Pittsburgh Pirates Prospect Report: Steven Brault
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
The Pittsburgh Pirates number 25 prospect is Steven Brault, the first on the list that wasn’t drafted by the team. He was originally picked by the Baltimore Orioles in 2013 and was traded to the Pirates for Travis Snider before the 2015 season.
To be frank, Steven Brault is a rather generic pitching prospect and more so, further evidence to teach your kids to throw lefty. He throws three average pitches – fastball, slider, changeup – and tops out in the low 90s but still finds a way to strike batters out. In 2015, he spent the second half of the season at Double-A Altoona where he struck out 8 per nine innings, a career high.
His command has been up and down through his young career but 2015 was one of the ups – Brault only allowed 1.9 walks per nine innings in his time with Altoona. His ability to keep the ball in the zone is topped only by his ability to keep the ball in the stadium; Brault gave up just 1 home run in 90 innings for Altoona this year and has allowed just 10 in nearly 600 innings of pro ball.
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For the type of pitcher Brault is, control is everything and the Pirates will be pleased if he keeps improving that area of his game. As long as he’s not allowing free baserunners or home runs, the team has to consider his strikeouts just an added bonus.
Brault was invited to the Arizona Fall League to play for Glendale and it wasn’t a very good showing. His control struggles reached an all-time high but he still managed to strike out 16 in just 14 innings. Even with his issues, however, 14 innings is too small a sample size to decide whether he was good or bad.
Brault doesn’t have the ceiling that some of the other prospects on this list do so he’ll need to work hard on the things he already has going for him. I hate to make such a lazy comparison but he really does resemble Jeff Locke or Jon Niese on the mound; as long as he can force hitters to swing the bat without giving up home runs and sprinkle in a some strikeouts, he could end up being the cheap replacement for one of those guys down the road.
Heading into 2016, I expect Brault to start the season at Altoona and, unless he doesn’t perform there, eventually be called up to Triple-A Indianapolis. If he pitches exceptionally well, there’s a slim chance he could make a spot start in September but his first real shot to pitch in the majors will come in 2017 the earliest.