Pittsburgh Pirates: Luis Escobar Selected to Futures Game

Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

The Pittsburgh Pirates will see one of their top 20 prospects heading to this year’s Futures Game.  Minor league pitcher Luis Escobar will be the lone representative. The game will take place July 9th in Miami.

Luis Escobar is a power pitching prospect who has quickly put himself on the map in the Pittsburgh Pirates system.  Escobar started to gain prospect recognition last year when MLB Pipeline ranked him as a top 25 prospect before the season.  Escobar was signed by Rene Gayo out of Columbia in 2013.  He played middle infield in Columbia, but Gayo saw his plus arm and projectable frame, and Gayo felt he was worth signing as a pitcher.  Obviously, this has worked out so far as Escobar is now ranked by MLB Pipeline as the 13th best prospect in the Pirates system. Escobar stands at 6’1″, reportedly weighs 180 pounds (Bio has him at 155, his signing weight), and has a fastball that reaches as high as 98 miles per hour.

Last year, Escobar threw 67.2 innings and collected a 2.93 earned run average for the West Virginia Black Bears. One area that could be a concern was his 9.9 percent walk rate, which helped cause his FIP to be at 3.84, well north of his ERA.  However, Escobar did miss some bats, striking out 21.6 percent of hitters last season.  All in all, he struck out 61 batters in 67.2 innings pitched last year.  This is a decent number, but he would see his strikeout numbers take a significant jump so far in 2017.

Right out of the gate Escobar was very good.  Through his first four games and 22.1 innings pitched, Escobar had wracked up 41 strikeouts while only walking four.  However, his numbers have dipped since those four impressive starts.  One reason could be that the league adjusted to him.  However, it is more likely that the Power’s coaching staff let Escobar just pitch the first four games.  After those games, they may have found a few things they want him to work on and not just going out and blowing away hitters.  This could be anything from working on secondary pitches when behind in the count, using changeup on two-strike counts, pitching to contact, etc.  Still, on the year, Escobar has published a stat line of a 4.77 ERA, 97 strikeouts to 31 walks in 71.2 innings pitched.

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Being that Escobar is from Columbia, he will be playing for the World Team in the Futures Game. He is the only Pittsburgh Pirates prospect that was invited to play in the game.  Last year, Austin Meadows represented the Pittsburgh Pirates for Team USA.  Also, Dovydas Neverauskas represented the Bucs on the World Team, hailing from Lithuania.  Escobar will likely appear for the World team, but it will likely be in relief and he will likely only see one inning at most.