Clint Hurdle has made it clear that Kyle Lobstein and Juan Nicasio are rotation depth. As such, it is quite possible that one of them will in the AAA Indianapolis starting rotation when the season opens. Both players are also contenders for the open bullpen spot.
Lobstein started yesterday against his former team, the Detroit Tigers. He pitched two scoreless innings, walking two and striking out one while giving up one hit. The Pirates won the game 4-2.
Lobstein, in his post game comments with Matt Gajtka at DKPittsburghSports.com indicated that he hasn’t worked with Pirates Pitching coach Ray Searage yet. The Pirates are just letting him do his own thing. That’s a big contrast with Jeff Locke who arrived weeks early at camp to work with Searage. Of course, this was to be expected as Locke is more expensive and reliable piece- but it also highlights the fact that Lobstein is not some Searage project yet.
Instead, it looks like Lobstein is what many people have thought of him all along. Just added depth at the AAA level. It’s unfortunate for Lobstein. He was once a top rated prospect – Baseball America once had him as high as #6 – but his velocity never improved. His 88 mph fastball can’t get the job done. It was reasonable to think perhaps Searage saw something in Lobstein that he could help him with.
Searage prides himself on working with the players on an individual level. The single best treatment recently available on the Searage effect is Matt Gajtka’s article aptly titled “The Searage Effect”.
It all raises the larger question – who exactly are the Ray Searage pitching projects?
Who will be the next A.J. Burnett. Francisco Liriano, Edinson Volquez or J.A. Happ? In some ways, it starts with understanding who Searage is actually working with in an-depth manner – or phrased differently who gets to hang out with Uncle Ray. Presumably, there is only so much Searage to go around?
So far, it’s not Kyle Lobstein.