A Late Round Draft Pick for the Pittsburgh Pirates Having Early Success

The Pittsburgh Pirates selected right-handed pitcher Matt Seelinger in the 28th round this year out of Farmingdale State College in New York. As a senior, he was quick to sign and was assigned to Morgantown, where he has been pitching great out of the bullpen.

Pitching great might actually be an understatement for the way the 22-year-old has performed so far in his pro debut. In nine appearances, he has thrown 12 scoreless innings on three hits and three walks, while striking out 17 batters. He is holding batters to an .077 BAA and he has an 0.50 WHIP.

Perhaps the most impressive part of his year is this isn’t even close to his best streak. In college this season, he rattled off 32.1 scoreless innings in a row as a starter. That is enough to get any college pitcher notice, but just how did the Pirates end up with a pitcher from a school that has never had a player drafted before?

Farmingdale State has a connection to the Pirates. Their head coach is Keith Osik, who has been running a successful program and the Division III school since 2008. Osik’s son was also the 40th round selection of the Pirates this season, though Tyler Osik decided to go back to college. Keith Osik was drafted by the Pirates in 1990 and played seven seasons (1996-2002) for them in the majors. Osik was there to give him advice on what to expect in pro ball after the draft, which helped Seelinger prepare for what he is going through now.

The Osik connection may have helped Seelinger get noticed, but he did the rest of the work on his own. In talking to him, he noted that the Pirates started to show interest in him late during his college season. That earned him a pre-draft workout for the team and that’s where he earned his draft spot. Seelinger mixed all three of his pitches, throwing his fastball 90-92 MPH, a low 80’s curve and his changeup, using that arsenal to strike out all five batters he faced during the workout.

So now here he is in pro ball and off to a fast start pitching 1-2 innings a night every few days. It may be possible that we see him in an expanded role in the future, but he had two months off between his college season and the start of his pro career, so he noted that he is still getting into pitching shape.

Seelinger said that he has seen a small uptick in velocity since the start of the season, but there should be more once he gets loosened up. That’s a scary thought for opposing hitters, that he might actually get better. He has also been working on his changeup, which is his third best pitch and tough to use often when he’s pitching out of the bullpen and only working quick innings each time.

While I was talking to him, I was also watching one of his outings on MiLB.tv. Back on July 21st, he pitched two perfect innings against State College, striking out four batters. To even things out, I later watched his “worst” outing, an inning in which he allowed a hit and a walk.

The dominating outing including him pounding the strike zone with fastballs and putting away hitters with curves and one changeup. He seems to hide the ball well, with some deception in his delivery and the batters have a really hard time picking up the curve, which has a late downward break, looking like his fastball until it falls off the table. Seelinger also throws a curve with a little less break for strikes early in the count. He gets nice downward plane on his fastball and looks to command it well, though he also will throw fastballs up and out of the zone with a little more speed behind them, looking to get chases. The changeup had the only left-handed hitter he faced well out in front of the pitch. Seelinger likes to work quickly and seems to have some high energy on the mound.

That bad outing ended up not being as bad as one hit and one walk sound. The hit was a ball that Julio de la Cruz, who is not the best fielding third baseman, dove on when he didn’t have to dive. He actually dove too far on a ball just to his left and it hit up near the top of his arm and rolled away. The walk seemed to be part of the high energy, as he overthrew some fastballs up in the zone. He seemed to slow down a little for the next batter and struck him out on four pitches to end the game.

It’s obviously a small sample size to see, but the success is there this year in pro ball, in college and his impressive pre-draft workout for the Pirates. I think next year we could see him in extended relief outings. He said he didn’t have a preference and worked in relief and as a starter all throughout college, but he is getting used to the routine of working out of the bullpen now. He seems to have adapted well so far, with more velocity and a better changeup possible in the future. Seelinger has a long way to go, but early on he looks like a nice late round find for the Pirates.

  • Too good, too soon, TJ surgery in his near future, since he’s a Pirate draftee???

  • rickmontgomery
    July 29, 2017 3:33 pm

    I went to HS (many, many….years ago) in Mt. Lebanon with Kurt Osik. Does anyone know in that might be Tyler’s grandfather and Keith’s dad?

  • Daryl Restly
    July 29, 2017 3:24 pm

    I was wondering if Tyler Osik was related to former Pirates catcher Keith Osik. Now I know. Wasn’t Keith Osik one of the replacement players (“scab”) during the lockout in early 1995 and he ended up making the Pirates as the backup catcher?

  • Will the Bucs give Seelinger a chance for a rotation spot in WVa next season? Based on his performance so far, it seems like they ought try him as a starter to see what they really have.

    • I have a feeling the WV rotation could be crowded with young prospects next year, although you might see one guy going 5 innings, another 4 innings, so they won’t all start. Shane Baz will probably be there, Braeden Ogle, Domingo Robles, Travis MacGregor, Isaac Schlabach and Max Kranick are all possibilities too. It’s going to be a great team to follow. They are really going to have some tough choices to make next season because Sergio Cubilete and Gavin Wallace both seem to have potential as well, so where do they all go? If they think Seelinger can handle it, it’s possible he makes the jump to the Bradenton bullpen. My guess is he at least starts at WV in long relief.

      • Where do you think Hunter Stratton will end up after this season in Bristol? He appears to be turning in solid performances.

        • That’s a tough guess. West Virginia seems like it could be crowded with prospects, so Stratton might be a guy that goes 3-4 innings every five days or they could keep him in Extended Spring Training to pick up innings and stay as depth, possibly going to Morgantown if something doesn’t open up at WV first.

  • Sooo John where is the article you teased us with 2 days ago? (I assume it got bumped with all the other stuff that happened)

    • I am not the author of that article, but I believe it might go up today. I did say other news might push it out a few days and we certainly had some news after I said that with the callups and Logan Hill injury and Meadows returning early. This was just an extra article to hold you over until then.

      • We certainly did have unexpected news. I wouldn’t count on not having more news soon.

  • Sounds like he knows how to pitch.