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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Swing-Man Type Pitchers

Cody Bolton was once considered one of the Pirates’ top pitching prospects, but after missing two years of play, there were plenty of questions surrounding his 2022 season. But Bolton delivered a solid campaign. In 75.2 innings, Bolton had a 3.09 ERA, 3.81 FIP, and 1.28 WHIP. While he had a 25.4% strikeout rate and outstanding .48 HR/9, he also dished out free passes to 12.4% of the batters he faced. Bolton sits in the 92-95 MPH range with an above-average slider, and solid change-up. His walk rate was a career high by a mile, so it will be interesting to see if he can improve it going forward. Bolton will likely make his debut sometime this season.

J.C. Flowers mostly worked in long relief with two starts sprinkled in between. His long-term role is still up for debate, but for now, I have him as a swing-man pitcher. Overall, Flowers had a 2.88 ERA and 1.18 WHIP, albeit with a so-so 4.18 FIP. Flowers did manage better numbers after June, but there’s a lot more talent than the back of his baseball card says. He has some decent speed, clocking in at 94-96 MPH, but his slider is an elite-level offering. He also throws a two-seamer, but his changeup is a work in progress. On the plus side, he has shown some potential as a starting pitcher. But if he fails as a starter, he does have the stuff to become a high-leverage reliever.

Nick Dombkowski was an undrafted free agent after the 2021 draft, and he delivered a big 2022. In 67.1 innings (36 total appearances), the southpaw had a strong 3.07 ERA, 3.26 FIP, and 1.10 WHIP. Despite only hitting 88-92 on the radar, he struck out over 30% of the batters he faced (30.7%). He also managed a solid 6.7% walk rate and 0.94 HR/9. As stated earlier, Dombkowski isn’t a flamethrower. But both his slider and change-up flash above-average potential, and he’s considered to have above-average command. Dombkowksi worked in long relief and made two starts. He fits the mold of a swing-man type starter.