McPherson Rated Among Top Rookie Pitchers

Fangraphs has released their top five rookie-eligible pitchers and hitters list for the 2013 season. Kyle McPherson was placed second on their list, alongside some big name prospects. Their ZiPS line for McPherson this season has him pitching 126 innings, with a 6.2 K/9 and a 1.6 WAR.

McPherson will battle it out this Spring Training for the fifth spot in the Pirates rotation. He was ranked #9 overall in our Top 20 Prospect list this year. Last year, he pitched ten late season games for the Pirates, three as a starter. He had a 2.73 ERA in 26.1 innings, with 21 strikeouts. Also ranked among the top pitchers are Trevor Bauer(Indians) in the fifth spot and Shelby Miller of the Cardinals is ranked first overall.

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John Dreker

John was born in Kearny, NJ, hometown of the 2B for the Pirates 1909 World Championship team, Dots Miller. In fact they have some of the same relatives in common, so it was only natural for him to become a lifelong Pirates fan. Before joining Pirates Prospects in July 2010, John had written numerous articles on the history of baseball while also releasing his own book and co-authoring another on the history of the game. He writes a weekly article on Pirates history for the site, has already interviewed many of the current minor leaguers with many more on the way and follows the foreign minor league teams very closely for the site. John also provides in person game reports of the West Virginia Power and Altoona Curve.

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  • leadoff

    I have McPherson winning the 5th spot and Locke going to the pen, the only way Locke goes to Indy would be to keep him stretched out as a starter, but he did pitch in relief last year, so they were not worried about stretching him out at that time.

  • Lee Young

    I hope he lives up to that billing.

  • frsthypocrit

    I know Rumbunter has always loved McPherson for his pitchability and work ethic. Does he have the stuff to miss MLB bats?

    • atniup

      I would be curious to see some analysis as well.

      • John Dreker

        My personal opinion is that he has good enough control, decent velocity and he attacks hitters, so he could be successful in the majors, I just don’t think it will be this season. I could see those projections come true next year.
        He has two main flaws that concern me. He has now had off-season arm injuries two years in a row. Plus he is a righty, who is a flyball pitcher. That could be dangerous at PNC.
        I like his demeanor though. I don’t think intimidation will ever factor into his pitching.
        I think Locke will get the final spot based on experience. McPherson made just three AAA starts compared to 29 for Locke, and the latter has slightly more major league experience. Plus I think his stuff should work better at PNC

  • La Pirate

    I think McPherson will make the club possiby as reliever if healthy or starter if Liriano is healthy. I dont see Locke making the team as reliever with Watson and probably Sanchez making it two lefties in the pen. I think McPherson’s stuff is much better than Locke but Locke still looks like a very good prospect for at least a number 4 or 5 starter.

    • John Dreker

      Ultimately, I think he is better suited as a reliever and like you said, Locke is better as a starter. I don’t think McPherson gets moved to the pen this soon though and Sanchez will likely be a starter as well. I think Wilson is the better lefty pen option.
      I would guess the Indy rotation might be Cole/McPherson/Irwin/Sanchez/Wilson to start the year. Liriano will be on the DL and Locke will be the fifth starter while he is. If Locke does well, he could replace Karstens when Liriano comes back.

      There is a chance that Sanchez could win that fifth spot too, not likely, but I have heard some good things about him so far. Lots of work and some tweaks during the off-season

      • Brian Bernard

        I think ‘ultimately’ he is better suited as a starter, however could be positioned well to be this year’s Brad Lincoln from the pen.
        A future that similar to Cris Carpenter, could ultimately see him make his way back into the rotation once he gets further past his arm troubles.

        • John Dreker

          I said reliever because of the two recent injuries and the fact he has two plus pitches. As a reliever, he could lighten the workload, scrap his change-up, which is still a solid pitch, but not on the level of his curve or his fastball. He has the attack mode of a reliever and with those two pitches, I think he would be a solid late innings guy. He would be able to go all out, working in the 93-95 MPH range.
          I also don’t think the change will come this soon. They have a lot of starting options not far away this year, so it will be interesting to see who they eventually move to the pen.

      • Brian Bernard

        If that is the rotation in Indy, it may be the most impressive in all of AAA, and then Taillon will join up. Nice.

  • Ian Rothermund

    I’ll be happy with the rotation going into the season as long as the final two spots are earned through spring training and not just handed out. Honestly, if Cole’s ready, make him the #4 or 5 man, if McPherson looks to have it figured out, give him the job. I’d say apply that logic to any of them.

    • emjayinTN

      IR: Based on the limited time available at ST, most clubs pick 7 possibilities and make sure they get most of the reps regardless of how they are doing. They will start with Burnett, Rodriguez, JMAC, *Liriano*, and then we will see Locke, Gomez, Sanchez, etc. I think the Pirates will play the game of limiting their young guys from starting the year at PNC. I think they will have Cole, Taillon, McPherson, Cumpton, and Irwin as the Rotation at AAA, with the possibility of Gomez and the 2 LHSP’s we picked up on waivers getting starts at AAA also. Locke, Morris, Leroux, and Wilson will be at Pittsburgh to start the season.,

  • ianmonk

    I’m seeing both McPherson and Sanchez in our starting rotation and Locke in the pen.

  • whiteAngus

    its not known how mcpherson will turn out, if hes a starter or a reliever, but i will give him and the organization a ton of credit for his progression as a prospect.
    just 2 years ago, mcpherson was ranked the #49 prospect in the system by Pirates Prospect and hes worked himself up to a potential sleeper. oh, and you know who was #50? Tony Watson.

    • ianmonk

      Speaking of Tony Watson, when is he going to get a shot? Bullpen this year?

      • ianmonk

        I was thinking Justin Wilson, sorry.

        • John Dreker

          Wilson should be a starter at AAA this year. He has huge upside, throws hard and can miss bats. He’s unhittable at times. If his control improves even slightly, he is a strong mid-rotation option. If he doesn’t, he is a fifth starter or a bullpen option. In the bullpen he throws high 90’s, hitting 99 numerous times.
          I also forgot Andy Oliver could start for Indy. He is Justin Wilson with horrible control, which says a lot. I believe the Pirates will want to keep him in the rotation, or at least a long man to get innings. He too has high upside but no chance of reaching it without a big step in his control

          • emjayinTN

            Justin Wilson is an absolute bulldog on the mound – all he does is WIN. Take a look at his CWS stats when he led Fresno State to the CWS Title in 2008, then look at his regular season 8-5, 4.36 ERA 99K’s/66W’s. He has always been a high walk rate pitcher from day 1, and all he does is win at every level.

            • John Dreker

              While that is true, and I rank him a little higher than most people, there is one problem with that thinking. Major league batters won’t swing at as many balls out of the zone as minor leaguers will. So his command still needs to improve to be successful in the majors. If it remains the same, it will lead to higher pitch counts. Major league hitters will have a better scouting report than their minor league counterparts, so once word gets around he is wild, he will be in trouble

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