Pirates Prospects Daily: Players Returning From Long Injuries In 2023

Injuries happen, they are very much a part of the game. It’s unfortunate when a player misses an extended period, especially in the minors as that is time they can’t spend on development.

This past season the Pirates saw a couple of players return after long layoffs, both Aaron Shortridge and Cody Bolton among them.

As we continue to head towards the 2023 season, the Pirates could once again have a few more players returning to the field after a long layoff. Here’s a look at a few of them.

Jack Herman

A 30th round pick by the Pirates back in 2018, Jack Herman has struggled to make it out of A-Ball, and only recorded 136 plate appearances this past season with Greensboro.

He began 2021 with the Grasshoppers as well, but struggled, striking out 48.1% of the time before being sent down to Bradenton for the rest of the season.

Herman flashed some of that raw power in his bat while with the Marauders, slashing .253/.325/.493 (116 wRC+) with 13 home runs and 25 total extra-base hits in 243 plate appearances.

The outfield picture in both Greensboro and Bradenton are going to be a little crowded, so at-bats could get hard to come by, but Herman has experience and power potential that could let him stand above the rest.

Will Matthiessen

It’s not hard to take notice of Will Matthiessen, as he towers over the rest of the crowd, standing at 6 ‘7″. He hit 13 home runs for Greensboro in 2021 and entered this past season set to split time at first base with Aaron Shackelford. Matthiessen got hurt early on, missed the rest of the season, and Shackelford went on to lead the system in home runs.

He’s a high strikeout guy, and he will probably have to compete for at-bats in Altoona with Jacob Gonzalez next season.

Brennan Malone

If Brennan Malone didn’t have bad luck, he’d have no luck at all. There was a time during the pre-draft work in 2019 that some debated who the best prep pitcher was in the draft – Malone or Quinn Priester.

Priester made it to Triple-A this past year, and pitched in the Arizona Fall League, while Malone has amassed just 27 innings since being drafted all the way back in 2019.

After finally working his way back, Malone made it just five innings in 2022 before needing shoulder surgery that ended his season.

Braxton Ashcraft

Bolton and Shortridge last pitched in 2019 before coming back this past season. While it won’t nearly be as long, the last time Braxton Ashcraft stepped on a mound in a regular season game was July 21, 2021 for the Greensboro Grasshoppers.

He put up some impressive strikeout/walk numbers (25.9 K%, 7.6 BB%), before the injury, so the fact he progressively struggled as the season unfolded makes you wonder just how long his arm was bugging him beforehand.

Highlight of the Day

Pirates Prospects Daily

By Tim Williams

**Osvaldo Bido is a sleeper to help the Pirates out of the bullpen in 2023. He’s starting in winter ball in the Dominican Republic this year, and John Dreker broke down his progress in this week’s Pirates Winter Report.

**Sammy Siani had a big game in winter ball, and Miguel Andújar homered. John Dreker has the latest winter league updates.

**Missed yesterday? Anthony Murphy and I broke down the signing of Carlos Santana, and the first base position.

Song of the Day

Pirates Prospects Weekly

Every Saturday, John Dreker has the Pirates Winter Report, which recaps the recent progress of players in all of the leagues, along with a report each week on one player in winter ball. This week’s profile is on right-handed pitcher Osvaldo Bido.

Pirates Winter Report: Osvaldo Bido is Excelling as a Starter in the Dominican

Ethan Hullihen will have his latest Pirates Business update on Sunday at noon.

Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.

Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.

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You guys forgot some. Lonnie White Jr is the big one. I think Lonnie White Jr could breakout and be a top 100 prospect by seasons end. I was hoping the Pirates didn’t take Elijah Green in last years draft cause I think Lonnie White Jr is a similar player.

Drake Fellows too. He is still intriguing to me. He had a good college career at Vandy and has pitched well the couple times he’s was healthy. A really good FB/Slider combo.

Trey McGough had TJ in mid-late May of last season. He was 1-0, 17.2 IP, 3.06 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 12 K’s in 5 AAA starts.

He was should be back sometime late in the season as well. August would be 16 months rehab which is the top range of TJ recovery.

Hopefully Canaan Smith-Njigba is back to start the season or sometime close to it. He had that broken wrist after his first MLB game.

Blake Cederlind is filthy if he can stay healthy.

Tony Blanco Jr was injured alot of last season. Hopefully he’s completely healthy next season.

Both Maldonado’s; Jose and Andy. Both looked to have good stuff and decent rookie ball numbers. Both should be in Bradenton if completely healthy.

Owen Kellington was injured at the end of last season. Although I don’t know the seriousness of it, but hopefully he’s back healthy and can pitch a full season.

Brandan Bidois is a international signing out of Australia and was injured all last season. He had good potential and projectability when he signed. He’s 6’3 with room to fill out. Throws a low 90’s FB already with a change and slider.

Plus acouple of the 2022 drafted guys; Hunter Barco and Julian Bosnic.

Last edited 2 months ago by pittsburghbob69

While I think White is not nearly as good as Green, if he was, why would it be bad to have two prospects like that?


I guess we’ll see.

Lonnie White- 6’3, 215 pounds, super athletic.

Elijah Green – 6’3, 220, super athletic. Has played more and concentrated more on baseball

There is only so many AB to go around. I mean of course u find a way to get both into the lineup but Lonnie White Jr, Shalin Polanco, Braylon Bishop, Jauri Custodio, and Enmanuel Terrero should all be in Bradenton next season.

If they would have taken him at 4 overall, fine. But imo, Lonnie White Jr will be better.

This dude got it right with Lonnie White Jr.


Last edited 2 months ago by pittsburghbob69

This article reminded me…..whatever happened to Robbie Glendenning? A SS, he lost 2 seasons to TJ. Pirates released him Feb 2022 but he caught on with Royals AA and had a very good year.


Anyone remember Brad Eldred? Wonder how Matthiessen compares to him in development so far. Just googled Eldred and the big guy has 4 daughters.
Good luck to Malone. Got to be tough for the guy. Hope he saved some of his signing bonus.


I remember he used to blink a lot at the plate.


I had forgotten Brad. He was a capable first baseman who dominated AAA with nice numbers, then struck out nearly 40% of the time in MLB. Baseball is hard.


I used to like Craig Wilson and his long, stringy blonde hair. Imagine coming over to meet your new girlfriend’s dad and Big Country opening the door. Blinking excessively.


Pulling for malone to get a clean season of health this year!


I think he’s pretty much toast at this point. With three years of lost development time and counting, a complete inability to stay healthy, and stuff that’s gone up and down in the 10 mins he’s been healthy, I can’t really see it any other way. I feel awful for the guy, but some high drafted pitchers get bitten by the injury bug and never get going.

Last edited 2 months ago by ArkyWags
Wilbur Miller

And shoulder surgery is close to the kiss of death. Have to hope he’s an outlier.

Wilbur Miller

When I saw him in 2021, the stuff didn’t look anything like what I’d read about when they got him. Then this year, it looked completely different, but after almost no time at all he was gone for shoulder surgery. Guy can’t get a break.

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