These underrated and overlooked prospects could make an impact for the Pittsburgh Pirates this season
We’ve already done plenty of coverage on prospects who will likely play key roles with the 2022 Pittsburgh Pirates. Oneil Cruz and Roansy Contreras are the two of the team’s best prospects and should be regulars by the time May rolls around. Others like Travis Swaggerty, Matt Fraizer, Diego Castillo, Ji-Hwan Bae, and Mason Martin are popular names who will likely get regular playing time sometime this season.
But what about some of the lesser talked about names in the system? The Pittsburgh Pirates have plenty of other prospects who could play important roles with the 2022 MLB team, and not every prospect who will make their debut is among the higher-end names. Other guys could end up being important in the long run who aren’t the cream of the crop right now as prospects.
RHP Cody Bolton
If Cody Bolton slipped your mind, don’t feel too bad. He hasn’t pitched since 2019, when he was then considered one of the best pitching prospects the Pittsburgh Pirates had in their farm system.
That was before the additions of Contreras, Jared Jones, Anthony Solometo, Bubba Chandler, Miguel Yajure, and many, many more. But Bolton should be on your radar as a guy who could have a nice bounce-back campaign.
Bolton was a mixed bag the last time we saw him. He started the year at Bradenton, where he had a 1.61 ERA, 1.96 FIP, and 0.86 WHIP. But once he reached Double-A, Bolton struggled to the tune of a 5.85 ERA, 4.67 FIP, and 1.33 WHIP. A lot of things went wrong between the two levels.
The big thing was his inability to prevent home runs. He allowed just one long ball in 61.1 innings at Bradenton but then surrendered six more in 40 innings at Altoona. Although that was his biggest downfall, his strikeout rate plummeted from 28.9% to 19.8%, and his walk rate spiked from 5.8% to 9.6%.
When Bolton was healthy, he averaged out in the low-to-mid-90s with his fastball. He doesn’t throw very hard, but he did show an ability to put some spin on it, averaging out at 2400 RPM. His best pitch is his slider, which comes in with about 2600 RPM. He also throws a change-up that has average potential.
Bolton’s role is still up in the air. Going into 2021, he was supposed to start the year in the bullpen after making all of his previous appearances as a starting pitcher. Either way, Bolton should make his debut sometime this year. He’s going into his age-24 season. He could be in the majors if he’s healthy when June rolls around. Those first few weeks of the season could determine what role he serves.