A few days ago I looked at the position players on the early minor league rosters for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Today we’ll take a look at the pitching. Just like the position players, this list is very early, and will probably change. A lot of the guys from Triple-A could move down to Double-A once major league cuts are made.
One of the things I noticed with the projected starting pitchers is that the Pirates are loaded with prospects. I could count on one hand the amount of rotation options who have no chance at a major league future. And that’s only looking at the 20 projected starters in the full-season league, and the injured players, or the two or three guys in the lower levels who could probably make piggyback starts. This doesn’t mean I see about 20 future MLB starting pitchers. There are guys who will be starters in the majors, but the rest of the guys have a shot at being depth starters, back of the bullpen options, middle relief options, or bullpen depth out of Triple-A. Then of course you’ve got a few guys who might get a cup of coffee at the major league level. Overall, the system is strong with pitching.
Here is a very early look at the rosters for the full season teams. Expect a lot of this to change, especially with the top two levels. I included the projected rotations, along with notes for each level. Players with an asterisk next to their name are currently injured.
Projected Rotation: Jameson Taillon, Casey Sadler, Jeff Locke, Brandon Cumpton, Phil Irwin
Notes: Obviously the final three guys in my projected rotation are still in big league camp. Unless the Pirates make a surprising move in the majors, I think it’s going to be these five guys at the start of the season. Kyle McPherson should return in June or July for the rotation.
Emmanuel De Leon
Projected Rotation: Nick Kingham, Joely Rodriguez, Adrian Sampson, Eliecer Navarro, Pat Ludwig
Notes: I think that it could be a toss up between Navarro, Ludwig, and Zack Dodson for the final two rotation spots. Matt Benedict and Robby Rowland could also challenge for those spots, or get starts during the season. Sampson has a lot of promise, but didn’t do well in Bradenton last year. The aggressive push to Altoona isn’t really a surprise, since there wasn’t much room for him in the Bradenton rotation. Kingham and Rodriguez will be the top guys to watch this year. I’d expect Kingham to make it to Indianapolis in the first half, and Rodriguez could make it there by the end of the season.
Zack Von Rosenberg
Projected Rotation: Tyler Glasnow, John Kuchno, Chad Kuhl, Ryan Hafner, Jason Creasy
Notes: I could see Orlando Castro challenging for a rotation spot, battling it out with Creasy. Clay Holmes is currently slated to visit Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday to get a diagnosis on his elbow. He’d fit in the rotation if healthy, but right now that doesn’t look good. There are a lot of starting options in West Virginia, and some of those could move up to Bradenton in the first half.
Projected Rotation: Dovydas Neverauskas, Luis Heredia, Cody Dickson, Buddy Borden, Adrian Grullon
Notes: I could see some piggybacking at this level. Shane Carle and Isaac Sanchez are both rotation candidates. The Pirates piggybacked guys in Jamestown last year, and a lot of those guys are now projected for the West Virginia rotation. There are a lot of exciting arms to watch in this group. I think that Heredia, Dickson, Carle, and Borden have shots of making it to Bradenton in the first half of the season.