Pittsburgh Pirates: A Potential Hidden Gem in the FCL
|Photo Credit: Pirates Prospects dot com|
The Pittsburgh Pirates system, for once in a long time, actually has some depth, top prospects, and a sense of hope for the once bleak looking future. You have names like Mason Martin, Canaan Smith-Njigba, Cal Mitchell, Roansy Contreras, Quinn Priester, Tahnaj Thomas; I mean, I could go on and on for the promising names the Pirates have. With the FCL now beginning play, we are starting to hear a few names pop up that we should watch. I'm here to fill you in on one name in particular.
I don't know what it is about extremely late round draft picks that get me going; maybe it's that I see the human in them, I see a kid who no one wanted to take a chance on; I see an underdog, I see the raw and gritty story that we all crave and want to see succeed. No name fills this role like Jake Sweeney, a 6'7 240 LB behemoth of a left handed pitcher.
Mr. Sweeney is a 21-year-old prospect from Indiana who was drafted in the 36th round of 2019 out of Pensacola Junior College. Humble beginnings, to say the least, for the southpaw. In 2019 Sweeney joined the GCL Pirates, and while he held opponents to just a .148/.347/.222 slash line, he struggled to find the strike zone and walked 15 in 15.2 IP. I'm sure 2020 was filled with tons of work on his mechanics.
In fact, according to PBN (Pittsburgh Baseball Network), they mentioned that if he works on his mechanics and uses that 6'7 frame, "he has potential." 2020 must have been filled with mechanical work because his 2021 debut for the Pirates FCL Black Squad seemed to be much better. On 6-29, Sweeney's line read 3.0 IP, 0 hits, 0 ER's, 1 BB, and 8 K's. He faced just ten batters, and of those ten, eight were sat down due to K's.
One can read too much into one game or one inning, and I will refrain from doing so, but from never having a game like that in college and in your first year, it brings hope. Unfortunately, none of the media members, including me, have been able to get their hands on velo numbers, pitch counts, or video clips to see how the FCL players have looked, but on Thursday, I will try and get answers in an exclusive interview with Mr. Sweeney on my other project Pirates Unrestricted.
Here's to a great Minor League season so far, and here's to many more games filled with exciting baseball and memories!
(Side note) The joint article with Anthony and I will be dropped on Tuesday this week!