The Pittsburgh Pirates have plenty of intriguing prospects in their farm system. However, there is a new prospect’s name to watch.
One place to always look for updates on the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system is MLB Pipeline. They do a tremendous job every year in ranking all the Major League team’s top 30 prospects. As the year progresses and players lose prospect eligibility, or are dealt away in trades, new prospects show up on the lists. This happened with the Pittsburgh Pirates this past season at the trade deadline.
The team dealt away prospects Austin Meadows, Shane Baz, and Taylor Hearn all who were top 10 prospects. So the team saw numerous new prospects enter the list. Most of them were players who have been off and on the lists, but one unfamiliar name popped up on the Pittsburgh Pirates top 30 list.
That pitcher is right-handed pitcher Santiago Florez, an eighteen-year-old out of Columbia. He is now ranked as the number 30 overall on the Pittsburgh Pirates top 30 prospects. This is the first time that Florez entered the list. So who is this Santiago Florez?
As mentioned earlier, Florez was signed out of Columbia. The Pittsburgh Pirates gave him a six-figure deal back on July 2nd of 2016 for $150,000. When looking at him, one can understand why the Pittsburgh Pirates found him to be worth a larger bonus. Florez stands at 6’5” and is already listed at 222 pounds, although was much lighter two years ago. So, already, he has the big projectable frame that the team loves in their starting pitchers. With that being said here is more from MLB Pipeline on Florez’s arsenal:
"“Florez has already gained some ticks on his fastball since signing, and the 6-foot-5 right-hander has been up to 96 mph this year. There could be more in the tank as he continues to fill out his big frame. Florez has a good feel to spin his curveball and his changeup continues to develop.”"
The big righty pitched last year in the Gulf Coast League after pitching there in the 2017 season as well. In 2017 he threw 53.1 innings in the GCL, which were all thrown during his 14 starts. His first taste of professional ball was not overly impressive. He pitched to a 4.56 earned run average, only struck out 30 batters in those 53.1 innings, giving him a 12 percent strikeout rate. He actually walked more batters than he struck out with 38 bases on balls. Also, he only produced groundballs at solid, if unspectacular, rate of 44 percent.
He saw a big improvement in his results this past season at the Gulf Coast level. The Columbian native threw 43.1 innings in the 2018 season. He saw an improvement in his command and therefore saw better results. This past season Florez struck out 35 batters, so he struck out five more in ten fewer innings. This gave him a jump to a 18.4 percent strikeout rate. Meanwhile, he only allowed 23 free passes this year. His walk rate went from 15.5 down to 12.2 percent between the two years. Still, his earned run average was above 4.00, but was sitting at a much better 4.15. He also had a FIP of 3.91, which was good to see.
Florez will likely make a jump this year from the Gulf Coast League. He will be entering his age 19 season, so he still is very young and needs to learn how to get the most out of his frame. So with that, he likely will not make the jump to full-season ball just yet and will likely play in Short-Season A ball. Still, be sure to keep an eye out for him. He has the size and fastball that the Bucs love to see from their pitchers. Furthermore, MLB Pipeline obviously sees the making of an interesting prospect having him on the top 30 list.