When the 2022 minor league season begins it will be an important one for Pittsburgh Pirates pitching prospect Brennan Malone
When the Pittsburgh Pirates traded Starling Marte to the Arizona Diamondbacks in February 2020 the big piece in the trade appeared to be right-handed pitcher Brennan Malone. A former first-round pick, Malone was scouted as bringing the potential of four plus pitches to the Pirate organization.
Nearly two full calendar years since the trade has been made the true gem of the trade appears to be shortstop Liover Peguero. The now top 100 prospect continues to climb prospect boards, while Malone is going in the opposite direction.
Malone’s slide is not completely his fault, however. The lack of a minor league season in 2020 obviously did not Malone no favors. Last season, Malone started the season by remaining in Florida and pitching in the Florida Complex League.
In the Complex League Malone 6 runs, a home run, walked 5 batters, and struck out 14 batters in 10.1 innings pitched. Malone’s 10.1 innings pitched came across 6 appearances, 5 of which were starts.
Malone also made 3 relief appearances for the Low-A Bradenton Marauders last season. While Malone did not allow an earned run in his 3.2 innings pitched for the Marauders, he did walk 5 batters, allow 4 hits, hit a batter, and threw a pair of wild pitches on his way to allowing 4 unearned runs.
While pitching for Bradenton it was most concerning that Malone did not flash the plus stuff he was touted of bringing to the Pirate farm system. Malone has battled injuries since joining the Pirates, last season included, and that could have been playing a big role in his struggles.
Malone should begin the 2022 season back with the Bradenton Marauders. It goes without saying that the 2022 season will be a big one for the 21-year-old, as it will be one that will determine what path he will be taking in the future.
The righty should start the season in the rotation at Low-A. If he struggles as a starting pitcher, a move to the bullpen would likely be coming in the future. A move to the bullpen is one that could help Malone resurrect his plus stuff by allowing his pitches to play up out of the bullpen.
While both Malone and the Pirates will want him to succeed as a starting pitcher, he certainly could have a bright future as a reliever. Unless Malone’s stuff has truly regressed and it was not just due to injury he should still have a bright future. The only question would be if that success were to come as a starter or a reliever. 2022 is shaping up to be a very important season for the right-handed pitcher.