw a strikeout spike last year, but it came at a cost, with his walk rate jumping from 9.8% to 15.5%.
Regardless, the Pirates gave him the push up to Bradenton this year, straight into the Marauders rotation. April was a tough month as he adjusted, allowing nine runs in 9.2 innings while walking nine and striking out ten.
He did have a start where he pitched four shutout inning sandwich between his three starts, but it was also the game where he walked the most batters.
Two starts into May, not only has he completed five innings for the first time in his professional career, he’s done it twice now after Thursday’s start.
The strikeouts are a bit down, with only five in ten innings, but so are the walks as well. He has just three walks in his ten innings during the month of May.
There’s reason to believe that the strikeouts may trend back up anyways, as he’s posted a 33.3% combined whiff rate on his slider and curveball, according to Baseball Savant. It’s a solid, if not great, number to be at as a teenager pitching in Single-A.
While it would ideal just to see prospects come in and hit the ground running, that isn’t always how it works. Sometimes it’s better to see them struggle early, especially if you can see the progress throughout the season.
By the end of the season, maybe the numbers won’t be the best because of the rough start. If you can see the gradual progress throughout the season, that can be just as good, if not better.
Ercolani fits that kind of billing, as looking back at the end of the year, we will see what kind of progress he made throughout the season.
— Henry Davis made his second start in right field on the season Thursday night for Altoona. The first time around he committed a fielding error. He made a couple of outs this time around, and showed off his arm a bit throwing to third base as a runner was trying to advance.
It pulled the third baseman off the bag, but made it there in time. Entering the season the plan was to get him out there once a week, but that was scrapped after his first start.
The plan is to have Davis and Endy Rodriguez at separate levels so they can work on catching as much as possible, but they are still preparing them to have to play elsewhere to make sure they are both in the lineup as much as possible.
While he entered this season with some question marks behind the plate, Davis has been solid thus far in Altoona. He’s still struggled to throw runners out (2-for-11 right now), but that’s actually an improvement over last year.
— Is it too early to start talking about promoting Tres Gonzalez already? Probably, but in eight games with Greensboro he has ten hits, eight RBI, and five stolen bases. The lack of power may catch up to him at some point (had an EV of 83.3 mph in Bradenton this year, along with a barrel rate of 1.8%), but the hit tool is still standing out nonetheless.
Daily Video Rundown
#pirates prospect Deivis Nadal went WAY deep for this HR that gave @The_Marauders the lead #clutch pic.twitter.com/I61teoeDkQ
— Eric_Birdland (@Eric_Birdland) May 12, 2023
Power was a concern for Deivis Nadal, but he’s tied for the team lead in home runs with Shalin Polanco with three after Thursday’s deep ball.
I’m getting used to high level plays by #pirates IF prospect Javi Rivas. Last yr in the FCL, this is the player I thought we’d see at this stage of development. He’s handling the transition quite well. See? pic.twitter.com/UYMJgWsUJj
— Eric_Birdland (@Eric_Birdland) May 12, 2023
For a taller player, Javier Rivas has really handled the infield well this year with Bradenton. He’s also no stranger to strong contact, as in the second video he smokes a ball up the middle for a single.
Peggy powers his second home run of the season to tie the game 2-2!
WATCH: https://t.co/6GP894jPtF pic.twitter.com/pU41QEcqhL
— Altoona Curve (@AltoonaCurve) May 11, 2023
Liover Peguero has shown a much better approach at the plate this season, and every now and again he’s rewarded for it. He launched his second home run of the season on Thursday.
Pirates Prospects Daily
By John Dreker
With no Pirates game and only night games on the minor league side, it seemed like Thursday would be a quiet day. However, we had a minor league signing, minor league moves, and even some big league news, plus a mock draft. Catch up on everything here.
**Prospect Watch: Sean Sullivan Has Another Good Start, Bradenton Rallies to Win
**Chase De Jong cleared waivers and has been assigned to Indianapolis. We will see if he decides to report.
**Minor Moves: Noe Toribio to the Injured List; Brad Case Returns to Altoona
**Pirates Sign LHP Ryan Borucki to a Minor League Deal
**The best fit for Jared Triolo?
Song of the Day
Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.
You can’t throw these guys 6 innings though. I don’t care if their pitch count is low. Look at what Cleveland did last night with Nikhazy and Leftwich. They each went 4 IP; in a AA game mind you.
SP don’t need stretched out to 5-6 IP until atleast AA. Most often still 4-5 in AA and only getting to 5-6 IP in AAA.
19-22 year olds shouldn’t be throwing like that. And it hammers their confidence most times too. Cause they end up getting hit hard, losing velo, and not having their best stuff after 4 innings.
Imo, low A should be:
Diamond(going 4-5 IP tops)
PoYuChen(4-5 IP and should go back to Low A)
JpMassey/LuisPeralta(piggybacking and each 3-4 IP)
AlessandroErcolani/OwenKellington(piggybacking and going 3-4 IP).
BraxtonAshcraft/JacobDeese(piggybacking going 3-4 IP each).
AaronShortridge/OmarCruz(piggybacking going 3-4 IP each).
It would be nice having Scott Randall(AA), Hunter Barco(A+) and Brennan Malone(Low A) too.
I’m still not out on Drake Fellows being a SP either. The clock is definitely ticking with him turning 25 yrs old this March and hasn’t pitched above Low A but him pitching at Vandy and in the SEC was really good competition. I hope we get to see him at some point this season.
Ercolani will not turn 20 until April 20, 2004. One of the few pitchers for the Pirates in the FCL to throw 30 or more innings last year, and did it with an ERA of 1.19, with an 11.57/5.93 K/BB/9.
WTM hit the nail on the head with his writeup after the 2022 season “He missed a lot of bats, but did have trouble with Walks. Ercolani finished the season with a dozen shutout innings, including 17 K’s. Ercolani had an outstanding 2022 season and he’s a big framed guy who could get a lot stronger.”
Getting him started in bradenton already is going to be such good experience for this kid, real high hopes moving forward