Sunday afternoon the Pittsburgh Pirates had a simulated game at LECOM Park in Bradenton. How did the pitchers who toed the rubber perform?
Sunday afternoon the Pittsburgh Pirates did not have a Grapefruit League game. However, they did play a simualted game at LECOM Park. This simulated game was highlighted by some strong pitching performances.
Vince Velasquez started the game and pitched 2 strong innings. One day after Mitch Keller pitched 2 scoreless innings in the team's Grapefruit League season opener against the Toronto Blue Jays, Velasquez did the same in Sunday's simulated game. In his 2 scoreless innings of work, Velasquez allowed a hit, did not walk a batter and struck out a pair.
It remains to be seen what role Velasquez will play with the Pittsburgh Pirates this season. When he was signed general manager Ben Cherington said that Velasquez had the makeup of a starting pitcher. However, this was before the team also signed veteran Rich Hill. Velasquez could start the season in the rotation, in the bullpen, or possibly as a piggyback starter. A six-man rotation could be a possibltiy as well. Regardless, the veteran righty will be on the Opening Day roster.
Following Velasquez was highly touted pitching prospect Mike Burrows. Showing off his new slider and always deadly curveball, Burrows struck out a pair and did not allow a hit in a scoreless inning of work.
Quinn Priester, the team's other highly touted starting pitcher that's close to the majors, also pitched a scoreless inning. Priester did not allow a hit and struck a batter out. Yerry De Los Santos, who is competing for a spot in the team's Opening Day bullpen, followed Priester and struck a batter out in a scoreless inning of work.
Colin Holderman also pitched a scoreless inning. The righty is working on adding a sweeper to his repertoire, which will be something to watch with him this spring. Colin Selby walked a batter and struck out a pair in a scoreless inning of work. While Selby will likely start the season at Triple-A, the organization's top relief pitching prospect should crack the MLB bullpen at some point this season.
The only pitcher to allow a run on Sunday was Dauri Moreta. He allowed 2 runs on three hits in his inning pitched. Acquired in the Kevin Newman trade, Moreta is likely ticketed for the Triple-A bullpen to begin the season. However, Moreta has plus stuff and could develop into a big bullpen piece by the end of the season.