Pittsburgh Pirates: Looking Ahead to 2022 for Three Starting Pitchers

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 14: Bryse Wilson #48 of the Pittsburgh Pirates delivers a pitch in the first inning during Game One of a doubleheader against the Milwaukee Brewers at PNC Park on August 14, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 14: Bryse Wilson #48 of the Pittsburgh Pirates delivers a pitch in the first inning during Game One of a doubleheader against the Milwaukee Brewers at PNC Park on August 14, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /
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Sep 18, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Bryse Wilson (48) delivers against the Miami Marlins during the second inning at loanDepot Park. Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 18, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Bryse Wilson (48) delivers against the Miami Marlins during the second inning at loanDepot Park. Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports /

Bryse Wilson

The Pittsburgh Pirates were quite active at the 2021 trade deadline. One of the trades they made was with the eventual World Series-winning Atlanta Braves, who sent over two young pitchers for reliever Richard Rodriguez. One of the two arms they got back was major league ready in the form of Bryse Wilson.

Wilson was formerly one of Atlanta’s top prospects. But going into 2021, he had yet to receive a regular chance to start. From his debut in 2018 up through 2020, the right-hander had just 42.2 innings under his belt plus 6 more from the 2020 postseason. He then added 33.2 more before the trade.

Throughout the minors, Wilson has done pretty well. He has 198.1 total innings pitched at Triple-A, having a solid 3.86 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, and 3.64 FIP. He had a solid 1.18 HR/9 rate and a usable 22.8% strikeout rate. But he excelled at limiting free passes. Wilson only allowed 45 total batters to reach via a walk, leading to a strong 5.5% BB%. His K/BB ratio was a healthy 4.18 mark.

So far, Wilson hasn’t done all that well in the major leagues. He has a 5.55 ERA, 5.47 FIP, and 1.58 WHIP in 116.2 innings. But he’s yet to be given a real shot to prove himself. Nor did the Braves ever give him anything that resembled a fair and consistent shot in the major leagues. Just this year alone, the Braves recalled, and then optioned Wilson back to Triple-A  a total of six times before the trade. He’s been sent to Triple-A 16 total times since his debut in 2018.

Wilson may not have anything overpowering, but he has excellent command that helps his offerings play up. Currently, FanGraphs sees his command at a 55-grade and projects it to reach a 60-grade. Wilson was formerly ranked among the Braves’ top prospects. Going into 2019, FanGraphs ranked him as the team’s 10th best prospect and the 72nd best overall. He topped out at #60 on Baseball Prospectus’ pre-2019 rankings. The Braves had one, if not the best farm system in the late-2010’s, so ranking that high for Wilson was impressive.

Wilson is still pretty young. He will be going into his age-24 campaign and has just over 100 MLB innings under his belt. What he needs more than anything is regular playing time. Getting shipped back-and-forth from the major leagues to the minor leagues six times before August probably isn’t a good way to get acclimated to major league hitters. No player that bounces around that much will ever find success in the majors because they’re never being given a consistent shot or enough time to figure it out.

At the very least, I think he’s a solid #4 starter, like 2021 Zack Greinke (low-4.00 ERA pitcher, limits walks). At the most, maybe even a very low-end #2/high-end #3 starter, such as a right-handed Wade Miley (mid-3.00 ERA pitcher with good control). Many experts had Wilson as one of the higher-end pitching prospects in baseball. It wasn’t just one or two sites either. He was a consensus top 100 prospect going into 2019. All of FanGraphs, MLB Pipeline, Baseball Prospectus, and Baseball America had him in their top 100. Maybe all he needs is regular playing time. Time will tell, but I believe he can be a very competent MLB pitcher in 2022.

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