We went into the final day of April with a few possibilities for the Pitcher of the Month. By the time JT Brubaker was done with his outing for Altoona last night, he left little doubt who was the best. In five starts, he posted a 1.45 ERA in 31 innings, with a 34:5 SO/BB ratio, a .200 BAA, an 0.90 WHIP and a 2.22 GO/AO ratio. He finished the month with more strikeouts and more innings pitched than anyone else for the Pittsburgh Pirates. With all of those positives on his resume, JT Brubaker was named the Pirates Prospects Pitcher of the Month for April. It’s the first time that the 2015 sixth round pick has been named as our Pitcher of the Month.
Brubaker started off his 2018 season with the Opening Day assignment for Altoona. He went five innings that day, allowing one run on four hits and two walks, while striking out eight batters. That was followed up six days later by his worst start of the month, which wasn’t that bad. He allowed two runs on six hits and two walks, with five strikeouts in five innings. From that point on, things really took off for him.
In his third start, Brubaker allowed one run over six innings. He gave up four hits and a walk, while matching his season-high of eight strikeouts. That start came on the road against the same Akron team he faced in the opener. Game four was even better than his start five days earlier. Brubaker tossed seven shutout innings on three hits, no walks and six strikeouts. He would take it a step further in his start last night by extending out to eight innings. He served up a solo homer, which was the only damage against him. Brubaker had seven strikeouts and didn’t walk a batter for the second straight game.
Brubaker is repeating the Double-A level, but that might not last long. He didn’t put up the best stats last year, though he did impress by getting his fastball up to 99 MPH, and holding his stamina late in starts. During his only playoff start, he hit 97 MPH in the eighth inning of his win in game two of the championship series. In that game, he was using his changeup often with terrific results, while mixing in his slider, which got some swinging strikes. He went to the Arizona Fall League after the season, and while pitching in relief, he was sitting in the high-90s, hitting 99 MPH often.
This season, Brubaker has made it a point to be more focused on the mound, adopting a bulldog mentality. He’s concentrated on attacking hitters from the first pitch, using all four of his pitches and mixing them well. In the AFL he worked on pitching inside more often and that has carried over to this season. That’s what has been missing from his game in the past. He did a poor job of mixing his pitches and would often try to get batters to chase, rather than trusting his stuff and attacking. With the added velocity, improved off-speed stuff and attack mentality, Brubaker is establishing himself as a legit prospect and one who might not be in Double-A much longer.
PITCHERS OF THE MONTH BY LEVEL
Indianapolis – Nick Kingham, RHP (1.59 ERA, 27:7 K/BB, 22.2 IP)
Altoona – JT Brubaker, RHP (1.45 ERA, 34:5 K/BB, 31.0 IP)
Bradenton – Oddy Nunez, LHP (1.90 ERA, 14:7 K/BB, 23.2 IP)
West Virginia – Evan Piechota, RHP (0.82 ERA, 23:3 K/BB, 22.0 IP)