2011 Prospect Watching: Strickland, Irwin, And More

Matt McSwain —  R/R,  6′ 2″,  185 lb
The Pirates signed McSwain as an undrafted free agent in 2006.  He’d moved along slowly in the organization, and spent part of 2008 and allof 2009 at A+ Lynchburg.  He walked away, retiring just before the 2010 season began, but when Bradenton needed pitchers in June, he was persuaded to return.  McSwain was fairly steady over the season.  He made 11 relief appearances over June and July, giving up 11 runs on 31 hits in 29 innings (3.19 ERA), with 12 strikeouts.  In August/September, he made 6 starts, plus 2 more relief appearances, with a few more hits and runs.   He earned a 1-3 record and a 3.86 ERA with 13 earned runs on 39 hits in 30.1 innings, with 15 strikeouts.  McSwain’s walk rate was reasonable (10 walks, 1.5 walks/ 9 innings), but his strikeout rate was low.  The 25-year-old McSwain was back for 2011 spring training, so unless he gets discouraged again, he could either return to Bradenton, or maybe Altoona with a strong spring performance.

Jason Erickson —  R/R,  6′ 1″,  175 lb
The Pirates chose Erickson in the 24th round of the 2009 draft.  He pitched well for State College in 16 games in 2009, with a 4-2 record and a 2.70 ERA.  Erickson was promoted to West Virginia for 2010, and he pitched both as a starter and a reliever there.  In 11 relief appearances, he earned a 3-2 record and a 2.22 ERA.  In 24.1 relief innings, all in April and May, Erickson allowed 6 earned runs on 21 hits and 5 walks, with 13 strikeouts.  He was moved to the starting rotation in May, and finished the season there, making 20 starts for the Power.  He had a strong May, pitching 25.2 innings and allowing 9 earned runs on 22 hits, for a 4-1 record and a 3.16 ERA.  June was even better, with 7 runs on 25 hits in 28 innings, for a 2.25 ERA.  Then Erickson had a tough run in July and August.  In 12 starts, he allowed 40 runs on 57 hits over 68 innings, as his ERA puffed up to 5.29.   That gave him a 4.27 ERA and a  8-6 record over the entire season.  He pitched 128.2 innings, with 137 hits and 61 earned runs.  He did not walk many batters (24, 1.7 walks/ 9 innings) and struck out a modest number of batters (86, 6.0 K/ 9 innings).  Erickson turned 24 last month.  He is likely to move up to Bradenton for the 2011 season, and may end up in the bullpen rather than as a starter.  

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