Pittsburgh Pirates: Projecting a Potential 2023 Starting Rotation

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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PITTSBURGH, PA – AUGUST 06: JT Brubaker #65 of the Pittsburgh Pirates delivers a pitch in the first inning during the game against the Minnesota Twins at PNC Park on August 6, 2020 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA – AUGUST 06: JT Brubaker #65 of the Pittsburgh Pirates delivers a pitch in the first inning during the game against the Minnesota Twins at PNC Park on August 6, 2020 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

Other Notable Names

The Pittsburgh Pirates have so many more starting pitching prospects. They could add even more talented arms like Kumar Rocker, Brady House or Jack Leiter if they get a really high draft pick in 2021 like they’re on pace to.

There will be a handful of interesting free agents the Pirates might pursue and the team has stated before they might explore contract extension with current players. Let’s also not forget that they could get some interesting prospects back in trades involving their biggest trade pieces like Adam Frazier and Josh Bell. But for now, let’s go over four other names that might stand out as other potential rotation arms in a couple of seasons.

Logan Hofmann

2023 Opening Day Age: 23

One of the more under the radar selections the Pirates’ made was when they selected right handed pitcher Logan Hofmann out of Northwestern State University of Louisiana. But despite being selected in the 5th and final round of the 2020 draft, Hofmann might be one of, if not the most talented pitchers the Pirates selected this year. In his first year at the NCAA level, Hofmann had tossed 28 innings, allowed 14 hits, just 5 walks, struck out 28 of the 105 batters he faced, and allowed no earned runs. He had a 0.00 ERA. There’s not much scouting report to go off of, but based on numbers alone, Hofmann might end up being the best pitcher of the Pirates’ 2020 draft class.

JT Brubaker

2023 Opening Day Age: 29

JT Brubaker made his long awaited debut this year. The right hander has so far shown fantastic swing and miss stuff. So far, he has a 36.4% swing and miss percentage of pitches outside of the zone. In 2019, the league average was just 32%. He also sits in the top 95th percentile of whiff rate. His fastball, slider and curveball all have average or better grades by FanGraphs, and all have above average spin rates. Brubaker at the Triple-A level has a 3.02 ERA, 1.286 WHIP, and 3.43 FIP through 140 innings all as a starting pitcher. However, he showed really good stuff as a relief pitcher as well in the major leagues. His role could really be decided depending on how other arms in the system pan out.

Steven Jennings

2023 Opening Day Age: 24

Now, Steven Jennings isn’t really all that flashy of a prospect, nor high ranking. He only comes in as the team’s 26th best prospect. He’s a control specialist who only throws in the high-80s, low-90s. He’s a control specialist who will rack up innings. But what makes this right hander really interesting is the fact he has so much spin on his pitches. His fastball clocks in with 2500 RPM. That would already place him at or around the 95th percentile in all of baseball in 2019. But his breaking pitches have an RPM of 3000, which would place him with the elite of the elite in terms of spin rate there as well. Any pitcher with that much spin on their fastball and slider will get some attention.

Santiago Florez

2023 Opening Day Age: 23

Santiago Florez is another spin rate darling. The Colombian born product has a 2400 RPM on his fastball, and 2800 RPM on his curveball. Florez is the team’s 19th best prospect according to FanGraphs. So far, the results haven’t been all that great. Through 138.1 innings across three different levels of pro ball, Florez has a 4.10 ERA, 4.32 FIP and 1.42 WHIP. He’s only given up 6 home runs for a .4 HR/9, but walks and control have been a massive issue for the right hander.

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He currently has a 13.3% walk rate and 5.8 BB/9 to go against a strikeout rate of just 16.4% and 6.6 per 9. Last year, he had a 3.46 ERA, but 5.10 FIP at Rookie Ball Bristol because of his sub-par strikeout rate, poor walk rate and the highest HR/9 of his career.

Florez has three pitches. His fastball sits in the 92-94 range, and has a future grade of 60. His curveball also has a 60 future grade, and a lot of spin. Florez’s change up is another pitch that grades out at average at 50. Overall, if Florez can just control the walks, he might be one of the more intriguing prospects in the Pirates’ system, and become a solid starter.