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Pirates’ Arizona Fall League recap

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The Arizona Fall League finished play a couple days ago. The Pirates had seven players with Glendale, four pitchers and three position players. The pitchers got the better of it across the board. It can be tough to evaluate pitcher performance in an environment like that, though, as you have to know whether the pitcher is working on something, as opposed to simply trying to get hitters out. In the Pirates’ case, I know Mitch Keller was specifically working on his changeup and Taylor Hearn on his slider, which is more or less a new pitch for him. It’s encouraging that they both got good results.

Keller was one of the AFL’s best pitchers, posting a 1.01 WHIP and 1.52 ERA in 23.2 IP. He didn’t strike out many, just 13, but that likely resulted from him going with the change over his curve. The same thing happened while he was at Bradenton, when his K/9 fell to 7.4 while he was focusing on the change. He went back to a normal pitch mix when he moved up to Altoona, which was in a playoff race, and his K rate jumped back up to 11.7.

Hearn had a 3.06 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in 17.2 IP. He had one bad outing in which he allowed five hits and three earned runs in two-thirds of an inning. Otherwise he had little trouble.

J.T. Brubaker and Brandon Waddell both pitched well in relief. Brubaker was sitting at 95-97 mph and hitting 99 (sub. req’d). In the AFL, he fanned 16 and walked only two in 13.2 IP, with a 2.63 ERA. Brubaker throws a lot of changeups. If his velocity plays up in relief, it’d be interesting to see whether that would make him more effective overall. Waddell had 2.67 ERA in 14 innings, striking out 15.

The hitters had more trouble. Kevin Kramer, who played mainly at short, batted 200/296/317 and struck out in a third of his at-bats. Mitchell Tolman had very similar numbers, at 197/290/328, with a K rate nearly as high. Logan Hill did the best of the hitters, posting pretty good power numbers and a 239/312/433 line.