Pirates Pitching Prospects Who Could Take A Big Step Forward In 2023

While development isn’t always linear, it is always encouraging to see a prospect take natural steps forward. You want to see that they found and adjusted to any struggles they had the year prior, rounding out their game even more.

If they really identify an area of opportunity, a player can take an even bigger step forward than expected. There are plenty of candidates that could take a step forward in the Pittsburgh Pirates system in 2023.

I wrote about the hitting prospects who could take a step forward this year. Below are the pitchers who could take a step forward.

Bubba Chandler/Anthony Solometo

Bubba Chandler and Anthony Solometo are among the team’s best prospects, after being taken with big bonuses in the 2021 draft. They both had successful rookie seasons, and with the right step forward in 2023 could become some of the best pitching prospects in the system.

Chandler has already taken one of the biggest steps he needed, and that is focusing on pitching only during the 2023 season. Already armed with one of the best fastballs in the system, the righty struck out 28.9% of the batters he faced last season between the FCL and Single-A. 

The walks are a concern, and there is room to improve on his breaking pitches, but there may not be a pitcher in the system that has a higher upside than him and focusing on pitching only will only help him find consistency on the mound.

When it comes to Solometo, there is a small argument to be made he had the best season out of any starting pitcher in the system. He didn’t allow a home run in 47.2 innings with Bradenton last year, and struck out 27.1% of the batters he faced.

The difference in his ultimate upside is how much velocity he could add to his fastball. He pitched mainly in the high-80s/low-90s while with Bradenton but threw harder than that in high school.

It sounds like he’s starting to ramp it back up in camp right now, and adding the increased velocity from the left side along with the natural deception in his delivery can only help him repeat his success from last year.

Greensboro will be a challenge, but Solometo was one of four prospects in the system last year with at least 40 innings pitched, a ground ball rate over 50%, and a SwStr% of 13 or higher (Ricky DeVito, Noe Toribio, and Quinn Priester). 

Keeping the ball on the ground and missing bats seem like a good combination to conquer High-A.

Both pitchers are incredibly young but they also have the stuff and pedigree to be potential top prospects, not just in the system but in all of baseball. 

Sean Sullivan

Looking at the Greensboro roster last season, there may not be a player more snake bitten by pitching at First National Bank Field than Sullivan. A former eighth round pick in 2021, posted a 5.52 ERA at home, while registering a 3.38 mark on the road.

Not only that, he had a 26.7 HR/FB%, an incredible high mark (league average is generally around 10%). Not every fly ball is the same, technically, but to allowing 16 home runs on 60 fly balls seems like something that isn’t mathematically possible to repeat. 

He posted a respectable 11.6 Swinging Strike% (SwStr%) across his 75 innings of work, while also owning the 10th best K-BB% among all pitchers in the system with at least 40 innings of work.

Antwone Kelly

The righty got some game action in the World Baseball Classic this year, pitching a clean inning for the Netherlands, showing some amazing run on his fastball. He didn’t pitch much in the FCL last year, but did show some promising signs in his first season stateside.

He increased his strikeout rate (28.2%), held his walks under 10%, and even lowered his line drive rate allowed in his 23.1 innings of work in 2022.

Kelly did all of that despite being 18-years-old for the entire 2022 FCL season. Bradenton looks to be the next stop and he could be one of more intriguing arms to pitch for the Marauders this season.

Hitting Prospects

Pirates Hitting Prospects Who Could Take A Big Step Forward In 2023

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 teamโ€™s four full season minor league affiliates.

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skliesen

How Bubba and AS navigate the Greensboro bandbox this season will be one of the more interesting things to watch this season.

NMR

Threw harder than that in high school *showcases*.

Short outings where kids make their money lighting up radar guns.

Ability to hold velo across a hundred pitches and 150 innings will be what to watch.

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

Showing the velo in games I think is step one, as he wasn’t even flashing it last year. Then controlling and maintaining it will improve as he grows and matures into his frame. If he’s doing all that this year across 100+ innings as a 20 yr old, we got something special.

Wilbur Miller

He was sitting 95-96 in the last outing in camp that I know of. That was 2 or 3 innings, not sure which.

NMR

100%

Colin

Has there been any update on Brennan Malone? I remember he had shoulder surgery last season but haven’t heard anything since

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

I know he’s throwing.

leefieux

As a lefty, I am a BIG Solometo fan. We havenโ€™t produced a top shelf left since Candy (and arguably Smiley).

jimmyz

Tony Watson. I can tell you were thinking it but technically you never said a lefty starter. There’s more moving parts for Solometo to get to his release point but the arm action and finish reminds of Watson too.

leefieux

You can tell what I was thinking? Are you my wife? ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿคฃ

Loved Tony W. We need a Tony W.

NMR

This is Jeff Locke erasure

skliesen

Long history of disdain for Jeff Locke on this site.

leefieux

I kept hoping and hoping and hoping.

leefieux

He was acquired in a trade, correct? So he doesnโ€™t even count.

Scam likely

That’s all star Jeff locke

NMR

Hahaha, nailed it!

PirateRican21

Zane Smith!

leefieux

Another guy who came in a trade. Man, you righties are dumb. ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿคฃ

PirateRican21

Scam likely

Zane came over in a very lopsided trade.

jeffw3000

I would not call it lopsided. Willie Greene was a top prospect at the time, and Moises Alou had a great career. Both teams benefited highly from that trade, even if Greene never had a career in Montreal.

PirateRican21

Youโ€™re a lefty, that explains a lot. #leftiesareweird. ๐Ÿคฃ

leefieux

Flake on!!

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