Best late round draft prospects in the Pirates' system

Let's look at the Pirates' best late round draft prospects in the system.

SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game
SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game / Kevork Djansezian/GettyImages
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Mike Burrows

The 2023 season could have played out a lot differently had Mike Burrows not undergone Tommy John surgery in April. The Pirates' 11th-round pick in 2018, Burrows had developed into one of the Pirates' best pitching prospects and was projected to take over a starting role sometime during the season. Of course, with Tommy John surgery, that never came to fruition.

The last time Burrows was healthy, he had a quality 4.01 ERA, 3.29 FIP, and 1.21 WHIP. He had very strong peripherals, including a 28.2 percent strikeout rate, 7.9 percent walk rate, and 0.79 HR/9 through 94.1 innings. Although Burrows had an ERA over 4.00, it was mostly inflated by his final start of the season, where he allowed six earned runs in less than a whole inning. Heading into his final outing of 2022, he had a 3.46 ERA.

A spin rate darling, Burrows was averaging over 2500 RPM on his four-seam fastball. The right-hander also throws around 94-96 MPH. His curveball had even more spin with around 2900 RPM and in the upper-70s. Burrows originally had questions about his ability to be a long-term starting pitcher. But he's made some major steps forward with his change-up to the point it's an above-average and reliable offering. He was even working with a cutter prior to his surgery.

I would have loved to see the alternative 2023 timeline where Burrows stayed healthy and came up during the summer to help reinforce the Pirates' rotation. Regardless, we should get to see that this year. He's somewhat of a forgotten x-factor because the Pirates drafted Paul Skenes, and the likes of Bubba Chandler, Anthony Solometo, and Jared Jones put together good seasons after Burrows' elbow surgery. He'll probably be a major reinforcement to the team's rotation during the summer this year.