NICHOLAS ECONOMOS, RIGHT HANDED PITCHER
|Born: June 27, 1995
Drafted: 21st Round, 637th Overall, 2015
How Acquired: Draft
College: Mercer County CC (NJ)
WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE
|Economos is another tall pitcher drafted by the Pirates in the late rounds in 2015, as the team focused heavily on pitchers in the later rounds after taking hitters with their top three picks. Economos has a good arm, but has suffered from control problems. He pitched for Harford Community College in 2014 and had a 9.00 ERA in 32 innings, with 31 walks and 41 strikeouts. He improved to a 4.10 ERA at Mercer County CC in 2015 and had 60 strikeouts in 41 innings. His fastball was up to 94 MPH in 2013, but he hasn’t thrown with that kind of velocity as a pro. In a down year for the state, Economos was not among the top 25 prospects in New Jersey according to Baseball America. He signed quickly after the draft. As of 2019, he was throwing in the upper-80s, while frequently throwing a curve and change, and occasionally a slider.
Economos went to the GCL, where he was mostly a starter. His velocity wasn’t quite as advertised, as he threw mainly in the upper-80s. He was more effective than his ERA, holding opponents to a .205 average and posting solid walk and K rates.
The Pirates sent Economos to Bristol, where he pitched out of the rotation all season. He mostly struggled, allowing hitters to post a 283/344/457 line and not striking out many.
Economos moved up to Morgantown and pitched out of the bullpen. His ERA was nearly identical to the previous year, but his other numbers were better, especially his K rate. His xFIP of 3.72 was much better than his ERA. Where he mainly had trouble was extra base hits, as opponents slugged .406 against him in a league that slugged .340. Economos had a big platoon split, allowing an .853 OPS to left-handed hitters while limiting right-handed hitters to .668.
The Pirates sent Economos back to the West Virginia Black Bears. He pitched in relief until late in the season, when he made five starts. He was one of the team’s best pitchers and improved over the course of the season. His ERA in those five starts was 1.67 and he fanned ten batters per nine innings. Economos had no platoon split at all. He got a late-season promotion to the West Virginia Power and recorded a save in his only appearance.
Economos opened the season in the bullpen at Greensboro, but quickly pitched his way into the rotation. In May the Pirates promoted him to Bradenton and he continued to get excellent results, although the sharp drop in his K rate demonstrates the difference in the way soft stuff plays between the two class A levels. Still, opponents batted only .199 against him there after batting .200 at Greensboro. The Pirates moved him up to Altoona to fill an opening there in late July, but he got battered in four appearances, with opponents batting .324 with a HR every four innings. He went back to Bradenton for his last three starts, including an eight-run outing in his last appearance that inflated his numbers there. On the season he had a minimal platoon split.
Economos doesn’t throw as hard as the Pirates probably hoped, but he made great progress the last two years. It’s possible his stuff won’t play in AA, though, but he should get a chance there again in 2020. He’ll be eligible for the Rule 5 draft for the second time.