Saturday, March 24, 2012

Pirate City - All Around The World

While down at Pirate City observing the minor leaguers over the 4 fields, it seems as if I gravitated towards the international players. The Latin American players can be like shrouded mysteries to many fans, as there is very little reliable information on them before they come stateside.

And even when they get here, their first year is spent at Rookie level Gulf Coast League, on these Pirate City fields where few people attend the games and report on them.

I met the gentle giant known as Luis Heredia. He is every bit of 6 foot 7 inches tall. The day I watched him pitch, he was sitting 92-94 mph on his fastball, but there have been reports he touched 97 at one point this spring.

Dilson Herrera is an impressive specimen of a shortstop. During a relay drill, he was taking cutoff throws from the outfield and throwing no-hop on the target throws to home plate.

There are tons of other Latin American players that I watched, such as Gavi Nivar's raw power, Willy Garcia's 5 potential-yet-undeveloped tools, Alen Hansen's smooth defensive actions, Edwin Espinal's large caboose, and Yhonathan Barrios's strong lower half.

I got to see the Australian trio of LHP Jackson Lodge, RHP Wilson Lee, and C Dylan Child. They all hung around each other and were joking around with each other, indicating to me that they are pretty good friends.

I saw the two Eastern Euros -- Donaydas Neverauskas and Alex Lukashevich, both pitchers -- and they also hung out closely with each other. I also glimpsed Gift Ngeope during a part of an intra-squad game.

It was interesting to get a look at these guys, who will be at different points in the organizational ladder this year from Rookie League to High A Bradenton. It's very encouraging to see that the international pipeline is bringing in talent from a wide variety of countries.

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