One of the more intriguing picks back in the 2022 draft, Thomas Harrington began his first professional season in Single-A Bradenton. Not always the strangest of stops for some college pitchers, but certainly one of note for one as potentially polished as Harrington was.
Most scouting reports raved about his secondary stuff, and factoring in him being the 36th overall pick, Single-A may not have been the most aggressive of pushes.
That turned out to be the case, as the former Campbell pitching standout dominated the level. Bradenton lost once across his eight starts with the team.
After going 4-1 with a 2.77 ERA, while posting 40 strikeouts in 39 innings in Single-A, Harrington was promoted to the more talent appropriate level of High-A.
He’ll get a new challenge, as of course Greensboro is a notorious hitter friendly park, and the South Atlantic League in general tends to put up more offense as well.
The good that came out of him spending two months with the Marauders is that we got eight starts worth of data on him, thanks to Baseball Savant tracking Florida State League games.
So, now that his time in Single-A is done, a look back at how he performed at the level, using those pitch tracking numbers.
|84 (15.2%)||Pitch Usage||219 (39.8%)|
|93.08 mph||Velocity||92.63 mph|
|2386.92 rpm||Spin Rate||2297 rpm|
|14.42 in||Vertical Break||16.99 in|
|10.91 in||Horizontal Break||14.51 in|
A common theme in the Pirates system is that pitchers are starting to get a little more breaking/offspeed happy, mainly due to fastballs that don’t really have the traditional swing and miss stuff.
While the sinker has good movement, it still isn’t designed to rack up the strikeouts, and that is the case for Harrington with both pitches. Especially heading into Greensboro, where some of the most innocent fly balls leave the park, you’d either want to see him induce more ground balls, or get more swing and miss.
10 pitch, 1-2-3 inning by Thomas Harrington including this strikeout.
Fastball consistently hitting 95mph. pic.twitter.com/ZoKMMsiF9l
— Christian✞ (@CWolfPGH) May 25, 2023
Judging by the numbers, it’d be easier to focus on the ‘more ground ball’ part of the game than anything. The fastball was hit hard, with eight hits in 21 at-bats, with hitters slugging over .400 against the pitch.
|155 (28.1%)||Pitch Usage||68 (12.3%)|
|82.32 mph||Velocity||87.24 mph|
|2698 rpm||Spin Rate||1708.83 rpm|
|35.03 in||Vertical Break||30.63|
|15.09 in||Horizontal Break||15.02 in|
These two were by far his most effective pitches, even if he only used the changeup 12.3% of the time. From the get-go Harrington flashed just how good the slider was, picking up this called strike three on a frisbee looking back door pitch early during his first professional start.
We saw just how dominant the pitch was overall, as he threw it for strikes (40.65 CSW%), and hitters barely put it in play. The ground ball is fairly low for the type of pitch it is, but when you have a strikeout rate of nearly 60% with it, you’re not going to be generating much of anything else.
NASTY back door slider for a called strike three.
36 inch vertical break
20 inches horizontal break
— Anthony Murphy (@__Murphy88) April 7, 2023
There is a possibility that the 12.3% usage on his changeup was intentional with Harrington. Most national outlets have that pitch graded out as a ‘plus’ pitch, so there may have been a focus to use the rest of his arsenal since the offspeed is already so well developed.
It will be interesting to see how much the usage changes with Greensboro, although we don’t have an exact way to track it.
The changeup has good form, with a horizontal break that is nearly identical to his sinker, allowing the two to work well off each other. It was also his best pitch when it came to inducing ground balls, so it could definitely benefit him to increase the usage as he moves up the ladder.
Rest of Pitches
|20 (3.6%)||Pitch Usage||4 (0.7%)|
|80.22 mph||Velocity||86.42 mph|
|2513 rpm||Spin Rate||2503.5 rpm|
|49.35 in||Vertical Break||29.5 in|
|13.85 in||Horizontal Break||6 in|
According to Baseball Savant, Harrington also throws a curveball and cutter, but as you can see by the usage, they aren’t really a focus of his at this point.
Harrington has been more of a fly ball pitcher in his time with Bradenton, something that could turn into trouble as he moves up the ladder, especially with how much the fastballs are already getting hit.
As we’ve seen with other pitchers in the system, as he gets acclimated into pro ball there is a chance his usage of his pitches greatly changes the longer he’s around. Regardless, he’s an advanced college pitcher with strong breaking and offspeed stuff that can throw strikes, so he should be able to move as quickly as the Pirates want to move him up the ladder.
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.