Pittsburgh Pirates: Why Max Kranick was Added to the 40-Man Roster

Recently, the Pittsburgh Pirates had to make a few roster decisions.  In the end, they cut two players and added two to their 40-man roster.

The Major League Baseball offseason is just starting to rev up.  Significant dates are starting to pass by, with last week being the Rule V Draft protection deadline.  The Pittsburgh Pirates had to make a few roster decisions on which players to keep and add to their 40-man roster.  Meanwhile, their 40-man roster was already full, so the question was who would they release and who would they leave unprotected.

The Bucs made a handful of moves.  They designated for assignment both Jose Osuna and Trevor Williams.  In replacement, the Pittsburgh Pirates placed two Rule V eligible players on the 40-man, infielder Rodolfo Castro and pitcher Max Kranick.  We took a look at why Castro was placed on the 40-man roster this past weekend.  So why did the Pittsburgh Pirates decide to keep Max Kranick?

Kranick has always been a high upside pitcher.  The Bucs drafted him in 2016 in the 11th round, but had to give him a significant signing bonus to join the organization.  This is often the case with 11th round picks, and Kranick actually ranked as a top 200 draft prospect.  It was easy to see why, out of high school; Kranick had a fastball that hit the low 90s and had a projectable frame at 6’3”. Kranick initially ranked in my top 30 prospects out of the draft, and has become one in the Pirates organization.

Since then, Kranick has taken a lot of steps forward.  We actually caught up with Max a a little while back and he reflected on who was as a pitcher entering the Pirates system:

“When I was younger (Little League) I threw only fastballs and occasionally a change-up which was a knuckle ball.  I started to get a feel for breaking pitches when I was 15 years old but I didn’t need it much in games.  In high school I learned how to throw a curveball and slider which was more of a “show me” pitch.”

A lot has changed for Kranick since that interview, which was posted on January 1st, 2019.  Kranick now is flashing 55 slider, giving him an above average pitch.  Also, we had one person inside the organization that said Kranick was up to 97-98 this summer and if there would have been a season he would have really broken out.

This would be big for the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The 23 year old would have spent the bulk of 2020 at Double-A Altoona, so there is no reason to think that Kranick will not be set up to start the year at Triple-A.  Being that he is already on the 40 man roster and the potential jump in his stuff, Kranick very well could be an option in late 2021. With three average to above average pitches, Kranick has all the traits to become a middle of the rotation type starter, which is exactly why the Bucs added him to the 40-man roster.