Luis Heredia made his 2015 debut last night with the Bradenton Marauders, although the debut was very short-lived. Heredia did well against the leadoff hitter, but struggled with his control after that, especially when he went to the stretch. He ended up lasting just two outs, and being pulled due to a single inning pitch limit after throwing 36 pitches. He gave up five runs on two walks and three hits, with three of those runs scoring off Felipe Gonzalez.
As I noted last week, Heredia switched back to an overhand delivery, from a three-quarters arm slot that he had moved to last year. The new arm slot wasn’t a big factor in his control problems last night. Instead, it was the emergence of two issues during his delivery that he has had in the past.
The first issue was pointed out by a scout who was watching the game. Heredia has a hook behind his back in the early part of the delivery, which gives the elbow an extra twist, and can also throw off his mechanics. This is also something a different scout pointed out to John Dreker in 2013 when he saw Heredia pitch for West Virginia. Here is a picture of what I am talking about.
You can see the hook clearly in this picture, and can imagine the rotation of the arm from this point. You can see a full speed version in the video below.
As you can see in the video below, Heredia did a good job of getting the ball down in the zone at times, creating good angle on the ball. He was pretty consistent in this approach throughout the start, especially aiming for the bottom left corner (on the right-handed side of the box). However, there were a lot of times where he was missing high, or missing way inside to right-handers, or outside to left-handers, due to not following through with his delivery at times. He was also going too far in his delivery early in the start, tucking his head into his armpit, so maybe he’s trying to find a perfect ground between the two extremes. The latter issue was another thing we’ve heard about in the past, but seemed to be resolved after the first few batters.
I don’t want to base too much on one start, good or bad. There are some mechanical issues here with Heredia, and we’ll see if he gets them developed this year. The scout in attendance also agreed that seeing him another time would be best, but agreed with my assessment that he’s pretty much a project at this point, similar to your typical mid-round projectable prep pitcher.
Heredia is still very young, and doesn’t turn 21 until mid-August. He’s Rule 5 eligible this off-season, but I don’t see anyone taking him at this point. The Pirates could keep him in A-ball for a few years to work on his mechanics and he’d still be age appropriate for the level. For now, we’ll see how things improve in his next outing. Here is the video of his start, which doesn’t include the first few batters.