Pittsburgh Pirates: Starting Pitcher Who is a Hidden Gem in the Farm System

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 26: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Miguel Yajure #89 of the New York Yankees in action against the Miami Marlins at Yankee Stadium on September 26, 2020 in New York City. The Yankees defeated the Marlins 11-4. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 26: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Miguel Yajure #89 of the New York Yankees in action against the Miami Marlins at Yankee Stadium on September 26, 2020 in New York City. The Yankees defeated the Marlins 11-4. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /
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The Pittsburgh Pirates acquired Miguel Yajure as the headliner in the Jameson Taillon trade, but he is a hidden gem within a deep farm system.

The Pittsburgh Pirates made three big trades this off season involving Josh Bell, Joe Musgrove and Jameson Taillon. Between the three, they got back 11 prospects. One of the best prospects they got out of the trades was right-handed pitcher Miguel Yajure.

The Pittsburgh Pirates acquired Yajure in the Taillon trade. In fact, many would argue that Yajure was the headliner in the Taillon trade. Despite this, he remains an under-the-radar prospect in the Pirate farm system.

Yajure was signed out of Venezuela in 2015 by the New York Yankees. The right-hander immediately made an impression with the Yankees as through his first 88.1 innings of work, he had a 1.93 ERA, 3.01 FIP and 1.17 WHIP.

Yajure originally didn’t put up notable strikeout numbers, only 15.9% of all the batters he faced went down on strike three, but he allowed just two home runs and 6.98% walk rate. But he did see a rise in strikeouts between 2015 and 2016 of nearly 2% while cutting his walk rate by over half.

Going into 2017, which would have been his age-19 season, Yajure would have to undergo Tommy John surgery which caused him to miss all of the season. He returned the following season in 2018 to put up a 3.90 ERA with the Yankees’ Low-A team, but a much better 3.04 FIP, 1.22 WHIP and 3.41 xFIP. Yajure saw his strikeout rate take another tick upward, now at 20.1%, while keeping a strong 5.6% walk rate. He continued to limit long balls having a 0.42 HR/9 rate and 50.3% groundball rate in 64.2 innings.

2019 was the first season in which Yajure has reached over 100 innings, tossing 138.2 between High-A and Double-A. Between the two levels, he put up fantastic numbers with a 2.14 ERA, 2.51 FIP, 1.07 WHIP and 2.88 xFIP.

All told, those were his career best numbers. Another career best mark Yajure hit was strikeout rate reaching a 23.9% mark. This didn’t affect other parts of his game though with a 5.4% walk rate, 0.47 HR/9 and having a ground ball rate nearing 55% at High-A where he tossed most of his innings. Notably, he only allowed one earned run during his 11 inning stint at Double-A.

Yajure even made his MLB debut last season pitching 11 innings for the Yankees, all out of the bullpen. While he only allowed one earned run and struck out eight batters, he did walk five while giving up a home run. But it is a small sample size and Yajure definitely is going to be a prospect to watch for in 2021.

Not only does Yajure have the numbers, but he also has the arsenal. The right-hander uses a four pitch mix throwing a four0seam fastball, curveball, change up and cutter. Among the four, his cutter is his best weapon as FanGraphs sees it as a 60-future grade pitch.

According to MLB Pipeline, this pitch made a big impact for him in 2019. Both his four-seamer and curve are seen as 55-future grade offerings. His fastball averages out in the low-to-mid-90s at 91-95 MPH, but has topped out a 97 MPH. Plus it averaged 2250 RPM which is about league average. His curve averaged 2705 RPM in the majors last season. His worst pitch is his change up, but this is still seen as a potential average offering at a 50-future grade.

Yajure has something that another pitching prospect that was acquired by the Pittsburgh Pirates last offseason that I’m personally very high on and think could be an outstanding pitcher in the near future. That is Brennan Malone. While Yajure doesn’t have the same velocity as Malone does, who sits in the upper-90s, Malone has three pitches that are seen as above average offerings and a fourth average offering. However while Malone does out-do Yajure in terms of velocity, the latter makes up for it with his command with a 50-current/60-future grade.

FanGraphs recently ranked Yajure as the 116th best prospect in all of baseball and the 7th best prospect that the Pittsburgh Pirates have. Though it’s not impossible that Yajure starts out the year with the big league club, he should at least go to Triple-A to refine his stuff and be a mid-season reinforcement for the rotation.

Next. Bucs Acquire Dustin Fowler. dark

Yajure has the talent to be a really good starting pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He may not be the flashiest of prospects, but he doesn’t have any real weaknesses and is someone they could count on for years to come.

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