The Pirates Prospects 2015 Prospect Guide is now on sale. The book features prospect reports on everyone in the system, the 2015 top 50 prospects, and the most comprehensive coverage of the Pirates’ farm system that you can find. While the top 50 prospects are exclusive to the book, we will be releasing the top 20 prospects over the next few weeks. Be sure to purchase your copy of the book on the products page of the site.
To recap the countdown so far:
We continue the countdown with the number 13 prospect, John Holdzkom.
13. John Holdzkom, RHP
Holdzkom represents one of the best stories in baseball during the 2014 season. His career had fallen to the point where he was struggling to find a spot with an independent league team at the start of the year. He spent time with two different clubs, displaying an amazing fastball that sat in the upper 90s, but absolutely no control. He made a small adjustment with his grip, moving his fingers closer together, and suddenly found the control that he was missing.
The Pirates discovered him and signed him to a minor league contract in June. He dominated briefly in Altoona, then was moved up to Indianapolis, where he routinely worked in the upper 90s, while displaying much better control than he had seen previously in his pro career. By the end of the season, the Pirates called him up to the majors, and made him eligible for their playoff roster. He immediately took a big role in the bullpen, filling the seventh inning duties.
Holdzkom has outstanding stuff, with a fastball that averaged 95.5 MPH during his time in the majors, and topped out at 97. He pairs that with a mid-80s palm ball that has tremendous break, and could pass as a plus offering. He still needs to develop more consistency with the palm ball. The 2014 season was a small sample, but Holdzkom showed off his potential by striking out 43.8% of batters in his nine innings of work. He’s not going to continue those levels going forward, but he can be a high strikeout reliever, and if the fixed control is real, then there’s no reason why he can’t eventually be a closer in the majors. The Pirates can currently ease him in with the seventh inning role, and if he’s successful, he could eventually replace Mark Melancon.