JOHN KUCHNO, RIGHT HANDED PITCHER
|Born: May 21, 1991
Height: 6′ 5″
Drafted: 18th Round, 556th Overall, 2012
How Acquired: Draft
College: Ohio State
WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES
|Kuchno is a red shirt sophomore from Ohio State. He joined the Buckeyes after starting his career as a walk-on at Wake Forest. Prior to that he only played one year of high school baseball. He throws anywhere from 87-95 MPH, touching the upper end of that range in relief. He also has a power curveball, and both pitches have the potential to be plus offerings. Kuchno had a 4.38 ERA in 74 innings in 2012, with a 59:30 K/BB ratio. He profiles more as a reliever. He signed on deadline day for a little over slot.
Kuchno wasn’t able to pitch until late August. He got into four games and allowed no hits or runs in three of them. He got torched for five earned runs in the other game. He showed some ability to miss bats in an extremely small sample size.
Kuchno spent the season in the West Virginia rotation, except for two relief appearances. He struggled early in the season, but improved steadily. In fact, his opponents’ OPS dropped each month, starting in April:
His ERA was 5.02 in the first three months and 2.84 in the last two. His ratio of ground outs to air outs was over 2-1 and he had no platoon split. His K rate remained low throughout the season.
Kuchno pitched in the Bradenton rotation all year and got solid results, holding opponents to a 256/339/323 line. He got large numbers of groundballs, with two and a half times as many ground outs as air outs. The groundball tendencies no doubt were reflected in the low opponents’ slugging average, as well as an extremely high total of 31 GIDPs. (Even in the majors, only one pitcher induced more GIDPs than Kuchno and only two induced more than 24.) He allowed only three HRs. His K rate, though, was extraordinarily low, barely above his walk rate, which was only a little above league average. He was very consistent all year, even posting a platoon split that had only a ten-point difference in OPS.
The Pirates moved Kuchno to the bullpen and he stayed all year at Altoona. His pitching was about the same as the previous year, with an extremely low K rate and a walk rate that wasn’t much lower. One difference was gopher balls. Although he continued to be an extreme groundball pitcher, he gave up a HR every eight and a half innings after allowing one every 17 innings previously in his career. His ERA benefited from the fact that 40% of the runs he allowed (17 of 43) were unearned. He had no platoon split.
Kuchno returned to Altoona to start the season, but after two appearances the Pirates promoted him to Indianapolis, which needed an arm. He stayed there for nearly three months, then shuffled back and forth between AAA and AA several more times over the remainder of the season. At Altoona, he pitched better than he had the previous year, with a much higher (although still low) K rate and fewer hits allowed. He didn’t have as much luck in AAA, with his K rate dropping sharply and opponents batting .294 against him. He also saw a drop in his groundball rate. Kuchno made two spot starts at each level and pitched better in some respects in the starts than he did in relief, including a higher K rate. He had a huge platoon split, with a .920 OPS allowed to left-handed hitters and .666 to right-handed hitters. He had mild trouble with gopher balls again, allowing one every eight innings.
Kuchno will return to Altoona to open 2017, which is obviously not a good sign. He’ll turn 26 early in the season.
|2017: Minor league contract|
|Signing Bonus: $125,000
MiLB Debut: 2012
MiLB FA Eligible: 2018
MLB FA Eligible:
Rule 5 Eligible: Eligible
Added to 40-Man:
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 0.000
|June 6, 2012: Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 18th round, 556th overall pick; signed on July 13.|