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BA’s John Manuel on the Pirates’ No. 1 status, Wandy “feels good,” and more

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SOUTH HILLS – You can argue the Pirates’ lack of activity this offseason has been damaging because fellow NL contenders like the Cardinals, Nationals, Dodgers and Diamondbacks have been more aggressive in the free agent and trade markets. But we learned the Pirates will earn something more important from a long-term perspective Monday: they will be named Baseball America’s No. 1 farm system next month when the 2014 Prospect Handbook is published.

The Pirates have never ranked No. 1 in the Handbook Era, which dates back to 2000. Pittsburgh ranked 7th last year and 26th in Neal Huntington‘s first year on the job in 2008.

 

To understand how far the Pirates’ system has come here’s what Baseball America has to say about the Pirates’ farm system back in 2008:

 

26
PITTSBURGH
PIRATES
Red SoxCumulative Ranking, Last Five Years: No. 18
State Of The System: The Pirates have endured 15 consecutive losing seasons, one shy of the big league record, and the farm system isn’t about to spark an immediate turnaround under new GM Neal Huntington. Pittsburgh passed on more talented players to take more signable LHP Daniel Moskos with the No. 4 overall pick in 2007, and with the exception of OF/1B Steve Pearce (an eighth-rounder in 2005), the Bucs have done little after the first round of the draft. And while they’ve hit on prospects such as OF Andrew McCutchen and 3B Neil Walker with their top picks, they also have a history of taking pitchers who soon after needed major surgery (Bobby Bradley, Sean Burnett, John Van Benschoten, Bryan Bullington, Brad Lincoln).

 

Times have changed. The 2014 State of the System report will be glowing. And the only way the Pirates are going to compete consistently on baseball’s slanted playing surface is by drafting and developing their own talent. And according to Baseball America, no organization has a better collection of prospects than the Pirates entering 2014… and this is a year after the Pirates graduated a top 10 overall prospect in Gerrit Cole.

 

Pirates’ Baseball America organizational rank by year:

 

2008: 26th

2009: 18th

2010: 15th

2011: 19th

2012: 11th

2013:  7th

2014:  1st

 

Notice a trend?

 

While plenty question Bob Nutting‘s commitment to MLB payroll, those record $51 million Nutting committed to the draft from 2008-12 and the tireless efforts by Rene Gayo in his staff in Latin America are beginning to payoff in a big way. I caught up with Baseball America editor John Manuel on Monday to discus what led to the Pirates’ No. 1 status.

 

TS:  What is the key driver in the No. 1 ranking?

 

JM: “They have several players we felt would contend to be No. 1 in a lot of different organizations. They have several players who fit the profile to be starters on championship-caliber teams. They have more of those than other teams. If they were tied, or if they were similar (to other teams), more of their guys were in Double-A or Triple-A.”

 

TS: How do you weigh depth vs. impact talent when ranking systems?

 

JM: “It’s impact players, it’s not role players, and that’s what separates it for us. The other part that is impressive for me is this comes after graduating Gerrit Cole. Usually teams that graduate players like that fall back in the rankings like the Cardinals (who will go from No. 1 to No. 7 – graduating Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal and Michael Wacha).  It’s good to have depth but what you want to have that depth of future regulars. Guys who are going to get 500 at bast or make 30 starts on championship-caliber teams. Our information is the industry is bullish the Pirates’ depth of those caliber of players.”

 

TS: The 2013 draft no doubt helped the ranking along with the Glasnow breakout, correct?

 

JM:  ”The industry believes in Reese McGuire’s glove and that’s pretty rare for a high school catcher to have the kind of praise for his defense, then the fact he went out and hit in his pro debut … It’s a risky demographic (high school catchers). But the ones who have hit recently (Joe) Mauer and (Brian) McCann and (Yaider) Molina, the best catchers, with the exception of (Buster) Posey, have been high school draft picks. …. People in the office very bullish on Glasnow. Not a lot of 6-foot-7 starters in the major leagues.  He’s the most likely to be a reliever in the top 10 because of his size and command issues.  You don’t see a lot of big league starters who are 6-7.”

 

Manuel also noted its rare for a guy like Brandon Cumpton to have some limited big-league success and not be ranked in the top 10, speaking to the system’s depth,  and Manuel noted most orgs have a relievers ranked in the top 10 (which is not idea) … but not the Pirates. (That’s a good thing)

 

NOTES FROM BRADENTON …

Rob Biertempfel is down in Florida for the Pirates’ minicamp this week. Wandy Rodriguez began a throwing program in December and told Biertempfel his arm “feels good.” It’s really early but that has to be encouraging for the Pirates, who will likely need to make up 190 quality innings from free agent AJ Burnett .... Rob also caught up  with Andrew Lambo who has spent much of the offseason playing first base in winter ball.

 

Said Lambo:“It’s all about getting up to game speed, and that’s what I wanted to do in Venezuela. It’s a little quicker (at first base) than the outfield. The ball’s coming at you quick. Getting the hang of that was the biggest adjustment. I had to put in the work. I wanted to get better at it, so I was out there every day.”

 

REDS AND BAILEY FAR APART ON EXTENSION

 

Reds starter Homer Bailey is entering his final year of arbitration and it doesn’t sound like the Reds are encouraged about are reaching one.

 

Said Reds GM Walk Jocketty to MLB.com: ”probably the one guy that’s going to be the most difficult [to sign] because of how well he’s done and where he’s at in this service class.  Young pitchers are getting quite a bit.”

 

The Reds took a major hit this offseason in losing .423 OBP  man Shin-Soo Choo, and are likely to lose Bailey after 2014. It took Bailey four seasons to become the kind of pitcher the Reds expected him to be and now he looks like a $100 million-plus arm. The Reds’ farm systems ranks behind the Pirates,’ Cardinals,’ and Cubs’ in the division and it is going to be tough for the Reds to remain a 90-win plus team going forward.

 

-TS

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Comments

  1. bill says:

    Impressive rating for farm system – even after late season trades for Byrd & Morneau. Bucs do need a full season of quality starts from Wandy – hope his arm will allow that.

  2. Travis Sawchik says:

    Manuel wasn’t sure if a team had ever graduated a top 10 overall prospect like Cole and then taken the No. 1 overall rank. Impressive depth of top-end talent

  3. Travis Sawchik says:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-problem-with-stephen-drews-market/

    More on Stephen Drew’s market today at Fangraphs. As Sullivan notes, if you believe your team is on the contention bubble (Pirates are, I believe) paying a player like Drew makes sense …. Not many contenders have SS needs. Pirates can improve there.

  4. BostonsCommon says:

    Interesting he see’s Glasnow as “most likely” to be a reliever.. I would think that is his floor at this point, and as a kid going into his age 20 season, there’s plenty of time to work on command issues and mechanics. And with the way he misses bats, he should be given every opportunity to remain in the rotation.

  5. LeeFoo says:

    Travis…it may ‘make sense’ (arguably) to sign Drew, but we’re not gonna do it.

    Those Lexus box seats are still out there, and I have little doubt I’m gonna have to pay for them.

    Foo

  6. LeeFoo says:

    BC…I agree that is his ‘floor’ at worst.

  7. carisi_99 says:

    Imagine if they could have sealed the deal with Sano, that one still kills me.

  8. NMR says:

    Glasnow has yet to develope anything close to a consistant secondary offering, as well.

    Says a lot about his fastball, but also limits his potential.

  9. Travis Sawchik says:

    Also interesting to note, BA’s top 30 Pirates prospects includes only one player drafted in the top five (Taillon), and two drafted in the top 10 (Meadows, Taillon) …. so the system is not built solely upon the benefits of awful baseball and great draft position

  10. NMR says:

    Any chance you could link BA’s Top 30?

  11. Travis Sawchik says:

    I wonder what Drew’s ultimate contract will be. Will it really be much more than Loney’s 3/21 deal? 3/30?

    Or a shorter deal with more dollars?

    I just don’t see much market for him which is why I think there is opportunity

  12. Travis Sawchik says:

    Sorry, I don’t have a copy to link to or paste

  13. Travis Sawchik says:

    Yeah, that was of interest to me, too, but as NMR noted he’s lacking a 3rd and even 2nd consistent pitch at this point along with his command issues. Still, Pirates will give him every chance to succeed as a starter. And if that doesn’t work, being Trevor Rosenthal isn’t so bad

  14. BostonsCommon says:

    …still only his age 20 season. Everyone talks about projecting him to Altoona this by mid 2014, starting 2015 (age 21) in AAA, with a shot to be a June/July call-up like Cole and Taillon.

    While that would be great, it’s also not a path that very many impact pitchers take, debuting at 20-21. Were talking CC Sabathia, Felix Hernandez, Jose Fernandez…

    I guess, my point is, with his stuff (and with his warts), there no reason to rush him. What’s wrong with a level per season? If he dominates again, yes keep moving him along… But there is plenty of time for mechanics, secondary pitches, and command to improve.

    Even if he goes a level per season, he’s still going to be knocking on the door in AAA at age 22. Lots of time with this kid to get it right.

  15. NMR says:

    I haven’t heard anybody with a baseball background recommend that agressive path, Boston. Way too much to work on to think he could be a positive contributor in a year and a half.

    I don’t think you have to worry about that.

  16. NMR says:

    I will say that I doubt he gets much better until he’s challenged.

    You can spin changes and curves all you want, but you don’t learn to truly command the pitches as needed in the big leagues when you know you can dominate hitters with just your fastball.

  17. NMR says:

    Great point, Travis.

    If Drew’s contract came down to something around $10m AAV (for 3+ years, lets say), that isn’t any more expensive than platooning Loney and Sanchez.

    Free agent shortstops aren’t going to come any cheaper, and the prospects needed to get one in a trade are certainly going to be worth more than a single late 1st round draft pick.

    If the team views Drew as an above average major league shortstop, this could be the time to strike.

  18. BostonsCommon says:

    I guess by ‘everyone’, I mean Tim Williams.

  19. LeeFoo says:

    NMR….don’t be cheap….buy the book!

    :) :)

  20. LeeFoo says:

    Travis……YEP! So much for those arguments of “we’ve drafted high, so we SHOULD have a great farm system?”

  21. LeeFoo says:

    From P2:

    “Glasnow went to West Virginia in 2013 and absolutely dominated. He put up a 2.18 ERA in 111.1 innings, with an incredible 36.3% strikeout rate. The right-hander featured a mid-90s fastball that topped out at 99 MPH at times, along with a plus curveball. He had the fastball velocity by the end of the 2012 season. He always had the curveball. A big difference in 2013 was the progression of his changeup.”

    From my Draft Insider link below:
    “Glasnow can flat out bring it with his fastball, consistently touching the high 90′s and sitting 93-95, with projection to sit in the high 90′s as his frame builds. His curveball is extremely inconsistent and rarely thrown for a strike, but at times it’s a swing and miss pitch with big break and depth. Glasnow’s change is a work in progress, but has seen improvement and should at least be an average offering with time.”

    I guess it depends on who you read? I think he has the pitches, he just needs the command?

  22. LeeFoo says:

    “Luis Heredia said he came into Spring Training last year weighing 276 with a size 42 waist. Said he’s 240 now with a size 36 waist.”

    Bartolo Part Deux??

  23. NMR says:

    Ha, that’s what I figured.

    Like I was saying…

  24. NMR says:

    Tim Williams ain’t exactly impartial OR a scout, Foo.

    Think about your source.

  25. Travis Sawchik says:

    Good points, NMR

    Also consider eight or nine of the combined starting pitchers in the StL and Cin rotations will be right-handed depending upon Garcia’s health.

    Add in PNC Park’s park factors and you can’t have enough quality left-handed bats

  26. NMR says:

    Luis who?

  27. Travis Sawchik says:

    That weight issue basically erased his 2013 … late start, hindered production … curious what Heredia can be if in shape.

  28. BostonsCommon says:

    That makes 2 of us.

  29. LeeFoo says:

    NMR….Over the years I have read some harsh critiques of Pirate Prospects from him. I have found him to be very fair and objective.

    If you’ve ever read his Prospect Handbooks, you’d see that. In fact, IN that book, he echos the command issues and inconsistency of his curve.

    So, yeah, I’m considering the source….

  30. LeeFoo says:

    NMR….Over the years I have read some harsh critiques of Pirate Prospects from him. I have found him to be very fair and objective.

    If you’ve ever read his Prospect Handbooks, you’d see that. In fact, IN that book, he echos the command issues and inconsistency of his curve. I guess this was jus a ‘fluff piece’.

    So, yeah, I’m considering the source….

  31. LeeFoo says:

    NMR…btw, that tweet was from Tim W, who basically echoes what Travis says.

    Go figger………..Tim being negative about the Bucs…..

  32. LeeFoo says:

    I would love Glasnow to get to Altoona, but I am not seeing it just yet.

    I love Tim W, but I don’t always agree with him.

    And, having read his stuff ‘religiously’ since he was a ‘blog pup’, he’s been more right about the Pirate farm system than most.

    Especially a certain columnist…:) :)

  33. LeeFoo says:

    NMR/BC…why the Tim W hate? Its the first I’ve encountered it on any Pirate Blog.

    P2 is easily the best site out there for Pirate prospect insight. For instance, who else is writing this:

    “First Pitch: The Pirates System is Built For Long Term Success” (he had all the stuff Travis posted above, and this is NOT a slam of Travis at all, and went into great depth on it. It posted last night)

    ” Jacoby Jones was one of the more interesting picks by the Pirates on day two of the 2013 draft. He was listed as a second baseman, third baseman, and an outfielder by different outlets in pre-draft rankings. The Pirates drafted him as a center fielder. However, they had him getting time in at shortstop while he was with Jamestown, spending five games at short and ten games in center field.”

    You may not always agree with his opinions, but where else can you get this kind of stuff? He (and I) bristle at the ‘impartiality’ slams. He has written many critical Bucco prospect articles. He is not paid by the Pirates, so why should he be a Pirate ‘homer’.

    Now Singer, at MLB.com…………there’s a shill if I ever read one.

  34. LeeFoo says:

    Travis…same here……

  35. NMR says:

    Foo, I thought we were talking specifically about Glasnow’s secondary stuff.

    I respect the heck out of what Tim Williams’ has done, let me say that first. Turned being a fan into a career, and works tirelessly to cover just about anything that happens to the Pirates.

    But it is an incredible leap of faith to put any stock in HIS scouting reports, since he’s not actually – you know – a scout. Takes years and years to be able to accurately judge what a “plus” pitch actually looks like. I’ve read scouts call Glasnow’s curve POTENTIALLY a plus pitch, but not nearly consistant enough in break and location to actually be one.

  36. LeeFoo says:

    Btw, in his Prospect Book, Tim W says Glasnow ONLY gets to Altoona IF he improves his command (which DID get better over the season, but as NMR states still needs to get better).

    And from today’s article that I linked Tim says “Glasnow is expected to make the jump to High-A Bradenton to start the 2014 season. Depending on his success at the level, he could find himself in Altoona by the end of the year.”

    Again, note the caveat….

    THAT I agree with….if his command improves and he dominates Bradenton, why NOT move him to Altoona at the end of the year? The Pirates have consistently done that.

  37. NMR says:

    Foo, no “hate” at all.

    But you actually do a great job illustrating my point with your Jacoby Jones quotes.

    I didn’t read a single scouting report about Jones after that draft that DIDN’T think he needs a major swing overhaul to be a big leaguer. I mean this literally.

    How does something like that get left out of Williams’ write up?

  38. NMR says:

    I’m not calling him a complete homer, Foo. I’m questioning his scouting ability. Completely different things.

    And by the way, anybody that professes to be a fan of the team, as Tim does, is not impartial.

  39. LeeFoo says:

    NMR…….I have BA’s writeup on Jones and NOWHERE do they talk about his needing a swing overhaul. Keith Law mentioned it tho. Not sure why Tim didn’t mention it….he usually is spot on.

    Btw, BA and other sources had Alex Dickerson just out of the Top 10, but Tim didn’t even have him in his Top 30. Who was proven right?

    Jones DOES have a lonnnnnnnnnnnnng way to go.

    Tim does tend to get a bit optimistic, but he still can nail the warts. Plus, he does what all the other guys do….pesters the hell out of scouts….lol. Is John Manual a scout? Only Keith Law can lay claim to that, which is why I love his analysis.

  40. LeeFoo says:

    NMR…by the way, I just asked Tim about Jones’ swing. I’ll let you know what answer I get. He seemed to hit very well before his injury, so maybe the Bucco coaches fixed it?

  41. LeeFoo says:

    From his book he intimates that the Curve will be plus with command.

    So, I think we can at least agree that overall command is the biggest issue?

  42. LeeFoo says:

    Did some more research…both BA and Keith Law have said his curveball shows flashes of being a PLUS pitch….both stressed command issues at this point. KLaw thinks he is going to break out big in 2014.

  43. Warren says:

    TW isn’t a scout, nor does he ever claim to be. In fact, most of the time who uses a disclaimer explicitly stating that he ISN’T a scout.

    That aside, he was absolutely the first one to start touting Polanco before he broke out at WV two years ago. Not to shabby for a non-scout.

  44. NMR says:

    Let’s back up a minute, Foo.

    This conversation started with Boston commenting on Glasnow ending up as a reliever, as his floor, and cited known command and mechanical issues. I added that he also lacks consistant secondary pitches, which is a common trait of relievers.

    That has produced a bunch of text that agrees with me. “flashes plus” does not actually mean plus, as Tim wrote in that article. I find all the anti Tim Williams stuff pretty childish, but that also don’t put much stock in his analysys that isn’t heavily cited by people who do this sort of thing for a living.

  45. BostonsCommon says:

    I’ll echo NMR’s sentiment of ‘no hate’.. He just asked where I’d seen that particular timeline that puts Glasnow in in the MLB in ’15.

  46. BostonsCommon says:

    KLaw is a year late…

  47. BostonsCommon says:

    Bartolo is 5’11″… in spikes… on a mound.. maybe.

    Heredia is already 6’6″-6’7″, only 19 so his body is still changing. Who knows, he may still be getting taller.

    Bartolo is a little harsh IMO… Sabathia is probably a better comp. but Heredia is still way to young to be hung with such a label.

  48. NMR says:

    Well, he was listed at 6′-6″ when Dejan broke the story of his signing in 2010, so it seems like he is done growing (at least vertically).

    Doesn’t seem like he has increased arm strength at all in three years, at least judged by velocity.

    He’s certainly still young, but he’s not so young that there is a lot of room for physical projection. I’d bet he is what he is from that standpoint. Low 90′s, ticking into the mid-90s with better mechanics.

  49. NMR says:

    Sorry, meant to agree with your Sabathia comp. Somehow deleted that part.

  50. BostonsCommon says:

    I’ll hold out hope for the both of us that the uptick in velo is right around the corner…

  51. Jim S. says:

    Seems to me that he might just end up back with Boston.

  52. Jim S. says:

    I don’t know how uncommon it is for a guy at an appropriate age for his level, and also having just turned 20, to be striking out half of the outs he gets. That just seems ridiculous to me – the kind of ridiculous that seems to me to predict a decent chance of major league success as a starter. He doesn’t give up hits, either. Wasn’t he at about 4.5 to 5 per 9 last year? Of course, when you strike so many out, there isn’t as much room for batters to get hits. And, he isn’t doing all this with some sort of a gimmick pitch that will eventually be figured out and exploited. He’s doing it mostly with a mid-90′s fastball that probably has not reached it’s top end yet.

    He needs to cut the walks, of course. But, he doesn’t need to cut them to the level of a Kingham, for instance, because he doesn’t give up hits.

    I’m not a scout, so I trust BA a lot more than I do myself. But, I am having a hard time understanding why they think he is likely to be a reliever. Just that extra 2″ in height plus spotty control as a 20 year old?

  53. LeeFoo says:

    BC…like Travis, I made a boo-boo with the year…this was from a chat prior to the 2013 season, so KLaw was spot on.

  54. LeeFoo says:

    In the picture with the tweet, he looked like a young Bartolo Colon. Since you guys didn’t see the pic, I can see why you didn’t ‘get it’. The pic was on the PBC Asylum, so they ‘got it’.

    Foo

  55. LeeFoo says:

    NMR/BC….irt to the TW ‘hate’…and ‘backing up’, this is why I stated it:

    NMR: “Tim Williams ain’t exactly impartial OR a scout, Foo. Think about your source.

    BC: “Everyone (Tim W) talks about projecting him to Altoona this by mid 2014 (which is rushing him…but as, I pointed out, Tim was saying to put him at Altoona at year’s end, not unlike Cole, JT, etc)
    NMR: Ha, that’s what I figured. Like I was saying…(consider the source)

    Perhaps ‘hate’ was too strong a word, but you definitely weren’t being complimentary of Tim. Just reading it ‘straight’ I figured you guys were denigrating him, so I ‘launched’ into defense mode.

    Foogive me, but, if I’d probably react the same way.

    But, overall, I just consider the source. (just joking about that, but if I said that about either of you, you’d probably get a little ticked, right?)

    So…..bottom line….you guys say you WEREN’T denigrating TW, and I am saying it sounded like you were. Sounds like your basic miscommunication, so let’s just drop it, okay?

    Foo

  56. Arriba Wilver says:

    I don’t read Tim all the time, but I don’t recall him saying he’s a fan of the team.

  57. Thundercrack says:

    ‘But it is an incredible leap of faith to put any stock in HIS scouting reports, since he’s not actually – you know – a scout.’

    I can put stock in his scouting reports. It seems to me that Williams does enough homework, especially talking to scouts, that his opinion can be trusted. I mean watching and learning about Pirate prospects is his full time job. He has almost taught himself to be a scout…or at least how to think like one or know what to look for.

    His prospect book is very good. I just wish the type was bigger.

  58. jay says:

    Sort of off topic, but I like the dialogue here…with most of recent pirate new guys being “minor” ‘players and don’t seem to excite many…I’m trying to remember what people thought of Giles when he was first traded for.

  59. Cato the Elder says:

    For the record: who are your impartial scouting sources, NMR? I suppose I am quite interested in the primary sources of the “better” information you are getting. I’d at least like to compare for myself.

  60. NMR says:

    @AW – The way I’ve read Tim explain his story is that he started out years ago as just another fan like us frequenting Pirate message boards until he decided to start his own site to track Pirate happenings. Did it as a hobby for a while until it grew to the point of becoming his career. He wrote an article explaining his story after Dejan’s how-to-become-a-sports-writer blog post a couple months back.

    I respect the hell out of the guy for having the guts to sink his own money into a passion and turn it into a success.

  61. NMR says:

    BA never said he is likely to be a reliever, Jim. They don’t rank relievers as high as Glasnow is ranked. They, and many others I’ve read, say that Glasnow has the greatest chance of becoming a reliever given his CURRENT command and secondary offering profile.

    You’re absolutely right, those numbers are astounding. Especially considering he was basically all fastball. Guys like Cole and Taillon did not even dominate low levels in that manner. But you still have to consider the hitters he was facing. There’s just no way, unless he is a truly unique talent within the history of modern baseball, that Glasnow will continue that domination at higher levels and into the big leagues unless he can spot the fastball and offer at least one good secondary pitch consistantly. Just doesn’t happen.

  62. NMR says:

    @TC – you’re certainly entitled to your opinion, but good scouts spend years and years watching prospects…after spending years and years playing and/or coaching the game. Tim hasn’t done either.

    Think about it this way…do you think any Major League team would hire Tim Williams to be a scout right now?

  63. NMR says:

    “…but if I said that about either of you, you’d probably get a little ticked, right?”

    Speaking for myself, no, I absolutely wouldn’t get ticked. Because you would be absolutely correct in questioning me as a source.

    I’m not impartial or a scout, and neither is Tim.

  64. LeeFoo says:

    TC…I also wish the type were bigger….lol.

  65. LeeFoo says:

    NMR….would any team hire Mayo, Manual, Sickels or any of the writers who do the Top 30 Prospects for BA?

    Personally, I hope no team EVER hires Tim as a scout. That way, he can keep writing P2.

  66. LeeFoo says:

    NMR….most people would get ticked.

    For instance….”Mark Madden said that…..consider the source”.

    But, like I said…let’s drop it.

  67. LeeFoo says:

    NMR……….Rob’s latest headline: “Pirates notebook: Taillon morphs from thrower to pitcher”

    Since he is not a scout, I am considering the source. I’ll wait until a scout or a real baseball man tells me. Until then…..

    :) :) :) :) :) :) :)

  68. LeeFoo says:

    Some notes on Heredia and JT, from Tim at mini camp:

    “Luis Heredia was held back last year, due to his conditioning. He said today that he came into camp last year weighing 276 pounds with a size 42 waist. He looks to be in much better shape this year. He said he still has weight to lose, but is now at 240 and a size 36 waist. He’s also 6′ 6.5″.

    **To put Heredia’s weight in perspective, Jameson Taillon is the same height, and is now at 245 pounds. Taillon told me he added 7-8 pounds over the off-season in muscle weight, with the goal of throwing more innings next year. He said that he’s still agile at that weight, and didn’t want to sacrifice agility for muscle. That’s a key for Heredia. He said he has weight to lose, but if he adds some muscle, he could be back in the 240 range, which wouldn’t be bad depending on where the weight comes from, and how it impacts his pitching.”

  69. NMR says:

    First of all, those guys have been doing this for a hell of a lot longer than Tim. But I would still guess no.

  70. Jim S. says:

    I just read an article about him, and he said he really learned to trust his change-up this year, and got good results with it. It also said his curve is considered a plus pitch. I never know what to believe. One person’s first hand opinion is always different than another’s.

  71. Jim S. says:

    But, he’s not automatically wrong all the time, either. Right? Tim doesn’t form these opinions on his own. I think he gathers info from scouts. Granted, they are most likely Pirates’ scouts, so those might provide a somewhat skewed portrayal of his pitches. But, for a 20 year old, I don’t think there is that much cause for concern about the quality of his pitches. There is time to refine. In the meantime, he strikes out a heck of a lot more batters and gives up a heck of a lot less hits than anyone else in the organization – and that would also include most any other organization.

  72. Thundercrack says:

    NMR
    I just think that someone can learn, study and train to be a scout. And I think TW has done that.
    Of course he would have a different perspective than someone who is a former player or coach. But that to me doesn’t mean his opinion or evaluation doesn’t have merit and value.

    I think there are plenty of former players and coaches who would probably make lousy scouts.

    As you mentioned, just our opinions

  73. Jim S. says:

    I took from their assessment that he is likely to be a reliever. I only have the numbers to look at. But, I don’t see reliever in the numbers. I see potential ace. His control got markedly better as last year went on. He is still learning to harness that long body. I guess they are saying most guys that tall never quite harness the control well enough to be a successful starter. We’ll see.

  74. Jim S. says:

    When was Colon young? He’s pushing 50 now, isn’t he? :-)

  75. Jim S. says:

    I agree, Foo. I would say he is often more optimistic than an unbiased industry observer would be. But, I don’t think he goes over the top in heaping praise on guys he likes. He generally has some corresponding opinions from guys like Law, Callis, etc. At least, that has been my take on Tim.

  76. joel says:

    The Pirates better educate Hereida on the dangers of diabetes. I looked at his picture when he signed as a Pirate and his face showed his overweight condition as a 16-17 YO. He needs an nutritious to show him what is a healthy and unhealthy diet. Three days after I retired I was diagnosed as diabetic and the doctor told me that I would not die of diabetes but would die of the complications. It [glucose] attacks your feet and fingers then moves to most body organs : brain, eyes, kidneys, heart and veins, liver, and bladder. The Pirates have money invested in him and they need him to keep him healthy for their sake and him and his family.

  77. 21sthebest says:

    In Tim’s article, he said he used to visit Pirate message boards but he never said he was a fan. I’m guessing he probably was but that’s just speculation on my part.

    I’m not 100% sure about this but I thought Dejan had Pirate season tickets when they were in Three Rivers, or at least he attended a lot of games. This was before he was on the beat.

    In any event, I don’t even being a fan means that your writing is necessarily biased. Of course it could be but that’s up to the reader to decide for themselves.

  78. Jim S. says:

    Thanks for the Top 14 stuff, Foo.

  79. Jim S. says:

    I recall loving the acquisition of Giles, Jay. Loved the OB%, but never expected high 30′s in HR and .300 avg.

  80. Leo Walter says:

    LeeFoo : hard to beat comeback there !

  81. Jim S. says:

    Off-topic, but I’ve now heard a guy’s name thrown around a few times for Gaby’s platoon partner that I had not considered because I always think of him as a 3b. But, since I’ve now heard it about 3x, I’ll chime in.

    Wilson Betemit, free agent. I believe he pretty much missed almost all of 2013, so the health would need to be checked out. But, if they don’t get Davis or Smoak, and if they are not sold on the Lambo Leap, what do you think?

    He actually does play some 1b, and would be expected to be average defensively. .820 career OPS vs. RHP. Slash lines vs RHP (you know I love slash lines):

    2010 – .291/.370/.503
    2011 – .303/.365/.500
    2012 – .302/.357/.502

    Any of those years would work just fine vs RHP. A red flag, if you believe in regression, is that he has actually posted a BABIP of greater than .350 in all 3 of those years. Even still, if he fell to .280/.335/.460, would that be so bad?

    He’s a free agent, so no loss of draft picks or prospects. Injured last year, so he should come cheap. Maybe he’s a guy NH has in his back pocket? Would take creative thinking, as he is thought of mainly as a 3b.

    As I said, I have now heard or read about this a few times. But, I read a post from SABER BUCS last night that enticed me to ask the group. I’d be interested in what others have to say.

  82. Thanks for raining on the parade! Yea, that one kills me too, and came to mind yesterday when this was announced. The Pirates also drafted Trea Turner of North Carolina State in 2011 but could not sign him. He is now one of the top 5 college draft prospects for 2014.

  83. 21sthebest says:

    Torn PCL last year and it appears he didn’t do well in rehab stints. Those kind of injuries scare me off. Minor league deal only.

  84. LeeFoo says:

    Leo…Thx….I couldn’t resist….it was low hangin something or other.

    NMR….remember, that I kid because I care. :) :)

  85. LeeFoo says:

    Jim S….same here….the classic ‘relief pitcher’ for ‘something good’ deal. That Rincon deal just keeps on giving.

  86. LeeFoo says:

    Dr S….I’m old…I like something in my hand….besides, I have all my reference books right here in the Den. :)

  87. LeeFoo says:

    Jim….if I didn’t have pictures, I would never believe EYE was young.

    Looks like a totally different guy.

  88. LeeFoo says:

    Dr S….someone (okay, Tim W) did an article on how good our system would look if we had signed everyone we drafted out of HS.

    Of course, if that was the case for ALL teams, then we wouldn’t have G Cole, so…….

    You win some, you lose some. Based on our system, we’ve won more than we’ve lost.

    As for Sano, whaddaya gonna do? Some of that money we spent on him, we then were able to use on other Latin players, so it all worked out.

  89. NMR says:

    I appreciate the response, TC.

  90. NMR says:

    What time is the next fan club meeting? Does Jim dial in for each one? :)

  91. LeeFoo says:

    I received an answer from Tim W about JaCoby Jones and the retooling of his swing:

    Tim….when he was drafted, several outlets said he needed a swing overhaul, yet you don’t speak of it.
    Is that because Pirate coaches determined he didn’t need one?

    Tim Williams

    JANUARY 7, 2014
    They usually don’t do that kind of thing right away with players. They also didn’t really get a chance to do anything with Jones, since he went down with an injury early. I haven’t heard that they were planning on doing this, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t. It just means he was still in the “no touch” period.

    Foo

  92. LeeFoo says:

    Btw, and not to pile on, but the great John Perotto does the Pirate writeups for the Baseball America prospect book.

    I buy it anyway…… :)

  93. LeeFoo says:

    John Shea ‏@JohnSheaHey…HOF vote:

    Maddux: 97.2%, Glavine 91.9%, Thomas 83.7%, Biggio 74.8%, Piazza 62.2%, Morris 61.5%. Biggio missed by TWO votes, including the asinine Ken Gurnick’s vote.

    Bonds and Clemons both dropped in votes.

  94. LeeFoo says:

    I enjoyed this tweet

    Zeus Moscow ‏@LOLPhillies

    Tom Glavine’s Hall of Fame plaque will be eight inches wider than all the other pitchers’ plaques.”

  95. Jim S. says:

    On Dejan’s blog, Biz just posted that he read Sano is facing possible TJ surgery. Something about UCL nerve.

  96. Jim S. says:

    I think Colon resembles the late, great Andre the Giant now.

  97. Jim S. says:

    My application for membership in the fan club was rejected. They called another blog for a reference, and that didn’t go well. :-)

  98. Jim S. says:

    Bonds and Clemens can’t even get in as a 2 for the price of 1 special now, can they?

  99. Jim S. says:

    Nice. Same for Maddux, I would think.

  100. Jim S. says:

    Yeah, minor league deal works. But, maybe worth the gamble. He has crushed RHP.

  101. Arriba Wilver says:

    I read that, too, NMR, which was really the basis for my comment. I was surprised that in it he claimed not to even be a baseball fan after the 1994 strike because of the economic disparity. I forget what he said about the Pirates per se, but I got the impression he was more interested in the methods being used to scout, draft and develop talent by the have nots than in the Pirates as a motivating factor. Just my recollection.

  102. LeeFoo says:

    Arriba….In 1994, I believe Tim W was 10 years old (maybe 11?).

    Time enough to get over that season….lol

  103. LeeFoo says:

    NMR…I am high tech…Jim Skypes!

 
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