Sixteen-year-old Luis Heredia to start in rookie ball for the Pirates

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They’re letting a 16-year-old pitch professionally in the Pirates’ organization? And here I thought there were laws about exposing minors to obscenity …

That talent and maturity is why management’s plan for 2011 — though not yet formally announced — is to assign [Luis] Heredia to Bradenton of the rookie-level Gulf Coast League, an extraordinary step for a player his age. The Pirates are known to have had only one previous 16-year-old at that level in the past 40 years.

Pirates joking aside, Heredia is one to watch. He made Keith Law’s list of guys who fell just short of his Top 100 prospects list, which is pretty spiffy for a 16-year-old.  He’s big and has big velocity for his or any other age.  When you consider how much growing 16-year-old athletes usually have ahead of them, the ceiling on Heredia seems to be high, high, high.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.