The Pirates Prospects 2017 Prospect Guide is now available for pre-sales. The book will be released the week before Spring Training, and we are currently in the process of making the final changes with editing and formatting.

The book features prospect reports on everyone in the system, the 2017 top 50 prospects, and the most comprehensive coverage of the Pirates’ farm system that you can find. Subscribers to the site get discounted books, with Top Prospect subscribers getting $10 off, and Annual subscribers getting $5 off. The eBook will be released when the book is released, and will also come with discounts. Details on the promotions can be found on the products page, and you can subscribe to the site or upgrade your current plan on the subscriptions page.

While the top 50 prospects are exclusive to the book, we will be releasing the top 20 prospects over the next few weeks as a countdown to the start of Spring Training, and to give a preview of the release of the book. We will be wrapping up on Monday, February 13th. The reports will only be available to site subscribers, including those with a monthly plan. You can subscribe here, and if you like these reports, be sure to purchase your copy of the book on the products page of the site to get much more analysis on every player in the system.

To recap the countdown so far:

20. Alen Hanson, 2B

19. Luis Escobar, RHP

18. Edgar Santana, RHP

17. Elias Diaz, C

16. Max Kranick, RHP

15. Trevor Williams, RHP

14. Braeden Ogle, LHP

13. Clay Holmes, RHP

We continue the countdown with the number 12 prospect, Steven Brault.

12. Steven Brault, LHP

When Brault was originally acquired in the Travis Snider deal, he was a player to be named later, and considered the second part of the deal. He didn’t have overwhelming stuff, but had a lot of movement on his two-seamer, and commanded the pitch well, sitting 89-91, touching 92-93. That led to a bit of a breakout in 2015. He moved to Triple-A in 2016, and while moving up he started using his four-seam fastball more often for more power, sitting 91-93, and touching 94-95 MPH.

Brault can control his fastballs well, and is able to move the ball to all four corners of the plate with good command. This led to some very high strikeout numbers in Triple-A, with hitters getting overmatched by the good fastball placement. However, he had times where he tried to overpower hitters too much, leading to poor command. That really carried over to the majors. He talked with Ray Searage after the season, who advised him to get back to what he was, rather than trying to be a power pitcher.

The fastballs are solid, but Brault will need a breaking pitch in the majors in order to have a good out pitch. He throws a slider right now, and is hoping to add his old curveball back to the mix. The Pirates took the curveball away when he joined the system, hoping to improve the slider. That hasn’t worked as well as hoped, and now the curveball will be added back to give another option, giving Brault five pitches.

It’s unlikely Brault will develop a solid out pitch, which makes his upside the back of the rotation. The normal command, the late cutting movement of his two-seamer, and locating the four-seamer all over the strike zone will get him a long way. He’s also very athletic, adding value with his glove and his bat. Mixing his secondary pitches up will be key. He’ll have to rely more on pitchability than stuff. He could contend for the final rotation spot in Pittsburgh in 2017, and might have an edge since he’s one of the few lefty options.

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30 COMMENTS

  1. I’m not a big fan of Drew Hutchison because I don’t know
    much about him. Williams is just a great story and
    you just want to root for him. As for Brault. we don’t
    have a regular lefty in the starting rotation and I think
    against some teams playing at PNC, a good lefty
    starter is pretty important. I also like that Brault
    is athletic and can provide us an extra bat off the
    bench with us carrying so many bullpen arms.

    • If by stuff you mean velocity alone, maybe your right, but if you include movement and control as part of stuff, then I believe he has the stuff to be a back of the rotation guy.

  2. For what it is worth zips is pretty high on him, projecting Brault at about a 4 ERA and .7 war over 11 starts. That’s roughly a 2 war pitcher over the course of a season, which would be tremendous depth. I didn’t realize how high his strikeout rates were in AAA last year, over 10/9. For those that may want to make a knee-jerk Jeff Locke comp, Locke never approached those K rates anywhere above A ball. Brault isn’t your standard soft tossing lefty.

  3. I saw Brault pitch twice last summer and was not very impressed on either occasion. If he is a candidate for the 5th rotation spot, I think that makes clear how badly the Pirates need to bring in a veteran arm to add to the mix. Quintana would, obviously, be a dream addition, but a solid mid-rotation starter with experience and some success would, in my opinion, be better than Brault.

    • I think Glasnow and Kingham are going to be out of the running for a Rotation slot to start 2017. Therefore, Drew Hutchison or Steven Brault will be that 5th SP with Trevor Williams being a consideration also.

      He came out of nowhere quicker than expected and found himself matched up with ML hitters for the first time. He had some good moments that were outnumbered by the bad, but he is a bulldog on the mound and a very fast learner. He also played OF in college so he can possibly work the BP and be an emergency LH hitter off the bench.

        • Yeah. That Friday night pinch hit double in June made me reach for the scotch one more time than I should’ve……

          • I sat there and said, “why can’t our pitchers hit like that.”
            Heck, even when we bring in a pitcher with a reputation
            of having some hitting skill, we seem to cure him of
            that “problem.”

      • I’m hopeful TG breaks camp in the rotation. If his mechanical tweak by shortening his stride to land on his heal works as well as hoped, he most certainly will deserve a spot over any of those mentioned as competition for rotation spot.

        • Small thing, but he is not really shortening his stride, as much as attempting to land on the ball of his foot, rather than the heal, which robs velocity, and compromises control.

          • I thought he was definitely shortening his stride. He had to wide of a base which was making his “landing” inconsistent.

          • Thanks for clarifying. I was working off memory, and knew landing on his heal was involved in his mechanical changes.

      • I think Hutch would have to get lit up like a Christmas tree in Spring Training for him not to get the 5th spot.

        • Me too. I have listened to the “he couldn’t even make the starting Rotation for Toronto” comments. Folks need to know the Toronto Rotation had 4 slots taken and he was edged out by another young kid, Aaron Sanchez, a first round pick of Toronto, who had an excellent year in 2015 in the BP and as a SP (11 Starts) before posting a 15-2, 3.00 ERA record last year, and 7th in the Cy Young Voting.

          Happ, Stroman, Dickey, and Estrada and then Sanchez. So being #6 in that group is not a bad thing, and he has a 30-21 record in the majors. ERA’s were high, but his K/9 in 2014 and 2015 in 60 starts was around 8.5 and the BB/9 was around 2.8. Pitching in Toronto/AL East and then coming to PNC? I like his chances to help the Pirates.

          • “So being #6 in that group is not a bad thing,”

            To me it is…if he was any good he wouldn’t have been #6. Plus, they gave starts to Liriano over him.

            • 10+ mil for each of Happ, Estrada, and Dickey meant they were locks for the Rotation. Stroman was established. Don’t understand the “starts to Liriano over him” – who is him?

              Liriano was important for Toronto because they wanted an established SP to reduce the workload on Sanchez, so they could save Sanchez for the playoffs. Liriano did a good job – better than what he had been doing for the Pirates.

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