Heredia Progressing Quickly For Pirates

PITTSBURGH — Luis Heredia could hear what Pirates farm director Larry Broadway was saying but he was just having a hard time comprehending the news.

The Pirates, known for slowly advancing their prospects through the farm system, pulled a surprise last June when they assigned Heredia to short-season State College. Heredia, who did not turn 18 until August, had pitched just 30 innings for the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Pirates in his professional debut in 2011.

"I thought for sure I would pitch again in Bradenton in the GCL," Heredia said. "They said they wanted to challenge me against better competition and that excited me."

Heredia went 4-2, 2.71 in 14 starts for State College. Heredia had just 40 strikeouts in 66 innings, but the Pirates chalked that up to him taking a little bit off his fastball while working on commanding the pitch.

Heredia felt the biggest difference pitching against more advanced hitters was their plate discipline.

"It's harder to get guys to swing at pitches outside the strike zone," Heredia said. "You have to make better pitches inside the zone."

Heredia received a $2.6 million signing bonus in 2010, the largest ever given to an international free agent by the Pirates.

"He's a really special kid," State College general manager Jason Dambach said. "He always wanted to be involved in everything we did in the community. He loves people and he is well-grounded."


• Outfield prospect Josh Bell received platelet-rich plasma injections in his left knee in an effort to spur healing, as he has been slow to recover from surgery performed last April. Bell, a second-round draft pick in 2011, had his professional debut end after just 15 games with low Class A West Virginia when he was injured while running the bases.

• The Pirates added righthander Ethan Hollingsworth from the Royals in the minor league Rule 5 draft. He is 36-40, 4.32 in five minor league seasons.