Pittsburgh Pirates Prospect Depth Chart: Starting Pitching

2021 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game
2021 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game / Dustin Bradford/GettyImages
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Top Prospects

Quinn Priester has consistently been listed in the top 100 of prospect rankings since 2020. Priester had a good 2022 season between Altoona and Indianapolis, owning a 3.29 ERA, 3.59 FIP, and 1.21 WHIP in 90.1 innings. Preister had a few bad starts at the end of the year, but it doesn’t take away from his talent. He typically throws in the mid-90s with his fastball but pairs that with a sinker, slider, curveball, and changeup. His curveball is elite, and his slider has also come a long way.

Over the last year, Luis Ortiz has made a name for himself. Ortiz’s numbers might not look great, with a 4.56 ERA, 4.40 FIP, and 1.14 WHIP. But he had a strong 27.1% strikeout rate and a 7.5% walk rate. Where Ortiz struggled was limiting home runs with a 1.45 HR/9. But given his 47.8% ground ball rate, 17.4% HR/FB ratio, and 3.75 xFIP, some bad luck played a role in his struggles. Ortiz looked great in the major leagues, showing off a blazing fastball, wipeout slider, and solid changeup.

Anthony Solometo was the Pirates’ second-round draft pick in 2021, but easily had the talent to be a top-20 selection. Solometo’s first 47.2 professional innings saw him work to the tune of a 2.64 ERA, 2.83 FIP, and 1.05 WHIP. The southpaw struck out 27.1% of opponents while not allowing a single home run. His 10.1% walk rate isn’t reflective of his command as he is considered one of, if not the best, command pitcher in the system. Solometo works with a high-80s/low-90s fastball, slurve, slider, and changeup. He has an extremely unorthodox delivery, which helps add to his deception and effectiveness.

Like Solometo, Bubba Chandler was a top 20 talent, maybe even a top 10 talent, but ended up in the third round because of a college commitment. Drafted as a two-way player, Chandler pitched better than he hit. He worked to a 2.61 ERA, 3.85 FIP, and 1.23 WHIP in 41.1 innings. Chandler allowed just three home runs while striking out over a third of the batters he faced (34.7% strikeout rate), though it also came with a poor 16.2% walk rate. Chandler is a highly talented pitcher, and while he didn’t hit all that well, pitching is probably his future anyway. But it would be nice to see him at least develop to the point where he could be an occasional pinch hitter.

Mike Burrows has made leaps and strides to becoming a quality pitching prospect. He’s always been known for his elite fastball and curveball. Both have extremely high spin rates and good velocity. Though it was always a question as to whether or not his change-up would ever develop into a reliable offering. It might not be the best changeup in pro baseball, but it’s become a solid third pitch. Last year, Burrows had a 4.01 ERA but a strong 3.29 FIP and 1.21 WHIP. Like Priester, a horrendous final start bloated his numbers.

Last but not least, you have Jared Jones, who has arguably the highest ceiling among the Pirates’ pitching prospects. Now Jones did not have a good season at Greensboro. He only had a 4.62 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and 1.35 WHIP. On the plus side, he had a quality 26.7% strikeout rate and a decent 9.6% walk rate. But he had a 1.39 HR/9 rate. But Jones did pitch in an extreme home run-friendly environment. Jones works in the upper-90s with a plus slider. He also has a decent curveball and changeup. Jones could work much better, given a less hitter-friendly environment next season.