The Pittsburgh Pirates could find a potential bullpen reinforcement through an unorthodox method from an independent league
The independent leagues are not typically a breeding ground for high-end Major League talent, but teams occasionally find a decent player. Players like Nick Anderson and David Peralta got their names out there after strong seasons at the indy level. But there is currently a free-agent relief pitcher the Pittsburgh Pirates should look into. The Bucs need help in the bullpen, and Logan Sawyer could provide just that.
Logan Sawyer was originally a 29th round draft pick by the Colorado Rockies in 2014. The right-hander had a few middling seasons with the Rockie minor league affiliates before finding himself out of pro baseball by 2017. After a stint in Australia and the Atlantic League in 2019, Sawyer made his way to the Frontier League in 2021.
Sawyer has pitched with the Frontier League Evansville Otters for the last two years, and he was downright dominant in 2022. He pitched 33 straight scoreless innings, allowing just 11 hits and three free passes. He also struck out 39 of the 104 total batters he faced, leading to a 37.5% K-rate and 13.0 K:BB ratio. Although Sawyer was beyond lights out this season, he was also great in 2021 when he pitched to a 2.97 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, .8 HR/9, 30.8% K%, and 3.9% BB% with Evansville.
Of course, results are just one-half of the story, especially when you’re looking at a case like this. Sawyer definitely has major league stuff. He throws four pitches, including a fastball, splitter, slider, and changeup.
Sawyer’s fastball averaged out in the mid-90s and was topping out at 100 MPH for the Otters. Averaging 94-98 and topping out at 100 MPH in the Frontier League is like sending modern-day Jacob deGrom back to the 1980s. The average fastball at this level is around 87-90 MPH, and even topping out at 95 makes you one of the hardest throwers in this league. His other offerings sit around the same velocity, though his slider is slightly faster, coming in at 84-88 MPH (both his splitter and change-up sit 82-86 MPH).
While most might be intrigued by an arm that can hit 100 MPH, Sawyer’s splitter is a fierce weapon. The pitch falls off a table and gets a ton of swings and misses. The slider also has decent movement and can take a lot off his fastball velocity to throw hitters off. His arm slot comes in around a 45-degree angle, so it’s slightly higher than your typical three-quarters arm slot.
Sawyer is looking to land with a Major League Baseball team, and the Pittsburgh Pirates could offer him a Major League job right out of the Frontier League. Although 2023 will be his age-30 season, you can’t deny the talent or the 33-straight scoreless innings. Sawyer has the stuff to be a major league reliever without having to spend much time, if any, in the minor leagues.