A strong 2023 season put Sean Sullivan on the map as a pitching prospect for the Pittsburgh Pirates
Entering the 2023 season, right-handed pitching prospect Sean Sullivan is one who likely was not on the radar of many Pittsburgh Pirates fans. However, following a strong season with Double-A Altoona Sullivan has put himself on the map.
Sullivan spent the entire 2023 season with Altoona, pitching in 24 games with 21 starts. Even though he dealt with an injury that cost him time in the middle of the season, Sullivan was arguably the best pitcher for the Curve this past season.
In what was his age-22 season, Sullivan pitched 113.2 innings. This was a big jump for Sullivan who had pitched 75 innings in 20 appearances (15 starts) with the High-A Greensboro Grasshoppers in 2022.
Across his 113.2 innings pitched Sullivan posted a 3.88 ERA and a 41.6 FIP. He walked 8.3% of opposing batters, an overall strong number, and struck out 20.4% of opposing batters. Sullivan allowed just 13 home runs (1.03 HR/9) while holding opposing batters to a .244 batting average.
Sullivan's season came on the back of a fastball, slider, changeup repertoire. Of these three pitches, his slider is the best being rated a 50-grade pitch by FanGraphs. His fastball and changeup are 45 and 40-grade pitches, respectively.
It will be interesting to see where Sullivan is when the 2024 season begins. There is an argument for him to begin the season back at Altoona, but there is also a strong argument to be made for him to start with Triple-A Indianapolis.
What the Pirates do this offseason could also impact where Sullivan lands. Any starting pitchers the add this offseason could impact which starting pitchers begin the season in the rotation at Indy. This could lead to a trickle down effect that impacts where Sullivan begins the 2024 season.
Regardless of where Sullivan's 2024 season begins, it is one that could end with him in the majors. Something that would have seemed very unlikely at the start of the 2023 season. Sullivan's long-term outlook is debatable. It could be as a starter or a reliever, but his 2023 season but him on the map as a legitimate major league prospect.