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Statcast Heroes: Jared Jones, Paul Skenes, Aroldis Chapman, Edward Olivares

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Each week in Statcast Heroes, I’ll be recapping the weekly leaders at each level of the Pittsburgh Pirates system that has data available. That includes the Major Leagues, Triple-A, and Single-A. The results give a quick glimpse at players who stand out in a given week, with the chance to identify players who wouldn’t normally be discussed. As for the players who are normally discussed, this allows for a deeper dive into why they’re performing well.

The weekly leaders can be found at the bottom of the article, after these players who stood out in the last week.

The Jared Jones and Paul Skenes Show

Jared Jones and Paul Skenes are a fixture in this article. Skenes owns the velocity section in Triple-A, taking all ten spots this week on pitches that were 100.7 MPH or harder. He also picked up 12 whiffs in his start, for the second highest total in Indianapolis. Jones took up six of the ten MLB spots in velocity, and had the top two whiff totals for the Pirates this week, picking up 15 in both of his starts on the 11th and 16th.

Eventually, Skenes will be moved to the big leagues, where his 100 MPH fastball will take the top velocity spots from the 99 MPH fastball from Jones. Both of them will battle for the top whiff marks each week.

Velocity Concerns For Aroldis Chapman?

Aroldis Chapman pitched three times this week, struggling during two of those outings. Those struggles both turned Pirates leads into Pirates losses. More concerning is the fact that he only threw four pitches this week recorded at 99 MPH or harder.

Chapman threw eight sliders and five four-seam fastballs in his only good outing of the week last Friday. His fastball averaged 99 MPH.

One day later, Chapman was averaging 97.3 MPH, throwing ten fastballs with a high velocity of 98.8. In his appearance on Monday, he threw 11 fastballs with an average velocity of 97.0 MPH, and a high of 99.2.

Chapman averaged 99.0 MPH on his fastball last year. His velocity is down 1.5 MPH in the early part of the 2024 season, averaging 97.5. The only other seasons in his career where Chapman dipped below a 98 MPH average were in 2022 (97.5) and 2020 (97.8). The 2022 season was the only year in his career that he had an ERA over 4, and a negative value.

Bad Luck For Edward Olivares

The overall numbers for outfielder Edward Olivares are looking great. He’s batting .286/.333/.524 with three home runs in 45 plate appearances. Those numbers could be better.

Olivares had four of the five hardest hit balls for the Pirates this week, including the top three, all at 108.6 MPH or harder. The only issue? None of those went for hits.

Two of the batted balls in excess of 109 MPH were both lineouts with double-digit degrees in launch angle. One traveled 300 feet and had an expected batting average of .830. The other went 351 feet with an xBA of .620. The other two hardest hits went into the ground, but still carried an xBA of .640 and .480.

Olivares got some hits. On the same day he hit a 109.1 MPH lineout that traveled 351 feet, he also hit a 105.5 MPH line drive single.

There are some encouraging signs when you dig deeper. The line drive rate from Olivares this year is at 33.3%, with a previous high of 24.6%. His launch angle is 15.0, increasing from 12.2 last year and the 6-8 degree range in previous years. He’s also finding the barrel much more often, at 18.2% compared to a 7.6% career rate.

The overall numbers for Olivares are great. They could also easily improve if he maintains this hitting profile.

Quinn Priester Racks Up the Whiffs

I would expect Quinn Priester to get the call to the big leagues to replace Marco Gonzales. Priester, the 2019 first rounder by the Pirates, picked up 17 whiffs in his last start. He recorded the most on his slider, with seven whiffs in ten swings on 19 pitches. His sinker didn’t have a lot of swing and miss, with three whiffs in 14 swings, but his curveball added three in six swings. The changeup and four-seam each had two whiffs on four swings.

Priester also was throwing strikes with all of the pitches. He had four called strikes on each the sinker and curve, five on the changeup, two on the four-seam, and one on the slider.

In total, Priester had a 41% rate on called and swinging strikes. This is the second time he’s posted a double-digit whiff total. I’d expect him to get a chance to show his swing and miss stuff in Pittsburgh for a few starts.

Malcom Nunez Hitting the Ball Far

I like seeing players who repeatedly demonstrate a skill, rather than just having one big game. Malcom Nunez had the three furthest hit balls of the week in Triple-A, with all three shots coming on different nights.

Two of his shots were flyouts. However, Nunez connected for his third homer of the season on Sunday, hitting a 102.5 MPH shot that traveled 429 feet.

I wrote yesterday about the plus power from the 23-year-old corner infielder. That has been good to see early in the season, especially across different days.

Carlos Jimenez Shows Command

One of my favorite sleepers in the lower levels is Carlos Jimenez. I saw the right-hander pitch two years ago in Bradenton, and was impressed not only by his changeup, but his competitive drive. Jimenez has dealt with command issues, and is still in Bradenton, now in his age 21 season. On Tuesday, he had an impressive start, with three shutout innings.

Jimenez has one of the best changeups in the entire system. That pitch was thrown ten times on Tuesday, getting three whiffs on four swings, along with two called strikes. The pitch averages 87.1 MPH.

His fastball on this day was outstanding. Averaging 95.6 MPH and touching 97.5, Jimenez picked up seven whiffs on the pitch, while adding four called strikes. He threw the pitch in the zone 47% of the time, but got chase swings on 44% of the pitches out of the zone. Batters were only making contact on 25% of those chase pitches.

Jimenez is still age appropriate for the level, with a nice combination of pitches from his fastball and changeup. He also throws a curveball, which picked up two whiffs on five swings. He’s still a guy to follow in the lower levels.

Weekly Leaders

Every week, I’ll be recapping the leaders across four categories in both the majors and the minors. This week includes the first full week in Single-A. All stats run 4/10/24-4/16/24, and can be found at Baseball Savant.

Top Exit Velocities

Edward Olivares led the way with hard hit balls, and bad luck outs. Matt Gorski in Triple-A and Javier Rivas in Single-A both had the same issues.

MLB

  1. Edward Olivares – 109.9 MPH (4/16, Lineout)
  2. Edward Olivares – 109.8 MPH (4/13, Groundout)
  3. Edward Olivares – 109.1 MPH (4/11, Lineout)
  4. Henry Davis – 109.4 MPH (4/12, Double)
  5. Edward Olivares – 108.6 MPH (4/12, Groundout)
  6. Alika Williams – 108.5 MPH (4/16, Double)
  7. Oneil Cruz – 108.1 MPH (4/13, Home Run)
  8. Ke’Bryan Hayes – 107.5 MPH (4/12, Groundout)
  9. Oneil Cruz – 107.3 MPH (4/12, Groundout)
  10. Jack Suwinski – 107.4 MPH (4/14, Single)
  11. Connor Joe – 107.4 MPH (4/15, Single)

Triple-A

  1. Carter Bins – 110.0 MPH (4/14, Single)
  2. Matt Gorski – 109.4 MPH (4/16, Double)
  3. Dustin Peterson – 108.4 MPH (4/14, Groundout)
  4. Matt Gorski – 107.8 MPH (4/16, Groundout)
  5. Grant Koch – 107.2 MPH (4/13, Double)
  6. Matt Gorski – 106.9 MPH (4/10, Groundout)
  7. Carter Bins – 105.6 MPH (4/14, Double)
  8. Gilberto Celestino – 105.6 MPH (4/14, Single)
  9. Malcom Nunez – 105.3 MPH (4/10, Forceout)
  10. Gilberto Celestino – 104.9 MPH (4/14, Field Error)

Single-A

  1. Juan Jerez – 112.1 MPH (4/13, Single)
  2. Javier Rivas – 107.2 MPH (4/13, Field Error)
  3. Garret Forrester – 106.2 MPH (4/12, Double)
  4. Javier Rivas – 105.8 MPH (4/16, Flyout)
  5. Shalin Polanco – 105.4 MPH (4/12, Home Run)
  6. Omar Alfonzo – 104.9 MPH (4/12, Groundout)
  7. Omar Alfonzo – 104.9 MPH (4/16, Groundout)
  8. Omar Alfonzo – 103.9 MPH (4/12, Home Run)
  9. Javier Rivas – 103.6 MPH (4/10, Groundout)
  10. Jack Herman – 103.4 MPH (4/16, Single)

Top Distances

It’s good to see Jack Suwinski hitting the ball far. Malcom Nunez led the way in Indianapolis, and I’m impressed with Esmerlyn Valdez in Bradenton.

MLB

  1. Jack Suwinski – 402 (4/14)
  2. Bryan Reynolds – 390 (4/14)
  3. Jack Suwinski – 386 (4/14)
  4. Andrew McCutchen – 378 (4/14)
  5. Andrew McCutchen – 376 (4/16)
  6. Oneil Cruz – 369 (4/13)
  7. Joey Bart – 369 (4/14)
  8. Bryan Reynolds – 364 (4/15)
  9. Alika Williams – 352 (4/13)
  10. Edward Olivares – 351 (4/11)

Triple-A

  1. Malcom Nunez – 429 (4/14)
  2. Malcom Nunez – 383 (4/12)
  3. Malcom Nunez – 379 (4/13)
  4. Nick Gonzales – 371 (4/13)
  5. Liover Peguero – 367 (4/13)
  6. Canaan Smith-Njigba – 364 (4/13)
  7. Eli Wilson – 363 (4/14)
  8. Canaan Smith-Njigba – 357 (4/16)
  9. Nick Gonzales – 347 (4/13)
  10. Grant Koch – 344 (4/13)

Single-A

  1. Omar Alfonzo – 436 (4/12)
  2. Shalin Polanco – 412 (4/12)
  3. Javier Rivas – 388 (4/16)
  4. Esmerlyn Valdez – 385 (4/12)
  5. P.J. Hilson – 380 (4/14)
  6. Shalin Polanco – 377 (4/10)
  7. Jeral Toledo – 360 (4/11)
  8. Esmerlyn Valdez – 355 (4/11)
  9. Esmerlyn Valdez – 348 (4/12)
  10. Garret Forrester – 345 (4/12)

Top Pitch Velocities

Chapman, Jones, and Skenes led the way at the top two levels. Antwone Kelly led the way in Bradenton, although his fastball was hit pretty consistently.

MLB

  1. Aroldis Chapman – 101.4 MPH
  2. Aroldis Chapman – 101.0 MPH
  3. Aroldis Chapman – 99.9 MPH
  4. Jared Jones – 99.7 MPH
  5. Jared Jones – 99.6 MPH
  6. Jared Jones – 99.5 MPH
  7. Jared Jones – 99.5 MPH
  8. Aroldis Chapman – 99.2 MPH
  9. Jared Jones – 99.0 MPH
  10. Jared Jones – 99.0 MPH

Triple-A

  1. Paul Skenes – 101.6 MPH
  2. Paul Skenes – 101.5 MPH
  3. Paul Skenes – 101.3 MPH
  4. Paul Skenes – 101.2 MPH
  5. Paul Skenes – 101.0 MPH
  6. Paul Skenes – 100.9 MPH
  7. Paul Skenes – 100.9 MPH
  8. Paul Skenes – 100.9 MPH
  9. Paul Skenes – 100.9 MPH
  10. Paul Skenes – 100.7 MPH

Single-A

  1. Antwone Kelly – 98.6 MPH
  2. Antwone Kelly – 97.6 MPH
  3. Carlos Jimenez – 97.5 MPH
  4. Carlos Jimenez. 97.4 MPH
  5. Tyler Kennedy – 97.3 MPH
  6. Tyler Kennedy – 97.2 MPH
  7. Khristian Curtis – 97.2 MPH
  8. Antwone Kelly – 97.1 MPH
  9. Tyler Kennedy – 97.1 MPH
  10. Khristian Curtis – 97.1 MPH
  11. Khristian Curtis – 97.1 MPH

Swing and Miss

It’s disappointing to see Marco Gonzales go down after such a dominant start.

MLB

  1. Jared Jones – 15 (4/11)
  2. Jared Jones – 15 (4/16)
  3. Marco Gonzales – 11 (4/13)
  4. Mitch Keller – 9 (4/14)
  5. Hunter Stratton – 5 (4/11)
  6. Bailey Falter – 5 (4/12)
  7. Jose Hernandez – 4 (4/13)
  8. Martin Perez – 4 (4/15)
  9. Jose Hernandez – 3 (4/12)
  10. Ryder Ryan – 3 (4/16)

Triple-A

  1. Quinn Priester – 17 (4/13)
  2. Paul Skenes – 12 (4/12)
  3. Eric Lauer – 10 (4/16)
  4. Kyle Nicolas – 9 (4/13)
  5. Eric Lauer – 7 (4/10)
  6. Michael Plassmeyer – 7 (4/14)
  7. Kade McClure – 6 (4/13)
  8. J.C Flowers – 5 (4/10)
  9. Carmen Mlodzinski – 4 (4/12)
  10. Brady Feigl – 4 (4/12)
  11. J.C. Flowers – 4 (4/13)
  12. Geronimo Franzua – 4 (4/14)
  13. Fineas Del Bonta-Smith 4 (4/16)

Single-A

  1. Carlos Jimenez – 12 (4/16)
  2. Carlson Reed – 9 (4/12)
  3. Michael Kennedy – 9 (4/13)
  4. Khristian Curtis – 8 (4/14)
  5. Antwone Kelly – 7 (4/11)
  6. Magdiel Cotto – 7 (4/16)
  7. Hung-Leng Chang – 6 (4/10)
  8. Luigi Hernandez – 6 (4/16)
  9. Ben Heller – 5 (4/11)
  10. Ben Heller – 5 (4/14)
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Tim Williams
Tim Williams
Tim is the owner, producer, editor, and lead writer of PiratesProspects.com. He has been running Pirates Prospects since 2009, becoming the first new media reporter and outlet covering the Pirates at the MLB level in 2011 and 2012. His work can also be found in Baseball America, where he has been a contributor since 2014 and the Pirates' correspondent since 2019.

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