Pittsburgh PIrates: Three Injured Prospects Who Will Return in 2023

Sep 19, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Max Kranick (45) pitches against the Miami Marlins during the first inning at loanDepot Park. Mandatory Credit: Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 19, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Max Kranick (45) pitches against the Miami Marlins during the first inning at loanDepot Park. Mandatory Credit: Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports /
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Florida pitcher Hunter Barco (12) makes a pitch against Mississippi State during the SEC Tournament Tuesday, May 26, 2021, in the Hoover Met in Hoover, Alabama. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]Sec Tournament Florida Vs Mississippi State /

LHP Hunter Barco

The Pittsburgh Pirates will have another young pitcher returning from Tommy John surgery in 2023, that being Hunter Barco. The Pirates drafted Barco this year knowing that he wouldn’t return until sometime next year, but Barco was one of the top left-handed college pitchers in this year’s draft.

Barco had a quality college career, pitching to a 3.18 ERA and 1.08 WHIP through 152.2 innings. Barco only walked 6.6% of the batters he faced, with a strikeout rate of 29.1%. Barco averaged 4.4 strikeouts for every walk. While his 0.88 HR/9 wasn’t anything to write home about, it was the weakest link among his otherwise elite stats.

Barco isn’t a hard thrower by any means. He only averages out around 92-95 MPH and pairs that with a low-80s sweeping slider. His slider is the better of the two pitches, but don’t sleep on his four-seamer. He commands it well, and there’s some deception to it, given his low arm slot and crossfire delivery. On top of that, he’ll throw a low-spin splitter. His arsenal all projects to at least be average but has the potential to be above average. It also helps he projects to have plus command.

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Barco had Tommy John surgery in early May, so he’ll likely return slightly before Kranick does. Next year will be his age-22 campaign, and he could potentially make it as far as High-A Greensboro in 2023 if he pitches well from summer onward. He’d be one of the many talented players stationed at Greensboro this year.

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