Pittsburgh Pirates Minors: Under-the-Radar Prospects Off to a Hot Start

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Pittsburgh Pirates
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – MAY 07: Manager Derek Shelton #17 of the Pittsburgh Pirates walks to the dugout prior to a game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on May 07, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

Michael Burrows

Michael Burrows is ranked as the organization’s 28th best prospect by FanGraphs, but he doesn’t get as much attention as other prospects throughout the Pirate system. Despite that, he has the stuff to rise through the Pirates’ ranks.

Burrows had a good season at Low-A in 2019. He tossed 43.2 innings with a 4.33 ERA, 3.54 FIP and 1.46 WHIP. He posted a 22.3% strikeout rate, but had a walk rate of 10.4%. However, home runs were barely an issue. He only gave up two home runs throughout the season. Nearly 30% of the runs he allowed in 2019 (6 of 21) came in one poor start.

Burrows has started the season out at High-A Greensboro. He’s started 2 games and pitched 8 total innings. Through those 8 innings, he allowed just one hit and one walk while striking out 15. He’s struck out over half of the batters he has faced as he has only 27 players.

Burrows’s biggest tool is his spin rate. His four-seam fastball has the highest spin rate in the Pirate  organization with 2550 RPM, 50 more RPM than Steven Jennings. He’ll throw this pitch around 90-94 MPH and topping out at 96 MPH. His curveball has the second highest spin rate of any breaking ball in the system with 2800 RPM, sitting behind Jennings’s 3000 RPM.

Both of his offerings are considered above average future pitches by FanGraphs. His four-seam fastball has a 55-future grade while his curveball has a 60-future grade. He’s also working on a changeup, which could decide whether or not he’s a starter or reliever.

Still, his hot start as a starting pitcher is a promising start. Though he’s yet to go deep into a game, him averaging 4 innings a game is a good start. Hopefully, he comes around and is able to make it through lineups two times.