Morning Report: A Sleeper Prospect in Bristol

In Bristol tonight, Hector Garcia is the scheduled starter. The 18-year-old lefty could be a real sleeper prospect in the Pirates system, but we really haven’t talked much about him. He is the youngest player on the Bristol roster and possibly the best prospect on the team.

Last year while doing the DSL season recap for pitchers, I got a decent report on Garcia, but honestly thought he would return to the DSL due to his age and the fact he wasn’t used as a starter. I was told that he is an aggressive pitcher that goes right after hitters. He had some control issues with his off-speed stuff, but once he improves that area “he will be a K machine”.

Garcia was sent to the States despite his age and not only that, he also skipped right over the Gulf Coast League. The Pirates gave him an aggressive push and he seems to be handling it well. Garcia is pitching in the starting role, but due to pitching multiple innings in relief last year in the DSL, he is actually 1.1 innings behind last year’s IP total.

The Pirates liked Garcia enough when they signed him that they gave him a $190,000 bonus. He showed quick improvements, hitting 92 MPH last year, which makes him different from a lot of lefties that have success in the lower levels. At age 17 last year, he was already throwing harder than what you see from a lot of lefties in the system. Throwing 88-90 MPH with strong control and/or a decent breaking ball has got a lot of lefties to AA. Jhonathan Ramos, Eliecer Navarro and Orlando Castro all fit that mold, while Omar Basulto and Jose Batista are two other pitchers in the system that have shown strong results with below average velocity.

Garcia is looking good this year, posting a 3.83 ERA, with 40 strikeouts and 15 walks in 40 innings. He has a .237 BAA and has given up just three homers in his 81.1 innings as a pro. Garcia has seen a limited amount of lefties, but has held them to a .111 BAA(3-for-27). That makes his season a little more impressive, because he isn’t just feeding off his advantage over left-handed batters. Right-handed batters are 33-for-125 against him(.264 BAA), so 82% of his at-bats are coming against righties.

It’s too early in his career to predict how good he will be. What we do know is that Garcia got a strong bonus and then an aggressive push in his second season. We also know he has shown early improvements, good velocity and he has handled the starting role well. I’m going to say that he will probably go to Jamestown next season to face some tougher competition than he is seeing this year. Another aggressive push to West Virginia doesn’t seem likely due to his age. I guessed where he would be last year too and Garcia proved me wrong.

Remember his name. He will probably break into the back end of the Pirates top 50 in the upcoming Prospect Guide and could move up the ranks quickly if he keeps showing strong improvements.

Pirates Game Graph


Source: FanGraphs

Playoff Push

Pittsburgh: The Pirates are 3.5 games behind St. Louis for the first Wild Card spot. They are 2.5 games behind San Francisco for the second spot. They are currently five games back from the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central.

Indianapolis: The Indians are six games back in the International League West, and seven games back in the Wild Card with 10 games left in the season.

Bradenton: The Marauders are in third place in the Florida State League South, one game behind Fort Myers and Palm Beach, who are both tied for first place. They need to win the second half division to make the playoffs, unless Fort Myers wins the second half title. Fort Myers won the first half title, so if they also win the second half, then the team with the second best overall record would make the playoffs. In the overall standings, Bradenton is two games behind Palm Beach for the second best record. The Marauders have nine games left in their season, two against Palm Beach.

Today’s Schedule

Minor League Starter of the Day:  Today is a good day for prospects besides Hector Garcia mentioned above. Tyler Glasnow is obviously the best starter going today. He leads the FSL with a 1.43 ERA and he has been even better in his last ten outings, posting a 1.25 ERA over 57.2 innings, with 79 strikeouts. Glasnow leads all Pirates pitchers in strikeouts and ERA. Mitch Keller starts for the GCL team today, his ninth and likely final appearance of his rookie season. The 2014 second round pick has a 1.14 ERA and is striking out more than a batter per inning. Luis Heredia starts for West Virginia tonight. It’s a home game, which should bode well for him. Heredia has pitched better at home ever year that he has been in pro ball and this season is no different. He has a 2.93 ERA at home in eight starts and 4.78 on the road, also in eight starts. Buddy Borden was originally scheduled for Thursday. That game was rained out and then Borden was pushed back to Sunday. The DSL season ends today.

MLB: Pittsburgh (66-62) @ Milwaukee (71-57) 7:10 PM
Probable starter: Edison Volquez (3.58 ERA, 100:53 K/BB, 146 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (67-67) @ Columbus (73-61) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Casey Sadler (3.22 ERA, 67:23 K/BB, 111.2 IP)

AA: Altoona (56-75) vs New Britain (65-66) 6:00 PM
Probable starter:  Zack Dodson (4.68 ERA, 71:44 K/BB, 109.2 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (71-59, 36-25 2nd half) @ Palm Beach (73-57) 6:35 PM
Probable starter:  Tyler Glasnow (1.43 ERA, 140:55 K/BB, 113.1 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (50-77, 30-29 2nd half) vs Kannapolis (58-70) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Luis Heredia (3.82 ERA. 35:32 K/BB, 77.2 IP)

Short-Season A: Jamestown (30-34) vs State College (40-26) 7:05 PM
Probable Starter:  Austin Coley (5.63 ERA, 15:4 K/BB, 16 IP)

RK: Bristol (18-42) @ Burlington (27-33) 7:00 PM
Probable Starter: Hector Garcia (3.83 ERA, 40:15 K/BB, 40 IP)

GCL: Pirates (18-37) vs Yankees1 (34-20) 10:00 AM
Probable Starter: Mitch Keller (1.14 ERA, 26:9 K/BB, 23.2 IP)

DSL: Pirates (34-36) vs  Cubs (42-28) 10:30 AM

Highlights

Cole Tucker hit his second homer of the season on Friday and drove in four runs. Here we have two at-bats from his game on Wednesday, which was the first pro start from 11th round draft pick Gage Hinsz. The first at-bat for Tucker ends with a single to center field.

In the second video, Tucker is batting righty and he flies out to right field, advancing the runner to third base. Both videos are courtesy of the GCL Pirates fan page.

Recent Transactions

8/21: Stolmy Pimentel assigned to Altoona on rehab.

8/21: Yunelky Adames released.

8/21: Oderman Rocha and Nathan Sopena promoted to Jamestown.

8/21: Julio Vivas promoted to Bristol.

8/21: Andrew Dennis placed on disabled list.

8/21: Indianapolis places Nevin Ashley and Blake Davis on disabled list.

8/21: Wirfin Obispo clears waivers. Outrighted to Indianapolis.

8/20: Gerrit Cole activated from disabled list. Brent Morel assigned to Indianapolis.

8/20: Jacoby Jones placed on disabled list. Francisco Diaz activated from DL.

8/20: Felipe Gonzalez promoted to Bradenton. Jake Burnette promoted to West Virginia.

8/20: Matt Curry assigned to Altoona. Drew Maggi placed on disabled list.

8/19: Andrew McCutchen activated from disabled list. Michael Martinez sent to Indianapolis.

8/19: Josh Bell placed on disabled list. Ralph Henriquez activated from DL.

8/19: Adam Wilk placed on disabled list.

8/18: Matt Hague claimed off waivers by Toronto Blue Jays

8/18: Clint Barmes assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.

8/18: Pat Ludwig placed on disabled list.

8/17: Charlie Morton placed on disabled list. Brent Morel recalled

8/17: A.J. Morris assigned to Indianapolis.

This Date in Pirates History

Only one former Pittsburgh Pirates player on this date, pitcher Guy Bush, who pitched for the 1935-36 Bucs. Today’s Pirates history includes a big game from Roberto Clemente and the second no-hitter in team history. In yesterday’s History section, we posted the bio for Howie Camnitz, who was a huge part of the 1909 World Series champs. One day after his 26th birthday, Camnitz threw five no-hit innings against the New York Giants. The two teams played a doubleheader on August 23, 1907 and after the first game went extra-innings, they agreed to play a shortened second game. Camnitz kept the Giants off the board and out of the hit column, while Honus Wagner drove in the only run. The first franchise no-hitter was thrown 11 months earlier and was also a shortened game.

  • When Garrett Richards recently got injured for the Angels, I noticed that he was never drafted! He pitched at Oklahoma, which is a decent baseball school, but went undrafted.

    Obviously, he has turned out to be a pretty darned good MLB pitcher. How could a pitcher at a school like Oklahoma go undrafted and end up being an all star and ace of the Angels staff?

    • Jerrod Weaver might take offense at the Ace Of The Staff tag you bestowed on Richards.

      • At time of injury:

        Richards 13-4, 2.61 ERA
        Weaver 13-7, 3.70 ERA

        This year, Richards was the better pitcher.

        • The better pitcher for part of one season doesn’t make a guy the ACE of any staff. Weaver has been the Angels’ Number One starter in the rotation and the ACE of the staff for a couple of years now.

          • If it will make you feel better – how about the ace of the staff in 2014??

            • I doubt it, if Weaver ends up with less than 15 Ws, most people would be very surprised. Richards will.

  • One guy who has been pretty consistent all year in Bristol is Jerrick Suiter. He’s 21 years old and has good size. Is he a potential prospect, or just a college player playing at a level below what he was accustomed to facing in college??

    • Suiter seems like a decent late round pick. He has great size, but he has never hit for power. Zero homers in college. His numbers in Bristol mean nothing. He went to TCU for three years and Bristol is nothing like the competition he was seeing. I wouldn’t write him off because he was a late round pick, but I also wouldn’t base anything on what he has done in Bristol.

  • Dom DiDominic
    August 23, 2014 9:56 am

    Nice work, John. Hoping for Jamestown so I can see him next summer. BTW game time is 7:10 tonight.

    • Updated. I thought the 7:10 start time listed was local time. Thanks for the correction.

  • John….does the fact that Hector is only 6’0″ hurt him? You KNOW how we like ’em tall and projectable….lol.

    • When we talk about size, it isn’t always just height, it’s whether or not they can handle a starting role and Garcia is doing it at age 18 with success. I’m sure the Pirates would rather he was 6’4″, so he could throw downhill on a better angle, but if you check the picture at the top, all you can see is Garcia’s hand and not his head, so he’s throwing from a high angle. Being a lefty helps his case too, I think there is more leeway with lefties.

      • Ian Rothermund
        August 23, 2014 11:09 am

        Coming from experience here…there’s always more leeway with lefties. Coming back from double knee surgery, my question was, “What are you hoping for out of my 60?”

        The response was, “You’re a left handed pitcher, so the ideal time for a 60 is that you finish.”

        Very happy that it looks like my son, who is 3, is also quite stuck in being a lefty. Also loves to pitch. He’ll throw all day to me like we’re having a bullpen, he’s all arms and legs, so I just have him going from the stretch, but has no patience to stand and try to hit…still working on that, haha.

        • What experience? To whom did you ask that question??

          • Ian Rothermund
            August 24, 2014 12:23 pm

            Nothing too crazy. D-2 before it wasn’t really an option. That was a summer college-level league though…I think it was more in regards to valuing endurance and throwing strikes. Not really sure how to gauge your tone though…seemed a little intense. Just trying to share an anecdote. haha.

            • So you have no real personal perspective.

              • Ian Rothermund
                August 24, 2014 5:36 pm

                Correct. Absolutely no experience. It makes it even more irrelevant since I was simply making a joke. Way to be a jerk. You must have even less experience, otherwise you probably wouldn’t be so resentful.

        • Have him working on fastball command and his change-up. No need to throw any breaking pitches until he is at least 16. Once he does throw a breaking ball, have him stick with one and slowly build up. Try for the same arm angle on all three of his pitches

          • John: Do you think the selection of Wei-Chung Wang by the Brewers in the Rule V Draft in December had anything to do with the surprise promotion of Garcia from the DSL? His stats in the DSL were good, but nothing outstanding. He is definitely a pleasant surprise especially with lefties Wang and Blake Taylor no longer with the Pirates.

            • I don’t think the moves are related. They wouldn’t promote an 18 year old to Bristol unless he was ready.

          • Ian Rothermund
            August 24, 2014 1:02 pm

            That sounds perfect. Once I finally learned it, the change-up was my best pitch. Had a relatively nice, sudden drop to it, like one of those sliders that drops primarily downward with only a little cut. Learned a decent curve my last summer playing, but I could only jog about a half mile at that point before it was too much. Look up Fulkerson osteotomy if you’re curious, due to repeated knee cap dislocation.

            Especially for a lefty, that change up is so important. But you can even see in the little league world series, kids leaning on breaking pitches to get through games. I don’t think that instills any sense of a learning or developmental process. Reading through this site, for instance, a repeated focus on pitching prospects is fastball command, developing a change up, and improving mechanics. Aside from professional baseball just being incredibly demanding in regards to command and varying speeds, I think it lends itself to most youth coaches having a win-now mentality. It’s very nice to have all of those volunteers out there, trying to help the children, but the reality is most of them don’t have a clue. They don’t want to have their best pitchers working through trying to learn a subtle pitch like a change up, even though it requires the kind of mentality to will only help in the long run. They want them to stand there, throw the ball as hard as they can and throw a more “sexy” pitch like a curveball.

            Thank you for the advise, John. My wife and I are very supportive of exposing him to all different kinds of sports and activities. I’ve never gone into it with him about how I used to pitch, but even at 3, it’s probably his favorite sporting activity. It’s been so much fun already, and we’ve basically only been able to cover, “step and throw.” Now if he can only get to 6’5 like every other male in my family for the last 5 generations except for me (not bitter or anything), he could be in a good position. Haha.

    • One of the better young pitchers in all of baseball, although he has struggled some this year, is Carlos Martinez of the Cardinals – he is 6’0″.

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