While the Pirates played well this week in a series win over the Twins, there was more good news in the organization down on the farm. The system’s top three pitching prospects (not including the still-unsigned Mark Appel) all pitched very well–two of them in debuts at a new level.
Last night, Luis Heredia started for short-season State College. Heredia is 17 years old, which is obviously ridiculously young (even for such a low level of the minors). Despite that, the 6’6″ righty posted a very solid start against a lineup full of players anywhere from 2-5 years older than him. He went 4 innings (limited pitch count) and allowed no runs, just one hit, and two walks while striking out four. Not too shabby. His fastball was arouund 89-90 MPH, and that’s almost sure to improve over time (HE’S 17!). He’s a long way from the bigs, but it’s hard not to get excited about this kid.
In nearby Altoona, Gerrit Cole had a strong outing in his Double-A debut. He’s still a bit behind the two pitchers that were drafted directly after him (both are in AAA now) but that’s not much of a concern because Cole has done just fine. He allowed 2 runs in 5 innings, striking out six while walking none and allowing 5 hits. Those who were at the game seemed very impressed with his stuff and command of the game out on the mound. After a bit of a rocky start to the year in Bradenton, Cole seems to be back on track. The goal should be to get him up to the majors at some point next season, although the end of this year may be a distant possibility if he’s lights-out for the rest of the season.
Jameson Taillon, meanwhile, had been raising some eyebrows with some struggles down in Bradenton after a great start to the season. He’s obviously fallen behind Cole in his development, but that’s expected–Cole is older and pitched in college for three years while Taillon has just one year in low-A under his belt. This week, though, Taillon matched his fellow top-prospects with seven shutout innings of one-hit ball (three walks and five K’s). Taillon’s track to the majors will be a slower than Cole’s–he very well might remain in Bradenton all year–but again, the kid is just in his second year after high school.
Also – it was just announced that Cole and Taillon will be playing in the Futures Game during All-Star Week, so you may get to see them pitch an inning or so there. Good stuff.
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