Pittsburgh Pirates: 3 Prospects Who Should Start 2022 at Greensboro

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Pittsburgh Pirates
BRADENTON, FLORIDA – MARCH 22: A detail of the 2021 MLB Grapefruit league logo during a spring training game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Baltimore Orioles on March 22, 2021 at LECOM Park in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /

Adrian Florencio

The Pittsburgh Pirates signed Adrian Florencio in the 2018-2019 offseason. In 2019, Florencio didn’t do all that well. He tossed 49.1 innings at Rookie-Ball but had a poor 4.75 ERA, 5.93 FIP and 1.58 WHIP. He had an HR/9 above 1.3, a walk rate above 10%, and a strikeout rate below 18%.

But this year with Low-A Bradenton, he’s quietly put together a strong season. In 79.1 innings and 17 total games (16 starts), the right-hander has a 2.39 ERA, 2.91 FIP and 1.07 WHIP. Everything Florencio struggled to do in 2019, he’s excelled at. The biggest improvement has been his home run rate, which is down to just 0.34 HR/9. He’s dropped nearly an entire home run off his HR/9. Florencio is getting strikeouts at a 31.8% rate and has kept walks to just 7.6% of the time.

A sub-8% walk rate, sub-0.5 HR/9 and strikeout rate above 30% after struggling so badly in each of those categories in 2019 shows some massive improvements. Not only has his surface numbers been good, but he isn’t running into luck either. His opponent batting average on play is .302 and xFIP sits at 3.59. Florencio may want to work on lowering his opponent line drive rate from 23.7%, but other than some so-so batted ball rates, Florencio has had very few red flags on his season so far.

By late-2019, Florencio was sitting around 90-94 MPH, and based on videos this year, that’s around where he has been this year in terms of fastball velocity. He’ll also throw a slider with fantastic movement as well as a strong curveball.

Florencio is a big kid. He is listed at 6’6, 205 pounds. His large frame suggests there could be more velocity, but even if he only gets to around 93-95 MPH, he should still be effective. 2022 will be his age-23 season. Given his age, the Pirates might be a bit more aggressive with his movement up the system. But I see him at least getting a taste of High-A before a promotion to Double-A. Florencio may not be a high-ranking prospect, but he has the makings to be a strong, durable Major League starter within the next year or so.