RHP Victor Black, 21, was selected as a supplemental pick following the first round of the 2009 draft (gotten because they couldn't sign Tanner Scheppers in 2008), #49 overall. He was rated by Baseball America as the #50th prospect, so the Bucs got him right about where he was rated.
The 6-4, 210-pound Black went 6-4 with a 4.16 ERA and 99 strikeouts in 88-2/3 innings at Dallas Baptist University. He faced better competition than just the Patriots' Heartland Conference foes, as he often pitched mid-week against Big 12 teams during the non-league portion of DBU's college schedule.
The Texan signed in late June for slot money, $717K, and the Pirates started him off at State College.
As a member of the Spikes, he posted a 1-2 record with a 3.45 ERA, including 33 strikeouts and 15 walks, no homers allowed, and a .213 opponent batting average in 31 innings of work. One red flag was his huge split. RH batters hit .159 off him while lefties hit .283. Still, Baseball America ranked him as the #6 prospect in the short-season NY-Penn League.
Black brings a fastball that sits around 92-94 MPH but can top off at 96. His out pitch is an 82-84 MPH slider with good break, and he's struggled to command his change. The rap on his resume is his control. He walked 4 batters per nine innings at State College, which is actually an improvement from his DBU days.
But it's no surprise that he's raw; he moved from catcher to pitcher in his senior year at Amarillo High School, and so is still very much a work in progress, without very many innings under his belt as a hurler. The Pirates limited his workload at State College, not wanting to burn him out.
The great debate concerning Black is his future role. Some scouts think he has the stuff to fit into the rotation, but others think that with his ability to miss a bat, lefty-righty split, and two-pitch toolkit that he's destined for the back end of the bullpen as a closer or late-inning match up guy.
So the talent evaluation people will be rating his continued improvement very closely, especially in regards to his control and developing an effective off-speed pitch, before determining his niche in the organization.
His lack of experience should land him at West Virginia at 2010, but we think that given his age, upside, and draft position, there's a better than even chance that he starts the year at Bradenton, the new high-A Pirate destination.
(Next - Shelby Ford)