2015 Hi-A Florida State League All-Stars – UTR Pitchers

By Jim Brown

The 2015 version of the Florida State League All-Star Game will be held on June 20th at Tradition Field, Home of the St. Lucie Mets (New York). The roster was released on June 8th and (22) HiA pitchers were listed, with eleven representing the North and South Divisions respectively. That list consisted of (12) 2014 UTR Organizational All-Stars with eight of those being true UTR prospects. The Detroit Tigers #4 prospect Kevin Ziomek, Reds #8 Nick Travieso, Cardinals’ #2 Alex Reyes, Marlins’ #10 Jarlin Garcia, though earning OAS status, don’t qualify as UTR’s with their organizational rankings in the Top 10. Another UTR-OAS, Robert Gsellman (NYM) was elected to the All-Star team, but has been promoted to Double-A Binghamton. Let’s take a look at which UTR pitchers made the roster for both teams.

For the North Team:

Brandon Leibrandt (Clearwater – Philadelphia)
  • A 6th round pick in 2014, Leibrandt quickly made four UTR mentions in his debut season, advancing from the GCL to Short-Season Williamsport. His performance earned him a UTR-OAS spot for the Phillies where his posted an outstanding .082 TPS.
Mark Leiter (Clearwater – Philadelphia)
  • The right-hander joins his rotation-mate as an All-Star. Leiter was a 22nd round pick in 2013 and pushed through 3 levels in his debut working mainly from the bullpen. My system had him pegged as “One To Watch” as a relief pitcher for 2014. He placed in the rotation at LoA Lakewood and had modest success in making his way to HiA Clearwater. He was a 2014 UTR post-season Organizational All-Star. So far, he’s having a breakout year in making four mentions in 6 starts and was recently named as a Top NL UTR Pitcher of the Month for May.
Jorge Ortega (Brevard County – Milwaukee)
  • Marc recently touted my TPS system, but Ortega is the type of pitcher that grounds my work and conveys that I need more refinement to the process. In 2013, his .130 TPS registered near the bottom amongst Brewer relievers. The following season, he finished in the Top 10 of starting pitchers within my two-fold post-season system, but with a horrible TPS (.175) which was one of the worse in the Brewers system. I must dig deeper into the numbers  my system to figure out why Ortega is excelling in the jump from the Rookie Pioneer League to HiA Brevard County in 2015. He’s not a striking out a ton of hitters (35 over 62 IP), but is near the top in WHIP (0.887). He’s one of two NL pitchers to be named Top UTR Pitcher of the Month for April and May. Given that the right-hander has made that list twice, you would figure he would be one of the top NL UTR Mentions so far this season. Ortega has only made 3 UTR mentions which defies the logic. He’s definitely worthy of a case-study.
Jonathan Holder (Tampa – New York Yankees)
  • This 6th round selection from the 2014 draft is another pitcher that having early success this season after skipping LoA. Holder didn’t qualify for a UTR-OAS after the 2014 season, but is well on his way to get there after this season.
For the South Squad:
Jacob Faria (Charlotte – Tampa Bay)
  • Without a doubt that Faria will make the Rays rotation as future back-end type. His name has been splashed all over UTRMinors posts since our debut in April 2014. The right-hander made five mentions and made the LoA Midwest League All-Star team, as well as the UTR-OAS for 2014. The 10th round pick in 2011 has already been mentioned five times this season, which makes sense with his 10-1 record and 1.47 ERA.
Chih-Wei Hu (Fort Myers – Minnesota)
  • The Taiwan native just missed my UTR-OAS list after the 2014 season. He should be there at the end of this season, but Im afraid that will be the last you will see the UTR moniker near his name. This kid has done nothing but impress since signing with the Twins in 2011. He’s already made a start with Triple-A Rochester and dazzled the front office. That doesn’t mean they will rush the 21 year old right-hander through the system, but he will see Double-A competition very soon. Hu throws two change-ups including a palm ball. When’s the last time you heard that term?
Brad Schreiber (Charlotte – Tampa Bay)
  • Ok…now we’re talking UTR. Schreiber make the All-Star team as a 40th round pick in 2012 out of Purdue University. Tough road to follow as a near bottom draft pick from a cold weather school. He’s been coming on strong since June 2014 and made the UTR-OAS list. The right-hander has garnered 15 saves so far this season, in 21 appearances. 
Akeel Morris (St. Lucie – New York Mets)
  • When we launched the site last year, Akeel Morris along with the then Blue Jay Kendall Graveman, where the fastest risers on my UTR list. Graveman took off and end up getting traded to Oakland where he was placed in the A’s rotation. The Mets are not that aggressive with their prospect. This is OK, even though the Morris hype has calmed somewhat in his closer role (11 saves) at HiA St Lucie. He posted outstanding TPS numbers last season, but they might not be as kind this season with the increase in his BB9 rate.
Miguel Del Pozo (Jupiter – Miami)
  • An All-Star berth is just what Del Pozo needs to start 2015. The southpaw now needs to continue to improve to become the top flight left-handed prospect for the Marlins. He did break into the Miami Top 30 rankings at #27 with the Baseball America after a strong second half in 2014. He cut down on his walks, but gave up 5 HR  and 19 doubles in 66 IP which is alarming. He continued to rack-up the K’s (85) last season which boosted his K/W ratio to a career high 4.47. Holding runners is still the achilles for Del Pozo, as he continues to post an ERA near 4.00.
Buddy Borden (Charlotte – Tampa Bay)
  • During the off-season, Tampa Bay sent utility infielder Sean Rodriguez to Pittsburgh for the 2013 7th rounder. As a Pirate fan, I knew the Buccos needed some infield depth, but was really disappointed they traded Borden. The casual Pirate fan never blinked with the stock-pile of young arms in-or-on the way to the Burgh. But one that follows UTRMinors saw promising middle-of-the rotation type gone. In my system, if you took Tyler Glasnow out of the mix….Borden would have replaced him as the top pitcher on my spreadsheet. The Rays slowly started Borden in the bullpen to start the 2015 season. During his second start on May 13th, the right-hander threw a seven inning no-hitter against Clearwater (Philadelphia). Despite a rough outing last week (4 ER in 4.2 IP), Borden has been lights-out since hitting the rotation.
Brandon Peterson (Fort Myers – Minnesota)
  • A 13th round pick in 2013, Peterson hasn’t allowed an earned run since May 5th (13.2 IP) and only three in 30.2 innings this season posting at 0.88 ERA.


Next up…..I will rundown the All-Star pitchers for the HiA California/Carolina League, LoA Midwest, and LoA South Atlantic League. These leagues will play their games on June 23rd.

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