Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
The Pittsburgh Pirates number 27 prospect brings us back to the mound with Luis Heredia, the 21-year-old who signed out of Mexico at the age of 16. Earning a $2.6 million contract before he was an adult shows how much the Pirates expected of him but Heredia has never quite lived up to the hype.
Though he was a top-100 prospect for three seasons – even reaching number 42 in 2012 when he was 17 years old – Heredia’s progress has plateaued.
In 2012, Heredia had a very good season for State College posting his career best ERA (2.71) as well as hits per, home runs per and walks per nine innings but that has been the peak of his success.
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He was never a high strikeout pitcher but since then, he has simply lost his ability to miss bats. In 2015, for Bradenton, he was allowing an astonishing 11 hits per nine innings and although he only gave up 3 home runs in 86 innings, he still reached the worst ERA mark of his career at 5.44.
When a pitcher allows a lot of hits and walks, there are only two ways that he can still be successful; that is, by striking batters out or producing double play groundballs. Heredia does neither; his strikeout rate slightly rose last season but was still under 6 per nine innings and he allowed a .352 batting average when the ball was put in play (that’s really bad).
He will only be 21 during the 2016 season so it’s possible Heredia hasn’t completely developed all his tools but at this point, I think the Pirates should consider him an option for a trade. They already tried to trade him for Bud Norris and chose not to protect him in this season’s Rule 5 draft, which might say more about the market for him than the Pirates’ opinion of him.
Unless part of a major package, Heredia wont bring much in return but there could be someone out there who would help the Pirates right now (like Mitch Moreland) worth moving him for. He has already been passed by several other pitching prospects in the system and his stock likely wont get any higher.
As of now, Heredia is pitching in the Mexican Pacific Winter League for Mazatlan where he has a 3-0 record with a 4.68 ERA and has been used out of the bullpen as well, picking up 2 saves. However, his control issues aren’t getting any better this winter as he leads the team with over 7 walks per nine innings.
If he makes it that far, Heredia should start 2016 in Altoona where the Pirates will see if there is any sign that he can be the ace they once imagined. If he struggles in Double-A, the team will probably look to move on from Heredia.