Rum Bunter’s Top Ten Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: End of 2022

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Pittsburgh Pirates
North Oconee’s Bubba Chandler throws a pitch during Game 1 of a GHSA Class 4A semifinal doubleheader in Bogart on Saturday, May 15, 2021. Benedictine won Game 1, 6-5.News Joshua L Jones /

Number Six – RHP/DH Bubba Chandler
Pre-season Ranking: #7

The sixth-best prospect we have is right-handed starting pitcher and designated hitter Bubba Chandler. The Pirates drafted Chandler in the third round of the 2021 draft but make no mistake. This isn’t your typical third-round selection. The Pirates had to pry Chandler away from a football commitment to Clemson, which took a $3 million over slot bonus. Like Solometo, Chandler was a projected mid-first-round pick if it weren’t for his college commitment.

Chandler made his pitching debut this season. In 41.1 total innings between the Pirates’ Florida Complex League affiliate and A-Ball Bradenton, Chandler owned a 2.61 ERA, 3.85 FIP, and 1.23 WHIP. The right-hander displayed a big fastball, consistently hitting the upper-90s. Along with the velocity, he throws an epic slider. His curveball is a third plus offering, sitting in the upper-80s, and then there’s his change-up. It’s the worst of his three offerings, but it still has the potential to be a fourth average or better pitch. It also gives him four offerings with distinct speed.

Chandler held opponents to a .161 average and struck them out nearly 35% of the time (34.7%). Plus, he allowed just three dingers. But the downside is Chandler walked 16.2% of the batters he faced. Chandler does project to have above-average command, so there’s more of a chance he figures out the walks than lets command get in the way of an otherwise strong arsenal of offerings.

Chandler also collected 124 plate appearances. He racked up nearly as many hits as he allowed, but his overall production at the plate was nothing to write home about. His numbers weren’t terrible, but he hit just .213/.331/.382, leading to a .340 wOBA and 104 wRC+, which comes out to slightly above average production. He drew 20 walks in 124 plate appearances, and nearly half of his total hits went for extra bases (four home runs, two triples, and three doubles), but he also struck out 41 times. But you find me a player who can put up league-average numbers at the plate and throw effective gas on the mound.

Chandler didn’t play the field, with all his plate appearances coming as a designated hitter. Chandler is more than athletic enough to play shortstop, but the Pirates aren’t going to make him play such a physically demanding position, as well as pitch regularly. Still, if he’s a platoon DH option and quality no. 2 starter, he’ll be one of the Pirates’ most valuable players.