Pittsburgh Pirates: Underrated Offerings in the System
The Pittsburgh Pirates system has many talented pitchers, but what are some underrated offerings from the farm?
Everyone knows that Quinn Priester has arguably the best curveball in the minor leagues, and Jared Jones and Tahnaj Thomas are flamethrowers with elite fastballs. These are just facts about the Pittsburgh Pirates that everyone knows about. But the team has many pitchers with offerings that get glanced over.
It could be for a multitude of reasons. They’re not a top prospect, they’re not performing very well or have broken out yet, or they just aren’t that flashy. That doesn’t mean they’re bad pitchers with bad pitches, just that they have one outstanding offering. Today, I want to take a look at a few of the underrated offerings that play to an elite level.
Zach Thompson’s Cutter
What did Zach Thompson, Dodgers’ closer Kenley Jansen, 3rd place AL Cy Young finisher Lance Lynn, and 2nd place AL Rookie of the Year finisher Luis Garica all have in common last year? They all had cutters with -11 run value.
Zach Thompson’s cutter was almost unhittable last season. Batters managed just a .186 average, a .284 slugging percentage, and .236 wOBA against the pitch. Statcast’s expected numbers weren’t much better. Thompson managed an xBA of .215, xSLG of .336, and xwOBA of .269.
Only four pitchers had a more valuable cutter per run value. They were NL Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes and Cleveland ‘s Emmanuel Clase, Aaron Civale, and Bryan Shaw. Among major league pitchers who made at least a dozen starts, Thompson’s cutter had the highest run value-per-100 at -2.7.
Thompson had other offerings that played at an average or better level: his sinker, curveball, and changeup, but his cutter was elite. He arguably has a top 3 cutter in the league right now.