The sabermetrically inclined amongst us have hammered into our heads that idea that wins do not matter to the point where it has almost become a mantra. While wins are not a great way of determining the value of a pitcher, the fact remains that baseball teams need to win games to reach the postseason. Pitchers that win games are still worthy of attention.
That is where Chad Kuhl comes in. Last season, the 21 year old Kuhl led the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system with 13 wins. Pitching for the Bradenton Marauders of the Florida State League, Kuhl posted a 13-5 record with a 3.46 ERA and a 1.193 WHiP, striking out 100 batters against 42 walks in 153.1 innings of work.
Instead of relying upon a blazing fastball, Chad Kuhl is essentially the stereotypical Pirates pitcher at this point. A sinkerball thrower with a decent curve and change, Kuhl generated a ground ball 55.5% of the time a ball was put in play against him. If there was to be a living example of the Pirates pitching philosophy, Kuhl may well be it.
Given his repertoire, Kuhl is likely to end up as a middle of the rotation starter should he make the major leagues. With top pitching prospects like Tyler Glasnow and Jameson Taillon, Kuhl would not be needed to become a top of the rotation starter. As long as he can continue to generate ground balls and display his excellent control, he can be a solid major league prospect.
After his success in High-A last season, Chad Kuhl is likely to end up pitching for the AA Altoona Curve of the Eastern League. Facing what should be a solid step up in terms of talent, the Pirates will be able to get a sense for whether or not Kuhl can be a piece of the rotation in another year or two. With another solid season in 2015, it may not be a surprise to see Kuhl as a September callup, or at the very least, brought to AAA for a month or two.
Chad Kuhl may not be a future superstar, but his ability to generate ground balls could make him a solid middle of the rotation starter. With the pitching prospects that the Pirates currently have, that may be all they need from him.