Pirates Prospects Daily: The 2023 ZiPS Projections Love Endy Rodriguez

The Pittsburgh Pirates 2023 ZiPS projections were released on Thursday, and as you would expect with computer related models, there definitely were some interesting results.

If you aren’t familiar with ZiPS, here’s a quick rundown on MLB.com. Here are some highlights from the projections:

— After his breakout 2022 season, it’s of little surprise that there will be a lot of hype surrounding Endy Rodriguez this upcoming year, and ZiPS is no exception. Despite just 37 games above A-Ball, ZiPS is glowing on what could be Rodriguez’s rookie year, projecting 14 home runs, 66 RBI, a 105 OPS+ and 2.6 WAR.

— The Pirates have been super aggressive this offseason in improving the first base position, and these projections certainly show that. They have Carlos Santana and Ji-Man Choi combing for 27 home runs and a 2.3 WAR. That’s a far cry from the -3.0 collective WAR they got from the first base position in 2022.

— Another concern was the bullpen, and even before they go out and look for some external help, they should get a big boost from players returning from injury. Yerry De Los Santos and Colin Holderman will be returning from seasons cut short in 2022, and should help out the bullpen.

For De Los Santos, he is projected to strikeout 43 batters in as many innings as well as 101 ERA+ and 0.3 WAR. Robert Stephenson was a waiver wire pickup with former top prospect pedigree, and in a full season with the Pirates is projected to finish with the second highest ERA+ on the team (113), behind just David Bednar (128).

Maybe the biggest surprise from the reliever side of things, Nick Dombkowski getting a 0.5 WAR and 100 ERA+. After being signed as an undrafted free agent, Dombkowski is emerging as a left handed reliever candidate after a strong 2022 that saw him finish in Altoona.

— The rotation picture is still a little cloudy, but they do have plenty of options that they can explore going into 2023. 

Roansy Contreras is expected to finish with the highest ERA+ (113) and WAR (1.7). He’s also the only one of the starters to finish with an above average ERA+. 

Mitch Keller and JT Brubaker, two of the other seeming locks to finish in the rotation for now, have similar WAR and ERA+ projections, and both are expected to top at least 120 innings. 

Of the starters, there is one intriguing name up there. He won’t pitch in 2023 due to injury, and he isn’t a big strikeout guy, but the projections were really kind to lefty Trey McGough. With some of the best control in the season, McGough had a 96 ERA+, 4.18 FIP, and 1.0 WAR across 78 innings.

Highlight of the Day

Pirates Prospects Daily

By Tim Williams

**Every year I do an article using the ZiPS projections. I’ll have some form of that this year, but right now I’m in producer mode. The biggest thing I’m working on: Setting up a better ad network than the spammy stuff on Google Adsense. More to come in the next week.

**This week on Roundtable, we looked at whether the Pirates can have a winning season in 2023.

**The Pirates received the last competitive balance pick in 2023. They will pick at the end of Competitive Balance Round B after the second round, although the draft order isn’t fully set for that range yet.

**There are a lot of left-handed pitchers to choose from in the Rule 5 draft. John Dreker recaps the most notable lefties who have been discussed ahead of next week’s winter meetings.

**Baseball America released their top ten Pirates prospects, and Endy Rodriguez took the top spot.

**Diego Castillo reached base three times on Wednesday. John Dreker has the latest Pirates winter league updates.

**Missed yesterday? Anthony looked at catching prospect Carter Bins and the crowded catching picture.

Song of the Day

Pirates Prospects Weekly

I love editing these weekly Roundtable articles. I get a chance to read what everyone else has to say, giving me a chance to be a reader for a fully-formed article. There’s a lot that I learn from these, as each writer tends to take their own approach, which leads to covering topics from all angles.

This week’s Roundtable looks at whether the Pirates can have a winning season in 2023. The answer was a universal “no”, however the information included within gives a great breakdown of what lies ahead for the Pirates.

Pirates Roundtable: Can the Pirates Have a Winning Season in 2023?

Jeff Reed has the latest Pirates Discussion hitting the site on Friday 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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The 80th/20th percentile projections added this year are cool.


ZiPS liked Burrows more than I thought it would too. 1.3 fWAR projection in 103 IP. Very similar to Preister’s projection if even a little better.


Burrows remind me of a RH Tony Watson. Think he should be moved to pen early in ST, start season in Indy and two weeks into the season he should be promoted and put in our pen for the next 7 years. He’d dominate.

Last edited 1 month ago by bradlej31

Was wondering how the Pirate’s player projection model might be similar to ZIPS, as I wanted to look at their Rule 5 decisions on some of the fringe guys (WAR Projections in parathesis):


Triolo (1)
Burrows (1.3)
Endy (2.6)
Selby (-.1)

Not Protected:

Gorski (.4)
Sabol (0)
Bolton (.6)
Alvarez (1.3)
Lolo (-1)
Tahnaj (.1)

Based solely on the ZIPS projections, which i’m sure has it’s flaws, it appears like the biggest miss could be putting Triolo on over Alvarez & Selby on over Tahnaj. But the Pirates obviously would have their own projection system that could differ from ZIPs. Also the zips projections are only for the upcoming year, which isn’t the sole reasoning for some of these moves.


* actually shouldve wrote Selby over Bolton, not Tahnaj


It’s not easy to hit for power in Altoona so Alvarez’s 20+ HRs were pretty impressive from a MIF.


My favorite sleeper in the system.


That’s a beautiful Zep song.

Smoked all my stuff and drank all my wine


I get really skeptical of Dan’s computer when I see Kevin F Padlo is projected to be the 5th best player pushing almost 2 fWAR. Not to mention, Trey McGough is projected to have a better era+ than Mitch Keller.


The hype surrounding Endy Rodriguez is very exciting, but I get a shiver when I recall the hype surrounding Gregory Polonco.


Are there any details on Trey McGough’s injury?


I’ve read here he’s likely out most of this season still


AM…..are you able to ascertain how many wins DS projected for us??


This is Dan – “Finally, I will advise anyone against — and might karate chop anyone guilty of — merely adding up WAR totals on a depth chart to produce projected team WAR.”

I highly doubt he could lift his leg high enough to karate chop a small child. When you hear about nerds ruining baseball, he’s the poster child.


Pretty good projection for Endy to have 14 HRs and 66 RBIs in only half a season! I mean, he won’t be up here until June at the earliest. 😉 😉 😉

Last edited 1 month ago by leefieux

Per Endy….so if ZIPS is accurate on the talent…you put the Nutting 40% discount on the cumulative stats because he stays at Indy until mid June for team financial reasons.


Just extend the kid now and bring him up for chrissakes.


Too bad about McGough. I think he’s a Johnstown guy or at least had family from there rooting for him when I saw him in Toon-Town.

He kinda throws those psychedelic pitches you see in Bugs Bunny cartoons.

Interesting lefty who seemed to know how to pitch. I don’t want to say he didn’t have stuff, because, from what I saw, AA guys sure had difficulty barreling up on him. But he’s the archetype of the crafty lefty, I guess.

“Eeeeeeh, watch me paste that pathetic palooka with a powerful, pachydermous, percussion pitch.”



I found it a bit surprising ZiPS says Endy would be has as valuable as Cruz.


they probably feel that he fields his position better.


Any thoughts on rolling the dice on Gary Sanchez to keep the Catcher position open? Feels like a good bounce back candidate in a new league and could move to DH when the catcher prospects are ready


I would give him a shot. Whoever they bring in at catcher is going to be really bad offensively, so you may as well take a shot with a guy that has pop.

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

McGough should be rehabbing by May/June, no?

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

I just realized the article I found, was from 2014 lol but I feel like it was pretty early in 2022

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