An 11th round pick from the 2016 draft has an opportunity to secure himself a rotation spot this year. That’s right-hander Max Kranick. The Pittsburgh Pirates selected Kranick a handful of drafts ago, but he has the chance to be a long-term part of the rotation if he can prove himself next year.
Kranick has already appeared in the major leagues. He had a fantastic debut firing off 5 perfect innings against the St. Louis Cardinals. The one thing that stopped him from pitching more innings was a rain delay. However, so far, that’s as good as it’s gotten for Kranick. Throughout his next 33.2 innings, Kranick would surrender 27 earned runs on 47 total hits, 19 walks, and 4 home runs.
Now, granted, Kranick’s underlying numbers suggest something closer to a no. 4-5 starting pitcher. Opponents had a .350 batting average on balls in play vs the right-hander despite overall league average hard hit and exit velo numbers. Plus his expected numbers were well below what his actual numbers were. This includes a .258 xBA, .325 xwOBA, .392 xSLG, and 4.54 xERA.
The issue with Kranick is that he doesn’t have that one pitch. For example, Roansy Contreras’ high-spin, high-velocity fastball, and Quinn Priester’s curveball are both top-tier level offerings. He also doesn’t have the wide variety of offerings that are average to above average with plus command like Miguel Yajure.
Kranick throws a fastball, slider, curveball, and change-up. All but his four-seamer play at about a 45-level. His fastball is about average but has 55-grade potential. His command is also on the fringy side, which doesn’t help him.
However, if Kranick can induce soft contact like he did this year, there’s a solid back of the rotation starter within the right-hander. His ceiling might only be a low-end no. 3 starter, but if he can pitch 180 innings and put up a 4.30 ERA, there won’t be many complaints coming his way.