Pittsburgh Pirates: Bubba Chandler Named Prospect Poised to Join Top 100

North Oconee's Bubba Chandler throws a pitch during game one of a GHSA AAAA semifinal between
North Oconee's Bubba Chandler throws a pitch during game one of a GHSA AAAA semifinal between / Joshua L. Jones via Imagn Content

Two-way prospect Bubba Chandler could be on his way to joining top 100 prospect lists soon

After releasing their latest top 100 prospect list earlier this week, a list that included four Pittsburgh Pirates prospects, Baseball America is now taking a look at prospects poised to join their top 100 list. One prospect they identified on this list was two-way Pirate prospect Bubba Chandler.

The Pittsburgh Pirates selected Chandler with the 72nd overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft. Chandler was one of the many over slot selection the Pirates made in the draft that led to them having arguably the best draft class in baseball in 2021.

Chandler was one of the most unique players in his draft class. This was due to Chandler being a legitimate two-way prospect which is a rarity in baseball. Chandler has the ability to be both an above-average hitter and an above-average pitcher in the majors.

What Baseball America loves most about Chandler, however, is his ability as a pitcher. Baseball America calls Chandler's stuff outstanding and says that he has a near ideal pitcher's frame. Chandler's fastball is a 60 grade pitch, which he pairs with a 55 grade curveball. His changeup and slider are both 50 grade pitches.

It's not unreasonable to expect Chandler to develop into a pitcher with four above-average pitches. There are few pitchers in baseball who truly throw four above-average pitchers. If this is the pitcher that Chandler becomes, he will have the potential to be a top of the rotation arm in the major leagues.

Last season Chandler pitched in 14 games, making 11 starts, between Low-A Bradenton and the Pirates' Florida Complex League club. In a total of 41.1 innings pitched, Chandler posted a 2.61 ERA, 3.85 FIP, allowed home runs at just a 0.65 HR/9 rate, and limited opposing batters to a .161 batting average. While Chandler did struggle some with control walking batters at a 16.2% clip, he helped offset this with big time strikeout numbers as he fanned 34.7% of opposing batters.

The potential he showed last season, especially generating swings-and-misses, makes prospect sites such as Baseball America so high on Chandler. Baseball America added that if Chandler continues to improve he could develop into one of the elite pitching prospects in baseball.

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Looking ahead to 2023, Chandler should get a full bulk of starts on the mound. Chandler should log 20+ starts between Low-A Bradenton and High-A Greensboro. What will be intriguing to watch is what the Pirates do with him as a hitter. Last season he struggled at the plate hitting for a .196/.331/.382 slash line with a 104 wRC+ and 33.1% strikeout rate in 124 plate appearances. It will be interesting to watch to see if the Pirates have him focus more on pitching in 2023.