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 Post subject: Growing Our Own Great Lefty
PostPosted: Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:30 pm 
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So, UPPMB, who will be the next great Pittsburgh Pirates left-handed pitcher?

Obviously, Francisco Liriano's stirling 2013 campaign demonstrated a couple of things. First, he's a great pitcher. Second, Ray Searage is good at his job. Third, PNC Park may be the best ballpark in baseball for an elite left-handed pitcher. I think Clayton Kershaw could put up a 0.50 ERA at PNC. It's this third observation that has me focused on the Pirates' left-handed pitching prospects. While the PBC's top pitching prospects are all right-handed (Jameson Taillon, Tyler Glasnow, Nick Kingham, Luis Heredia), there are a few southpaws down on the farm looking for some water and sunshine to grow.

Here are my favorites, in order:

1. Joely Rodriguez

Image

http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/02 ... video.html

http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/01 ... iguez.html

This 22-year-old Dominican saw a velocity spike in 2013 that helped him perform well in West Virginia and Bradenton. At only 6'1" and maybe 200 lbs., he's not a big body, but he's now throwing (and commanding) a heavy ball. In 2013, Rodriguez was sitting 91-94 with the fastball, touching as high as 96, and commanding the pitch with good cutting movement. He has an above-average slider, which also has cutting movement, but wasn’t as effective when his fastball was sitting upper 80s, due to the slider featuring similar movement in the mid-80s. The changeup made big strides in 2013, sitting in the low-80s with late cutting movement away from right-handers. The theme with all of his pitches is they all cut.

Tim Williams believes that Rodriguez has the potential to be a middle of the rotation starter. If he can continue to improve the changeup and throw all three of his pitches for strikes, he could end being a #2-type starter.

The big test for Rodriguez in 2014 will come in Altoona. If he performs at AA, you could see his name pop up as a potential rotation candidate during the 2015 season.

2. Blake Taylor

Image

http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/01 ... aylor.html

Taylor was the Pirates' second-round pick in the 2013 Rule IV draft, and the 6'3" 220-pounder isn't going to turn 19 until August 17th. So he's big, he's young, and he's talented. Taylor currently throws his fastball in the 89-92 MPH range, with good movement. He has touched mid-90s with the pitch in the past, and could eventually get to the point where he is sitting low-to-mid 90s as a starter. The one downside to his fastball is that he lacks command of the pitch, leading to some control problems. Taylor has the makings of a plus curveball as well, though his changeup is virtually non-existent at this point.

While he's years from the majors, Taylor is the kind of "projectable" talent that the Pirates have in spades on the right side. If he can develop along the lines of Tyler Glasnow and Nick Kingham, you'll see his name on some top prospects lists in 2015 and 2016.

3. Cody Dickson

Image

http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/01 ... ckson.html

Dickson came to the Pirates in the fourth round of the 2013 Rule IV draft, from the college ranks (he'll be 22 on April 27th, and he's 6'3" and about 180 lbs.). Dickson sits in the low-90s with his fastball, and can hit 95. Dickson appears to maintain his velocity better than Taylor (not surprising given the age difference), and is more likely to hit the upper end of his range at this point, while Taylor is more about projection with his future ability to hit the low-to-mid 90s. Also like Taylor, Dickson struggles with control. He had some control problems in the NYPL during his debut, but nothing major. He currently has a plus curveball, and his changeup shows some flashes.

Given the depth of Pirates pitching, Dickson may start the year in West Virginia, but don't be surprised if this kid is banging on Altoona's door by the end of the year or the beginning of 2015.

4. Cesilio Pimentel

Image

http://players.piratesprospects.com/201 ... entel.html

Another Dominican, this just-turned-19 southpaw pitched well in the DSL in 2011 and 2012. He stands 6'2" and about 185 lbs., with a fastball sitting in the 88-91 MPH range paired with a good slider. This Pimentel (not to be confused with Stolmy) should start the year in Jamestown.

That about does it for left-handed starting pitching prospects in the Pirates' system. I believe Joely Rodriguez is the safest bet to reach the majors as a starter and perform well, while Blake Taylor probably has the highest ceiling. In any event, it would be nice if one of these four guys can become the next great lefty for the PBC...


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 Post subject: Re: Growing Our Own Great Lefty
PostPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 10:32 am 
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How do you guys rank these four southpaw prospects?


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 Post subject: Re: Growing Our Own Great Lefty
PostPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 10:55 am 
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I like Rodriguez's chances of being the #5 starter in 2016 behind Cole, Taillon, Kingham, and Glasnow. That rotation will be as good as it is cheap.

Other than that, I like the scouting report on Dickson.


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 Post subject: Re: Growing Our Own Great Lefty
PostPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 5:29 pm 
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I think Rodriguez has to be ranked number 1, due to his progress, his plus velocity, his very high ground ball tendency, and the fact that he will be in AA this season at age 22.

Dickson might be number 2 due simply to the fact that he has a bit more velocity, and lefty starters who can hit 95 mph are pretty rare.

I don't disagree with placing Taylor number 2, ahead of Dickson, if for no other reason than he is still just 18 years old, and last season, he gave up 4 hits to right-handed batters in 15 innings.

Any 18 year old lefty who can hold righties to an .087 BA has my interest.

Taylor is somewhat like the Glasnow, Kingham, Creasy, et al. picks - projectable kids who can repeat their deliveries, develop velocity, and become ground-ball starters who keep the ball in the yard and are capable of giving 180 quality innings.

I go Rodriguez 1, Dickson 2, Taylor 3.

Don't know anything about the "other" Pimentel.


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 Post subject: Re: Growing Our Own Great Lefty
PostPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 6:39 pm 
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I'm interested to see what Joely Rodriguez does now that he has ascended to the upper minors. His stuff isn't eye popping but his control is excellent for someone his age. As long as he can miss barrels against better competition he should be able contribute in Pittsburgh in the not too distant future. Seems like a natural fit for PNC park. I haven't gotten to see Dickson or Taylor yet. I hope to see them this year. Taylor seems to have the most upside.


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 Post subject: Re: Growing Our Own Great Lefty
PostPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 7:20 pm 
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Rodriguez sounds encouraging, especially given the fact that he can spot pitches and gets late movement on them all.

I like Taylor's size and potential to add velocity.

I don't really know enough about them to rank the three behind Rodriguez but it sure sounds like there are 4-5 guys with a ton of potential throwing from both sides and that's really, really encouraging.


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 Post subject: Re: Growing Our Own Great Lefty
PostPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 10:51 pm 
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Exciting stuff! I'm looking forward to seeing Joeley in Altoona this year!


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 Post subject: Re: Growing Our Own Great Lefty
PostPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 11:11 pm 
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mjdouble wrote:
I'm interested to see what Joely Rodriguez does now that he has ascended to the upper minors. His stuff isn't eye popping but his control is excellent for someone his age.

This is an interesting issue, actually.

Prior to last season, Rodriguez was sitting at 87-89 mph. Last year, he sat at 90-93 mph and hit as high as 95 mph.

http://www.fangraphs.com/fantasy/joely- ... y-of-note/

Here is a video courtesy of the Fangraphs article:

Image

Further, Rodriguez has a pretty good change-up. He worked on it extensively last season, and the Fangraphs article pointed out that the pitch has good sink and fade, as shown here:

Image


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 Post subject: Re: Growing Our Own Great Lefty
PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 5:58 pm 
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Rodriguez's arm slot looks identical for his fastball and change. That's nice.

Thanks for the responses, fellas. I believe Blake Taylor could end up being a gem if he makes a jump or two in the next couple of years. We shall see.


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 Post subject: Re: Growing Our Own Great Lefty
PostPosted: Mon Mar 03, 2014 12:21 pm 
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J_C - Rodriguez pitched against the Phillies in yesterday's game. The game is being replayed on MLB.tv and I am recording it.

According to those who watched the broadcast live, Rodriguez has a very easy delivery. Smooth, balanced. So if he is dealing 93 mph out of that delivery, with that change-up - nice.


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 Post subject: Re: Growing Our Own Great Lefty
PostPosted: Mon Mar 03, 2014 1:15 pm 
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He looked really good yesterday. He got Ryan Howard and Marlon Byrd out in succession. If nothing else, I was wondering if he could help us as an extra lefty out of the bullpen in September. What a luxury that would be. They say all of his stuff cuts, except probably the changeup, which I figure would fade.


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 Post subject: Re: Growing Our Own Great Lefty
PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 10:27 am 
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I've read opinions from John Perrotto and a few New York media types that the PTBNL in the trade for Ike Davis may be one of Blake Taylor, JaCoby Jones, and Cody Dickson (all three are 2013 draft picks). If it is indeed one of those three, I'd rather it be JaCoby Jones. Why? Because the Pirates' farm system is quite weak when it comes to impact left-handed starting pitchers. I want the team to keep and develop talents like Taylor, Dickson, and Joely Rodriguez.

What do yinz think?


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 Post subject: Re: Growing Our Own Great Lefty
PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 10:51 am 
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It is even weaker at SS, which is what Jones plays.

ZM

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 Post subject: Re: Growing Our Own Great Lefty
PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 11:29 am 
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ZelieMike wrote:
It is even weaker at SS, which is what Jones plays.

ZM


Eh. Jones is a shortstop with such a raw hitting tool that it'll be tough to project him as a regular.

I like the potential of both Alen Hanson and Gift Ngoepe. The former is obviously the better prospect, but the latter can play sparkling defense and has been getting on base at AA this season. Maybe the Pirates can draft a quality prep shortstop in the first round this year -- there are a couple who may fall to them at No. 24.


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 Post subject: Re: Growing Our Own Great Lefty
PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 12:32 pm 
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Possibly, but Jones is as physically gifted as someone like Jean Segura. Not that he'll necessarily realize that potential, but he has that kind of raw tools.

ZM

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Someone tell Votto... rbis are good


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 Post subject: Re: Growing Our Own Great Lefty
PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 6:33 pm 
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I kind of like Jones as well. The guy is very fast, has a plus arm, and if he can pick the ball, his range and arm are going to make him a very good defender.

His hitting skills look decent. If he can hit and becomes a plus defender at SS, then he is a decent prospect.

However, if he is the PTBNL in the Davis trade, then I am not critical of the deal. Jones has that high K/low BB propensity that does not bode well for hitting in the majors.


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 Post subject: Re: Growing Our Own Great Lefty
PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 6:57 pm 
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Yeah, but he is doing OK for a cornerback on the LSU football team.

ZM

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Someone tell Votto... rbis are good


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 Post subject: Re: Growing Our Own Great Lefty
PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2014 2:13 pm 
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OK. So the Pirates traded Blake Taylor to the Mets in the Ike Davis deal. So he's gone. Gotta sign a couple of lefties out of the 2014 draft, right?

Maybe not...

http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/06 ... tment.html

I sure hope the Pirates can sign Warren despite this development. Gotta add some high-upside LHP talent to the system.


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