By Jason Shetler
Entering 2017, the Pirates farm system was once again ranked in the Top 10. Tim Williams of Pirates Prospects had the Bradenton Marauders as being the most prospect heavy affiliate for this year. The Altoona Curve and Indianapolis Indians also have a good number of prospects. The West Virginia Power came into this season not having as many as the other affiliates. Two of the notables are smooth fielding shortstop Stephen Alemais and pitcher Luis Escobar, who has the potential to become an impact prospect. Another player who is now flying under the radar with the Power this year is pitcher Oddy Nunez.
The Pirates signed Nunez as an 18-year-old out of the Dominican Republic in 2015. The 6’5 left-hander began his pro career that year with the Dominican Summer League Pirates as a reliever, where he put up a 2.08 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP in 11 games. Last season, he pitched in relief for the Bucs’ Gulf Coast League club, posting a 2.34 ERA, along with a WHIP of 1.10 in 11 appearances.
After being used in the bullpen his first two seasons, Nunez was stretched out to be a starter for the Power this year. So far, he has performed very well in their rotation, with an ERA of 3.06, a 3.32 Fielding Independent Pitching and currently the fifth lowest WHIP in the South Atlantic League at 0.94. Nunez has also been getting a ton of grounders, as he has posted a 63% groundball rate. Because of his size, he is able to throw from a great downward plane, as well as using a three-quarters delivery to help him keep the ball down. Nunez has good movement to his sinker, to go along with a slider and changeup, which continue to improve. For as many prospects as the Pirates have in the system, they don’t have much in the way of left-handed pitching prospects, so if Nunez can keep up what he is doing, then they may have themselves a diamond in the rough.