The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted right-handed pitcher Michael Flynn in the sixth round out of the University of Arizona during the 2018 draft. Since signing, he has pitched just 17.2 innings total. He has dealt with two separate injuries and a setback during a rehab, but he’s back out on the mound now and looking forward to the future.
Flynn made his debut on June 18th last year and had a rough intro to pro ball. He gave up six runs over two innings. After not pitching for two weeks, he was back in the rotation, where he posted a 3.07 ERA, a 1.02 WHIP and 14 strikeouts in four starts and 14.2 innings.
We never got the full reason why he was shut down in late July, but I was able to talk to him after his return and Flynn said that it was a combination of back tightness and the decision to limit his innings. That makes sense because he was a reliever during his first two seasons in college, before converting to a starter in 2018, so his innings were already running high.
This season got off to a bad start early in spring with arm soreness shutting him down. He began to rehab during Extended Spring Training, but the pain returned and he was sent to see a doctor (Dr Andrews) who diagnosed him with a sprained UCL, which led to him getting a PRP shot. After some more time off, Flynn began the rehab process, which eventually led to two simulated games, followed by his 2019 debut in the GCL yesterday. He faced three batters, getting a strikeout, then a double play after an error allowed a runner to get on base. He threw just 11 pitches, but it was a great feeling for him to get back out there after not pitching in a game over a 13-month stretch.
“Been battling some elbow issues throughout the year,” Flynn said of his season. “I’ve been working closely with the trainers to get the problem ironed out and it seems like we finally did it. Felt great to be back out on the mound yesterday after all this time.”
Flynn is at full speed now. He has been throwing all four of his pitches in side sessions and his sim games, though he didn’t need them all on Wednesday with the inning ending so quick. His fastball gets into the mid-90s and he mixes with a curve, changeup and a slider/cutter combo. The plan going forward is to get him out there again on Saturday, then assess how he feels after that game.
With the GCL season winding down, he might be able to get in two more appearances next week. If all goes well, then he could see the mound in the Fall Instructional League, which starts on September 9th. That would allow him to get in more innings this year, so he isn’t as limited in 2020.