J.T. Brubaker is a Pirate prospect to watch in 2018

(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /

Right-handed starting pitcher J.T. Brubaker is a Pirate prospect that will be worth keeping an eye on during the 2018 season.

As the offseason begins the 2018 rotation of the Pittsburgh Pirates appears to be one with more options than spots. Chad Kuhl, Gerrit Cole, Ivan Nova, Jameson Taillon, and Trevor Williams all made at least 25 starts for the Pirates in 2017. Additionally, Steven Brault flashed a lot of good things during four September starts.

Once you take these six starting pitchers and mix in Triple-A starters such as Nick Kingham and Tyler Glasnow, there appears to be a bit of a logjam for the Pirates. However, there is a starting pitcher behind all of the aforementioned pitchers worth keeping an eye on in 2018. This pitcher is J.T. Brubaker.

The 23-year-old J.T. Brubaker was the Pirates’ 5th round draft pick in the 2015 draft. In 2017 Brubaker spent the entire season at Double-A Altoona. As a member of the Curve, Brubaker started to breakthrough as a legitimate Major League prospect.

J.T. Brubaker pitched in 26 games (24 starts) for Double-A Altoona in 2017. He pitched 129 2/3 innings and allowed 150 hits, but just nine home runs. He averaged 3.12 BB/9, 7.57 K/9, and he owned a 47.5 percent groundball rate.

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For the Curve Brubaker posted a 4.44 ERA in 2017. However, this was not indicative of how he pitched. He was victimized by a .358 BABIP, his 3.67 FIP indicates he pitched much better than his ERA, and his xFIP of 3.79 predicts better things on the horizon for Brubaker.

During the 2017 season the Altoona Curve won the Eastern League Championship. Due to the Curve not losing a postseason game, Brubaker only had to make one postseason start. In that start he pitched eight innings allowing two runs, only one of which was earned, on eight hits, a walk, and six strikeouts. This start came in game two of the Eastern League Finals.

Odds are, J.T. Brubaker will start the 2018 season back at Double-A. However, he should be in the rotation for the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians sooner rather than later. Once Brubaker reaches Triple-A he will be just a call away from the Majors.

It is possible that J.T. Brubaker could prove to be a valuable depth pitching option for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2018. If not, he will be for certain in 2019. This makes him a Pirate prospect worth watching in 2018.