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Saturday, December 3, 2022

Top Performers: Strong Debuts From Heredia, Pimentel, Dickson, and More

Below are the pitching Game Scores* in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ farm system from the last week. The top ten and the bottom five starts are broken down below the chart. The top five short season pitchers are also highlighted in a separate group, since most of those guys only go 4-5 innings max, and don’t have a good chance of being highlighted in the top ten. The rankings include every pitcher who made a start for a Pirates’ minor league affiliate, with no limitations on whether the starting pitcher has prospect eligibility.

*Game Score is a stat created by Bill James used to determine how good a pitcher’s outing really was. The formula for game score is simple: Start with 50 points, add one point for every out recorded, add two for each inning completed after the fourth, add one point for each strikeout. Subtract two points for each hit, four points for each earned run, two points for each unearned run and one point for each walk. There tends to be an advantage for pitchers who can go longer in the game, as they have more time to pile up strikeouts, while getting bonus points for extra innings beyond the fourth frame.

The Top Ten

David Bromberg is the top pitcher in the system for the second week in a row. Bromberg pitched seven shutout innings, striking out seven and walking one. His second start of the week was the 13th best start this week. In his last three starts, Bromberg has given up two earned runs in 18.2 innings, with a 26:10 K/BB ratio. He’s more of an upper level organizational guy, but could emerge as major league emergency depth next year, similar to what Kris Johnson did in the last year after similar success in Altoona last year.

Speaking of Kris Johnson, he threw six shutout innings this week, with two walks, four hits, and five strikeouts to tie for the third best score of the week. With Mike Zagurski recently leaving the organization, Johnson would be one of the best options for the Pirates if they need a third lefty in the bullpen come September.

Stolmy Pimentel made his first two starts at the Triple-A level this past week. His first start was the eighth best start of the week, with six innings, no earned runs, and seven strikeouts. The next start was even better, going for the second best score of the week, with one run in seven innings, and seven strikeouts.

Adrian Sampson tied for the third best game score this week, giving up one earned run in seven innings, with four hits, no walks, and four strikeouts. Sampson has been pitching well in the month of June, with a 2.77 ERA in 13 innings, with a 9:0 K/BB ratio.

Three players tied for the fifth best game score, all putting up a 66. Tyler Glasnow pitched five shutout innings for West Virginia, striking out ten and only walking one. Tom Bragg had a report on Glasnow’s night here.

Luis Heredia went five shutout innings in his 2013 debut.
Luis Heredia went five shutout innings in his 2013 debut.

The other two players both put up great numbers in their season debuts. Luis Heredia made his first start for West Virginia, throwing five shutout innings, with one hit, four walks and five strikeouts. Isaac Sanchez went five shutout innings in his 2013 debut with Jamestown, giving up three hits, no walks, and striking out five.

Another player who performed well in his debut was 2013 4th round pick Cody Dickson. The lefty had a good start for Jamestown, throwing three shutout innings with no hits, one walk, and six strikeouts.

Rounding out the top ten was Eliecer Navarro, who made his debut in Altoona by giving up one earned run on four hits and two walks in six innings, while striking out five.

Short-Season Pitchers

Isaac Sanchez and Cody Dickson both made the top ten this week, and were the top two short-season pitchers.

Colten Brewer had a strong debut in Jamestown, throwing five shutout innings, with five hits, one walk, and two strikeouts. James Santelli had a report on that start hereDovydas Neverauskas gave up one run in five innings, with three strikeouts and no walks. 2013 9th round pick Chad Kuhl went three shutout innings in his debut, giving up one walk and one hit and striking out three.

Overall, the Jamestown pitchers got off to a great start, combining for one earned run in 21 innings of work. All five starters finished in the top 14 out of 30 starts this week during their first run through the rotation.

The Bottom Five

Zack Dodson got off to a great start in his first few outings this year. Since then he has struggled. This week he had the worst start in the system, giving up eight runs (two earned) in 2.2 innings.

John Kuchno gave up five runs in three innings. In his last ten games he’s had three outings where he gave up five or more earned runs. The other seven saw him giving up two or fewer earned runs.

Clay Holmes has struggled with his control this year, while getting hit around. That continued this week when he gave up five runs on six hits in 3.1 innings, with three walks and one strikeout.

Robby Rowland and Casey Sadler didn’t have horrible starts, with game scores of 42 and 43.65 respectively. That’s a sign that it was a good week overall, as the fourth and fifth worst game scores were that close to the starting point 50.

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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.


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any news as to why Polanco hasn’t been playing the last couple games?… Hoping he’s not hurt…


What is considered a good Game Score for a starting pitcher? It seems that a score of 58 or above would be a good start. A 75 is a great score from David Bromberg on 6/18.

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