The 2023 season saw Pittsburgh Pirates pitching prospect Hunter Stratton make his MLB debut, a debut during which he impressed
During the 2023 season, multiple Pittsburgh Pirates prospects made their MLB debut. One of these prospects was right-handed relief pitcher Hunter Stratton. Stratton made his MLB debut in September and turned heads in the process.
Stratton started the 2023 season with the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians. In 47 games (2 starts) with the Indians, Stratton pitched 56.1 innings. Stratton posted a 3.99 ERA and a 4.27 FIP in his 56.1 innings pitched.
On the surface, Stratton's number at Triple-A were nothing special. His 12.8% walk rate included. However, Stratton struck out opposing batters at a very healthy 30.6% rate while limiting opposing batters to just a .212 batting average and allowing home runs a 1.12 HR/9 rate.
These results at Indy led to Stratton earning his first MLB call-up in September. During his September call-up, Stratton pitched 12.0 innings in 8 relief appearances. Stratton held opposing MLB batters to just a .209 batting average while allowing two home runs. He walked just 6.4% of opposing batters faced while striking opponents out at a 21.3% clip. All of this led to him owning a 2.25 ERA and a 4.76 FIP.
During his time in the majors, Stratton threw three pitches, a cutter, a four-seamed fastball, and a slider. His cutter held opposing batters to a .188 average, .375 slugging percentage, and a 32.0% whiff rate. His slider was even better, with a .143 opposing average, .286 slugging, and a 30.8% whiff rate. Even the four-seamer had a 20.6% whiff rate with just a .250 batting average aganst, but opponents slugged .600 off the pitch.
Stratton has shown the potential to have multiple pitches that can play at the major league level. This is something that can set any relief pitcher up for success, and success is what Stratton fund during his first trip to the majors.
Odds are, Stratton will start the 2024 season back at Triple-A Indianapolis. However, he could be one of the first relief pitchers to earn a promotion from the minors when the Pirates need reinforcements in their bullpen. It would not be a surprise to see Stratton become an important part of the Pirate bullpen during the 2024 season.