Pittsburgh Pirates: Three Bold Predictions For 2021

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Pittsburgh Pirates
Mar 12, 2020; Bradenton, Florida, USA; A general view of LECOM Park during the spring training home of the Pittsburgh Pirates against the Toronto Blue Jays . Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Luis Oviedo Becomes A Long Term Building Block For The Bullpen

Rarely do Rule 5 Draft picks work out. Most of the time, it’s a low risk chance a team takes on a player who they eventually release or return sometime throughout the next season. It is not often a team will find a long term, highly reliable player, but I do think the Pittsburgh Pirates may have found one with right-handed pitcher Luis Oviedo.

Oviedo was picked by the New York Mets from the Cleveland Indians 9th pick in the draft, but was quickly shipped off to Pittsburgh. Despite being traded, Oviedo still retains Rule 5 draft status. During his 2019 season, the right-hander pitched with the Indians’ Single-A team putting up a 5.38 ERA, 4.41 FIP and 1.379 WHIP in 87 innings. While the right-hander did struggle, it was only a year ago he put up much better numbers and even reached some top 100 prospect lists.

In the season prior, Oviedo had a 2.05 ERA, 2.44 FIP and 0.98 WHIP in 57 innings at Low-A and High-A. To go with his good bottom line numbers, he also had a 29.9% strikeout rate, 7.6% walk rate and 0.5 HR/9. This earned him the 93rd spot on Baseball America’s top 100 prospects lists to start 2020.

Ovideo’s fastball works in the 90-94 MPH range, but he has been clocked in the upper-90’s, peaking at 98 MPH. It’s a pitch that could be a 60-grade pitch according to FanGraphs. His secondary pitch is a curveball. This is a 55-grade offering according to Pipeline. His curveball saw major improvements in 2019 and his change-up showed a decent amount of potential before that. He’ll also throw a slider, which is another pitch that is seen as an average to above average pitch.

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A move to the bullpen would help Oviedo’s stuff play up. He may see a small uptick in velcoity while a potential improvement to his breaking pitches. He’s going into his age-22 season and I think he could eventually find himself in talks to be one of the Pirates’ late inning arms by the end of 2021.