The Pittsburgh Pirates went heavy with drafting pitching in the 2020 Draft. How have a couple of late-round picks worked out so far?
The Pittsburgh Pirates 2020 Draft class was the first Draft under Ben Cherington and staff. It was, unfortunately, a different type of draft than we were all used to with the pandemic limiting Baseball being played and scouting opportunities around the county. Major League Baseball cut the draft to just 5 rounds.
Entering the 2020 Draft, a big area of need for the Pittsburgh Pirates minor league system was to add pitching. The team had the 7th overall pick and used the selection on a nonpitcher, Nick Gonzales. However, they returned with selecting pitchers with each of their remaining 5 selections (competitive balance pick gave the team an extra pick). So how have some of those arms performed?
The Pirates’ third-round pick of the 2020 draft, Nick Garcia, is a product of Chapman University. After pitching extremely well in college and giving up zero home runs throughout over 80 innings, Garcia’s start to his pro career could have gone better. The right-hander had a 4.22 ERA, 4.99 FIP, and 1.35 WHIP through 74.2 innings. While he did strike out 24.8% of batters faced, he also had a poor 10.4% walk rate. Garcia was great at getting ground balls, posting a 50.5% GB%, which led to a solid 1.08 HR/9.
Logan Hofmann was the Pirates’ fifth-round selection of the 2020 draft. Coming out of Northwestern State University of Louisiana, Hofmann ended his college career reeling of 28 straight innings without allowing an earned run. Hofmann posted solid numbers as a Pirate prospect, owning a 3.59 ERA, 4.68 FIP, and 1.11 WHIP in 83.2 innings.
Hofmann struck out his fair share of batters with a 29.9% K-rate. His 9.6% walk rate wasn’t great, but good enough considering how many K’s he had. Hofmann struggled the most with home runs, posting a 1.31 HR/9. However, with a healthy 44.3% GB% and 4.05 xFIP, there is some evidence that Hofmann could improve next season.
Both pitches should be viewed as potential Major League players. While they were not top picks, they were taken in a very limited class, meaning they stood out. Garcia is more of a power pitcher, with good size and a mid 90s fastball. Hofmann is more finesse with a great breaking pitch. Both pitchers do, however, share something in common: High Spin Rate. This is something that the new regime has really preached as a way to maximize pitchers’ potential, hopefully, it will work for these two.