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

Jul 7, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States; Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Ben Cherington observes Summer Training workouts at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 7, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States; Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Ben Cherington observes Summer Training workouts at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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Michael Burrows

Michael Burrows finished his high school career with 37 consecutive scoreless innings and was then an 11th round draft pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2018, but make no mistake, he has some really impressive stuff. Between 2018 and 2019, Burrows has pitched a total of 57 innings with the organization’s Gulf Coast League affiliate and Bradenton.

He’s also been pretty effective in these innings having a 3.27 ERA, 3.26 FIP and 1.28 WHIP. The right hander has allowed just two long balls, but the control hasn’t been perfect. In 2019, he walked 10.4% of the batters he faced while putting up a strikeout rate of 22.3%.

Burrows did have some bumps in his 2019 season with his sub-par walk rate, average strikeout rate and 1.44 WHIP, but he still managed a solid 3.54 FIP and 3.75 xFIP. However, when you look at what Burrows throws, you can see he can do much better than what he’s put up so far.

His fastball has been clocked with 2550 RPM of spin. That would have put him between the 95th-100th percentile of fastball spin rate in 2019. Right now he doesn’t throw particularly hard with a fastball that sits in the 90-94 MPH range, and topping out at 96. His curveball has a 60-future grade because it has 2800 RPM of spin. Like his fastball, this would sit in the mid-to-upper 90th percentiles of spin rate in 2019.

Despite being a starting pitcher right now, it’s likely he’ll end up in the bullpen. The curveball and fastball are his only two pitches, and the move to the pen would help his velocity. If he can start averaging more of 92-96 MPH out of the pen, he would get more strikeouts. Currently, Burrows has an ETA with the Pittsburgh Pirates of 2022, but I’d expect him to make some notable strides in 2021.

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