The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted southpaw Hunter Barco in the second round of the 2022 MLB draft, and gives the team another potential lefty starter.
The Pittsburgh Pirates second-round pick was the 43rd overall selection. The Bucs used that pick on Florida State southpaw Hunter Barco, who officially signed with the Pirates on Friday. The Pirates could have used some more pitching depth to the system, but Barco gives something they don’t have many of: a talented left-handed pitcher who could be a regular in the rotation within the next 2-3 years.
Now don’t get this confused with no left-handed pitching talent. Anthony Solometo was their second-round pick in 2021 and was a projected first-rounder. Tyler Samaniego has been a fantastic high-leverage minor league relief prospect. But there’s a lack of potential starters among the left-handed Pirate farmhands.
Barco, similarly to Solometo, has a low arm slot and his best attribute is his command. He has 60-grade projected command, per FanGraphs, and he uses that command to its fullest potential. He only sits around 92-93 MPH with his fastball, but because he can locate it so well, it’s a solid offering. The deceptive arm angle also gives it some more depth, making it a pitch with above average potential.
Barco’s slider has sweeping action, according to MLB Pipeline. It’s a quality breaking offering that comes in around 80 MPH. Some give it more of a slurve-like breaking ball, seeing that he can give it some curveball shape. Either way, he gets a ton of whiffs on it. His low-spin splitter has some real potential as well.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are taking some risk on Barco. He underwent Tommy John surgery this season, but, overall, he had a good college career. In 152.2 innings, Barco had a 3.18 ERA and 1.08 WHIP. He was a great strikeout pitcher, getting a strikeout 29.1% of the time. He also has a 6.6% walk rate. His worst peripheral number was his 0.88 HR/9, but that’s still solid. Back in 2019, he was ranked as the best prep left-hander. Now, he’s still considered highly talented, but with success in the SEC (per MLB Pipeline).
FanGraphs describes Barco as a ‘lower-variance’ arm, which means he is a high-floor/low-ceiling prospect. There’s the potential of a high-end no. 3 starter, but at worst, he’s a typical no. 4 starter. Either way, the 21-year-old Barco could end up being a quality starter for the Pittsburgh Pirates within the very near future.