Left-handed Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitching prospect Tyler Samaniego's numbers were poor in 2023, but he may have pitched better than his overall results
Entering the 2023 season few relief pitching prospects in the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system were more highly thought of than Tyler Samaniego. The 24-year-old lefty was coming off a strong 2022 season with High-A Greensboro and Double-A Altoona and was looking to build upon that in 2023.
In 47.2 innings pitched during the 2022 season Samaniego posted a 2.45 ERA, 3.46 FIP, 10.9% walk rate, and a 25.5% strikeout rate. Even though his numbers ballooned in 2023, did he pitch worse than he did in 2022? Well, Samaniego may have been a victim of bad luck this past season more than anything else.
After reaching Altoona in 2022, Samaniego spent the entire 2023 season with the Curve. He was a workhorse out of hte Curve bullpen, pitching in 41 games and logging 47.1 innings pitched. However, his ERA ballooned to 5.51.
Samaniego's ERA did not tell the entire story for his season, though. His FIP was just 3.25. His walk rate was 11.1%, but his strikeout rate jumped to 26.0%. His home run rate also went in the right direction dropping from 0.59 HR/9 with Altoona in 2022 to 0.38 HR/9 this season.
The biggest issue for Samaniego in 2023 was his batting average on balls in play (BAbip). League average BAbip is around .300 each season. During the 2023 season, Samaniego's BAbip was .392. Well above league average. His high ERA but strong FIP and strikeout rate also indicate a pitcher who was bitten by an unsustainably high BAbip.
Looking ahead to 2024, Samaniego will likely begin the season back with Double-A Altoona. However, he could quickly find himself with Triple-A Indianapolis. Especially if he does bounce back and prove his 2023 struggles were due to his BAbip woes.