Prospect Notebook: Hunter Strickland’s Return to the Mound

Hunter Strickland

In 2009 the Pittsburgh Pirates traded first baseman Adam LaRoche to the Boston Red Sox. In return they received Triple-A shortstop Argenis Diaz, and low-A right handed pitcher Hunter Strickland.

Strickland was in the middle of a strong season. He had a 3.35 ERA in 83.1 innings for the Red Sox low-A affiliate. The Pirates placed him in West Virginia, and in his first start in the organization he combined with Diego Moreno for a no-hitter, throwing six no-hit innings. He finished the year with a 3.77 ERA in 43 innings with West Virginia.

The right-hander returned to low-A the following season, and pitched 43 more innings at the level. This time he posted a 5.86 ERA before being moved up to high-A. He made just four appearances in Bradenton before going down with an elbow strain. Strickland missed the rest of the season, but returned to action in Spring Training the next year.

He was slated to go to Bradenton again, when his shoulder started acting up during his last outing of the spring. Eventually he underwent rotator cuff surgery in August 2011.

“We tried to work throughout the whole year trying to rehab it and come back, because obviously the last option is surgery,” Strickland said of the injury. “And then it just kept acting up, so that’s what I had to do was go to see [Dr. James] Andrews.”

Strickland worked four days a week over the off-season with a trainer, trying to get back on the field. He came in to Spring Training at 100%, health-wise.

“I felt great,” Strickland said about his health. “My arm feels healthy. I give it to the trainers. They helped me a long ways, giving me different exercises to do.”

“Physically he’s in very good shape from a workout standpoint, from a conditioning standpoint,” Pirates’ Director of Minor League Operations Larry Broadway said. “Mentally, a really good spot. Physically, as far as game throwing, bullpen, mechanics, arm, everything looks good.”

Not only was Strickland healthy, but he was also throwing with good velocity. In his first start of the spring he touched 96 MPH with his fastball. Throughout the spring he was consistently sitting 92-94 MPH. His changeup continues to progress, and he spent a lot of time this spring working on his slider, which looked sharp at times.

“I need to change my mentality on it a little bit,” Strickland said of the slider. “I need to throw it more like a fastball. But it’s coming around.”

He also throws a two seam fastball, an just started throwing a cutter in Spring Training after working with other pitchers during throwing programs, trying out different grips.

“It’s always good to have another pitch in the mix,” Strickland said of the addition.

The Pirates put him on a track to be a starting pitcher in Bradenton, due to his valuable arsenal of pitches. On Tuesday he made his first regular season appearance since June 5, 2010. He went five innings, allowing two runs on five hits, with no walks and two strikeouts. The two runs and three of the hits came in the first inning.

He’s missed a year and a half, but Strickland is only 23 years old. The Pirates will have to monitor his innings load throughout the year, and how many innings he goes will depend on how he feels during the season. He threw 57 innings in 2010, and his career high was 126.1 in 2009.

“He’s not a young kid, so we’re not specifically throwing a certain inning window in there,” Broadway said about his 2012 workload. “But it’s going to be more on the evaluation of him. How is he maintaining his mechanics. How he feels. How his stuff holds up. And if everything continues in a positive direction, we’ll continue to give him innings.”


Josh Bell hit his first professional home run last night, a three run shot in West Virginia’s 10-6 loss to Asheville.

Bell got off to a rough start this year, going 3-for-10 in his first two games, but striking out six times. He’s only struck out three times in his 16 at-bats since then, and is 4-for-9 in his last two games with a double and a homer.

Wilbur Miller saw Bell last weekend in Hagerstown, and had some observations on his play. He noted that it looked like Bell was adjusting to the speed of the game, which is much faster in full season A-ball than it is in high school.


**Chase d’Arnaud was hit in the head with a pitch on Saturday, and was removed from the game. He’s missed time since then with a concussion.

**Kyle McPherson is currently on the Triple-A disabled list with shoulder inflammation. There is still no time table on his return, although he is currently on a throwing program.

**Stetson Allie experienced some tightness in his elbow during his last start, due to cold weather. He is throwing again and should be back on the mound soon. Last night would have been his next regularly scheduled start, but was made by Mike Jefferson.

**Michael Crotta had surgery to remove a bone spur and put a screw in. He tweeted X-ray photos herehere, and here.

Enjoy this story? Pirates Prospects will be switching to a subscription site on 4/13, so that we can continue bringing you the best Pirates coverage there is. For a very small monthly price, you can continue getting articles like this, along with coverage from every minor league city. Get more information here, and subscribe today!

Share This Article

Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

Prospect Notebook: Chambers Working to be More Mature at the Plate

Next Story »

Prospect Notebook: Taillon Reducing Drop In His Delivery

  • Ross

    even with his slow starts to seasons, boy would adam laroche really do wonders to this Pirates team now. as much as people disliked him when he was a Pirate, he would be that instant power they need in the 4 or 5 spot. even though he puts up bad WAR numbers, you can pencil him in for AT LEAST 15 homers in a season

Latest Analysis

  • Gregory Polanco

    Q&A: Trading Prospects For Rentals, Polanco Concerns, Meadows vs Appel

    4 hours ago

    I missed the Q&A last week due to a common problem in Spring Training: I forgot what day it was. It was around 6:00 that I was ...

    Read More
  • Nick Kingham f

    Improving His Two-Seam Fastball will Make Nick Kingham a More Effective Pitcher

    1 day ago

    With Jameson Taillon returning from Tommy John surgery, and unlikely to make an impact at the Major League level early in the year, the top prospect to ...

    Read More
  • Arquimedes Caminero 3

    The Roster Situations That Could Impact the Makeup of the Pirates Bullpen

    3 days ago

    There are less than two weeks remaining in Spring Training, and the one area where the Pittsburgh Pirates had actual position battles is heating up. There were ...

    Read More
  • Jordan Luplow

    How the Pirates are Trying to Stay Ahead of the Curve With the New Draft Rules

    4 days ago

    The 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement brought a lot of changes to Major League Baseball. The biggest change for the Pittsburgh Pirates came in the draft. From 2008-2011, ...

    Read More
  • Alen Hanson

    The Key For Alen Hanson to Help the Pirates in the Majors This Year

    5 days ago

    When the Pittsburgh Pirates moved Alen Hanson to second base last year, part of the plan was to get him to the majors faster by putting him at ...

    Read More
  • Tyler Glasnow 2

    What the Stats Don’t Tell You About Tyler Glasnow

    6 days ago

    The stat line for Tyler Glasnow’s start at Pirate City yesterday looked great: 3 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. The lone run ...

    Read More
  • JaCoby Jones Josh Bell

    JaCoby Jones Did Fine in the Move to Shortstop, But Needs to Cut Down on Strikeouts

    1 week ago

    The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted JaCoby Jones as an outfielder in the third round of the 2013 draft, then surprised everyone the following year when they moved him ...

    Read More
  • Cody Dickson is a lefty with the upside of a middle of the rotation starter. (Photo Credit: Mark Olson)

    The Mental Adjustment that Led to Cody Dickson’s Dominant 2014 Second Half

    1 week ago

    Trusting his stuff and not trying to do too much — that has been the key for left-handed pitcher Cody Dickson so far in his professional baseball ...

    Read More
  • Third Base Mathisen Luplow Joe

    Who’s on Third? In the Pirates’ Farm System, It Could Be Anyone

    1 week ago

    If you have ever played third base in your life — professional, college, high school, slow pitch softball — then the Pittsburgh Pirates might be contacting you ...

    Read More
  • Jason Creasy

    Another Pitcher to Watch From the Pirates’ 2011 Draft

    2 weeks ago

    The 2011 draft is shaping up to be a great class for the Pittsburgh Pirates. They picked first overall that year, so naturally you’d expect good things ...

    Read More
  • Browse More Articles