A trio of starting pitchers in the West Virginia Power rotation are having a strong finish to the 2014 season. Buddy Borden has been the breakout pitcher for the Power this year. Borden has been good all season, but he has been exceptional in the month of August. In 4 starts this month Borden has a 0.77 ERA with 31 strikeouts and only 4 walks in 23.1 innings pitched. For the season Borden has a 2.97 ERA in 124.1 innings. He will likely get one more start this weekend. The season ends for the Power on Monday, September 1st.
Left-hander Cody Dickson struggled mightily the first half of the season for the Power. At the All-Star break Dickson’s ERA was an unsightly 5.58. But Dickson has been outstanding in the second half of the season. He has held opponents to 3 earned runs or less in 13 of his last 14 starts. His ERA has plummeted to a respectable 3.96 for the season. August has been his best month. In 5 starts this month he has a 2.28 ERA with 29 strikeouts and 11 walks in 27.2 innings. Dickson’s strong finish to the season positions him as arguably the Pittsburgh Pirates top left-handed pitching prospect.
Quietly the much maligned Luis Heredia is also showing some nice improvements in the final weeks of the season. Heredia was once considered a top prospect. Most of his career to date, including much of this season, would have to be classified as a disappointment. But Heredia is still just 20 years old. If he can pitch like he has this month there is still a chance he can develop into a major league pitcher. Heredia has made 6 starts this month and has posted a 3.06 ERA. He still is not missing enough bats – just 21 Ks in 35.1 innings, but his command is showing a lot of improvement. He has walked just 7 batters this month. At the very least Heredia was able to salvage his season. As Heredia moves on to Fall instructs he has something to build on.
Big things were expected for OF Austin Meadows this season. Meadows was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates with the 9th overall selection in the 1st round of the 2013 MLB draft. Meadows got his career off to a good start by smashing 7 HRs with a .977 OPS in 48 games of Rookie League Ball to close out 2013. He was considered a consensus Top 100 prospect in 2014 preseason rankings. Meadows was expected to play a full season of A ball in 2014 with the West Virginia Power. Unfortunately, he was derailed by hamstring injuries and missed the first three months of the season. After a short rehab stint in the Gulf Coast Rookie League, Meadows finally made his WV Power debut on July 12th. It has taken him a while to find his power stroke, but it has finally arrived. Meadows hit his first home run of the season earlier this week off of Lucas Giolito (the top pitching prospect of the Washinbgton Nationals). He followed that up with another home run the next day. Meadows is now hitting .333 with a solid .829 OPS. He has recorded multiple hits in 9 of his 20 games with the Power this seaosn. Since he joined the WV Power the team has been playing much better. Their record is 11-13 since Meadows’ first appearance nearly a month ago. It might not seem like much but this is a team that had just a .300 winning percentage over the first half of the season. Austin Meadows has given them a nice boost. More importantly what was looking like a lost season for Meadows now appears to be salvaged. Now that he is back on the field and play well his prospect stock should not suffer much from the missed time early in the season. The future for Austin Meadows is still very bright.
For most of 2014 the West Virginia Power could classify this season as a train wreck. The South Atlantic League affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates got off to a poor start, saw their most talented prospects go down with injuries, and limped into the Sally League all-star break at mid-June with a record of just 20-48. But fortunes have begun to change in the second half, and SS JaCoby Jones is a big reason why. Since the start of July, Jones has been raking at a blistering pace. His triple slash line for the month is .424/.466/.818. In 16 games this month Jones has hammered 8 HRs with 16 RBIs. He leads the club with 16 HRs this season. The next closest is Edwin Espinal with 4 HRs. The Power as a team have hit just 40 HRs. JaCoby Jones’s power surge has helped West Virginia enjoy a little more success on the field in the second half of the season. Their record since the All-Star break is 14-14.
I got to see JaCoby Jones play against Lakewood a few weeks ago. He flashed many of the tools that scouts have raved about. He has a strong powerful swing. He still needs to cut down on the misses, but when he makes contact the ball jumps off of his bat. Here is some video I took of an AB in which Jones lined out to deep center field on 6/20/14.
It has been a very tough season for the Pirates’ prospects down in West Virginia. The WV Power pull into the all-star break riding a 14 game losing streak. They are dead last in the South Atlantic League Northern Division with a record of just 20-48. Not much has gone right for the Power this season. Injuries have played a big factor. Much of the best talent that was expected to see time at West Virginia this season is on the DL. OF Austin Meadows injured his hamstring in Spring Training and has yet to play a game. OF Barrett Barnes also injured his hamstring just 4 games into the season. He hasn’t played since. Luis Heredia, the top pitching prospect with the Power at the start of the season, missed much of the first half with a shoulder injury. Heredia did return in early June and has shown some progress. In his latest outing on June 15th he pitched 5 innings and allowed just 1 ER, 4 hits, 2 walks, and struck out 4. It was Heredia’s best outing of the season.
Not only have injuries been an issue for the Power, but they also have not had many break out performers. Prior to the season Cody Dickson was considered to be one of top 3 or 4 left-handed pitchers in the Pirates’ system. Dickson had an impressive debut outing for Power, but has struggled ever since. His ERA stands at 5.58 in 59.2 innings of work. In recent outings Dickson’s command has been a real problem. He has walked 3 batters or more in 6 of his last 9 starts.
Buddy Borden has been perhaps the brightest spot on the Power pitching staff. Borden is a 22 year old right-hander selected in the 7th round of the 2013 MLB draft. He has a 3.67 ERA in 61.1 innings this season. Borden is the only starting pitcher for the Power to allow less hits than innings pitched. For the season he has surrendered 52 hits, walked 28 batters, and struck out 48.
There hasn’t been many noteworthy offensive performers for the Power either. 2B Erich Weiss is the only player with a batting average over .300. Weiss and Catcher Reese McGuire represented the Power in the Sally League all-star game earlier this week. SS JaCoby Jones leads the team with 8 home runs. A potential power hitting SS like Jones is an intriguing prospect, but he comes with some significant flaws. Jones leads the team with 74 whiffs in just 66 games. On the season he is hitting .260 with a .747 OPS.
The youngest player on the Power has also been their best player. That would be Reese McGuire. McGuire is noted for his advanced defensive skills. He has not disappointed. In 38 games behind the dish he has thrown out and impressive 23 base runners. Offensively McGuire put together a hitting streak from May 7th to May 30th that covered 19 games. Although he didn’t show much power early on (only 7 extra base hits thus far) he has stung ball a little harder as of late. He hit his first career minor league home run last Saturday. He then ripped a triple in the SAL all-star game on Tuesday night.
Reese McGuire continues to rake and throw out base runners. The highly touted catching prospect for the Pirates has now thrown out 20 of 40 attempted base stealers this season. McGuire is also riding a 17 game hitting streak. The most impressive part of the streak is that McGuire also had a streak of 7 straight games from May 17th thru May 26th in which he also drew a walk. For his efforts McGuire has been named the hiddenvigorish.com Player of the Week for the period of 5/19/14 thru 5/25/14.
Reese McGuire is the hiddenvigorish.com Player of the Week for the week of 5/12/14 thru 5/18/14. McGuire is hitting .381 over an 11 game hit streak dating back to May 7th. The 19 year old McGuire was the 14th overall selection of the 1st round of the 2013 MLB draft. He is noted for his stellar defensive prowess, and early in his minor league career he has not disappointed. McGuire has thrown out 19 base stealers in just 21 games this season, cutting down runners at a eye popping 51% clip. At the plate he has shown good plate discipline, striking out just 12 times in 115 plate appearances thus far. McGuire has shown little pop in his bat this season. Only one of his hits during this current 11 game hit streak has gone for extra bases. But the lack of power is not concerning at this point. McGuire is one of the youngest players in the Sally League. He should start hitting the ball with more authority as he matures. Despite the lack of power, McGuire has been productive at the plate and has not been overmatched.
Shortstop JaCoby Jones went 9 for 27 with 3 Home Runs to win the HiddenVigorish.com West Virginia Power Player of the Week Award for the week of 4/28/14 thru 5/4/14. Jones drove in 7 runs and also drew 5 walks while hitting safely in 7 of the 8 games he played this past week. Jones is now hitting .300 for the season with a .858 OPS. He is also settling in defensively. After committing 7 errors in his first 20 games, he now has a streak of 9 straight errorless games. JaCoby Jones is one of the higher rated prospects playing with the West Virginia Power this season. Most scouting services rank him somewhere between 10 to 15 in the top Pirates’ prospect rankings. He was the Pirates 3rd round selection in the 2013 Draft out of LSU. Jones has a lot of tools and is considered an excellent athlete. He is fleet of foot with a lot of raw power. He has the potential to become a rare power hitting shortstop. There are some issues with his ability to make contact, and there is plenty of room to improve on his 22% strikeout rate thus far with the Power, but if Jones can maintain the kind of play he showed this past week he will start gaining recognition as the Pirates breakout prospect of 2014.
Casey Sadler made his major league debut last night to become the 9th former West Virginia Power player to make it to the big leagues with the Pirates since becoming an affiliate of the Pirates’ organization in 2009. Sadler entered the game in the 7th inning with the Pirates trailing the Blue Jays 5-3. He pitched 2 innings of scoreless relief in a game the Pirates would ultimately come back to win 6-5 thanks to the 9th inning heroics of Pedro Alvarez and Starling Marte. It took Sadler 1114 days to make the jump from West Virginia to Pittsburgh. The Power to Pirates Tracker has been updated to now include Casey Sadler.
Week 3 for the Power saw multiple rainouts and just 4 games played. With such few opportunities it makes it kind of hard to find a player that particularly shined, but pitcher Jerry Mulderig did post an exception relief outing on 4/17/14 against the Kannapolis Intimidators. Mulderig pitched 4 innings while strikeout 7 hitters and allowed just 2 hits and 0 walks to pick up the W. For his effort Jerry Mulderig is the HiddenVigorish.com West Virginia Power Player of the Week for the week of 4/14/14 thru 4/20/14. Mulderig was the Pirates 28th round selection in 2013 MLB Draft out of Rider University. Mulderig in an interesting prospect. He pitched very little at Rider, playing mostly as an OF or DH. The Bucs obviously saw something in the arm of 6’4″ right-hander. In his first 3 appearances this season at West Virginia he struggled with his control issuing 8 walks in his first 9.2 innings. But he righted things considerably in his stellar outing last week against the Intimidators. Thus far the Pirates have used Mulderig as a reliever. This season with the Power he pitching out of one of the piggyback reliever roles.
Infielder Erich Weiss went 13 for 26 and knocked in 7 runs to win the HiddenVigorish.com West Virginia Power Player of the Week Award for the week of 4/7/14 thru 4/13/14. Erich is currently working on an 8 game hitting streak. He had 4 multi-hit games during the week, and hit an inside-the-park grand slam against the Lexington Legends on 4/13/14. That hit marked his first Home Run as a professional baseball player. Erich Weiss was drafted in the 11th round of the 2013 Draft out of the University of Texas. He is playing second base for the WV Power this season after playing third base last year with the Jamestown Jammers of the short season New York-Penn League. He has played error free defense in 8 starts thus far.