5 Pittsburgh Pirates prospects who are turning their seasons around

A handful of the Pirates' top prospects didn't get off to good starts to 2024, but have started to turn their campaigns around for the better.
Jul 29, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates first round draft pick Termarr Johnson,  the fourth overall player drafted in the 2022 MLB Draft, enters the dugout for batting practice before the Pirates host the Philadelphia Phillies at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 29, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates first round draft pick Termarr Johnson, the fourth overall player drafted in the 2022 MLB Draft, enters the dugout for batting practice before the Pirates host the Philadelphia Phillies at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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Po-Yu Chen

Po-Yu Chen entered the year as an underrated pitching prospect. He was overshadowed by the likes of Bubba Chandler, Anthony Solometo, and Thomas Harrington, all of whom were in the same starting five. Chen looked completely lost on the mound as he headed into the second half of May, but he’s seemingly put things back on track.

Chen’s first 35.1 innings yielded a 6.11 ERA, 5.87 FIP, and 1.47 WHIP. While he had a solid 8% walk rate, he was almost never striking out batters with a 10.5% K%. That was a massive drop from his 24.5% K% at the end of last year at Greensboro. Along with that, he was somewhat susceptible to home runs; Chen had a 1.27 HR/9.

But since his outing on May 21, it’s been smooth sailing for the Taiwanese right-hander. His last 40.2 innings have seen him work to the tune of a 2.88 ERA, 4.30 FIP, and 1.20 WHIP. Chen is still not striking out a ton of batters, but his 18.7% K% is a massive improvement from what he had been putting up at the start of the year. He still has a solid 8.4% walk rate, but he’s been much better at limiting home runs. He’s cut his HR/9 down by nearly half to 0.66.

Chen is still getting overshadowed, as both Chandler and Harrington have had extremely good seasons, but Altoona has many good pitchers to watch, and Chen is one of them. He’s on the younger side, as he’s only 22, but he’s someone to keep an eye on as the season progresses. He’s put up an ERA under 3.00 over the last month and could be yet another future rotation option for the Bucs.