In today’s prospect profile, we will take a look at another young pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Cameron Junker
I think the majority of you know by now I love pitching prospects. In a Pittsburgh Pirates organization that needs future pitchers to help this team down the line, one of the surprising under the radar prospects that can help the big club down the line is Cameron Junker.
Junker is a 22-year-old prospect from Ft. Thomas, Kentucky, that was drafted by the Pirates in the 10th round in the 2019 MLB Draft out of Notre Dame. As of now, he has an extremely effective fastball that tops around 96 MPH, as well as a slider that has the potential to be a plus pitch in his repertoire. When he winds up in his delivery, he takes a very long time, which, according to Pirates Prospect’s website, could benefit him as a reliever in the future.
During his time with Notre Dame, Junker improved upon several things. One of those things being his control. In the 77.1 innings pitched in his junior year, he walked 40 while striking out 73, giving him a 4.7 BB/9, as well as a respectable 8.5 K/9. For a young guy with only two reliable pitches, he posted very good numbers.
In 2019, Junker skipped rookie ball and was sent straight to the short-season West Virginia Black Bears, who play in the New York Penn League. Junker was dominant with the Black Bears while being used as a relief pitcher. In the 28 innings he pitched, Junker post a 1.29 ERA, 1.96 xFIP, 45 strikeouts, and only 11 walks. Opponents slashed just .233/.198/.431 against Junker. This led to Junker being named a NY-Penn League All-Star.
One of the most promising things the young hurler showed was his opponent’s lack of extra base hits allowed. Only three of the 13 hits he allowed went for extra bases, and none of those were home runs, something Pirates fans know all too well last year with the bullpen. If he can maintain this, the sky is the limit for the youngster.
Although the young right handed pitcher sparkled in his first season in the Pirates farm system, we have to take everything with a grain of salt. Junker pitched only a handful of innings, and I think that needs to be put into consideration. Junker will most likely see full-season ball in 2020 with Bradenton, the High-A affiliate with the Pirates. If he can show that his dominance can withstand a full season, Junker could be in-store for a Double-A promotion.