The Gulf Coast League is one of the most pitcher friendly leagues in the minors. The parks are huge, and the weather can be brutal, playing at noon every day in Florida during some of the most humid months of the year. For pitchers, that can lead to very strong numbers, even from guys who aren’t prospects.
Below are the stats from each pitcher in the GCL, broken down by age groups. The first age group is where you’ll find the majority of prospects. The second group can include prospects, but these guys are getting closer to being too old for the level. The final group is mostly organizational depth. A breakdown of each group can be found below.
Complete GCL Coverage
19 and Under
Several prep pitchers from the last two drafts showed up on this list. The highlight was 2011 5th round pick Tyler Glasnow. The 6′ 7″, 195 pound right hander put up some impressive numbers this year, led by the best K/9 ratio at the level. He dealt with some control issues, putting up a 4.22 BB/9 ratio, but made up for that with a low .156 BAA. Glasnow turned 19 before the end of the season, and already touches the 90-93 MPH range with his fastball. He could add more velocity going forward as he gets used to his tall, projectable frame.
Colten Brewer was also taken in the 2011 draft, going in the fourth round. Brewer has dealt with some injuries the last two years, and one of those injuries put him out of action for a month this season. He returned in August and put up a 2.25 ERA in eight innings over four appearances, then pitched an impressive performance in the playoffs to help lead the Pirates to the GCL championship.
Perhaps the biggest sign of the new draft rules and early signing deadline working was Jon Sandfort. He was taken in the third round of the 2012 draft, and managed to pitch a decent amount of innings this year. He struggled with his control, but could look to fix those issues with more work in the organization. He’s a typical Pirates pitching prospect — 18 years old, right handed, and has a 6′ 6″, 215 pound projectable frame. The new draft rules may not be as good in helping the Pirates load up on talent, but they have helped get players in the system quicker.
Some of the international prospects stepped up this year, highlighted by two players from countries that aren’t known for producing baseball players. Dovydas Neverauskas, from Lithuania, and Alex Lukashevich, from Belarus, both had impressive results. Lukashevich gave up just one earned run in 19 innings this year, although his advanced metrics suggest that he shouldn’t be close to those results. Neverauskas is the bigger prospect, currently a sleeper in the system. He was sitting 92-95 MPH this year, and touched 95 frequently. He does deal with control issues. Both players have tall, projectable frames, and easy arm action, which could allow them both to continue adding velocity going forward.
The Pirates had two left-handers in this group. Jackson Lodge, signed out of Australia, and Andy Otamendi, taken out of Venezuela, both played a big role on the team this year. Lodge ranked third on the team in innings, and had one of the best FIPs on the team, with the lowest walk rate on the team. He’s a soft tossing lefty, working in the mid-80s with good off-speed stuff, which doesn’t profile well going forward. Otamendi throws with a bit more velocity, working in the 86-89 MPH range, with a curve and a changeup. Lodge had the better numbers, but Otamendi has the better stuff.
Isaac Sanchez is a hard thrower, working in the 90-95 MPh range and touching 97. He deals with control issues, making him more of an organizational arm, despite the velocity. He moved up to State College and gave up six earned runs in four innings over three appearances.
One of the big surprises in this group was right-hander Axel Diaz. He came out of nowhere this season to join the GCL roster. Diaz only pitches one inning in the DSL in 2011, and wasn’t invited to Spring Training. He was brought up to extended Spring Training, and obviously impressed enough to stick around and end up with the most starts for the Pirates. Diaz throws 87-91 MPH, with a mid-70s curve and a low-80s changeup. The curve is the better off-speed pitch of the two. He dealt with some control, and had a poor ERA, but his FIP was over a run lower than his ERA, showing that he was better than his overall stat line.
Cesar Lopez was signed for $600 K after defecting from Cuba in 2010. Lopez was said to have a fastball that could touch 94 MPH when signed. He was upper 80s last year, and improved to the 89-92 MPH range, sitting 91-92 MPH when I saw him in July. He’s improved his command of the pitch, throwing it down in the zone and throwing it for strikes. He was very efficient as a starter, also mixing in a curveball. Lopez has a clean, easy delivery, so he could eventually get back to that 94 MPH range as a starter.
Bryton Trepagnier had the best FIP on the team, and some of the best numbers out of the bullpen. The 6′ 5″, 180 pound right hander saw an increase in his velocity this year. Last year in Spring Training he was throwing in the low-to-mid 80s. He gradually increased to the upper 80s. This year he was sitting 92-93 MPH at times, while throwing an 82-84 MPH slider. He gets a ton of ground balls, with a 2.69 GO/AO ratio. He’s got a tall, projectable frame, and an easy delivery. He’s already added velocity, and could be a sleeper to watch next year with that new velocity and the results that come with it.
Yhonathan Herrand had a lot of promise when he was signed out of the Dominican Prospect League. He’s thrown 97 MPH in the past, and usually sits in the mid-90s. However, he lacks control, shown by his 14.4 BB/9 ratio this year.
David Jagoditsh is another big pitcher with a great arm who lacks control. He threw 88-91 MPH this year, but has thrown harder in the past. He has good movement on his fastball, throwing on a downhill plane. He’s got a huge frame, at 6′ 7″, 230 pounds, which makes his fastball look faster. As one player noted on his delivery in Spring Training while charting pitches: “He’s damn near the plate by the time he releases it”.
Aneudy Merejo has some interesting stuff. He throws 91-93 MPH, with a mid-70s curve which acts like a slurve. He has good movement on his pitches, and is comfortable throwing the curve in all counts. He also throws a mid-80s changeup. His numbers weren’t the best this year, but his FIP was one of the best at the level, and his stuff is definitely better than his numbers indicate.
Ages 22 and Up
Luis Campos throws upper 80s, and is an organizational guy.
Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.