A good changeup is often one of the last pieces of a starting pitcher’s puzzle to figure out on the mound. The change of speed is big as a different look as a pitcher faces the same batters multiple times throughout the game.
We saw this season some of the lower level guys who were ahead of the game when it comes to throwing an offspeed pitch, but the Pirates have quite a few players throughout the system that are already really comfortable with the pitch.
Ricky DeVito Splitter
Acquired in the Richard Rodriguez, DeVito missed the majority of the 2021 season with an injury and didn’t make his Pirates system debut until this past year.
He worked back in slowly, pitching longer outings by season’s end, and part of the reason for his success was his splitter that was rated as the best changeup (the two are grouped together) in the Pirates’ system.
DeVito’s ability to place the pitch, against righties and lefties, is really what sets the pitch out against others in the system, making it a lot more effective and unpredictable.
Omar Cruz Changeup
The lefty doesn’t have an overpowering fastball, but his changeup helps make it a lot more deceptive than it would usually be.
While a changeup isn’t always thought of when it comes to a swing and miss pitch, Cruz’s offspeed pitch generated misses at just as high of a rate as others in the limited data from the pitcher’s participating in the Arizona Fall League.
Cruz’s changeup generated a 70% whiff rate in the fall league, while also posting a called strike plus whiff rate of 42.1%. So the pitch generated either a called strike or whiff almost half the time he threw it.
Carlos Jimenez Changeup
A player to watch for a breakout, although he will get the tough assignment of pitching in Greensboro this upcoming year.
Jimenez started to turn some heads last year for his changeup, a pitch that he threw more than his fastball at times. It was for a good reason, as he generated nearly a 60% whiff rate with his changeup for the majority of the season.
The pitch obviously isn’t at that level, but it does have a Devin Williams ‘Airbender’ type of break to it.
Po-Yu Chen Splitter
If spin rates are your type of thing, then Chen is a player to really watch in the system. He posts really strong spin numbers on just about every one of his pitches, and his splitter is no exception.
Through the first half of the season, his splitter had an average spin of 1451 rpm, and had over 30 inches of vertical break on it, while also generating nearly a 50% whiff rate.
Highlight of the Day
Pirates Prospects Daily
By Tim Williams
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Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.