Pittsburgh Pirates: If David Bednar Is Traded, Who Is The Team’s Next Closer?

Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports /
2 of 3
Pittsburgh Pirates
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

The most MLB-ready relief prospect is hard-throwing right-hander Tahnaj Thomas. Thomas made the complete transition to the bullpen in 2022 and has excelled since settling into the role. Since the outset of June, Thomas has had a 1.54 ERA, 2.31 FIP, and 1.03 WHIP. The big issue Thomas faced in previous seasons was a lack of command and dishing out a ton of walks. Throughout his last 23.1 innings, Thomas has a 5.4% walk rate. He’s striking out nearly 30% of batters faced while allowing just a single home run.

He is currently setting up Tyler Samaniego at Double-A Altoona. Samaniego was a 15th-round draft pick by the Pirates last year, and he’s been flat-out dominant at Greensboro and Altoona. In a total of 37.2 innings, the southpaw has a 1.91 ERA, 3.04 FIP, and .80 WHIP. Samaniego’s K% also sits right around 30%, coming in at 29.6%. He has an insane 57.1% ground ball rate, which has led to him posting a .24 HR/9. Although he does have an 11% walk rate on the season, he’s walked just 6.5% of batters since reaching Double-A. Impressively, Samaniego has been unscored upon in 27 of his 30 total outings.

Another arm to watch at Double-A is Luis Ortiz. Ortiz is currently starting games for Altoona but, as we previously looked at, would likely benefit from a move to the bullpen. Although Ortiz currently has an ERA and FIP over 5.00, he excels in the first two innings of a ball game. In innings one and two, Ortiz has a total of 37 innings with a 2.43 ERA, 3.62 FIP, and 1.00 WHIP. He has 39 K’s to just ten walks, leading to a K:BB ratio of 3.9. Plus, his HR/9 is a solid .97.