Pittsburgh Pirates: Examining Potential Swingman Pitching Prospects

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Pittsburgh Pirates
PITTSBURGH, PA – SEPTEMBER 28: Manager Derek Shelton of the Pittsburgh Pirates looks on during the game against the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park on September 28, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

The swingman is one of the lesser talked about roles in baseball, but these four prospects could fill that role for the Pittsburgh Pirates long-term.

Throughout Major League Baseball pitcher’s roles are becoming much less specialized with each team, the Pittsburgh Pirates included. While we’ll always likely have starting pitchers, they’re pitching less and fewer innings. We have openers, some teams employ multiple closers, and a handful of other unique ways pitchers are being used.

One of the pitching roles that have always seemed to be overlooked and has always fascinated me is the swingman type arm. These are pitchers who serve both as starting pitchers while pitching out of the bullpen.

They’re essentially the super-utility version of a pitcher, serving multiple different roles. Usually, they’re seen as the 6th starter on the major league roster. Most of their time is spent as long relief arms, but they’ll make that occasional start when a pitcher is hurt, or fill in for multiple starts if the pitcher is out for longer than 1-2 games. Most good teams have a fair amount of pitching depth, but also pitchers who can serve multiple roles as a swingman can.

Like almost all top pitching prospects, the Pittsburgh Pirates best pitching prospects are starting pitchers. Roansy Contreras, Quinn Priester, Miguel Yajure, Brennan Malone, and Carmen Mlodzinski will almost certainly serve their careers as starting pitchers. But they also have a few of these arms that fit the mold of a swingman. These guys have served both as starting pitchers and pitchers so far in their pro careers. These guys aren’t high-ranking prospects, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be or can’t be worthwhile pitchers in the long run.