The Pirates have boasted one of the most celebrated farm systems the past few seasons, so it’s hard to keep track of everyone. These four minor leaguers may not be grabbing headlines or may be a few years away, but they are worth keeping an eye on this month.
Luis Escobar: RHP West Virginia Power
Escobar will be the Pirates only representative at the 2017 Futures Game, which will be held this Sunday.
The 6’1” righty originally signed with the Pirates as a 155 pound infielder out of Columbia. He made his professional pitching debut in 2014 and has slowly been rising through the farm system since.
Escobar features a fastball that reaches the mid-90s, a breaking ball and a changeup.
He is having some trouble adjusting to the better hitters at regular A ball, recording a 4.64 ERA. He has struck out 100 through 75.2 innings, though.
Control has always been an issue for him. He has consistently walked anywhere from three to five batters per nine inning, and Fangraphs’ scouting report on him ranks his potential control at 40 (based on a 20-80 scale). But he wants to have better control in the strike zone as well.
“I want to be able to throw it inside, up down,” Escobar said. “I’m working hard to move it.”
GM Neal Huntington agrees the control is a focal point, but he likes the 21 year old.
“(He’s) a guy with weapons,” Huntington said on July 2. “…There’s a lot of things to like here in this young man.”
Escobar is currently ranked as the Pirates’ 12th best prospect, according to MLB Pipeline.
Ty Moore: OF Bradenton Marauders
When I talked to Moore in late June, he was still a member of the Power. He was fresh off a trip to the A-ball All-Star game, hitting .266 with 32 RBI.
While his offense made him an All-Star, Moore is just as proud about the strides he’s made on defense. He was named the defensive MVP of the All-Star game.
“At the beginning of my career, toward the end in college, I didn’t really care about defense,” Moore said. “I was always taught to be a hitter, and I think that was part of the reason why I was put in the outfield.
“Pittsburgh puts a really big emphasis on defense. That’s what wins ball games when it comes down to the nitty-gritty.”
Offensively, Moore says he has worked on offering at better pitches and controlling his emotions better in the batter’s box. He credits that to him shoring up his mechanics.
“From the development stand point, I’m very happy where I’m at. I know the coaching staff is happy with where I’m at,” Moore said. “We’re not going to be complacent with where I’m out. I’m going to continue to move forward.”
The organization must be happy with his development too. Moore was promoted to the Marauders on June 25.
Trae Arbet: INF West Virginia Power
Albert missed all but two games in A- last year after a wrist surgery. Despite that, he was still promoted from low-A to regular A this year, and he has been one of the Power’s best hitters. So far, he is hitting .253 with eight home runs in 245 plate appearances.
Arbet only had four home runs in his four year professional career coming into this season, but Power hitting coach Ryan Long saw power potential in him. They made a couple adjustments, notably shortening the stroke and cutting down on his leg kick, that made him an All-Star.
“We talked about a couple things- better separation, things like that- to allow him to drive some balls, which is what he’s capable of,” Long said. “…I think that’s where the difference has been.”
The leg kick is the big difference for Arbet. He felt his stance was getting too wide, so now he is standing up more in the box.
“I’m seeing the ball really well, so it helped out a lot,” Arbet said.
Jordan Luplow: OF Indianapolis Indians
Luplow was promoted to AAA last week after going on a torrid stretch in Altoona. He posted a .287/.368/.535 line with 16 home runs as a member of the Curve this year. He has gone deep in three of his first 32 plate appearances with Indianapolis.
Luplow has been touted as having raw power ever since he was drafted in the third round of the 2014 draft. That did not translate to in game power his first couple years in the minors, but a good walk rate and patience at the plate helped make him an above average hitter. Now that the power is playing, he has become one of the most feared hitters in the Pirates’ farm system.
“He simplified some things,” Huntington said. “…He’s certainly taken some large steps forward this year, and we felt like he was absolutely ready to tackle that next challenge.’
Luplow is currently ranked as the 29th best prospect in the Pirates’ farm system, according to MLB Pipeline.