Pittsburgh Pirates Prospect Watch 6/19/11


The Pittsburgh Pirates promoted right handed pitcher Phillip Irwin to Altoona today, and immediately put him in the rotation.  Irwin made his first start tonight, and his debut was great, with six shutout innings, allowing two hits.  The former starter out of Ole Miss was drafted by the Pirates in the 21st round of the 2009 draft, and signed immediately.  To date, he hasn’t pitched like a 21st round pick, with a career 2.80 ERA in 196 innings prior to tonight’s start.

Irwin started his career in State College in 2009, with a 2.12 ERA in 29.2 innings, along with a 32:6 K/BB ratio.  He moved to West Virginia in 2010, where he pitched 113 innings, with a 3.35 ERA and a 111:20 K/BB ratio.  He made the jump to high-A in time for the playoffs, and returned to the level in 2011.  Prior to his promotion this year, Irwin had a 2.02 ERA in ten starts, with a 40:12 K/BB ratio in 53.1 innings.

Irwin doesn’t have the best stuff, although his stuff isn’t bad.  Prior to the 2010 season, he threw his fastball in the 87-88 MPH range.  Toward the end of the year, after an adjustment with the West Virginia coaches, he saw his velocity jump to 92-93 MPH.  He also has a big breaking curveball, which is his second best pitch.  Irwin obviously pounds the strike zone, as he has a career 1.7 BB/9 ratio in the lower levels.

The move to Altoona is really a must for Irwin’s prospect status.  We didn’t rank him in the top 50 prospects prior to the 2011 season, mostly because he started the 2011 season as a 24 year old who didn’t have any experience in high-A.  Long term, he doesn’t project as more than a back of the rotation starter or a bullpen arm.  He’s currently 24 years old, which is a little old for A-ball.  Today’s promotion will give him about two and a half months at the AA level.  Considering his age, Irwin has no room for error at the AA level, as he should be in AAA by this point in his career.


Top Pitcher: Brad Lincoln, RHP (6-6, 3.82) – 7.1 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Brian Friday, 2B (.232) – 4-for-5, 2 2B

Home Runs: John Bowker (3), Quincy Latimore (7)


Lincoln allowed a run in 7.1 innings.

Box Score

Result: Indianapolis 8, Rochester 3

Starting Pitcher: Brad Lincoln, RHP (6-6, 3.82) – 7.1 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Brian Friday, 2B (.232) – 4-for-5, 2 2B

Other Notable Performers

Jose Ascanio, RHP (7.27) – 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 0 HR

Chase d’Arnaud, SS (.283) – 2-for-5, RBI

Joh Bowker, DH (.318) – 2-for-5, HR, 3 RBI

Matt Hague, 1B (.300) – 2-for-5, 2B, RBI

Game Notes: Indianapolis got off to a big lead, putting up four runs in the first inning.  John Bowker hit his 3rd homer of the year for Indy.  Brad Lincoln has made three starts in June, with a 1.33 ERA and a 12:3 K/BB ratio in 20.1 innings during those starts.


Morris has been moved full time to the bullpen.

Box Score

Result: Altoona 4, Harrisburg 1

Starting Pitcher: Phillip Irwin, RHP (1-0, 0.00) – 6.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Quincy Latimore, LF (.220) – 2-for-2, 2B, HR

Other Notable Performers

Bryan Morris, RHP (4.66) – 3.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 0 HR

Starling Marte, CF (.336) – 1-for-4, SB

Game Notes: Irwin was called up today, and made a strong debut with Altoona, after putting up a 2.03 ERA in ten starts in high-A, with a 40:12 K/BB ratio in 53.1 innings. Bryan Morris was originally the scheduled starter today, but was moved to the bullpen, where he will pitch full time now, according to Cory Giger.  Morris has a 2.03 ERA in 13.1 innings as a reliever this year, with an 11:1 K/BB ratio, compared to a 6.04 ERA in 25.1 innings as a starter, with a 17:16 K/BB ratio.  The homer for Latimore was his seventh of the year.  Starling Marte stole his 14th base of the year.


Bradenton was off for the FSL All-Star break.


West Virginia was postponed today.


Benedict made his pro debut tonight.

Box Score

Result: State College 3, Williamsport 0

Starting Pitcher: Matt Benedict, RHP (3.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Samuel Gonzalez, DH (.500) – 2-for-4, 2B

Other Notable Performers

Bryce Weidman, RHP (1-0, 0.00) – 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 0 HR

Fraylin Campos, RHP (0.00) – 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 0 HR

Carlos Mesa, RF (.300) – 1-for-4, 2B, RBI

Game Notes: 2011 30th round pick Matt Benedict made his debut tonight in the State College rotation.  2010 14th round pick Bryce Weidman followed Benedict.  Weidman threw just eight innings last year due to a broken jaw that limited his season.  Samuel Gonzalez has gone 4-for-8 with two doubles in his first two games in the US.  Pirates Prospects will be covering the State College Spikes live for the next three days.

RK: DSL Pirates (11-5)

Box Score

Result: Royals 5, Pirates 4

Starting Pitcher: Ramon Rodriguez, RHP (4.32) – 5.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Diego Goris, 3B (.387) – 3-for-4, 2B, BB, RBI

Other Notable Performers

Maximo Rivera, SS (.195) – 2-for-5, 2B

Yefaine Gerald, RF (.286) – 1-for-3, 2 RBI, BB

Game Notes: This is the fourth year for Goris in the DSL.  The 6′ 2″, 165 pound third baseman hit for a .310/.343/.450 line in 171 at-bats last year.

RK: VSL Pirates (18-11)

The VSL Pirates were off today.




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I don’t understand the disrespect of Philip Irwin. What has he done that deserves this. Win at Low A. Win at high A. Win at AA. Saw him last year throwing in the low 90’s with a good breaking ball. Where is the problem?

Thanks for responding to my post. I admit I know nothing about the top 50 prospects. My point is that I just don’t understand how someone who advances every year and continues to perform can be considered underperforming, in spite of the fact that he advanced two levels in 2 months.

Age vs. level is a very important aspect of not only our evaluations, but nearly every other prospecting site.

Here’s the “prospect age” per level:
Low A – 20/21
High A – 21/22
Double A – 22/23
Triple A – 23/24

Think of it like when Kramer on Seinfeld took karate lessons against little kids — he totally dominated them.  Same general concept with someone like Irwin as a 24 y.o. dominating High A.  You need to see him prove himself against age-appropriate competition.

John Fluharty

Goris ‘ fourth year in the DSL?  I thought they were limited to 3 years there.

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