Today my friends and I took in the major league team’s at McKechnie against the Rays, but I wanted to also talk about our visit to Pirate City in the morning to see the minor leaguers.
Unfortunately for us (me), most of the key Low A/High A guys like Taillon, ZVR, Cain, Bell, and company were on the road to play the Toronto A teams today. But there were still plenty of guys rotating throughout the 4 fields for us to observe.
The group that I ended up tracking were the Latin American and European players that were either new to the United States or just came over last year. Here’s a few observations that I mentally scribbled down:
* Dilson Herrera — it’s OK to get excited about his defense, especially his arm. There was a drill to practice relays from the outfield to home plate. On two consecutive occasions, Herrera took the relay from short left field, turned, and fired a no-hop strike right on the money to the catcher. He practiced the same thing from the 2B side with nearly the same accuracy.
* Gavi Nivar — he’s big and strong. In batting practice he put two over the left-center fence with ease.
* Jorge Bishop — he’s doesn’t have the most fluid of swings and may struggle to loft the ball as he advances.
* Elvis Escobar — I did see him in the cage, but nothing really jumped out positive or negative from his limited work.
* Harold Ramirez — he’s not the biggest of guys, but he is solidly built. I didn’t have a chance to see him run down balls in the outfield, but he is sure on the path to being a corner OF.
* Wilson Lee/Jackson Lodge/Dylan Child — the Australian duo of pitchers seemed to be matched up with the pod of catchers that Child was in, as well. Both of the pitchers were ribbing Child about various things, so it’s pretty obvious that these 3 have bonded well together. In fact, it seems (for better or worse) that the prospects all hover in their own language/nationality sectors.
* Luis Heredia — holy cow, he is big. However, he’s also VERY accessible as he signed numerous balls in between drills for fans. I didn’t have the chance to see him pitch for real while I was there, but maybe he’ll get into one of the minor league exhibition games held at 1 pm every day. I practiced “Yo soy con Pirata Prospects, mi amo Kevin” for a couple of minutes before I introduced myself. I said that I would like to interview him at State College, but that got lost in translation as he tried to say something like “I’ll be happy wherever the Pirates place me for my age”. We’ll work on that part.
* Jose Osuna — I didn’t see him in this group, which leads me to believe that he was on the road with the A ball teams and may mean he’s looking to go to West Virginia this year.
* Johnathan Schwind — yes, he’s not an international, but I did want to briefly mention that every ball I watched in batting practice he hit square and with authority to the gaps in the OF.
I talked to Tim Williams when I got there, as I had my Spring Training Roster with names/numbers clutched in my hand, and asked him if he even needed it anymore. He nonchalantly said that he knew nearly all of their numbers and faces by this point of training camp. That’s pretty impressive considering the amount of people there are running around this complex.
I’ll be excited to check out the minor league games that are held simultaneously at 1 pm every day. That will be true prospect overload for me.
On the food note, we went to Mixon’s Market right up the road for lunch. Had the Famous Pressed Cuban Sandwich and it was very good, but the highlight was the swirled orange/vanilla ice cream. It had a very Creamsicle-esque taste to it and was a great treat to eat while driving to McKechnie Field.