Pittsburgh Pirates: Projecting a Potential 2023 Starting Rotation

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Pittsburgh Pirates
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Cody Bolton

Opening Day Age: 25

One prospect that we probably will see in the next year or so is Cody Bolton. Though not as high of a ranking prospect as Keller, Thomas, or Malone, Bolton still ranks as the team’s 10th best prospect. Plus if he keeps putting up numbers like he did at High-A ball last season, he’ll quickly be a top-5 organizational prospect and potentially be knocking on the door of being a top 100.

Bolton was better than outstanding at Bradenton in 2019. Through 61.1 innings, Bolton had a 1.61 ERA, 1.91 FIP and a sparkling 0.86 WHIP. He struck out 28.9% of the batters he faced, had a 5.9% walk rate and allowed just one long ball. One long ball in an era of baseball where the homer is king is very impressive.

However, when he was moved to Double-A, the prospect struggled. Through the 40 innings at Altoona, Bolton had a 5.85 ERA, 4.67 FIP and 1.32 WHIP. But it isn’t uncommon for pitchers to struggle when they’re moved to the next level of ball. Keller also struggled when he was moved to Triple-A in 2018, and I’m sure you could find many other examples of really good pitchers struggling when they get promoted to the next level of the minors.

Regardless, Bolton has two above average pitches, that being his fastball with a 55 future and current grade Though not a blazing fast pitch like Thomas’ fastball, Bolton can still get it into the high-90’s when he needs to.

According to FanGraphs, it usually sits in the 92-95 range. What’s more impressive is the amount of spin he can put on it. It was clocked with 2450 RPM, which in comparison to the 2019 MLB average that was in the low-2000’s, it’s a pitch that will get a lot of swings and misses. His slider comes in with a 55 current and 60 future grade, and it’s the best slider out of any starting pitching prospect the Pittsburgh Pirates currently have in their system. He also has a solid third pitch, that being a change-up with a 50 future grade. That gives this young right hander three average or better pitches.