According a report here at The Birdhouse, Herron had a planned vacation and could not join the Sharks for the start of the winter league season. He may not have pitched under game conditions for a long time and he showed some signs of rust.
Herron looks pretty much as advertised, tall with long arms and a fairly lanky frame with broad shoulders and strong legs. He looked to have a fairly smooth delivery and he used a classic three-quarters arm action.
Herron usually profiled in the low 90s and I had seen him 94 on the gun while he was in high school. Being his first appearance, he appeared to be just trying to shake the rust off. Herron mostly threw in the high 80s - around 86 to 89 - but it was clear he could throw harder when he uncorked a 92 mph fastball once.
His fastball has nice sink and moves from the left of the plate toward the right. Herron also has a nice big sweeping curveball but it is inconsistent and can flatten out. He seemed to be working to get back in command of his pitches.
His strategy seems to pound the zone low and move the ball up outside or inside depending on the situation to finish the hitter. As Herron gets settled back in, he should get sharper. He had an okay outing but allowed one run to score. His catcher was fellow Cardinals prospect Tony Cruz, shown below with Sharks pitching coach Robert Ellis and Herron.
Herron had trouble since the umpire was not kind to the low strike and he fell behind the count a bit. Early on, his breaking ball did not break to his liking. He got behind North Shore's Chris Carter who knocked a solid double to the outfield. Next he faced Matt McBride. Herron did a good job staying low and outside and got ahead but couldn't finish him off with a diet of low fastballs. With the count full, Herron uncorked a wild pitch that freakishly bounced off the front of home plate and sailed high over Cruz's head. The runner on second advanced as the batter McBride walked.
Herron then faced Kurt Mertins, who after taking some pitches low, gets busted in with a high fastball and pops up to right field. Unfortunately, Carter easily scored from third on the play. Kenji Sato then stepped in. Sato caught the top of the ball and chopped it to the first base side. Herron rushed in and fielded it cleanly and touched first. The runner advanced to second on the play.
Herron started to locate his breaking ball and get the batters to chase. The big sweeping curveball can be a huge weapon. He did a good job facing Ron Rivas with a mix of fastballs and curves in and outside the zone. He got Rivas to chase his curve and set him up for a strike out but he couldn't complete it and eventually walked him.
However, the curveball has clearly become a weapon. Herron then faced down Adam Davis, getting ahead with fastballs and then trying to catch the outside corner with curveballs. He finally was given an outside strike with the curveball, which the ump hadn't been calling and then forced Davis to swing on a nasty low fastball that ended the inning.
I like what I saw from Herron. In all, his velocity was down, probably due to his long layoff. He stuck to his game plan which was to set up them up low and move the fastball around followed by his sweeping curveball. Despite a few close pitches that may have been called strikes, he hung in there and stuck to his game plan (Blake King also had some trouble with the zone).
Herron threw something of a cutter along with his curveball and I think a few change ups. His bread and butter are his fastball and curve. Had he been able to command the curveball, he would have probably not allowed the run to score.
Given his normal expected velocity and breaking ball, Herron could become a top pitcher in the Hawaii Winter League. I look forward to seeing his future outings here.
Herron definitely has the potential to make an impact on the big club some day.
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