Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Brennan Malone could put together a nice comeback season after missing ample amounts of time to injury.
Back during the 2019-2020 offseason, the Pittsburgh Pirates traded Starling Marte to the Arizona Diamondbacks for two prospects. The first was a shortstop prospect in Liover Peguero, who has since blossomed into a consensus top 100 prospect and one of the best shortstop prospects in the league. The other was right-hander Brennan Malone.
At the time, Malone was a very highly touted prospect. There was a decent argument that he was better than Peguero when the trade went down. Since then, their careers have gone in very different directions.
Malone was a first-round pick by the Diamondbacks in the prior draft. He was considered a top 25 talent and only fell past the first 30 picks because he was a high school arm with a commitment. He and now top pitching prospect Quinn Priester were considered the best high school arms in the 2019 draft.
However, not much has been said about Malone’s minor league career because there isn’t much to say about it. Going into Sunday night, Malone had just 22 career minor league innings. He obviously didn’t get much work throughout 2019 and didn’t get an opportunity to pitch competitively in 2020. However, he spent most of 2021 on the injured list. He threw 14 sporadic innings with the Pirates’ Florida Complex League affiliate and the A-Ball Bradenton Marauders.
Malone is definitely a guy you want to see put together a good stretch where he stays healthy. He opened the season injured but finally got to pitch his first game on Sunday. He threw two innings, allowing a single earned run on a home run, but struck out three batters and let up one free pass. However, what was more promising was the stuff he was bringing to the mound.
Malone’s curveball was coming in with well over 2700 RPM. His four-seam fastball was hitting the mid-90s with a well-above-average spin rate. His four-seamer also displayed quite a bit of movement.
This past off-season, Malone was hitting the upper-90s with around 2500 RPM on his fastball and the low-80s with his curveball and over 3000 RPM. If that’s what he is capable of, and he just needs to be healthy, we have a guy with two elite-level offerings already. His slider and change-up are considered to have average potential, so he could be a four-pitch starter in the future.
I personally am really rooting for Malone. Not only would it be a great comeback storyline to follow if he put together a decent season from here on out, but it would give the Pittsburgh Pirates another notable pitching prospect. After all, Malone wasn’t a first-round pick for no reason. He was a top high school prospect and still has the talent to become a top arm the Pirates could rely on for years to come. He’s still relatively young, too, as this is his age-21 campaign, so he has age on his side, and he has draft pedigree on his side as well.