Pittsburgh Pirates Prospect Watch 6/21/11


I’ve talked a lot about Rodriguez lately, but with his first start of the 2011 season coming tonight, I figure one more time is appropriate.  I first saw Rodriguez with the Spikes last year.  I wasn’t expecting much, considering his low strikeout numbers.  I was surprised when I saw him throwing 88-92 MPH that night, and even more impressed when I received reports that he touched 94 at times during the season.  For a left hander with the movement he has on his fastball, and only 18 years old, that was definitely notable.

I don’t want to make it sound like Rodriguez is better than he actually is.  At this point, he’s a project.  He’s very raw, and he’s very young.  He’s only 19 this season, and only in his third year as a pro, second in the US.  That would be considered somewhat aggressive for a player coming out of high school to be assigned to State College this early.  For a guy coming out of the Dominican Republic, it’s very aggressive.

Rodriguez does have some upside.  He’s got a lot of movement on his pitches, which combined with his velocity (obviously the range I saw last year, and not the upper 80s I saw tonight), makes him a prospect to watch.  If he can get some consistency, both with his mechanics in controlling the movement on his pitches, and with his velocity (and a higher velocity will also help him control the movement), he could be a special pitcher.  We rated him as the 39th best prospect, and honestly, I feel anyone in the 31-50 range is more of a “these are the guys we really like out of the rest of the system” group.  It comes with the disclaimer that the player has the skills, but hasn’t done it at the higher levels, or hasn’t seen the translation from skills to performance.

In some cases, we want to see players performing at the higher levels, such as Matt Curry and Kyle McPherson.  In other cases, the players have obvious tools, but aren’t as polished as some of the top young prospects, or have some struggles with their tools, which is the case with Rodriguez and his lack of consistency.  I think that’s also a trend you’ll find with a lot of international players, as they haven’t been subjected to organized baseball, which means you’re going to find a lot of raw talent that isn’t as far along by the age of 19 as a guy coming out of the high school ranks, who has probably played organized ball since he was in Junior High.


Top Pitcher: Michael Colla, RHP (4-3, 3.31) – 7.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Ramon Cabrera, C (.335) – 4-for-5, HR, 4 RBI

Home Runs: Evan Chambers (4), David Rubinstein (4), Ramon Cabrera (1), Alen Hanson (1), Jesus Vasquez 2 (4), Diego Goris (1), Eduardo Rangel (2), Dilson Herrera (1), Ulises Montilla (1)


Hernandez went 2-for-4 with a steal and two nice outfield plays.

Box Score

Result: Indianapolis 2, Lehigh Valley 0

Starting Pitcher: Sean Gallagher, RHP (2-8, 6.48) – 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 5 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Matt Hague, 1B (.313) – 3-for-4, 2B

Other Notable Performers

Michael Crotta, RHP (0.00) – 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 0 HR

Donald Veal, LHP (0.00) – 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 0 HR

Jose Ascanio (6.52) – 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 0 HR

Gorkys Hernandez, CF (.289) – 2-for-4, 2B, RBI, SB

Game Notes: Along with the 2-for-4 night, Gorkys Hernandez made two nice plays, detailed here by Scott McCauley.  Hernandez is 11-for-22 on the current road trip, and is hitting for a .324 average in the month of June.  Michael Crotta needed just six pitches to get through his rehab appearance, working in the 94-96 MPH range in his short outing.


Marte stole his 15th base of the season tonight.

Box Score

Result: New Hampshire 1, Altoona 0

Starting Pitcher: Michael Colla, RHP (4-3, 3.31) – 7.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Starling Marte, CF (.338) – 2-for-4, SB

Other Notable Performers

Tim Alderson, RHP (2.77) – 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K

Game Notes: The stolen base for Marte was his 15th of the year.  Colla took a no hitter in to the 6th inning, allowing a double with two outs.  Prior to that, the only base runner came by a walk in the third.


Cabrera went 4-for-5 with a homer.

Box Score

Result: Bradenton 10, Jupiter 4

Starting Pitcher: Nathan Baker, LHP (4.15) – 4.2 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 1 HR

Top Hitter: Ramon Cabrera, C (.335) – 4-for-5, HR, 4 RBI

Other Notable Performers

Evan Chambers, CF (.203) – 2-for-4, HR, 2 RBI

David Rubinstein, LF (.302) – 1-for-4, HR, 2 RBI

Jarek Cunningham, 2B (.269) – 1-for-3, 2B, 2 BB

Tyler Cox, LHP (1-0, 9.82) – 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 0 HR

Game Notes: The homers for Rubinstein and Chambers were their fourth of the season.  Cabrera hit his first homer of the year.  Baker allowed a homer in the second inning for his only run.  Bradenton had ten straight base runners reach safely between the third and fourth innings (Ramon Cabrera was thrown out at home to end the third on a Calvin Anderson single).


West Virginia was off today for the SAL All-Star Game.  Brandon Cumpton pitched a shutout inning with no walks or hits, but did hit two batters.  He also struck out one.  Daniel Grovatt went 0-for-2.


Check out my live recap of the game here.


Heredia made his pro debut today.

Box Score

Result: Pirates 10, Blue Jays 7

Starting Pitcher: Luis Heredia, RHP (6.75) – 2.2 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 0 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Alen Hanson, SS (.571) – 3-for-5, HR, 5 RBI

Other Notable Performers

Yhonathan Barrios, 3B (.625) – 2-for-4, 3B

Jonathan Schwind, DH (.429) – 2-for-3, 2B

Game Notes: Heredia allowed just one walk through 2.2 innings before hitting a batter, walking two, and allowing a single that brought in two runs.  The homer for Hanson was his first of the year.  Gregory Polanco stole a base, his second of the year in as many games.

RK: DSL Pirates (12-5)

Box Score

Result: Pirates 14, Yankees 5

Starting Pitcher: Christopher De Leon, RHP (3-0, 1.00) – 6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Jesus Vasquez, LF (.313) – 5-for-5, 2 HR, 5 RBI, SB

Other Notable Performers

Diego Goris, 2B (.400) – 3-for-5, HR, 2 RBI

Maximo Rivera, SS (.208) – 2-for-4, 2 RBI

Game Notes: Vasquez now has four homers in 64 at-bats, which is a good sign, as he had five homers in each of the last two seasons.  De Leon made six starts last year with a 2.29 ERA, although he had a 10:12 K/BB ratio in 29.2 innings.

RK: VSL Pirates (19-12)

Box Score

Result: Pirates 11, Tigers 4

Starting Pitcher: Roberto Espinoza, RHP (2-2, 5.40) – 5.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 0 HR

Top Hitter: Ulises Montilla, CF (.365) – 2-for-3, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, SB

Other Notable Performers

Dilson Herrera, 3B (.303) – 2-for-3, HR, BB, 2 RBI, SB

Eduardo Rangel, DH (.272) – 2-for-4, HR, 4 RBI

Jose Roman, RF (.348) – 2-for-3, 2 BB, SB

Game Notes: The homer for Herrera was his first of the year, and of his career.  Same story for Montilla, although he had 127 at-bats last year in the VSL.

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I am starting to like this Dilson Herrera kid, does he really project as a 3B in the show?

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