Team Italy: Right-Handed Pitcher Alessandro Ercolani & Right-Handed Pitcher Jeffrey Passantino
As the first Pirate minor leaguers on this list, both Alessandro Ercolani and Jeffrey Passantino are looking to be impact pitchers for Team Italy during this tournament. Alessandro Ercolani was an international free agent signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates out of the Republic of San Marino in 2021, becoming the first Sammarinesi player to sign a professional contract with a Major League organization.
Last season in the Florida Coast League, 18-year-old Alessandro Ercolani was fun to watch, posting a 1.19 ERA, a 3.83 FIP, struck out 30 batters, and a 1.29 WHIP across 30.1 innings pitched and 8 starts. He did struggle with walks, walking 15.5% of batters faced, but he did limit opposing batters to just a .184 batting average. Ercolani is the youngest Pirates player to represent a team in this tournament and has a bright future ahead of him.
27-year-old Jeffrey Passantino had a decent season out of the bullpen in Double-A Altoona, posting a 3.92 ERA, a 4.58 FIP, struck out 33 batters, walking 11 batters, and had a 1.31WHIP across 41.1 innings pitched. Both players should be regular contributors for Team Italy in the WBC.