Pittsburgh Pirates Minors: Under-the-Radar Prospects Off to a Hot Start
By Noah Wright
The Pittsburgh Pirates selected Jeffrey Passantino during the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 Draft from the Chicago Cubs. However, Passantino could be a feel-good story for the Pirates this season and his good start at Double-A Altoona could lead to a call to the major leagues.
The right-hander was the very last pick in the 2017 draft, but pitched extremely well in the Chicago Cubs. In 2019, he tossed 89 innings as a swingman (pitched 25 games, started 10), posting a 3.03 ERA, 2.82 FIP and 1.10 WHIP. This came with a 29.3% strikeout rate, a walk rate of just 3.9% and a HR/9 of 1.0.
Passantino has pitched in 3 games and a total of 8 innings with the Curve this season. Though he has given up 3 runs, he did not issue a walk through his first 5 innings. Passantino has continued to strikeout batters at a high rate, getting 14 of the 33 he has faced so far down on strike three. His last game was his first start of the season. This is where he gave up his three runs, but he still struck out 5 batters.
The right-hander is a soft tosser with his cutter averaging out in the upper-80s and topping out in the low-90s. His breaking pitches are a slider and curveball, with his slider averaging out in the upper-70s and his curveball coming in around the lower-70s. He also as a fourth offering. That’s a changeup that comes in around the low-80s.
Passantino is a soft tosser, but he has great command and he’s getting outs in the upper level of the minor leagues. At this rate, he may make it to Triple-A very soon and possibly make his MLB debut before the end of 2021.