Pittsburgh Pirates: Cam Junker Impresses In First Season

(Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
(Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Pirates had a lot of negatives in the 2019 season.  However, there have been some bright spots from their 2019 draft class.

One of the biggest complaints from Pittsburgh Pirates fans is the lack of talent Bucs have been developing, especially from their draft.  Many fans blame the team’s current struggles on the team not really developing any superstars of late from their own draft classes.  Whether it’s been because of injuries or just players not reaching their potential here, it’s time for the team to start finding more talent especially being a small-market team who relies on the amateur process.

Looking at the 2019 draft offers reason for optimism.  The team drafted a lot of athletic high upside players and have seen positive early results.  The one player who has already made a big-time impact was actually one of their later round picks.  With their last pick on day two of the draft, the team elected pitcher Cameron Junker, a projectecable right-handed pitcher, out of Notre Dame.

Junker, who stands at 6’5″ and weighs 220 pounds, quickly filled in as the Short-Season A West Virginia Black Bears shut down reliever.  The 22-year-old put up some of the best numbers in the New York Penn League from a pitcher.  He appeared in 19 games and 28 innings, posting a 1.29 ERA and striking out 45 batters while only walking 11.  Despite those strong numbers he only posted five saves as the team used him in various relief roles.

The most impressive stat is the fact that Junker never gave up a home run the season.  Usually hard-throwing relievers give up their fair share of home runs, especially early on in their careers. He also struck out over 43 percent of the batters he faced and walked 10.6 percent of batters.  All positive signs for a hard-throwing reliever who had questions regarding his command in college.

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Being that Junker is already 22 years old and out of college, the Pittsburgh Pirates will likely give him an aggressive push next year, possibly a jump up to Bradenton.  If he can continue to dominate hitters while controlling his free passes, Junker could move quickly through the Pittsburgh Pirates system.  If his 2019 campaign is any suggestion of his potential, Neal Huntington and the Bucs may have gotten a steal in the 10th round.  Hopefully, he continues his success next year.