Pittsburgh Pirates Minors: Cam Vieaux Impressing So Far

(Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Pirates do not have a whole lot of quality left-handed pitching prospects in their system.  The team may have one developing in Double-A.

In the 2016 Major League Baseball Draft, the Pittsburgh Pirates decided to go heavy on pitching through the first few rounds.  In fact, the team took five pitchers with their first seven round picks. The most notable prospect in that draft class was their first-round pick, Will Craig.  Craig is currently in Triple-A and is regarded as the best power prospect in the Bucs system.

However, the Pittsburgh Pirates may have found a diamond in the rough with one of those pitchers they drafted.  In the sixth round, the Pirates took a left-handed starting pitcher out of Michigan State by the name of Cam Vieaux.  Coming out of college he was noted for his solid mix of pitches, his strong control, and a projectable frame at 6’4” and 200 pounds. He was the Spartans ace his senior year.

Vieaux has built upon his success that he had at Michigan State and has been very solid since joining the Pittsburgh Pirates system.  However, this year the lefty is having his best season yet. The 25-year-old is currently pitching for the Double-A Altoona Curve and is likely to get promoted to Triple-A soon.

So far Vieaux has made eight starts for the Curve and has a record of 2-2.  While his record is not anything to be impressed by, he does has a really strong ERA of 2.84.  He has given up two runs or less in five of his eight starts.  In total, he has thrown 44.1 innings and has only struck out 27 hitters while walking 16.  The lefty has never been a big strikeout pitcher and more of a pitch to contact typer starter, something the Bucs preach.

A lefty being a pitch to contact type pitcher in PNC Park is a perfect fit.  He does not produce a lot of groundball outs, with only a 35 percent rate this year and last year.  Most of his outs come via fly ball, but that plays favorably at PNC Park. His peripherals are not as good, with a FIP and Xfip over 4.00, but he has always outperformed his peripherals at every level.

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While Vieaux does not have dominant stuff or great secondary numbers, he is still posting a very solid year at a higher level of competition.  Despite his low 90s fastball and lack of strikeout stuff, he is able to record a lot of weak outs.  While he will never be much more than a number five starter, he could be an interesting lefty bullpen options down the road.