The tools Luis Heredia used in his first work night for the State College Spikes were no different than what most minor-league pitchers tote.
Standing along a railing at Williamsports Bowman Field, Heredia operated a video camera and gathered footage of Jason Creasys first professional start.
Later in the game, he sat in the box seats, clutched a radar gun and charted pitches.
Despite his age, wealth and potential, the Pittsburgh Pirates are treating Heredia like the 15 other pitchers on the Spikes roster.
On this night, Heredia must follow the game from the stands, a between-start practice duplicated throughout the minors.
The Pittsburgh Pirates understand they have a 17-year-old working in a league filled with 21-and 22-year-olds. They understand Heredia received a $2.6-million signing bonus, an organizational record for an international player.
But they also understand they must shrink the divide between Heredia, who makes his first New York-Penn League start tonight against Williamsport at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, and his teammates.
Heredia isnt living in an apartment or with his mother this summer. Like everybody else on the 29-player roster, Heredia has been assigned a host family.
Living with a local family offers the ideal situation for Heredia. It forces him to adjust to life away from the Pirate City dormitories for the first time in his career without exposing him to the perils of living alone.
Its going to be a gradual progression, Pirates farm director Larry Broadway said. Hes not going to be thrown into an apartment by himself and have to try to figure out utilities and everything else. But it will be an adjustment for him getting away from his family and probably a needed adjustment.
Heredia is from Mazatlan, Mexico, a coastal city in the Mexican state of Sinaloa. He lived with his mother, Maria, and younger sister before ending an intense bidding process by signing with the Pirates.
Soccer attracts most of Mexicos best athletes. But Heredia played basketball and baseball, sports that fit his 6-foot-6 frame. He signed with the Pirates as a 16-year-old, impressing the organization with his command and poise while pitching in a Mexican Pacific League exhibition game.
The Pirates officially signed Heredia on Aug. 24, 2010. Heredia had turned 16 exactly two weeks earlier. The Pirates sent him directly to Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla., meaning he bypassed the organizations Dominican and Venezuelan affiliates.
The right-hander spent most of the next 22 months in Florida, training alongside the organizations youngest prospects and living in a controlled environment.
He made 12 appearances in the rookie Gulf Coast League last summer, and Baseball Americadeclared him the leagues fifth best prospect after the season.
The Pirates thoroughly assessed Heredia in regular and extended spring training. He has never competed, or lived, north of Florida, and his chances of leaving Bradenton this summer were 50-50 until recently.
Hes obviously very, very young and doesnt have a whole lot of experience, Spikes pitching coach Justin Meccage said. He has come a long way in the last month and put himself in a position to come to State College. I like what I see. But it will be a growing process. If we can get better every time out, thats what we are looking for.
Heredias fastball runs in the low-90s. He also throws a curveball and changeup. Establishing the fastball and changeup are summer goals.
Fastball is a priority then the changeup development, which has come a long way in the last month, Meccage said.
From a baseball perspective, the Pirates arent handling Heredia differently than the other younger pitchers who passed through State College in the past two years. He will operate under rigid pitch restrictions, and Heredia will throw his curveball when we need it, Meccage said.
Away from the field, Heredia is adjusting to the professional lifestyle. He used English and Spanish to conduct an interview earlier this week. Spikes coach Austin McClune served as a translator, but Heredia attempted to answer multiple questions in English.
It has been difficult being away from my family, he said. But it doesnt matter. Im here to play baseball, and Im excited for the opportunity.
Heredia said central Pennsylvania represents the farthest north he has traveled.
The people are a lot different and the talent level is obviously a lot different, he said.
The Spikes current roster includes 21 players Heredia knows from the extended spring training program. The other eight players were selected in this months Major League Baseball Draft. The newcomers forged similar first impressions of the 237- pound right-hander.
I was more surprised to see how big he is, said catcher Jacob Stallings, a seventh-round draft pick from North Carolina. He just acts like a typical 17-year-old. Hes always smiling.
The Pirates hope Heredias grin fades when he pitches. Heredia is living 2,505 miles from home and 1,137 miles from Bradenton because the organization wants to see how a precocious teen handles demanding situations.
Its the same thing that makes it difficult for a 19-year-old and in reality the same things that make it difficult for a 22-year-old in this league, Pirates assistant general manager Kyle Stark said. Its called life. Its called distractions away from the ballpark. At the end of the day, we are betting on Luis Heredias maturity. We are also betting on this staff and this group of guys to have each others backs and care about each other.
Heredia welcomes the challenge.
Im happy being on this team and being with the Pirates, he said. I want to help the Pirates in the big leagues one day.
Guy Cipriano can be reached at 231-4643. Follow him on Twitter @cdtguy