3 prospects the Pirates should trade if they are buyers at deadline

The Pirates should be willing to move these prospects to acquire major league talent at the deadline.
Florida pitcher Hunter Barco (12) fields a bunt and throws to first to record an out 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
Florida pitcher Hunter Barco (12) fields a bunt and throws to first to record an out 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 / Gary Cosby Jr. via Imagn Content
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Hunter Barco

After missing the first half of 2023 due to recovering from Tommy John surgery, Hunter Barco entered 2024 as an interesting arm to watch at High-A Greensboro. While there were reasonable questions about how he’d handle a starter’s workload in pro ball, he has excelled given the task and is someone the Pirates should be willing to move at the deadline.

Barco has pitched 57 innings for Greensboro, working to a strong 3.16 ERA, 3.30 FIP, and 1.12 WHIP. Barco’s 9.4% walk rate is slightly better than the league average, but he’s striking out just over 30% of opponents with a 30.8% K%, and has only allowed three home runs while keeping the ball on the ground at a solid 46.9% clip. Barco had a pair of rough starts in June, but aside from that, he has put together an impressive season.

Barco isn’t a flamethrower, but he was sitting 93-94 MPH in his most recent outing. That velo will play, given his command and his deceptive arm slot. He’ll also throw a sinker with more vertical break around the same velo as his four-seamer. His slider is another above-average pitch, and he’ll also mix in a changeup. Most of his stuff sits at a 50-55 grade level, but again, because of his good command and low arm slot, everything plays up slightly.

A lot of fans like Barco, but I think the Pirates should try and capitalize on his value now. Barco, as a headliner, might be able to net a solid player. But if he’s the second piece in a larger trade package, the Pirates could get someone who could give the offense the thump it needs right now.