In-Game Practice During Pirates Minor League Spring Training Practices – Pirates Prospects

Before the past two weeks, I haven’t covered the Pirates’ minor league spring training since 2019. The pandemic played a big part in that, but it was also different being back, due of all the changes made with the development of new Pirates players. system.

Some things are always the same. Before leaving an empty Pirate City lot yesterday, I spent time wandering around and thinking about covering spring training from those grounds for ten years before this one. I remember seeing Josh Bell hit a monster home run on the golf course beyond field two during one of his first batting practices as a professional hitter. I remembered tons of confrontations between Pirates Top Pitching Prospect and Pirates Top Hitting Prospect. I remembered that every video taken from field 4, the grass field, looked like it was shot on Mars.

Some things are always the same. The best part of this job is watching the MLB players of tomorrow develop early on in their journey. Someday I may remember the first time I watched Lonnie White Jr. or Braylon Bishop, or the battle between Austin Roberts and Henry Davis/Matt Fraizer. I posted a lot of videos on Twitter todayexcept for the latter, which will be released later this week.

There have been differences with the new player development system. One difference was the use of multiple pitchers during batting practice. The approach allows for a mix of delivery angles, as well as a mix of fast balls and slower spin. I wrote about this last week and received videos of this practice in action.

The interesting thing I spotted yesterday is that it’s not universal for all batting practices. The Pirates on Wednesday didn’t have all the batting practice stations set up for this, but did have one station with four interesting prospects selected for this drill. Those prospects were Braylon Bishop, Will Matthiessen, Jasiah Dixon and Lonnie White Jr. In each case, you can see why this drill – which focuses on recognizing the pitch and timing the fastball while being able to adapt to breaking things – could be a good choice for these players.

First off, Braylon Bishop has a crazy swing. Cody Potanko wrote about Bishop a few months ago, breaking down this violent swing action. This swing could lead to power numbers, but could also be likely to trick Bishop with off-speed stuff if he gets too aggressive. His swing looks like it could destroy some fastballs, with an extremely fast bat and a swing loop that’s a bit reminiscent of Ken Griffey Jr. If he can time it on the fastball, while still being able to adapt to the speed, he can be a dangerous hitter. The limited experience he has in pro ball has led to a .442 OPS in 26 at-bats, with eight strikeouts. You could say he’s a little raw right now.

Next up is Will Matthiessen, who had a solid second half with Greensboro, leading to 15 home runs and a .784 OPS this season. Matthiessen is huge, at 6′ 7″, but has a long, slower swing that could become a problem against a better mix of pitches. He knocked out 34.5% of the time in 2021 at High-A Greensboro, showing trends at three true results. He can make a few adjustments to reduce the speed of his large frame, like the adjustment he made to step five in the video above. He is a player who bats first, so limiting strikeouts and the impact of speed will be crucial for his development at the next level.

Jasiah Dixon had some trouble with the fastball machine. He was one of the fastest players in the system and has added muscle since being drafted in the 23rd round of 2019. He showed some speed between A-ball and FCL with 17 interceptions in 19 attempts the last year. He had serious contact issues, and it shows in the exercise above. This is the purpose of these exercises. Dixon doesn’t really benefit from a coach who returns batting practice fastballs to him in the middle. He benefits from a ridiculously fast throwing machine that alternates the angles of a slower spinning machine, giving him more drive that matches plays where he also struggles to make contact with the ball.

Finally, there’s Lonnie White Jr., who the Pirates signed for $1.5 million as a second-round prep outfielder in their impressive 2021 draft class. White Jr. showed some power right from his professional debut, hitting two doubles and two homers in 31 at-bats in the FCL. He had some swing and misfire issues, with a strikeout rate of 42.4%. He has a smooth swing and some raw power, but should be an early draft in his professional career, much like Bishop.

Spotlight on hacker perspectives

Vic Black created a video library to help teach the mechanics of pitching

Daily links

Hacker Perspectives

**John Dreker: Baseball America’s Top Shortstop Prospects

**John Dreker: Baseball America’s Top Outfield Prospect Ranking

** John Dreker: MLB cancels the first two series of the season

** Ethan Hullihen: MLB Lockdown Bargaining Week: Monday Notes Pt. 2


**Cody Potanko: Here We Go Again: Death, Taxes and Rumors of Bryan Reynolds

**Jason Mackey: Bryan Reynolds on missing baseball, a bigger leadership role, the Pirates’ offseason and more

**Alex Stumpf: After a year of setbacks, Brennan Malone knows 2022 is vital

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