Pittsburgh Pirates Sign UDFA Pitcher Parker Brahms


The Pittsburgh Pirates completed the 2020 Major League Baseball Draft last week.  So far, they have only signed one undrafted free agent.

No one expected that Pittsburgh Pirates General Manager would spend five straight draft picks on right-handed pitching.  Yet, that’s exactly what the Pittsburgh Pirates front office did with their 2020 draft after taking infielder Nick Gonzales in the first round.  While the team needed to add more arms to their minor league system, there was an expectation that they would add some bats as well.

The undrafted free agent window opened up this past Sunday.  Teams are able to sign any player who went undrafted, but they cannot give them any more than a $20,000 bonus.  This will mainly be college seniors who normally would have been drafted in a normal year.

The thought process was that the Pittsburgh Pirates would add some bats through the undrafted free agency process.  So far, the team only has one signing that has been reported.  According to Baseball America, the Pittsburgh Pirates agreed to terms with right-handed pitcher Parker Brahms.

Brahms is a prototypical right-handed starter, standing at 6’3” and weighing around 210 pounds.  He attended Sacramento State University and played there for four years, having mixed results but showed enough for the Pittsburgh Pirates to sign him.  In his time at Sacramento State, Brahms compiled 48 starts (54 total appearances) and had a career ERA of 3.33.

The righty had a solid freshmen year, posting a 3.31 ERA in 97.2 innings pitched.  His best collegiate year came as a sophomore when he pitched to a 2.14 ERA in 93.1 innings.  The biggest difference, however, was in his strikeout stuff.  As a freshman, he posted just 5.8 strikeouts per nine innings pitched.  He saw that number nearly double as a sophomore, posting an outstanding 10.9 K/9.

At that point, Brahms looked like he would be putting himself into serious day two draft (rounds three through ten) consideration for the 2019 draft.  Instead, Brahms regressed his junior season.  While his strikeouts remained over 10 per nine, he saw his walks per nine rise from 2.4 to 3.2 and his WHIP go from 1.11 to 1.30.  This all led to an ERA of 4.70, which in turn impacted his draft stock.  He ended up being drafted by the Dodgers in the 27th round but opted to return for his senior season.

This looks like it is going to work out for both Brahms and the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Brahms came out strong this spring, posting a 1.14 ERA in 23.1 innings pitched.  He struck out 32 (12.17 K/9) and did not walk a single batter.  It looks like he has swing and miss stuff, but can also command it.

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It is very likely Parker Brahms would have liked to have been drafted in a higher round than he was in 2019.  This year with everything that has happened, he did not get that opportunity.  However, Brahms is joining a Pittsburgh Pirates organization that has quickly built up a stockpile of high upside arms under the new regime.  Brahms will get a chance to be a part of this group and prove that the Pittsburgh Pirates were right for signing him.