Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects 2023 Recap: Elijah Birdsong Struggles at Low-A

The first full professional season for Elijah Birdsong saw him struggle
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In his first full professional season, Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitching prospect Elijah Birdsong struggled with the Low-A Bradenton Marauders

In the 18th round of the 2022 MLB Draft the Pittsburgh Pirates selected Elijah Birdsong. The right-handed pitcher was selected out of the University of the Pacific in California. He came to the Pirates following a collegiate career that saw him work as both a starting pitcher and a relief pitcher.

After being drafted, Birdsong made his professional debut in 2022. Birdsong pitched 4.0 innings in 4 appearances with the Florida Complex League Pirates in the summer of 2022. In these 4.0 innings pitched, Birdsong allowed 3 runs on 2 hits, 3 walks, a home run, he hit a batter, and he struck out 3.

Last season, Birdsong made the jump to Low-A Bradenton. With the Marauders, Birdsong pitched 50.0 innings in 40 relief appearances. In his age-23 season, he posted a 7.02 ERA, 5.28 FIP, 12.7% walk rate, and an 18.1% strikeout rate. Opposing batters hit .259 off of Birdsong with 4 home runs (0.72 HR/9).

Outside of two appearances, Birdsong was able to put together a strong finish to the season. Birdsong pitched in 13 games from July 30th through the end of the season. He had a 9.00 ERA across 15.0 innings pitched in these 13 games, but that does not tell the whole story.

Birdsong had a pair of outings in this 13 game stretch where he allowed 9 earned runs in 1.0 innings pitched. Outside of these outings, Birdsong had a 3.85 ERA, allowing 7 hits, walking a batter, and striking out 11.

Looking ahead to 2024, Birdsong will likely begin the season back at Low-A Bradenton. Even though he was selected out of college, Birdsong is still just 24-years-old. There is still room for him to take a step and improve, something he may have been starting to show signs of late last season.

The 2024 season will be an important one for Birdsong. If he can take a step forward and improve as a pitcher, he could begin to work himself into being a worthwhile relief pitching prospect. If not, he could quickly fall into the abyss of farm system filler type players.

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