Pittsburgh Pirates: Colin Selby Deserves a Major League Promotion

Pittsburgh Pirates Photo Day
Pittsburgh Pirates Photo Day / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages

Pittsburgh Pirates top relief pitching prospect Colin Selby has been dominating Triple-A batters, and deserves the bump to the big leagues

The Pittsburgh Pirates’ top ranking relief pitching prospect is Colin Selby. The right-hander has been a nice feel-good story among the team’s prospects. A 16th round pick from D3 Randolph-Macon college, Selby never looked like anything more than organizational depth until last season. Now, he’s become a potential late-inning stopper, and is now gunning for a much deserved promotion.

Selby made a name for himself last year, pitching 35.2 masterful innings, mostly with Altoona, but also fit a few frames in at the end of the year for Triple-A Indy. He managed just a 2.27 ERA, 2.92 FIP, and 1.21 WHIP. Selby had a phenomenal 28.9% K-rate and 0.5 HR.9. He also induced a ground ball over 50% of the time (54.4%, to be exact).

Selby earned prospect recognition for his outstanding 2022 season, as FanGraphs ranked him as the Bucs’ 15th best prospect heading into 2023. The hard-throwing right-hander has only further continued his dominance that he started last season. Although the first few games of the season were rough, he’s since reeled off 11.1 innings, allowing just two earned runs, striking out 19 batters, and only allowing four to reach via free pass. He’s also yet to give up a home run.

In Selby's most recent outing, the right-hander was firing darts at opponents. He only needed a dozen pitches to mow down all three batters and record the save for Indy. He struck out two batters while not throwing a four-seamer below 96 MPH. He topped out at 97.9 MPH in this game, but was hitting 99+ MPH in previous outings during this dominant stretch.

The Pirates really need another reliever capable of handling high-leverage innings. David Bednar and Colin Holderman have been great this year, but they’re only two pitchers. Duane Underwood Jr. has continued to prove he is not consistent when it comes to trying to hold games that are late and close. Rule 5 pick Jose Hernandez is arguably the Pirates’ third best high-leverage reliever.

Selby is already on the 40-man roster, so there wouldn’t be any concern about DFA-ing or releasing anyone to make room that way. Though making room on the 26-man roster will require someone to be DFA’d, optioned, or released. Yohan Ramirez still has minor league options remaining, though Underwood Jr. may potentially be in DFA limbo. 

Regardless of who the Pirates would have to option or let go altogether to make room for Colin Selby, it’s a move the Bucs need to make. At 25 and dominating at Triple-A, there’s nothing left for the right-hander to prove at Indy. On top of that, the Pirates desperately need a change of pace, and Selby could help be a third bullpen stopper.