Pittsburgh Pirates: 3 Potential Breakout Candidates

Mar 11, 2023; Bradenton, Florida, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Johan Oviedo (24) throws
Mar 11, 2023; Bradenton, Florida, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Johan Oviedo (24) throws / Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
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Relief pitcher Dauri Moreta

The Pittsburgh Pirates acquired right-handed reliever Dauri Moreta from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for Kevin Newman during the offseason. In 42 MLB innings Moreta owns a 5.14 ERA, 5.76 FIP, 8.0% walk rate, 24.7% striekout rate, and a 2.36 HR/9.

Despite these struggles, the young righty could be in position for a breakout campaign this season.

First off, and most importantly, Moreta has the stuff to breakout. His fastball velocity ranked in the 84th percentile of baseball last year while ranking in the 59th percentile of spin rate. The pitch limited opposing batters to a .190 batting average, .333 slugging percentage, and generated a 26.0% whiff rate. His slider could be an elite pitch, limiting opponents to a .103 average and .207 slugging while generating a 48.9% whiff rate. The changeup could be a plus pitch as well after generating a 24.6% whiff rate and limiting opponents to a .212 avergae last season.

A second reason for optimism with Moreta is how he pitched after returning to the majors last season. Moreta was optioned to the minors in May and returned to the Cincinnati bullpen a month later. From June 19th through the end of the season he pitched 24.2 innings, posting a 2.92 ERA, 3.92 FIP, 7.2% walk rate, 23.7% strikeout rate, and a 1.02 HR/9. It appears something was starting to click with Moreta.

Finally, there is how well Moreta pitched this spring. While he did allow 10 hits in 9.2 innings pitched, he did not allow a home run, walked just one batter and struck out 13. This led to Moreta allowing just 3 earned runs (2.79 ERA).

It would not be a surprise to see the 26-year-old Moreta emerge as a reliable high-leverage situation arm out of the Pirate bullpen this season.

Next. Which Prospect Could Debut First in 2023. dark