My baseball interest is of course rooted in and focused through the lens of the Pittsburgh Pirates. So yes- I understand the homeward predilection involved with the statement, bu it seems to me that Pirates farm system is likely one of the most enigmatic in the game. How so? Well, it's chock-full of enigmas.
Every farm system has its questions, puzzlements, and idiosyncrasies. But with the Pirates, the queries often turn round on themselves, indignantly unanswerable as they drive fans and would-be prognosticators in circles.
And thus, to the point: I present a choice selection of some of the more- you guessed it- enigmatic Bucco prospects. I'd like to hear some opinions, especially those possessed of more knowledge than my own, as to the true nature and baseball fate of those herein named.
Today: the Pitchers
Tim Alderson: His prospect status in the scouting community has fallen off of a cliff. Any real chance the fastball returns to solid-average and the curveball finds its former bite? I fear he could end up as command-specialist middle reliever.
Rudy Owens: Great changeup, solid fastball, but can he continue to post strikeouts at higher levels? Opinions seem to differ greatly on Rudy.
Jeff Locke: "Live arm" gets tagged to him quite a bit, as he comes with the reputation of potentially plus fastball without a whole lot of control. High K rates from last year dipped tremendously with the Buccos, albeit along with an improving ERA. I really have no idea what to make of Jeff Locke at this point.
Zach Von Rosenberg: ZVR is repeatedly described as a "high-ceiling" prospect, with the potential of a true front-end starter. While I still love the 6th round pick, I find such description curious given his lack of a plus pitch. However, he's got loads of projectability (was reportedly regularly touching 93 after he quit shortstop; is a true plus FB out of the question?), a solid changeup, and Rudy Owens-esque command.
Quenton Miller: My pick for breakout pitcher of the year in 2010. Greatly improved as the year went on- check out his monthly splits- and at only 19, young for the level. Fastball and breaking ball both could be plus, yet he seems to get very little love.
Brad Lincoln: Lincoln is a perfect example of the volatile nature of prospecting and scouting service consensus in particular. When drafted, was described as potential #1 with vicious curve and mid-90s FB. Then Tommy John happens, and he disappears from the radar. Fast forward to mid-season 2009: Lincoln is torching AA, his stuff reputedly almost what it was before surgery. Fast-forward again to now: late surge provides bright spot for highly uninspiring AAA performance as he is almost universally described as a potential #3 starter. Can he recover further and move on to an Adam Wainwright-esque career trajectory? Certainly would be nice.
Trent Stevenson: The definition of "projectable" and already throwing 92-94. However, projectability certainly does not mean results. Do any of his other pitches have any potential or polish at all?
Victor Black: Black dials up his fastball all the way to 96-97 and flashes the makings of a good breaking ball. The knock on him is that he's old for his rawness and lack of polish, but he didn't start pitching regularly until much later than most prospects. Surprisingly positive track record of small-school and community college guys making impact as MLB starters provides a small bit of rationale for Victor Black being my #2 pitching breakout candidate for 2010.
Your own thoughts and opinions are most welcome and most encouraged.