Luis Escobar Raises Profile In Pirates System

Righthander Luis Escobar might have seemed like a surprising choice to be the Pirates’ lone representative at the Futures Game.

The Colombian righthander signed in July 2013 and had been inconsistent at low Class A West Virginia in the first half of 2017, his first crack at a full-season league. Furthermore, many other prospects in the system have higher profiles than Escobar, who ranked No. 28 heading into the season.

However, the Pirates had their reasons for wanting Escobar to be on the World team’s pitching staff. He responded by working one scoreless inning while allowing one walk.

“We felt that being on the big stage might be great for him,” general manager Neal Huntington said. “He’s a guy with weapons. He has a quality breaking ball that he can get swings-and-misses with. His changeup is developing. His Fastball has power to it.”

Escobar’s fastball sits 93-95 mph and reaches 97, and he complements it with a big-breaking curveball that is his out pitch.

The 21-year-old is searching for consistency in the South Atlantic League. He went 6-5, 4.46 through 17 games, all but one a start, and allowing 66 hits in 80.2 innings. Escobar struck out 102 but had walked 36.

Like many young pitchers, Escobar still is learning to repeat his mechanics.

“I am trying to step straight toward home plate on every pitch and drive through with my legs on every pitch,” he said.

The Pirates signed Escobar for $150,000, and he got on to the prospect radar last season at short-season West Virginia, when he recorded a 2.93 ERA and .208 opponent average in 67.2 innings.

Escobar faces questions about his durability because he is just 6-foot-1 and 155 pounds. He also tends to get rattled at times, which in turn has led to some big innings.

The Pirate believe that Escobar’s plusses far outweigh the minuses. They believe he will mature—physically and emotionally—with more experience.

“He’ll continue to develop that fastball command and the repeatability and could find himself as a major league starting pitcher in a few years,” Huntington said.

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