The first full professional season for Pittsburgh Pirates pitching prospect Derek Diamond was a tale of two stories between the Low-A and High-A levels
In the 6th round of the 2022 MLB Draft the Pittsburgh Pirates selected Derek Diamond. The right-handed pitcher was selected out of Ole Miss, and went on to pitch 4 innings in the Florida Complex League in 2022.
The 2023 season saw a big jump for the 22-year-old Diamond. In his first full professional season, Diamond made 12 starts while making 15 appearances with the Low-A Bradenton Marauders. He then earned a promotion to High-A Greensboro, where he made 9 starts for the Grasshoppers.
Diamond pitched 74.2 innings with Bradenton and then logged 45 more following his promotion to Greensboro. In his 119.2 innings pitched, Diamond posted a 4.74 ERA and a 4.77 FIP. He walked just 5.9% of batters faced while striking out 19.2% of opposing batters and allowing home runs at a 1.20 HR/9 rate.
Diamond's 2023 season was a tale of two seasons between Bradenton and Greensboro.
With the Marauders, Diamond posted 3.98 ERA and a 3.71 FIP. Diamond had a 4.9% walk rate, 20.4% strikeout rate, and allowed home runs at a 0.60 HR/9 rate at Low-A. Additionally, he generated ground balls at a healthy 53.3% rate at Low-A while allowing line-drives at just a 18.7% clip.
Once he got to High-A, all of Diamond's numbers went in the wrong direction. With the Grasshoppers, he posted a 6.00 ERA, 6.53 FIP, 7.7% walk rate, and a 17.3% strikeout rate. His home run rate jumped to an alarming 2.20 HR/9, his ground ball rate dropped to 36.2%, and his line-drive rate rose to 25.5%.
Looking ahead to 2024, Diamond will almost certainly begin the season back with Greensboro. Diamond will need to take a big step forward from how he pitched for the Grasshoppers last season. If he fails to do so, then his long-term future with the organization may be as a relief pitcher.