First Pitch: Notes From Day Two of Mini-Camp

Today was the second day of mini-camp, and it was pretty much identical to day one. If you’ve ever been to minor league Spring Training over at Pirate City, then you’d know the routines. The entire team does their warm up exercises. Then the pitchers do their throwing programs on one field, while the fielders play catch on another field. The position players take fielding drills, and some take batting practice. The pitchers go do their exercises when their throwing is complete. There are other drills, but it’s largely what you’d see at Spring Training before they break for lunch and then return to play actual games.

For that reason, there’s not much to report from mini-camp as far as the events on the field. Most of my time here has been collecting interviews for articles, which will run in the next few weeks. I do have a few thoughts from today, so here they are, followed by the links.

Wandy Rodriguez
Wandy Rodriguez threw from 70 feet today. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

**Wandy Rodriguez threw this afternoon. Ray Searage said that Rodriguez was feeling good after throwing. The lefty only went out to 70 feet today due to the cold weather, rather than going 90. He will throw again tomorrow when it is warmer, which will give a better indication of how he is feeling.

**Justin Wilson and Joely Rodriguez were paired up for their throwing program. After they finished, I noticed Wilson giving Rodriguez some instruction on his changeup. That’s interesting to see, because both are hard throwing left-handers, and Rodriguez has some promising secondary stuff. It’s pretty common for players to learn from other players, especially when it comes to certain grips. I’d say anything Rodriguez learned from Wilson would be a positive.

**Andrew Lambo took some ground balls at first base today. He also did a drill where infielders threw the ball hard and in the dirt. The drill didn’t go so well, with a lot of passed balls. Travis Ishikawa, by comparison, did a much better job picking balls out of the dirt. I don’t know if this was due to inexperience for Lambo, the very cold weather, or just a bad day. It’s definitely something to watch. It almost reminds you of the scene from Moneyball where Scott Hatteberg is practicing basic first base drills early in camp, getting praise from the coaches watching him when he catches a ball. Maybe not to that extreme for Lambo, but it is apparent that he’s going to need work on his defense. None of this should write him off as a first baseman in any way. Keep in mind that it’s one cold day in January. It’s just pointing out something he has to work on.

**Gregory Polanco was wearing a Superman shirt under his uniform today. I think he left the cape in the Dominican Republic.

**Luis Heredia was held back last year, due to his conditioning. He said today that he came into camp last year weighing 276 pounds with a size 42 waist. He looks to be in much better shape this year. He said he still has weight to lose, but is now at 240 and a size 36 waist. He’s also 6′ 6.5″.

**To put Heredia’s weight in perspective, Jameson Taillon is the same height, and is now at 245 pounds. Taillon told me he added 7-8 pounds over the off-season in muscle weight, with the goal of throwing more innings next year. He said that he’s still agile at that weight, and didn’t want to sacrifice agility for muscle. That’s a key for Heredia. He said he has weight to lose, but if he adds some muscle, he could be back in the 240 range, which wouldn’t be bad depending on where the weight comes from, and how it impacts his pitching.

**Andrew McCutchen wasn’t there today, but yesterday he did stop by the batting cages to offer some words of encouragement to 2013 first round picks Austin Meadows and Reese McGuire, Meadows told me today.

Links and Notes

**The 2014 Prospect Guide is now available. You can purchase your copy here, and read about every prospect in the Pirates’ system. The book includes our top 50 prospects, as well as future potential ratings for every player.

**We will be releasing our top 20 prospects over the next few weeks. Today the countdown started with #19 – JaCoby Jones.

**Tyler Glasnow Saw a Change in 2013. Focusing on his improving changeup, and the command issues that will be key to his becoming an ace.

**Pirates Getting National TV Time in 2014. Four games, including a Sunday Night Game of the Week.

**Pirates Sign Robert Andino. He’s a minor league depth option, and probably will fall at least behind Chase d’Arnaud on the depth charts.

**Winter Leagues: Escogido Loses Without Marte and Polanco.


  • As someone who switched to first base ‘late in his career’, I picked up scooping balls out of the dirt easily. I was always more defensive than offensive, so it came easily to me.

    As such, based SOLELY on my experience (lol), that doesn’t bode well for Lambo.

    YET!!!! Work it Andrew, work it!

    • I’m guessing you didn’t have major league players throwing as hard as they could (probably 90+ MPH) from the grass of the infield, though. 🙂

      • Is this drill all about short hops, or do they mix in the medium and longer term hops? I am talking about the type of hops that put your face and rest of your body in peril.

      • This is one of the reasons that Catchers do not have a problem with short-hops because they were raised on a steady diet of getting in front of balls in the dirt. This drill is a basic for Catchers and 1B so just think how many years McGuiness has been doing this drill, and why I still think I would rather have Gaby full-time, or have Neil Walker, a former Catcher, 3B, and 2B as the backup 1B in 2014 and possibly a full time 1B in the future. I give AL credit for trying though, and he will get better – how much better is arguable, but not average MLB quality.

  • CalipariFan506
    January 8, 2014 12:24 am

    Will Heredia go back to West Virginia to throw a full season?

    • 13 Starts, 65 IP, 7 – 3, 3.05 ERA as an 18 year old – why would we want to send him to WV to repeat Low A? The option is to keep him in warm weather Bradenton and start him in Hi A this year as a 19 year old along with Tyler Glasnow, 20; Clayton Holmes, 21; Orlando Castro, 22; and John Kuchno, 22. Joely Rodriguez, 22, moved up at mid-season and should start at Hi A and then go to AA when Spring hits in Altoona. Cole, Taillon, Kingham, Locke, and Cumpton are the first prospect pitching class of the new FO; Heredia, Glasnow, Holmes, and Rodriguez lead the way for the second pitching prospects class.

      • CalipariFan506
        January 8, 2014 8:24 am

        I think he should to get 120 IP in a full season at the same place. He’s 19, no need to have him moving so quickly. If he isn’t in the shape they want him in yet I think it would be wise just to take time with him.

        • I was thinking more of the weather factor, and trying to keep this group of young SP’s together so they can challenge one another. There is no hurry, but mentally, it could be a confidence factor if he is sent back to Lo A, and with the facility we have at Bradenton, that is where I would want him. The fact that he showed up in much better physical shape this year is another factor in his favor for promotion.

      • Emjay : the last couple of days,Spring looks a long way off around Altoona !