Pittsburgh Pirates Minors: A Look at Two Young Arms


The Pittsburgh Pirates have two intriguing pitching prospects in the low minors.  Here is how they have done since joining the organization.

This past offseason, the Pittsburgh Pirates only made a handful of moves.  The team was not all that active on the free agent front, but they did swing a few trades.  While the team did not acquire any elite prospects, they did bring in a few intriguing young arms.  The Pirates were able to do this in two of the trades they made this past offseason.

The first trade came very early in the offseason.  The Pirates sent infielder Max Moroff and outfielder Jordan Luplow to the Cleveland Indians for shortstop Erik Gonzalez and pitching prospects Tahnaj Thomas and Dante Mendoza.  The second trade came later, which saw pitcher Tanner Anderson go from the Bucs to the Athletics.  The Pittsburgh Pirates got relief pitching prospect Wilkin Ramos.  All three of the acquired pitching prospects are still just 19 years of age and just started their season’s in short-season ball.

First, let’s take a look at the top-rated prospect of the group, Tahnaj Thomas.  Thomas wasn’t ranked as a top 30 prospect in the Cleveland Indians organization at the time of the trade.  However, he is currently ranked at number 12 in the Bucs system.  He is a right-handed starter that stands at a very projectable 6’4” and was signed out of Bahamas.

His début in the Pittsburgh Pirates system has not gone well, however.  To date, he has made two appearances and has only lasted 1.2 innings, allowing seven runs, five earned, for an ERA of 27.00.  The biggest issue has been his command, he has already walked five batters while only striking out one.

While this is obviously not good, it is a very small sample size and somewhat expected.  Thomas’ prospects hype is all about projectability.  He has a fastball that already sits in the mid-90s and is showing a sharp slider.  He also came up playing infield and did not start pitching until he signed as a 16-year-old.  He is still learning the finer details of how to pitch and as he gets better mechanics and repetitions, Thomas should see much more impressive results.

The other pitcher acquired in the deal was Dante Mendoza, who has recently turned 20.  Mendoza is a lot like Thomas, he is a young, big and projectable arm.  He stands at 6’5” and weighs 185 pounds.  The Indians drafted him in the 12th round of the 2017 Draft out of a high school in California.

Mendoza made his debut and first start of the season this past week.  The righty threw four shutout innings, showing strikeout stuff, punching out six batters, though he did walk three.  His fastball velocity was sitting in the low 90s most of the start, but it reached 95 at times.  Hopefully, he continues to show strikeout stuff.  One interesting note about Mendoza is that he is the cousin of reliever Zack Britton of the New York Yankees.

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The other pitcher Wilkin Ramos has yet to make his organization début.  He is just 18 years old, so the team is being cautious with his use early on.  Like Thomas and Medoza, Ramos is also very projectable, standing at 6’5”.  All three of these pitchers are very intriguing but raw.  However, they all have lofty ceilings that make them potential prospects to pay attention too.