Pirate prospect to watch in 2018: Clay Holmes

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Clay Holmes
BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Clay Holmes /
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Next up on the list of Pirate prospects to watch in 2018 is a right-handed pitcher who, barring injury, will make his Major League debut at some point this season

Prior to beginning to battle with injuries in 2014, Clay Holmes was becoming one of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ top pitching prospects. After missing all of 2014 Holmes pitched just 36 1/3 in 2015 and then he logged 25 starts for Double-A Altoona in 2015. In 2016, however, Holmes started to look like the promising young pitching prospect he once was.

Clay Holmes is still just 24-years-old. After spending all of 2017 at Triple-A, he will enter 2018 knocking on the door of the Major Leagues. This makes him a Pirate prospect to watch in 2018.

Last season Clay Holmes pitched in 25 games (24 starts) at the Triple-A level. Holmes logged 112 2/3 innings for the Indianapolis Indians, allowing just 96 hits and four home runs. As he has done throughout his minor league career, Holmes had a fantastic groundball rate in 2017 as he kept the ball on the ground 61.5 percent of the time.

The issue with Holmes in 2017 was control. His 4.71 BB/9 was entirely too high, and he plunked eight batters while also uncorking 12 wild pitches. Holmes did see a spike in his strikeout rate as it rose to a career high 7.91 K/9 and this combined with his groundball prowess helped him offset his control issues.

During 2018 season Clay Holmes will have to improve his control. Certainly Ray Searage and Stan Kyles have a plan in place to help Holmes with this issue, so it will be up to Clay to execute that plan this upcoming season.

The Major League future for Clay Holmes is somewhat murky. This is because it can be debated if he is best suited as a middle/back end of the rotation starting pitcher, or as a reliever. Whatever role is best for Holmes at the Major League level, Pirate fans should begin to find out in 2018.

Next: The latest on the Josh Harrison trade market

Due to injuries, Clay Holmes became a bit of a forgotten man among Pittsburgh Pirate fans. However, after a strong 20176 campaign he is once again one of the organization’s most promising pitching prospects. Holmes should make his Major League debut at some point in 2018 and he is a prospect worth keeping an eye on this upcoming season.