Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects 2022 Recap: Tahnaj Thomas

Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports /

A move to the bullpen in 2022 paid off and now has Tahnaj Thomas looking like one of the Pittsburgh Pirates most promising relief pitching prospects

At one point in time Tahnaj Thomas was one of the top starting pitching prospects in the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system. In fact, there was a time he was one of the most promising starting pitching prospects in all of baseball when he was a consensus top 100 prospect.

Well, after struggling in 2021 the prospect stock of Thomas took a hit. As he fell down prospect boards and dropped out of top 100 rankings, his future with the Pittsburgh Pirates started to seem a bit murky.

After he struggled in 2021 the Pittsburgh Pirates made the decision to move Thomas to the bullpen. While he did start a bit slow during 2022, by the end of the season this move looked like a great one by Ben Cherington and company.

In 37 outings for the Curve this past season Thomas pitched 50.2 innings. Thomas posted a 3.02 ERA and a 3.63 FIP, limiting opposing batters to a .229 batting average while allowing just four home runs (0.71 HR/9).

During the 2021 season Thomas walked 12.5% of batters faced. This marked the third time in four professional seasons that he walked batter at a clip of at least 12.5%. A move to the bullpen helped Thomas’s control substantially as it dropped 9.4%. His improved control did not lead to a sacrifice in strikeouts as he struck out 24.4% of batters faced, which was uptick over his 22.1% clip from 2021.

As the season went on the role Thomas played out of the Curve bullpen just continued to grow. After a sluggish start, Thomas posted a 2.54 ERA and a 3.08 FIP across his final 27 appearances in 2022.

In these 27 appearances Thomas was able to log 39 innings, limiting opposing batters to a .226 batting average and just two home runs. Thomas walked 8.7% of batters faced in these 39 innings pitched and struck batters out at a 26.1% clip. By the end of the season, Thomas was pitching as well as anyone out of a deep, strong Curve bullpen.

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Thomas could become a key piece in the Pirate bullpen sooner rather than later. Hopefully, he will start the 2023 season at Triple-A Indianapolis putting him on the doorstep of the majors and in a position to join the MLB bullpen early in the season.