After pitching well at Low-A last season, the Pittsburgh Pirates promoted pitching prospect J.P. Massey to High-A where he struggled
With their 7th-round pick in the 2022 MLB Draft, the Pittsburgh Pirates selected right-handed pitcher J.P. Massey out of the University of Minnesota. 2023 was Massey's first professional season. After starting the season strong, he ran into troubles following a summertime promotion.
Massey started the 2023 season with the Low-A Bradenton Marauders. Massey pitched 11 games with the Marauders, with 9 of them being starts. He pitched 49.1 innings at Bradenton, posting a 3.28 ERA and a 4.31 FIP.
He allowed just 4 home runs for a 0.73 HR/9 with the Marauders, but struggled with his control hitting 5 batters, throwing 6 wild pitches, and walking 11.4% of batters faced. Massey did post a strong 27.1% strikeout rate with the Marauders.
The success Massey found with Bradenton contributed to him pitching for the National League team in last summer's Future Game. Massey pitched the 7th inning, and with the help of a struck out worked around a trio of walks to pitch a scoreless inning.
In late June, Massey was promoted to High-A Greensboro. The first time Massey pitched at the High-A level, he logged 31 innings in 9 starts. Massey would struggle following his promotion, posting a 4.65 ERA and a 5.54 FIP.
Massey's control issues not only continued with Greensboro, it got worse. His walk rate spiked to 17.4% while his strikeout rate dropped to 19.7%. His home run rate rose to 0.87 HR/9. Honestly, Massey was lucky his results with Greensboro were not even worse as he benefitted from a batting average on balls in play of just .200.
When the 2024 minor league season begins Massey should find himself back with Greensboro. Refining his control issues will be the top priority for Massey in 2024. His control issues always plagued him in college as well where he split time between the starting rotation and the bullpen for the Golden Gophers.
There are major question marks about Massey's long-term outlook as a professional. If he can not improve his control while improving his secondary pitches, Massey's long-term home will be as a reliever.