Pat Lackey at the Pirates blog WHYGAVS notices an interesting trend: Pirates minor league pitchers are walking very few batters, but also striking out very few, with two affiliates finishing last in their leagues in both categories. So what does it mean?â†µ
You can teach control. The Pirates are doing it. That leaves a bit of hope for a guy like Steston Allie, I think. The question, though, is once you teach a pitcher control through the rather extreme methods that the Pirates use (how many other teams limit young pitchers' arsenals the way the Pirates do? I'd bet it's not many), can they go back and re-learn how to miss bats, as well?â†µ
The Pirates have pitchers at the lower levels of the minors focus on their fastball command. They should, however, be past that point by the time they reach Class AA Altoona, and yet the pitchers there still aren't striking batters out. Some of that may be due to the Pirates' pitchers being younger than most others at their level. But as Pat suggests, it's possible that strikeouts - which are an important component of big-league success - are something the Pirates' youngsters need to learn once they get their fastballs going in the right direction.