The Pittsburgh Pirates are taking on the Philadelphia Phillies this afternoon for their first Spring Training game. There is an interesting reliever to watch.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are gearing up for their first spring training game of the year. The team will be on the road to take on the Philadelphia Phillies. The team is going to use Steven Brault as their opening starter. The most notable regular in the batting lineup is Colin Moran.
However, that is the best thing about early spring training. The Pittsburgh Pirates, and most of the other teams, are not going to troop out a majority of their starters at this point in spring training. Instead, the team gives opportunities to players who are on minor league deals, players competing for bench spots, and, of course, prospects.
This is the best thing about early spring training baseball – getting to see some of the team’s top prospects playing in live games. The team usually has most of their upper-level minors prospects at camp and try to get them into games. The Pittsburgh Pirates have their top two prospects in camp in Mitch Keller and Ke’Bryan Hayes, along with many of their other young up and coming players.
Today the Pittsburgh Pirates did not have a lot of prospects in their lineup. However, they did have an interesting one slated to pitch last in today’s game. Geoff Hartlieb is slated to close out the game this afternoon. He spent all last season at Double-A Altoona, setting himself up to pitch in Triple-A Indianapolis this year.
Hartlieb is a 6’6” 220-pound right-handed relief pitching prospect. He was a 29th round pick in 2016 out of Lindenwood University, which is in Missouri. He turned 25-years-old back in December. Hartlieb is considered one of the top relief pitching prospects in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.
Last year at Double-A Altoona, Hartlieb appeared in 47 games and threw 58.1 innings, posting a 3.45 ERA with a 3.60 xFIP. The best thing that has made Hartlieb an interesting prospect to watch is his ability to produce groundball outs. Last season, the big righty got ground outs at a 63 percent rate. Anything above 50% is considered to be really good, so 63 percent is outstanding. He also did a decent job striking people out, posting a 8.64 strikeouts per nine innings rate. His control was a bit of an issue, walking 3.7 per nine innings, which is a little high.
Hartlieb also competed in the Arizona Fall League with a handful of other Pittsburgh Pirates prospects. Like most of the relief prospect in the league, Hartlieb struggled. He only threw 13.2 innings and had an ERA over 6.00. Still, it was a small sample size and deeper into the year than Hartlieb had ever thrown.
So listen for the big righty today as the Bucs take on the Phillies. His fastball will be interesting as it reportedly reaches as high as 98 miles per hour. The game starts at 1:05 and can be heard on the radio at 93.7 The Fan or game cast online at mlb.com.