Pittsburgh Pirates Minors: Luis Escobar Dominating in Relief

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /
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The Pittsburgh Pirates High-A affiliate got another win yesterday.  It was in large part because of Bradenton’s pitching staff.

The Bradenton Marauders, the Pittsburgh Pirates High-A affiliate, is off to a fantastic start this year.  They currently have an impressive record of 19-11 and are one of the team’s most talented minor league affiliates.  Beyond their notable prospects like Calvin Mitchell, Travis Swaggerty, and Oneil Cruz (currently hurt), the team has had a lot of success due to their pitching.

Last night was one of those nights that the pitching led the Marauders to victory.  Bradenton shut out the Clearwater Threshers 1-0.  Rising prospect Cody Bolton got the ball and continues to get better and better.  The righty threw seven shutout innings and only allowed three base runners.  He struck out seven hitters and did not allow a single walk.  Bolton now has an impressive 5-0 record with a 0.77 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 35 innings.

The other player of note is former starter turned reliever Luis Escobar.  Escobar at one time was considered to be one of the team’s up and coming starting pitching prospects.  However, as he got into the upper minors, he struggled to develop a plus third pitch and has struggled with command.  With that being said, the Pittsburgh Pirates decided that Escobar would be better served in the bullpen.  This was mainly because of his power fastball that sits in the mid-90s.

Escobar threw the last two innings of yesterday’s game.  He struck out two hitters and walked one batter in his appearance.  He recorded his third save of the year as well.  The Columbian native has thrown 13.1 innings and has yet to give up a run.  Command has still been somewhat of an issue for Escobar, who has had six walks and has hit two batters.  He has shown that strikeout ability punching out 15 batters, and jis current WHIP is under one while producing a strong 55 percent ground ball rate.

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Both of these pitching prospects are turning into two very intriguing prospects.  Cody Bolton looks like he may be the next top pitching prospect in the Pittsburgh Pirates system.  Meanwhile, Escobar is positioning himself to be a backend of the bullpen type arm down the road.  Escobar reached Double-A last year and so he could be due for a promotion sooner than later.  It will be interesting to see how aggressive they are with Bolton.  Bolton will be just 21 years old in June, while Escobar will turn 23 at the end of the month.