Pirate prospect to watch in 2018: Austin Coley

(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /
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As we continue to delve into Pirate prospects worth watching in 2018, next up is right-handed pitcher Austin Coley

In the 8th round of the 2014 June Amateur Draft the Pittsburgh Pirates selected right-handed pitcher Austin Coley. The now 25-year-old Coley has slowly worked his way through the Pirate farm system.

Austin Coley spent all of 2017 pitching for the Double-A Altoona Curve. With the Curve last season, Coley had a fantastic season that helped pole vault him into a potential Major League depth option at some point.

Austin Coley also played a large role in the postseason success of the Curve in 2017. In Game 3 of the Eastern League Western Division Championship Series, Coley got the ball for the Curve and allowed one run on six hits and just one walk in seven innings pitched. This outing from Coley helped lead the Curve to a victory that sent them to the Eastern League Championship Series.

During the regular season, he pitched in 143 2/3 innings pitched in 29 games (23 starts). Throughout his minor league career he has had impeccable control and this continued in 2017 when he averaged just 1.94 BB/9, he also allowed just 10 home runs and averaged 7.14 K/9 while generating a 48.9 percent groundball rate. This led to Coley posting a solid 3.01 ERA and 3.34 FIP in 2017.

Last season Austin Coley saw his fastball add a few ticks to reach the low-90s, this is a reason there was an increase in strikeouts for Coley in 2017. Another reason for Coley’s success in 2017 is that he transitioned into a swing role with the Curve.

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Moving forward, it would behoove the Pirates to keep Austin Coley in a swing role. While he may start the 2018 season with Altoona again, if he pitches well he will reach Triple-A at some point in 2018. If Coley is in a swing role for Indianapolis once he reaches Triple-A, he will then have an opportunity to be a depth option for the Pirates moving forward rather it be as a spot starter or a bullpen arm.

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