Pittsburgh Pirates: Three Overlooked Players Entering 2022

PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 13: Anthony Alford #6 of the Pittsburgh Pirates in action against the San Diego Padres at PNC Park on April 13, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 13: Anthony Alford #6 of the Pittsburgh Pirates in action against the San Diego Padres at PNC Park on April 13, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /
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Sep 19, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Max Kranick (45) pitches against the Miami Marlins during the first inning at loanDepot Park. Mandatory Credit: Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 19, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Max Kranick (45) pitches against the Miami Marlins during the first inning at loanDepot Park. Mandatory Credit: Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports /

Right-handed pitcher Max Kranick

After being protected from the Rule 5 Draft last offseason Max Kranick made his MLB debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates during the 2021 season. In his first MLB start Kranick pitched 5 perfect innings against the St. Louis Cardinals. While he did flash his potential at times moving forward, he was never again able to find this form last season.

In 9 starts with the Pirates last season Kranick pitched 38.2 innings. He posted a 6.28 ERA, 4.64 FIP, walked 10.4% of batters faced, and struck batters out at a  17.6% rate. He also struggled to limit quality contact, allowing line drives at a 23.4% rate and hard contact at a 33.9% clip, both of which were worse than league average.

All of that said, Kranick still has the potential to be a quality MLB pitcher. FanGraphs ranks his fastball as a 50 value pitch, while his slider and cutter grade out as pitches with a value of 45. There are tools there for Kranick to work with.

When the 2022 season begins Kranick will find himself at Triple-A Indianapolis, most likely in their starting rotation. At some point during the season the Pirates will likely give Kranick an opportunity, and it could come out of the starting rotation or the bullpen.

Kranick’s fastball averaged 94.2 MPH last season and his slider averaged 87.9 MPH. Both of these pitches could be maximized further out of the bullpen, adding more velocity to them. This could also lead to their respective whiff rates of 20.5% and 30% increasing.

Next. Middle Infield Options for 2022. dark

While Kranick has always worked as a starting pitcher he has a higher ceiling as a reliever. He could also quickly get passed up by other starting pitching prospects, something that has already started to happen with pitchers such as Roansy Contreras and Miguel Yajure.

The Pirates made it clear when they protected Kranick from the Rule 5 Draft last offseason and then gave him an opportunity for his first MLB action that they are high on him. This should also be a factor in him getting another opportunity at some point in 2022.

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