Pittsburgh Pirates Prospect 2022 Outlook: Bubba Chandler

News Joshua L Jones
News Joshua L Jones /

Bubba Chandler is one of the Pittsburgh Pirates best prospects. But he’ll still be extremely young in 2022. That could end up being a factor as to where he plays next season.

Last year the Pittsburgh Pirates got an absolute steal in the third round of the draft. They had the 72nd overall selection and used that on Bubba Chandler. Chander was considered a consensus top 15-20 pick going into the amateur draft, and FanGraphs ranked him the 16th best prospect, while MLB Pipeline rated him at number 21. However, the talented prospect fell far in the draft because of his commitment to Clemson football.

This was for two significant reasons. Chandler can hit, and he can pitch. As a pitcher, he’s a right-hander who’s already touching the upper-90’s with his fastball before he turns 20-years-old.

Right now, he’s sitting in the 92-94 MPH range but has topped out at 97. He also throws a good curveball that he’s added power to over the past year, as well as a slider. He’ll also throw a changeup as a fourth off-speed pitch. Not only do all of his offerings play at an average or better level, but they all have distinct speeds. His curveball comes in the upper-70’s, his slider resides in the mid-80’s, and his change-up sits around 80-82 MPH.

Chandler is a highly athletic middle infielder with power as a position player. He’s also a good runner with a glove that can stick at shortstop, and he’s a switch-hitter to boot. While Chandler might have a higher ceiling as a pitcher, the Pirates will likely try and keep him as a two-way player for as long as they can. He has the potential to be a #2-type starting pitcher and Gold Glover with 15-20 bombs from up the middle.

But the top prospect is still extremely young. Next year will be his age-19 season, and he won’t turn 20 until September 14th. Chandler already has a taste of action at the professional level with 37 plate appearances at the Florida Coast League, where he had an OPS of just .624. But he’s yet to pitch. The question remains if the team will send him to A-Ball, or keep him in Rookie-Ball.

As we’ve discussed before, the new regime has been more aggressive with their promotion of prospects, especially ones who rank higher or have higher-end talent. Last year, Roansy Contreras and Oneil Cruz made their MLB debut in the final week of the season after starting the year at Double-A Altoona. Travis Swaggerty skipped Double-A. Lover Peguero and Quinn Priester were in their age-20 seasons and had limited experience above Rookie-Ball before playing the entire 2021 campaign at High-A Greensboro.

This philosophy extended to A-Ball Bradenton as well. The Marauders had their fair share of teenage prospects. The Pirates’ 2020 second-round over slot pick, Jared Jones, was in his age-19 season and pitched well at Bradenton. Alexander Mojica, Maikol Escotto, Dariel Lopez, Sergio Campana, and Po-Yu Chen also received a notable amount of playing time at A-Ball. The Marauders also had the youngest position players and third-youngest pitching staff in the division.

Risers & Fallers in New FanGraph Rankings. dark. Next

Given how advanced Chandler is, both as a hitter and especially as a pitcher, and how the Pittsburgh Pirates have been with their higher-end prospects, I’d be surprised if he was at Rookie-Ball in 2022. Chandler’s two-way ability gives him one of the highest ceilings in the organization. He’ll be young, but the new Pirate regime is more willing to give younger prospects a chance to prove themselves against higher-level competition.