With the Pittsburgh Pirates adding pitching prospect Jackson Wolf to the mix, they add yet another potential long-term starting pitching option
The Pittsburgh Pirates recently made their largest trade deadline deal, sending Rich Hill and Ji-Man Choi to the San Diego Padres for a three-player package. Of the three players, the arguable headliner and the closest MLB-ready prospect they got back was left-hander Jackson Wolf, who adds yet another interesting arm to a system with a handful of already interesting pitching prospects.
Wolf has spent nearly his entire season with the Padres’ Double-A affiliate, pitching to a 4.08 ERA, 3.87 FIP, and 1.09 WHIP through 88.1 innings. Wolf has a strong 29.8% strikeout rate, but also an elite 6.3% walk rate. Wolf has a 4.77 K:BB ratio, which is the 8th highest ratio among Double-A pitchers with at least 50 innings. The only downside is that Wolf has a 1.22 HR/9 rate.
Overall, these are some pretty decent numbers, especially considering the Texas League, the league at which Wolf was pitching at prior to the trade, is a hitter friendly league. The league average ERA is 4.82, while the average WHIP is 1.43. In both cases, Wolf is comfortably above the average.
Jackson throws four different pitches. The left-hander does not throw hard, only averaging 88-92 MPH. In his one Major League outing, Jackson’s fastball sat at just 89 MPH. His best pitch is a slider, with his second best being his curveball. Both play well off of his fastball. Then there’s his change-up, which he mainly uses against opposite handed batters. Wolf’s control has trended in the right direction, as he cut his walk rate down from just 9.1% to 6.3%, however, he also has shown a better ability to throw his offerings where he wants to. Plus his almost sidearm delivery helps him add some deception.
While Wolf has just one game played above Double-A, he’ll likely slot into Triple-A Indianapolis’ starting rotation. That gives the Pirates a lot of notable pitchers between the upper-levels of their minor leagues. Wolf will now join Anthony Solometo, Jared Jones, and Braxton Ashcraft as the Pirates’ best pitchers between Double-A and Triple-A. Wolf also adds to a potentially good problem for the Pirates.
Taking a look ahead, specifically at 2024 and 2025, there’s a lot of talent up and coming throughout the system. By the end of 2024, you’re probably looking at Paul Skenes, Mitch Keller, Johan Oviedo, Jones, Solometo, and one of Quinn Priester, Mike Burrows, Luis Ortiz, JT Brubaker, Braxton Ashcraft, Roansy Contreras, and now Jackson Wolf rounding out the starting rotation, assuming that the Pirates do not trade anyone. That’s not even considering that Bubba Chandler, Thomas Harrington, JP Massey, or Hunter Barco could make their debuts in the second half.
Wolf might not be the Pirates’ next ace. But you’re looking at yet another pitcher the Pirates have added to the system who could be a solid future rotation option. He could very well find his way into the Pirates’ rotation before the end of August this year. He’ll undoubtedly get a shot at a rotation spot late into this year, sort of as an audition for next year. We will see how it goes, but Wolf is yet another potential Major League caliber starting pitcher among the multiple other options now in the Pirates’ system.