CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- As the second half of the South Atlantic League season began on Thursday evening with a home game against the Lakewood BlueClaws, the West Virginia Power found itself without three of its best players from the first half - and such is life in the minor leagues.First baseman/designated hitter Stetson Allie (.324, 17 home runs, 61 RBIs), starting pitcher Orlando Castro (7-4, 1.93 ERA, 63 strikeouts in 742/3 innings) and starting pitcher Joely Rodriguez (5-5, 2.72 ERA, 57 strikeouts in 722/3 innings) were all promoted to Bradenton during the all-star break, opening up spots for rising newcomers.The three new guys, pitchers Luis Heredia and Clario Perez and first baseman Jordan Steranka, have big shoes to fill and vastly different levels of hype entering the Power's second half.Heredia, a 6-foot-6, 243-pound right-hander, is ranked as the Pirates No. 3 prospect by Baseball America and is expected to step right into Castro's spot in the rotation. He went 4-2 with a 2.72 ERA in 14 starts for State College last season and will start the fourth game of the second half, scheduled for 2:05 p.m. Sunday in the series finale against Lakewood.
Heredia signed as an undrafted international free agent out of Mexico in August of 2010 and many people within the organization are anxious to get a glimpse of the 18-year-old. "I'm excited to watch him pitch," Power manager Mike Ryan said. "He's in the same category as a [starter Tyler] Glasnow and [starter Clay] Holmes as far as a big arm and a top prospect so I'm excited to see what he brings to the table and give him a challenge of a new league."For Steranka, it will be his first professional league. The 6-1, 205-pound lefty failed several physicals due to mononucleosis after being drafted out of Penn State in the 21st round of the 2012 draft. He hit .363 with 20 doubles, 11 home runs, and slugged .615 in his senior season with the Nittany Lions."He's going to fill in for what Stetson Allie did," Ryan said. "We're excited to have him here. He plays the game the right way and he's going to fit right in with this group."
Perez is not exactly a newcomer to Charleston. He went 1-1 over 16 games with a 5.84 ERA for the Power last year while splitting time between here and State College. Ryan said Perez will settle into a bullpen slot to start the second half.All three players were added to the Pirates' extended spring training roster after camp broke.Despite the varying levels of experience and expectations, Ryan said he expects nothing but a smooth transition into the fold in West Virginia."The three new guys aren't new to the organization so they understand the process and program that the organization runs and that's why they'll fit in so good," Ryan said. "They understand what it means to be a Pirate and what we expect on and off the field. That's why when we bring guys up or send them to other teams the process and program is all the same because what our organization has instilled in these guys. It's not much of a change wherever they go."These are three good pieces and these guys will fit in nicely with the club we have here." Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948 or firstname.lastname@example.org.