McPherson Takes An Unconventional Path

Pirates farmhand takes a little longer to develop

PITTSBURGH—Kyle McPherson hasn't followed the path of some elite pitching prospects. He spent much of his junior year at Mobile (Ala.) as an infielder. He pitched four professional seasons before getting a crack at high Class A.

But McPherson, a 23-year-old righthander selected in the 14th round of the 2007 draft, began to break through in 2010 with a 124-to-31 strikeout-to-walk ratio that earned him a spot on the 40-man roster. He followed through this season to earn the organization's pitcher of the year award. In 28 starts between high Class A Bradenton and Double-A Altoona, McPherson went 12-6, 2.96 with a system-high 142 strikeouts and just 27 walks.

Maybe he just got tired of seeing other prospects pass him by.

"There are a lot of outstanding pitchers in this organization, and it's stiff competition all the way up," McPherson said. "You just have to go out there and hope you can separate yourself from them every single day."

McPherson has a solid though unspectacular repertoire, with a fastball sitting at 92 mph, a curveball and changeup. What he has achieved has been through simple fastball command.

"It was a big step forward for me, the whole year," he said. "I wanted to build off last season, stay strong, stay healthy, focus on the little things. Just make quality strikes, from pitch No. 1 to the final out. Never back down from a pitch."

On May 31, McPherson fell two outs shy of a no-hitter while pitching for Bradenton. "It was the best moment of my career," he said.

Treasure Trove

• The Pirates selected Bradenton outfielder Robbie Grossman as the organization player of the year. Grossman, 22, batted .294/.418/.451 for Bradenton.

• Righthander Gerrit Cole, the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft, was sent to the Arizona Fall League after impressing management with his poise at instructional league. His innings will be limited because of his workload at UCLA.