The Pittsburgh Pirates new regime made it clear that they needed to infuse more talent into the minor league system. They have specifically focused on one area.
Yesterday, Major League Baseball’s annual rule five draft took place. The Pittsburgh Pirates were quite active. They had the top selection, which they used on a right-handed pitcher. They also made a trade for a pitcher who was selected ninth overall by the New York Mets. The Bucs traded cash considerations or a PTBNL in return for the pick.
The theme here? The team acquired two more pitchers, more than that, two power arms. Coming from the Angels is pitcher Jose Soriano. Soriano has a 70 grade fastball and scouting reports show that he easily works in the upper 90s as a starter. The same can be said for Oviedo, who possesses a 55 grade fastball, although recent reports are that he has hit as high as 98 this winter.
This is starting to become a theme for Ben Cherington and his front office. Before that draft we examined Ben Cherington and Steve Sanders trends on how they would draft. We were able to see that these two focused on hitters with the early picks while grabbing projectable power arms after. Also, we have wrote a lot about the team’s focus on the 2022-2024 time range. Both of these players fall into these categories. While they will be on the team in 2021, they will have five more seasons of team control to to follow. So they really could be veterans on this team when the younger wave starts to come up.
But like I said, this has been an overall theme for the new front office. Since Ben Cherington has taken over the Pittsburgh Pirates, he has made it a point to add potential power pitching that will be on the big league roster during that time frame. Overall he has added:
- Brennan Malone: Right-Handed pitcher acquired from Arizona for Starling Marte. Stands at 6’5” and has a fastball that has hit as high as 98 mph.
- Carmen Mlodzinski: The Pittsburgh Pirates selected the right-hander with the 31st overall pick in the 2020 draft. The 6’3” starter has a fastball that sits 95-98 mph.
- Jared Jones: The Bucs selected him in the second round of the 2020 draft. He is a right-handed pitcher who stands at a less projectable 6’1” but has a fastball that has hit 95-97.
- Nick Garcia: A wild card, the 6’4” righty has potential as a starter or backend reliever. The third round pick has hit up to 98 in shorter stints.
- Po-Yu Chen: A big time late international signing for the 2019-20 J2 class, one at which Cherington had to acquire additional international bonus money. The 6’2” 19 year old is a starter who sits 90-92 already, which is a great starting point for him to add velocity as he gets older.
- Jack Hartman: The Pittsburgh Pirates fourth round pick in 2020, who was a shortstop turned pitcher. Hartman stands at a projectable 6’3” and obviously had a stand out arm at shortstop which has transitioned to a as high as 97 on the mound. He will miss all of 2021 due to Tommy-John surgery.
- Logan Hofmann: The Bucs final selection of the 2020 draft, the fifth round pick only stands at 5’10” and has a fastball that sits in the low 90s.
So out of the seven notable pitching prospect that Ben Cherington has acquired, six of them have a fastball that have reached higher than 95 miles per hour. Also five of the seven stand at least 6’2” or higher for projection. The one who sticks out on the list is Hofmann, who does not possess either of these traits. The report on Hofmann is that he has plus spin rate on his pitches, much like the rest of these pitchers.
This is where the new front office is really placing their value, but having them be the projectable power arms gives them an even higher ceiling. What will be interesting is to see if this focus changes going forward. Cherington has continued to say that he is not focusing on solely pitching, but acquiring the best talent. Well, if that is the case, then this is quite the coincidence that a team who desperately needed minor league pitching help has grabbed as many as possible.