Pirates Scouting Notes from the Tampa Bay Rays/Pittsburgh Pirates game
Hello again, it’s Robbie Knopf, a writer for fellow FanSided site Rays Colored Glasses, and I’m back for one last time here at Rum Bunter to talk about some other notes from the Rays-Pirates game I attended. I hope you enjoy.
At the game, I got to see several Pirates pitchers: Kevin Correia, who I discussed in this post, relievers Daniel Moskos, Jared Hughes, and Bryan Morris on the 40-man roster, and non-roster invitee Doug Slaten.
Moskos, a lefty, allowed a hit and a walk, but he struck out two as he threw a scoreless inning in the game. Moskos mixed in every component of his four-pitch repertoire, which consists of a fastball, cutter, slider, and changeup. Moskos worked primarily with his fastball during his outing, and it stayed at 91 MPH with late movement towards right-handed batters and some sink. The late movement makes his fastball a swing-and-miss pitch, but it also caused some control problems. He took something off his fastball a couple of times to make it into more of a sinker, which he mixed in a couple times, and that pitch came in at 89-90 MPH with excellent late sink that makes it very hard to elevate. Another couple of pitches were kind of a gray area between his sinker and cutter around 87-89 MPH without very much movement, and he has to those type of pitches. But his cutter did stand out at 86 MPH with sharp late break. Moskos threw a slider around 84 MPH in 2011 according to Pitch F/X and the pitches I identified as cutters may be harder sliders, but either way, the pitch fell off the table and has some acute cutting action.
One thing that limits the effectiveness of Moskos’ slider/cutter is that he throws it from a slightly different release point. And finally, Moskos showed his plus changeup just once on the day, but it was an outstanding pitch at 82 MPH that looked exactly like his fastball out of his hand before featured excellent sink, and he located it well down in the zone. However, he really needs to set it up with his fastball. Moskos’ entire arsenal is harder to hit because he has a hitch in his delivery, a kind of Far East-esque pause that throws hitters off. Moskos has a deceptive delivery and nice movement on his pitches, but in order to compensate for his lack of fastball velocity and be an effective reliever, he has to improve his command of all his pitches, especially his fastball. Moskos posted a 2.96 ERA in 31 major league relief appearances in 2011, but his xFIP was just 4.68 as he was struck out just 11 compared to 9 walks and he was lucky not to allow a home run, although he did post a 50% groundball rate. Moskos also posted just a 6.2 K/9 at Triple-A in 2011, pretty alarming. But if Moskos can improve his fastball command and use it to set up his other pitches, he has the ability to be a solid major league middle reliever.
Jared Hughes made quick work of the Rays with a perfect two strikeout inning. His fastball ranged from 91 to 94 MPH with great sink and nice late run. He also throws a slider.
Morris worked exclusively with his fastball in his shutout inning in lieu of his big curveball. He worked with a fastball at 93-94 MPH, but it straightened out and he allowed a couple of line drive hits. I’m sure Morris looks better when he can use his curveball, but he has to get better movement on his fastball.
Slaten, meanwhile, worked 85-88 with his fastball with some movement away from right-handed batters and some sink, but his change was unimpressive at 81 MPH. Slaten allowed 2 runs on 3 hits, including a walk-off 2-run single by Chris Gimenez, before he could record at out, although he did force a couple of groundballs that, unfortunately for him, went through to the outfield. Slaten looks like Triple-A depth to me.
Now we’ll talk a bit about a former top prospect, Pedro Alvarez, and a current top prospect, Starling Marte. Alvarez looked very comfortable in the batter’s box and he had a balanced stance with excellent bat speed. Joel Peralta misplaced a fastball to him and he hit an absolutely laser over the left field wall for a home run. All the talent is still there. He struggled mightily in 2011, but look for him to finally put a good major league season together in 2012.
I saw Marte for just one at-bat, but I learned quite a few things about him. He has a little leg kick in his swing, but he times pitches well and shows excellent bat speed. He has good plate coverage, but he needs to be more disciplined in his approach and he is still unsure of himself on breaking balls, although he has definitely made progress in that regard. But he can demolish fastballs and he just missed hitting the ball out on a Brandon Gomes fastball that stayed up in the zone. Marte’s power still isn’t consistent as he doesn’t really drive better pitches out of the park and stays more gap-to-gap in his approach, but when he sees mistakes he can punish pitchers. Marte has to continue to improve against breaking balls and be more patient at the plate, but if he can smooth those issues out, he has the ability to be a true five-tool centerfielder in the big leagues. Pirates fans have a lot to be excited about for both Alvarez and Marte.
I hope you enjoyed reading and good luck to the Pirates this season.