Pittsburgh Pirates Minors: Two Strong Starts on Friday Night

BRADENTON, FLORIDA - MARCH 02: Max Kranick #67 of the Pittsburgh Pirates throws a pitch during the fifth inning against the Detroit Tigers during a spring training game at LECOM Park on March 02, 2021 in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
BRADENTON, FLORIDA - MARCH 02: Max Kranick #67 of the Pittsburgh Pirates throws a pitch during the fifth inning against the Detroit Tigers during a spring training game at LECOM Park on March 02, 2021 in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images) /
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Friday night the Pittsburgh Pirates received a pair of excellent starting pitching outings in the minors

More minor league action happened on Friday night and just like the other nights, there was a name or two that stood out. However, this time, there were two names that I was paying very close attention to and they did not disappoint. These two Pittsburgh Pirates prospects are both right-handed starting pitchers who, ironically enough, were both 11th round draft picks.

The two pitchers we’re talking about are Michael Burrows and Max Kranick. Burrows made his High-A debut on Friday night with the Greensboro Grasshoppers, while Max Kranick made his Double-A debut with the Altoona Curve.

Kranick is a Pennsylvania kid out of Scranton and a prospect we highlighted as potentially making an impact with the Pittsburgh Pirates this season. He offers an array of pitches, but none have proven to be more deadly than his recently velocity spiked fastball. Kranick, as we all know, was a part of the alternate site last year. Both coaches and players talked about his velo spike and an overall spike in good mechanics and play all around. Friday night, Kranick showed his improvement.

Jarrod Prugar of DK on Pittsburgh Sports mentioned that Kranick was “super aggressive in the zone.” His aggressiveness proved to work for him, and along with that, aggression, he was maxing out at 99 MPH on his fastball and sitting between 96-98 the entire night.

His cutter had tremendous movement on Friday, and it proved to be an effective pitch getting a ton of swings and misses with it. When I tell you that all of his stuff was working and getting consistent swings and misses, I mean it. Don’t believe me, ok, well, take Alex Stumpf’s words as fact then. Stumpf said Kranick “attacked the zone. He threw 85 pitches and threw 65 strikes. No walks, and all of his pitches got whiffs in the zone.”

Kranick’s final line on the night isn’t telling of how good he was Friday. The line reads 5.2 innings pitched, 6 hits, 2 runs, no walks and 4 strikeouts. The 2 runs given up came in the 6th inning off of two hard-hit balls. The first was a double and then a 2-run shot. It sucks he couldn’t finish the 6th, but I must say, this start should be a confidence booster and something he could build upon in his next start.

Friday night, Burrows made his High-A debut with Greensboro and he did not disappoint.

The lower you go in the minor league levels, I think the more cautious teams are to have pitchers go a ton of innings. With that in mind, I will say that Burrows went the deepest out of any Greensboro starter so far. Burrows pitched 4 innings and he looked damn near perfect. I mentioned that Kranick was aggressive, and the same could be said for Burrows. At one point, Burrows had thrown 30 pitches, and 25 of them were for strikes.

His fastball was a very active mid 90s, and his curveball has some depth to it, with a hard break. One thing that I noticed with Burrows is that he likes to keep hitters off balance by mixing speeds and locations, and he did that last night, and then some. As I mentioned before, Burrows is young, and you would think being young is a detriment, but I say quite the contrary. If he is young and is performing the way he is now, I can only imagine what he will be like when he is older and wiser.

Burrows pitched 4 scoreless, hitless innings. He did not walk a batter and struck out 8. This kid was gripping and ripping at the opposing batters and challenging them so much, that his pitch count was low enough to get him an unexpected extra inning of work.

Next. Keep an Eye on Santiago Florez This Season. dark

Other Notable Performances

Oneil Cruz – 2-5 with a game-tying RBI in the bottom of the 9th

Rodolfo Castro – 3-5 with a towering homer, as well as a walk off single in extra innings

Aaron Shakelford – 2-4 with a home run and 3 RBIs

J.C Flowers – 3 innings pitched, 1 hit, 0 runs, 0 walks and 4 strikeouts