Because of the amount of rosters with the new rules of the 2020 season, it’s easy to forget some of the Pittsburgh Pirates prospects. Here are three that we might see again in 2020.
It’s easy to forget some of the players the Pittsburgh Pirates have in their farm system that could appear some time in 2020. Rosters expanded from 26 to 30, along with the 40 man going to a 60 man, plus a taxi squad. Obviously, there’s going to be some names that get glanced over when you have to go through so many players.
So that meant that the Pittsburgh Pirates have a few prospects that some fans may have forgotten about. With the struggling of the pitching staff let’s go over three pitching prospects that are on the taxi squad but haven’t gotten much attention recently.
Cody Ponce was acquired by the Pittsburgh Pirates back at the 2019 trade deadline for pitcher Jordan Lyles. Before heading over to Pittsburgh, the right hander was working as a reliever at the Double-A level of the Brewers farm system. Through 38.1 innings, Ponce had a 3.29 ERA, 2.59 FIP, 2.88 xFIP, and 1.17 WHIP. He also struck out a decent amount of batters with a 27.5% strikeout rate and walked 7.5% of the batters he faced. He also gave up just one home run.
Ponce had previously been a starting pitching prospect, and that’s how the Pirates’ used Ponce when they traded for him, but through the 18.2 innings he worked in the rotation at Triple-A, Ponce surrendered 11 earned runs, walked seven, struck out 20, but gave up four home runs. He also worked as a starting pitcher during the Arizona Fall League. Through 23 innings, he had a 2.35 ERA, 2.34 FIP and 1.26 WHIP.
The 26-year-old has a really good fastball and cutter, both having a future 60 grade. His curveball is given a grade of 50 current/future, and he throws in a change-up every now and then, but it only has a 45 future/current grade. Even if Ponce is never some shutdown late inning man, or really good starter, he could be a solid Vin Mazzaro-like relief pitcher. A guy who can give you a handful of solid innings out of the pen. Pretty good result for a rental in Lyles.
Currently, Ponce is on the taxi squad. He isn’t ranked as one of the Pirates’ top prospects per FanGraphs or MLB Pipeline, but you have to be intrigued by two, 60 grade pitches. Plus, with the way the bullpen has looked so far, it might not be much longer until the Pirates consider Ponce.