Pittsburgh Pirates Minors: Top 5 Performers in May

Altoona Curve pitcher Roansy Contreras as the Binghamton Rumble Ponies hosted Altoona on Tuesday, May 11, 2021. The Ponies lost to the Curve, with a score of 5-0.
Altoona Curve pitcher Roansy Contreras as the Binghamton Rumble Ponies hosted Altoona on Tuesday, May 11, 2021. The Ponies lost to the Curve, with a score of 5-0. /
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PITTSBURGH, PA – APRIL 07: The Pittsburgh Pirates in action against the Atlanta Braves on Opening Day at PNC Park on April 7, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
PITTSBURGH, PA – APRIL 07: The Pittsburgh Pirates in action against the Atlanta Braves on Opening Day at PNC Park on April 7, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** /

Pitcher Santiago Florez

The Pittsburgh Pirates signed Santiago Florez back during the 2016 international signing date. After three middling seasons from 2017 to 2019, the high-ceiling right-hander finally looks like he’s hitting his stride at age 21.

Florez has tossed 17.2 innings with the Low-A Bradenton Marauders. All told, he has a 2.04 ERA, 2.09 FIP and 0.85 WHIP. Florez struggled with control from 2017-2019, posting a 13.3% walk rate. But this year, he’s walked 7.2% of the batters he’s faced. Florez also struggled heavily with getting swings and misses. He had a sub-20% strikeout rate, 16.4% to be exact, but he’s gotten 27 batters to go down on strike three. Just to show how good that is, his single-season career-high entering 2021 was 36 in 41.2 innings during 2019.

Florez is getting ground balls at relatively the same rate he was throughout his first 3 professional seasons, currently having a solid 45.5% mark, and he’s yet to give up a home run. Keeping the ball in the park was one of his few bright spots throughout his first few seasons. He allowed just six in 138.1 innings, leading to a 0.39 HR/9 rate.

Like Burrows, Florez has always had a high spin rate on his fastball, but his breaking ball is absurdly wicked. Overall, Florez is second among Pirates’ minor league hurlers in FIP, 7th in K/BB ratio, strikeout rate, WHIP, and 5th in xFIP. He’s just one of 7 Pirate pitchers to not allow a home run in at least 10 innings.

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