In Part 1, I looked at the rotation candidates for Greensboro, now it’s time for Bradenton. There are nearly as many possibilities here. That’s not even counting a couple guys (Nick Economos and Brad Case) who were at Bradenton part of this year and might or might not move up to Altoona to open the year. Of course, some of these guys could open at Greensboro in 2020, making the fit there even tighter.
(* = LHP)
Travis MacGregor: MacGregor looked impressive in 2018 in low A (back then it was West Virginia), but had his season cut short and missed all of this year due to Tommy John surgery. He only logged 70.2 IP in 2018, but 2020 will be his fifth season, making him eligible for the Rule 5 draft, so the Pirates will probably want to see him get meaningful time in high A if he’s healthy enough.
Noe Toribio: Toribio made great progress this year, starting off in the rotation at West Virginia and moving up to make seven mostly good starts at Greensboro. He just turned 20 a month ago, but considering how quickly he’s progressing a move up to start next season seems a good possibility. He threw 68 innings this year, which isn’t a ton, but he would have thrown some in extended spring training, too.
Alex Manasa: The Pirates have been moving Manasa slowly; he had a good 2019 season, but spent all of it in the Greensboro rotation, throwing 139.2 IP. He’s a good bet to be in the Bradenton rotation.
Colin Selby: A 16th round pick in 2018, Selby wasn’t activated until mid-May this year, but he still threw 88 innings as a starter at Greensboro and had a 1.11 WHIP and 2.97 ERA. He’s another guy who seems a safe bet for the Bradenton rotation.
Osvaldo Bido: Another pitcher who made a lot of progress this year, Bido spent most of it in the rotation at Greensboro before throwing 24 innings for Bradenton. He logged 135.2 IP overall. Bido was already 21 when he signed and will be 24 in October, but he’s been developing rapidly. He’s still pretty lean, so he might yet improve his velocity, which currently is 93-96 mph. Given his age, the Pirates could push him aggressively to Altoona, but given the low number of innings he threw at Bradenton I’m guessing he goes there to start the season.
Will Kobos: A 19th round draft pick in 2018, Kobos had a really strange year. He started off at West Virginia and had five mostly bad starts. The Pirates moved him up to Greensboro anyway and he had a 2.12 ERA and 10.9 K/9 in seven starts, albeit with some control problems. He had two hitless starts, one of four innings and one of five. Opponents hit .311 against him at the lower level and .144 at the higher level. He only logged 53.1 IP total, so the Pirates could decide he needs more time at low A.
Grant Ford and Austin Roberts: This year’s 5th and 8th round picks, respectively, Ford and Roberts came from major college programs. Both seem to profile better in relief, but they started and relieved at West Virginia as the Pirates pushed up their pitch counts. Both did well there and a move up to Bradenton seems a reasonable possibility.
Steven Jennings: Jennings had a rough year at Greensboro, a lot of it due to a very bad April and problems with left-handed hitters. Still, he stayed healthy through 130 innings and it’d be unlike the Pirates to keep a former 2nd round draft pick in low A for two years unless he struggled more than Jennings did.
Winston Nicacio: The Pirates acquired Nicacio in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft and he split his time between West Virginia and Greensboro, totaling 61 innings. He pitched as a starter at Greensboro and did very well. I’m not sure how much of a ceiling he has, but he’ll probably make it to Bradenton at some point in some role.
Oddy Nunez*: Nunez looked like a good prospect two years ago, but he’s struggled ever since with injuries and lost velocity. He wasn’t very effective this year at Bradenton, but missed most of the year with back and rib injuries. I suppose he could get healthy and giving starting another go.