CHAD KUHL, RIGHT HANDED PITCHER
|Born: September 10, 1992
Drafted: 9th Round, 269th Overall, 2013
How Acquired: Draft
College: University of Delaware
WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES
|When drafted, Kuhl relied mainly on a low-90s sinker that sometimes got up to 94-95. He’s a strong groundball pitcher who also throws a curve and a change, but his secondary pitches were considered fringy. Baseball America ranked him the best prospect in the 2012 Valley League and the 365th best in the draft. His ceiling is probably 5th starter or long reliever, and he may see improvement with a good infield, which he didn’t have at Delaware. He signed right after the draft for the slot amount. By 2015 he was throwing a slider rather than a curve and his change had improved. In 2015, his velocity improved markedly.
The Pirates put Kuhl in the Jamestown rotation and he had a good debut. He walked very few, although he also struck out very few. Most importantly, he didn’t allow a single HR, in spite of the fact that he didn’t have a high groundball rate. He had no real platoon split. According to Baseball America, his fastball reached 95-96, although it sits more in the low-90s.
The Pirates appear to be impressed with Kuhl and moved him up to Bradenton for 2014. He stayed in the rotation all season and tied for the league lead in wins. He had a strong groundball tendency and was consistent throughout the year, except that for some reason he allowed five of his nine gopher balls on the season in May, which led to his highest monthly ERA of 4.79. His second highest was 3.31. Kuhl had only a very small platoon split. His control faltered a little late in the year — he had a BB/9 of 1.7 in April through June and 3.5 in July and August — so he may have tired a little. Obviously, his K rate remained very low.
Kuhl spent the year in the Altoona rotation and had a breakout season. He was spectacular in the second half of the season, going 6-1, 1.38 with an 0.97 WHIP from July 1 on. In part, the improvement may have resulted from increased velocity, as he started hitting 96-97 regularly while sitting at 94. More importantly, he was locating the pitch exceptionally well, working both sides of the plate to right-handed and left-handed hitters. He had no real platoon split and held hitters to a line of 236/291/337.
Kuhl missed the start of the season, as he fell behind a little in spring training due to some minor soreness. Once he joined the Indianapolis rotation, he got off to a great start, with a 1.24 ERA through his first ten starts. He hit a four-start rough patch in which he had a 6.75 ERA, but the Pirates called him up for four starts beginning in late June. He had one rough outing but otherwise pitched well, throwing six, one-hit, shutout innings against the Nationals in his fourth start. The Pirates then sent him back to Indianapolis for two more games, then he rejoined the Pirates and pitched out of the rotation for the rest of the season. He made 14 major league starts in all. Kuhl was solid without dominating in most of his starts, allowing opponents a line of 267/324/432. He had trouble with left-handed hitters, allowing them to bat 301/358/496. Right-handed hitters batted 240/296/380 against him. Kuhl had a good groundball rate of 44.3%. His fastball sat around 93 mph, and his slider and change were fairly effective.
Kuhl had a good debut for a pitcher who lacks dominant stuff. He should be a favorite for a rotation slot in 2017.
|2017: Major league minimum|
|Signing Bonus: $145,200
MiLB Debut: 2013
MLB Debut: 6/26/2016
MiLB FA Eligible: N/A
MLB FA Eligible: 2022
Rule 5 Eligible: Protected
Added to 40-Man: 6/26/2016
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 0.079
|June 7, 2013: Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 9th round, 269th overall pick; signed on June 12.
June 26, 2016: Contract purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates.