When the Pittsburgh Pirates signed Rich Hill to a contract, it added yet another starting pitching candidate to the mix, and in turn added some much needed depth to the position.
Now with the rotation more or less set at this point, it creates a new layer to the roster that we haven’t seen in quite some time.
The rotation was one of the strong suits down the stretch last season, and now the Pirates have added two major league veterans to the picture in Hill and Vince Velasquez. The Pirates also having two of their top pitching prospects — Mike Burrows and Quinn Priester — expected to start the season in Indianapolis.
Over the past couple of seasons it has felt that Indianapolis has been a waiting ground for a prospect to hang tight until any sort of service time issues could be worked out, with that player quickly promoted once any of that has been cleared.
This season it could prove to be more of a testing ground as opposed to a waiting room for prospects, at least the pitchers.
While it’s ideal to get your top prospects up to the majors so they can get acclimated to the level, it’s also important not to rush them and if there is any extra development that can be done, there’s time to do it now.
The better, and deeper the rotation at the majors will give Priester, Burrows, and others, added time to fully fine tune their games so they are a more complete pitcher by the time they get called up.
Luis Ortiz may only need two pitches to succeed at the next level, but with so few rotation spots available, he may not have a choice but to further expand his game if he wants to compete as a starter.
As more prospects continue to make their way to Pittsburgh, things are going to get even tighter when it comes to roster decisions. Players will have to earn their way on the major league roster, as opposed to taking over a placeholder.
Creating that kind of expectations now, at the major league level, can help the overall culture that could also trickle down to the minor leagues.
With the entire rotation set, filled with more of a veteran presence than years prior, we will know that when there is a call up, it is based more on merit than anything else.
Highlight of the Day
Pirates Prospects Daily
By Tim Williams
**John Dreker looked at Sammy Siani and how he’s cutting down his strikeouts in Australia this offseason, in this week’s Pirates Winter Report.
**There was a big day in Australia over the weekend, with four Pirates prospects hitting home runs. John Dreker has the latest Pirates winter league updates.
**Missed yesterday? Anthony looked at Rich Hill’s unorthodox approach on the mound.
Song of the Day
Pirates Prospects Weekly
John Dreker looked at Sammy Siani in his latest Pirates Winter Report, noting how he’s cut down his strikeouts in winter ball.
Ethan Hullihen will have his latest Pirates Business update later today.