The Pittsburgh Pirates saw two of their more intriguing prospect arms post really strong starts last night. Here is what they did.
With just being days removed from the Major League Baseball Draft, one should remember that the top names are not always the ones who flourish. In fact, sometimes a team’s success comes from later round picks. These picks are often not even noted by most fans, however, they can often make an average team into a good team. The Pittsburgh Pirates might have one of these types of players coming up from Triple-A sooner than later.
Last night Triple-A Indianapolis saw JT Brubaker take the mound. Brubaker was a sixth-round pick back in 2015. The big righty came out of the University of Akron. At the time he was noted just for his pure size, standing at 6’4” and weighing 175 pounds. He had good numbers at Akron, but of course, it was Akron, not a big-time baseball school. However, he has quickly made his way up the Pittsburgh Pirates minor league system and is now knocking at the door in Triple-A.
The former Zip went up against the Rochester Red Wings of the Minnesota Twins organization. The Red Wings have a solid lineup with top prospect Nick Gordon, and former big league players Cameron Rupp and Taylor Motter. However, Brubaker threw six shutout innings against them to earn the win. In his six innings of work, the righty posted four strikeouts. He now has three wins and two losses in six starts since joining the Triple-A affiliate. His earned run average is at a solid 3.09.
Taylor Hearn is a similar case to Brubaker. While Hearn was not drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates (he was at one point, but failed to sign), he also came off the board on day two in the form of a fifth round pick. Like Brubaker, Hearn was noted for his size, 6’6”, and a high 90s fastball. Still, he was and is considered as “the other pitcher acquired in the Melancon trade.” While Hearn may eventually shift to the bullpen once he is major league ready, he has been starting all season at Double-A.
The Altoona Curve saw their big lefty toe the rubber last night against the Reading Fightin Phils. Of course, this team is apart of the Philadelphia Phillies organization. It was very much a pitchers duel, but Hearn came out on top getting the win in a 1-0 game. While the Curve had a lack of offense, Hearn provided a lot of entertainment. The Oklahoma Baptist University product threw seven shutout innings. Meanwhile, he struck out nine batters in those innings and only walked two. All in all, his earned run average is now sitting at 3.63 on the season. Hearn seems to be settling into a groove, allowing only five earned runs in his last five starts.
These two pitchers are prime examples that legitimate prospects can be found in rounds outside of the top two. While neither will likely be joining the Pittsburgh Pirates any times soon, both could be key parts of the roster in the 2019 season.