Pittsburgh Pirates: Three Prospects To Keep An Eye On In 2021

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Pittsburgh Pirates
PITTSBURGH, PA – SEPTEMBER 06: A general view of the field in the fifth inning during the game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cincinnati Reds at PNC Park on September 6, 2020 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

Travis MacGregor

Travis MacGregor has some real talent, but has been consistently unlucky in terms of timing. After being drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2nd round of the 2016 draft, MacGregor made his way to the Gulf Coast League where he pitched just 31.2 innings, but put up some solid numbers, including a 3.13 ERA, 3.77 FIP and 55.7% ground ball rate.

Despite heavily struggling at Bristol in 2017, MacGregor would have a great season in 2018. Through 70.2 innings split between the Gulf Coast League (7 IP) and Bradenton (63.2 IP), MacGregor had a 3.18 ERA, 3.56 FIP and 1.21 WHIP. He also saw a huge rise in strikeouts with a 26.5% strikeout rate. He also put up a strong walk rate of just 7.3%, leading to a 3.64 K/BB ratio.

However, MacGregor’s season was cut short with a forearm strain that would eventually lead to Tommy John surgery and missing all of the 2019 season. Unfortunately for him, without any minor league play in 2020, MacGregor lost a second year of development.

MacGregor still is considered one of the Bucs top prospects, ranking at #21 per FanGraphs and their 9th best pitching prospect. The right hander throws three pitches, the best of which is his fastball. FanGraphs gives it a 55 future grade while MLB Pipeline gives it an even better grade of 60.

He mainly sits in the 91-94 MPH range, but has been clocked in the mid-to-upper 90s, topping out at 97 MPH. Fangraphs also considers his change up a pitch with plus potential coming in at a future grade of 55 as well. His curveball has been given overall average reviews by FanGraphs and Pipeline, however three pitches that he can call average or better is pretty solid. He gets a lot of groundballs too, and if he can keep up his increased strikeout rate from 2018, he could be a prospect that rises through the minors quickly after Tommy John surgery.