Rum Bunter’s 2019 Pittsburgh Pirates Staff Preview: Marty

(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /
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Pittsburgh Pirates
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Team Rookie of the Year – Nick Burdi

The popular pick here may be Mitch Keller. One of the team’s top hitting prospect at Triple-A such as Cole Tucker or Ke’Bryan Hayes probably come to people’s mind as well. However, Keller is far from a slam dunk and the other two have a lot of work to do yet at Triple-A. Nick Burdi, however, already appears ready to make an impact.

The Pittsburgh Pirates traded for Nick Burdi at last year’s MLB Winter Meetings after the Philadelphia Phillies selected him in the Rule 5 Draft. At the time, Burdi was recovering from Tommy John Surgery and was set to miss most of 2018. This is exactly what happened, but now Burdi is healthy and his stuff looks filthy.

This spring Burdi showed a power fastball that touched 100 miles per hour and a wipe out slider. His electric stuff, shutout to one of my all-time favorite Buccos Charlie Morton, is what made Burdi one of the Minnesota Twins’ top pitching prospects before undergoing surgery.

Burdi was able to earn a September call up in 2018. After pitching 1 2/3 innings in September, he has now logged one of the three months he must be on the active roster due to his Rule 5 status. Burdi must spend the first two months of the season on the team’s active roster, or else the Pirates will have to either return him to the Twins or work out a trade to keep him.

Luckily, all signs point toward this being a non-issue. While Burdi is likely to begin the season pitching in middle relief and low leverage situations, if this spring was any sign of things to come that could change. Burdi has the pure stuff to work his way up the bullpen ladder and become a trusted reliever for Clint Hurdle in 2019. The right-handed rookie appears primed to make a strong, deep Pirate bullpen even better.