Pittsburgh Pirates: Analyzing Farm System’s Best Pitching Tools

(Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
(Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images) /
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Pittsburgh Pirates
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

With MLB Pipeline and FanGraphs releasing their top Pittsburgh Pirates prospects, let’s take a look at each of the team’s best tools, starting with pitchers.

FanGraphs and MLB Pipeline have now released both of their Pittsburgh Pirates top prospect lists. Each player is given grades for each of their tools. For pitchers, they’ll give them grades for each of their pitches plus their control on MLB Pipeline and command on FanGraphs. For hitters, they’ll give tools for their hit, power, running/speed, fielding and arm.

Today, we will be looking at each of the best tools for a pitcher including their fastball, curveball, slider, changeup plus their command/control. These tools are on the 20-80 scale where 20 is well below average and 80 is elite. FanGraphs gives both current and projected future grades for their tools as well, which will also be taken into account. We will start with the best fastball the Pittsburgh Pirates have in their farm system.

Fastball

Tahnaj Thomas

Fangraphs: 70 current, 80 future

MLB Pipeline: 65

Tahnaj Thomas, unsurprisingly, has the best fastball in the system. The 6’4″, 190 pound right-hander can reach triple digits with the offering and averages out in the 93-98 MPH range. Not only is he a flamethrower, but he also can put decent spin on the pitch at 2300 RPM. FanGraphs sees it as potentially one of the best fastballs among all prospects with a future-80 grade.

The prospect last pitched with the Pirates’ Rookie-Ball affiliate in 2019. The right-hander put up very solid numbers including a 3.17 ERA, 3.67 FIP and 1.11 WHIP through 48.2 innings of work. His big fastball helped him strikeout 29.5% of all the batters he faced. He previously struggled with control when he was a Cleveland Indians farmhand, but cut his walk rate down to a fantastic 7% rate. Home runs weren’t a huge issue for him either as he put up a 0.93 HR/9 rate.

Thomas’s breaking ball has been identified as both a slider and curveball. Up until this year, FanGraphs graded it out as a curve, but recently gave it a 55-future grade as a slider. Meanwhile, MLB Pipeline also sees it as a 55-grade slider. He also will throw a change up, a pitch he’s working on and could be his ticket to staying in the rotation long term. His command is seen as a 60-grade tool in the future as well, an upgrade from the 55-grade he got likely from his improved ability to locate.

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