Pittsburgh Pirates: 2022 Draft Pick, Hunter Barco Debuts

St Louis Cardinals v Pittsburgh Pirates
St Louis Cardinals v Pittsburgh Pirates / Justin Berl/GettyImages
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In a much anticipated moment, left-handed pitcher Hunter Barco finally made his professional debut for the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates drafted Barco in the 2nd round, with the 42nd overall pick in the MLB Draft, a move that showcased their belief in his potential. This was with the Organization knowing that Barco was on the journey back from Tommy John Surgery.

MLB Pipeline had ranked Barco at number 75, making his selection by the Pittsburgh Pirates a bit of a surprise at first. However, they signed him to an under-slot deal which made more sense. Despite his impressive ranking, Barco's journey to the pros was not without its challenges. He had faced a setback in his draft year when he underwent Tommy John surgery, which definitely affected his ranking but didn't deter the Pirates from seeing the upside in his abilities. He also is physically projectable standing at 6'4'' and weighing just over 200 pounds.

The long-awaited moment finally came on Thursday when Barco took the mound for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Florida Complex League. In a two-inning stint, he displayed his pitching upside, shutting down the opposition. Barco's debut performance was impressive, allowing no hits, issuing just one walk, and striking out four batters, leaving no room for runs.

The Pittsburgh Pirates decision to take the rehabilitating Hunter Barco in the draft could work out as he ranks #13 on MLB Pipelines' Top 30 list.

Barco could be a first-round talent steal from that 2022 class. He showed why in his first appearance. His fastball-slider combination was on full display, and his deceptive delivery left the opposing batters struggling to make contact. This is something of a theme with the Bucs. Top pitching prospect Anthony Solometo also has a deceptive delivery from the left side.

Barco, a highly ranked left-handed high school pitcher in the 2019 Draft class, joined the University of Florida due to commitment concerns. He showed promise with a fastball-slider combination but suffered a season-ending injury in 2022. He only made 9 starts for the Gators that year. When healthy, he has the potential to be a No. 3 or 4 starter.

As he continues to progress in his professional career, keep your eyes open for him. It will be interesting to see where he is actually placed within the Organization. If the Bucs wanted to be aggressive with the lefty they could send him to High-A to join fellow 2022 draftee Tom Harrington. However, they may opt to keep him in Bradenton where the Organization has a lot of their facilities. It would be easier to monitor his progress on the mound and from a health standpoint.