Pittsburgh Pirates: Three Young Pitchers in Make-Or-Break Seasons

Oct 2, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Nick Mears (36) throws against the Cincinnati Reds during the sixth inning at PNC Park. The Pirates won 8-6. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 2, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Nick Mears (36) throws against the Cincinnati Reds during the sixth inning at PNC Park. The Pirates won 8-6. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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Sep 21, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Nick Mears (36) throws against the Cincinnati Reds in the seventh inning at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 21, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Nick Mears (36) throws against the Cincinnati Reds in the seventh inning at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports /

RHP Nick Mears

Technically, Nick Mears is no longer a prospect. But he’s yet to 30 innings in the Major Leagues yet. Mears was a nice success story for the Pirates. An undrafted free agent, Mears was starting to appear on prospect lists after his great 2019 campaign. But injuries and lack of command have left his future hazy.

Mears pitched a total of 46.2 innings between Low-A, High-A, and Double-A in 2019, pitching to the tune of a 3.28 ERA, 3.12 FIP, and 1.05 WHIP. Mears’s 9.4% walk rate wasn’t anything to write home about, but his 35.9% strikeout rate was. Plus he wasn’t very home run prone with a 0.96 HR/9 rate.

When Mears has been healthy, he’s shown off an impressive high-90 four-seam fastball. He’s hit 100 MPH before and puts a decent amount of spin on his fastball. His primary breaking pitch is a curveball, which comes in around the upper-70s, giving it a massive difference in velocity. Although command has always been a question for Mears, he only has a 9.7% walk rate, which is very solid for a guy with his stuff.

2022 Staff Prediction: Jeff Cupp. dark. Next

Mears will start the year on the injured list, making his future with the team even murkier. When he does return, he’ll surely get an opportunity once again. But at this point, Mears needs to prove he can still be a part of the future Pittsburgh Pirates. They already have their long-term closer in David Bednar, but that’s about it, which does give Mears a bit more of a chance than either Florez or Thomas.

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