RIGHT HANDED PITCHER
|Born: November 11, 1987
Height: 6′ 3″
Drafted: 14th Round, 428th Overall, 2007
How Acquired: Draft
College: University of Mobile
Agent: BBI Sports Group
WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES
|McPherson went to Faulkner State Community College before going to Mobile. He obviously didn’t pitch well at Mobile. His fastball sits at 92-93 and can get a little higher, and he locates it very well. He rarely walks anybody and isn’t afraid to throw inside. He also throws a decent curve and a change. He’s a pretty strong flyball pitcher and gopher balls were a problem at times in the low minors. McPherson largely scuffled along for three years until he suddenly started putting things together in 2010.
Pitched well in the GCL against younger players, although with a low K rate. He got hammered in three late season starts for State College and had trouble with LH batters.
Back at State College, McPherson pitched well except for a serious problem with gopher balls. His WHIP was very good, but he allowed ten HRs in just 55.2 IP, leading to a high ERA. Oddly, he gave up exactly half as many walks as HRs, something you won’t see often. His K rate remained low. He had a reverse platoon split this time.
Started in extended spring training, but soon joined the West Virginia staff and pitched both as starter and reliever. He wasn’t overwhelming, but his peripheral numbers, especially his WHIP, were better than his 4.94 ERA and he cut way down on HRs. When State College opened its season, he moved down to join its rotation and improved greatly over 2008. He had low walk and K rates at both levels. He had no meaningful platoon split.
McPherson finally got to full season ball to stay and has a good season at West Virginia, leading the SAL in strikeouts for much of season until missing some time with a blister. His K rate showed a dramatic improvement in his ability to get swings and misses. He moved to bullpen late in the season, as the Pirates were concerned about his inning total. He had a very good WHIP, but some renewed difficulties with longballs (1.1 per nine innings). The Pirates moved McPherson up to Bradenton at season’s end and he had two outstanding relief outings. After the season they added him to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft.
McPherson opened the season at Bradenton and dominated over a dozen starts, including a 10:1 K:BB ratio. Despite remaining a flyball pitcher, he allowed only four HRs. The Pirates promoted him to Altoona in early June and he continued to pitch well, improving his K rate over what it was in high A. He was still a flyball pitcher but allowed only seven HRs in 89.1 IP. He was a little tougher on left-handed than right-handed batters.
McPherson was slated to open the season in AAA, but his velocity dropped to the mid-80s in spring training and he was placed on the disabled list with shoulder soreness. He eventually made it to Altoona around mid-season and got hit slightly harder than before, but showed his command was fine with a 9:1 K:BB ratio. He moved up to AAA for three very strong starts, then the Pirates brought him to the majors in late August. He pitched very well in seven relief appearances, then made three starts at the end of the season. He struggled a little in the first two before throwing six shutout innings against the Reds in his last start. Overall, he continued his strong walk and K rates, but his ERA did benefit from a high strand rate. His fastball sat around 93.
McPherson had some shoulder problems during the off-season, but came to camp to compete for a spot in the rotation. He got bombed in his last several starts, though, and opened the season in Indianapolis. He made two starts and struggled, badly in the second one, and went on the disabled list. Ultimately, he had to have Tommy John surgery.
The Pirates drew criticism from some fans when they added McPherson to the 40-man roster in 2010, but the move showed that minor league stats don’t always tell the whole story. McPherson’s numbers in low A that year weren’t dominant and he was a little old for the level, but the Pirates judged correctly that he had more ability than the stats showed. Unfortunately, the Tommy John surgery interrupted his progress. The Pirates designated him for assignment during their post-season roster moves and he opted for free agency, but he signed a minor league deal with them in December. He probably won’t be ready to pitch until mid-season. If he recovers fully, he could figure into the team’s plans in 2015.
UPDATE: McPherson suffered a fracture in his right elbow during rehab. The resulting surgery will cost him the 2014 season. If the Pirates want to bring him back for 2015, they’ll have to sign him to another minor league contract.