It’s an outstanding sign that Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Phil Irwin will get an opportunity of a lifetime tomorrow with a start against the New York Yankees. It’s hard not to notice what Phil and his moneymaker curveball did in his last spring outing. It’s no surprise the Buccos coaching staff took notice and will give him the ball after the National Anthem is sung at McKechnie on Sunday.
The pitcher the Bucs took late in the 2009 draft has worked his ass off to get to where he is. Irwin has always been behind other pitchers in his career. At The University of Mississippi, Nate Baker and Drew Pomeranz were ahead of him. In the 2009 draft many pitchers were taken ahead of Irwin, including Baker who was picked by the Buccos in the fifth round.
Now four years later, behind Irwin will be most of the Pirates who will make up the Opening Day lineup. It’s taken hard work and many moneymakers, but before a sell-out crowd tomorrow in Bradenton, Irwin will the man.
It’s a helluva story and directly contradicts those critical of the Pirates farm system. A good start should certainly move Irwin within striking distance of the fifth starter battle being waged between Kyle McPherson and Jeff Locke.
If you’ve been paying attention, we’ve had our fingers crossed that RumBunter favorite Irwin would break out this spring. We got to see the moneymaker in action and yeh, it’s filthy.
Repost from December and some Fangraphs video links:
Phil Irwin went on a solid run in 2012 after his first five starts were out of the way. His progress toward being added to the roster after being such a late pick in the 2009 draft, has been fun to watch. Irwin is one of the players Neal Huntington is talking about when you hear him say, we like the guys we have in the system.
In 2012 Irwin made 18 starts for the Double-A Altoona Curve and posted a 2.93 ERA with an 83/17 K/BB in 104 innings. He reduced his hits allowed as the season progressed and finished up his 104 innings pitched by allowing 97 hits with a 1.64 GO/AO.
Most of the prospect lists show little love for Irwin and we think it is because his fastball isn’t considered anything special. It sits in the upper 80′s and we have seen him touch the low 90′s. What he does well is pitch low in the zone, change speeds and stays out of trouble by limiting walks. The slow curve is a solid pitch and as he says in the video he does work in a slider and changeup.
It’s pretty easy to consider Irwin a sleeper heading into the 2013 season. The Bucs 21st round pick in the lackluster 2009 draft out of Mississippi has moved up through the ranks and now has thrown 413 innings in the minors with 369 strikeouts and just 72 walks.
In 2010, Irwin put up strong numbers while pitching for West Virginia in Single-A with 111 strikeouts and just 20 walks over 113 innings.
In 2011, the 6’3″ Irwin flew out of the gate and after putting up impressive numers in his first ten starts (2.03 ERA and a 40/12 K/BB over 53 innings) was promoted to Double-A Altoona Curve where he struckout 69 and walked ten in 87 innings pitched.
Irwin looked strong as he finished up the season for the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians over 21 innings with 28 strikeouts and just six earned runs.
Keep an eye on Filthy Phil in the future.
Irwin talks about the moneymaker:
In the video above the 215 pound Irwin, who will turn 26 in February, talks to Bradenton Marauders season ticket holders about his season, being added to the 40-man roster and calls his curveball his moneymaker.
In the GIF below, you can see it in action.
It’s all from the second inning of a late-August International League game between Indianapolis (Pirates) and Toledo (Tigers) — the center-field camera at Toledo’s Fifth Third Field is well-suited to depicting completely the wild eroticism of Phil Irwin‘s curveball.
Go check out this article at FanGraphs for the other two GIFs, you won’t be disappointed.