Buried Treasure Top 30 Prospects
#21 - Victor Black
Measurables: 6'4, 205
Bats: R, Throws: R
Acquired: 1st Supplemental Round (49th), 2009
Buried Treasure 2012 Top 20: Not Ranked
In 2008, the Pirates used their second round pick to select pitcher Tanner Scheppers out of Fresno State. An arm injury kept Scheppers and the Pirates too far apart on bonus demands, and Scheppers returned to school. As a result, the Pirates were compensated with the 49th overall pick in 2009. They used that pick to draft Victor Black out of Dallas Baptist University. At the time of the draft, Black was considered a candidate for the end of the first round thanks to a fastball that sat in the mid 90's, a solid slider, an improving changeup, and workable command.
Black signed quickly after being drafted for $717,000 which was slot money. By signing quickly, Black was able to pitch 31.1 innings, including 7 starts out of his 13 appearances, at State College. There, he showed the ability to miss bats that he had shown in college, striking out 33 batters. On the downside, Black also let the control monster creep up, walking 15 batters, nearly one every other inning.
2010 was a bad year for Victor Black. He started the season with an injured shoulder and was only able to make two brief appearances all year. In addition, Black had trouble with his bicep, adding to his injury woes.
2011 was only slightly better for Black. The Pirates decided to move their pitcher to the bullpen and didn't allow him to start the season until late May. He was assigned to West Virginia, where he showed significant control issues as well as a decline in his raw stuff. Black's fastball velocity dipped into the 80's at times and he was only able to strikeout 7.1 batters every 9 innings, while walking 5.0 over that same average span. Black ended the season playing for the Bradenton Marauders.
2012 on the other hand was a much better season for Black. The former supplemental first round pick enjoyed a mini-breakout campaign, seeing a major uptick in his stuff. Black's fastball - which had lost significant velocity in 2011 - started sitting in the mid 90's while touching 98. In addition, the newly-minted reliever's slider improved, becoming a true swing-and-miss pitch. Great numbers followed; Black finished the year at Altoona with a 12.8 K/9 rate compared to an improved 4.4 BB/9. Even more impressively, in the second half of the season, the K/9 rate jumped to an even higher 14.9/9. In addition, both right handed and left handed batters hit under .200 against Black on the season. Looking ahead, Black is already 24, so he will be ready for the major leagues soon. If he can continue to improve his control, he has the stuff and ability to miss bats to be an elite reliever in the major leagues. Considering the Pirates financial constraints, a cheap, dominant reliever will be a welcome addition.