Can Success, Failure of Two Pittsburgh Pirates Pitchers Predict Future?

Max Scherzer, Sergio Romo, Tommy Hanson, Bud Norris, Jason Vargas, Kris Medlen, Bobby Parnell, Phil Hughes, Doug Fister, Drew Storen, Mike Leake, and Marc Rzepczynski all have something in common.

Each of these pitchers have become big league pitchers after each had success pitching in the Arizona Fall League.   Two years ago, Rzepczynski sparkled in six starts.

Back in 2009, Storen gave up just one earned run in a relief role in the hitter friendly, prospect laden league.  In the magical 2012 run of the Washington Nationals, Storen put up some solid numbers as the Nats closer, before he received death threats as the Natitude faded in October.

Remember seeing Romo dominate for the World Champion San Francisco Giants this October?  He did the same in the AFL.

So the big question for the Pittsburgh Pirates will be this, can Kyle Kaminska be the next pitcher to carry over his success in the AFL to the big leagues?   If you watch the video of the 24-year-old right-hander posted below, the idea doesn’t sound out of the question.   Kaminska is on top of most of the pitching categories after his six AFL starts including a sparkling a 1.61 ERA.  The ERA is tops out of pitchers that have made four starts.

In a Pittsburgh Pirates rotation that could have quite a few question marks in 2013, the pickup of Kaminska in the Gaby Sanchez trade looks like it could be a smart one.   In what will likely be his last start of the AFL season, Kaminska gave up just one unearned run–it was the fifth straight start the Ohio native allowed one or fewer runs.

If Kaminska’s Scorpions could make up ground and jump ahead of the Salt River Rafters, they would play in the Championship Game on November 17 which is televised.  It would be great to see the 25th round pick finish off a solid season since coming over to the Buccos.

Vic Black is the anti-Kaminska.  Black was a first round pick of the Pirates.  The hard throwing right hander has been hampered by arm injuries, but came on strong this season.

His ERA this Fall is a gaudy 14.54 for Scottsdale.  After pitching so strong for the Double-A Curve, the AFL has been a struggle as the right-hander has allowed eleven walks while getting eight strikeouts in his 8.2 innings.   Most of the damage has come in the past four outings as he’s been torched for , but it wasn’t what we expected when Black was sent to the desert.

Black’s name won’t ever be among those at the top of this story that had resounding success in the AFL.   It’s puzzling, but the guy has the stuff to join Kaminska in making an impact in Pittsburgh in the near future.

But after a lot of digging, maybe Black will be the 2010 version of George Kontos.  Two years ago in the AFL, the Giants right hander put up a double digit ERA like Black, and you might remember Kontos pitched very well this year in the regular season for the champs.

My fingers are crossed.


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