Buried Treasure Top 30 Prospects
#12 - Clay Holmes
Measurables: 6'5, 230
Bats: R, Throws: R
Acquired: 9th Round (272nd overall), 2011
Buried Treasure 2012 Top 20: #20
The Pirates drafted Clay Holmes - ranked by Baseball America as the 140th best draft prospect - in the 9th round of the 2011 draft. At that point, it was clear that Holmes had slipped due to signability and it would require a large signing bonus for him to join the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. The Pirates did just that in their record-destroying 2011 draft in regards to bonus spending, signing Holmes to a 1.2 million dollar bonus. That set a record for the 9th round and prevented Holmes from fulfilling his commitment to Auburn. Unfortunately, the negotiations went nearly up until the deadline for 2011 draftees to sign and as a result, Holmes was unable to pitch in 2011.
As a fairly highly regarded prep signing, the Pirates sent Holmes straight to the State College Spikes, skipping the Gulf Coast League. There, Holmes showed off his two-pitch arsenal which features a fastball that sits in the low 90's and features heavy movement and a potentially elite, but currently erratic, slider. Holmes also showed a minor red flag, a high-effort delivery that also contributes to the movement on his pitches.
As far as performance goes, Holmes pitched fairly well for the Spikes. He logged 59.1 innings in 13 starts, posting a 2.28 ERA. That ERA may not tell the whole story as Holmes finished with a 3.99 FIP thanks to a low strikeout rate - 5.16 K/9 - and - high walk rate - 4.40 B/9. Despite those ugly peripherals, hitters only .173 against Holmes and only managed to hit 1 homerun in nearly 60 innings, potentially speaking to the effectiveness of the movement of his pitches. Moving forward, Holmes may need to clean up his delivery a tad in an effort to improve his command and control, both of which need work. Holmes does have good stuff, so he should miss more bats in the future and developing a changeup should help that. Overall, Holmes - who doesn't have the high amount of projectability left generally associated with prep pitching draftees - has the present stuff and the frame to be a innings-eating mid-rotation starter in the future and could do a bit better if everything breaks in his favor.