Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects 2023 Recap: Young LHP Impresses in First Professional Action

Jul 25, 2021; San Francisco, California, USA; A Pittsburgh Pirates hat and glove sit in the dugout
Jul 25, 2021; San Francisco, California, USA; A Pittsburgh Pirates hat and glove sit in the dugout / Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Pitching professional for the first time, left-handed pitching prospect Michael Kennedy had a strong 2023 season in the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system

During his time as general manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Ben Cherington has had a tendency to go pitcher heavy in the draft. This has included both college and prep arms being selected by Cherington and the Pirates.

One of the more intriguing prep arms that Cherington has selected during his time as general manager of the Pirates is lefty Michael Kennedy. The Pirates selected Kennery with the 110th overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft, and he could quickly rise to become one of the best pitching prospects in the Pirate farm system.

Kennedy was selected out of Troy High School in Troy, New York. He came to the Pirate organization as a pitcher with a three-pitch mix. Kennedy throws a fastball, slider, and a changeup. MLB Pipeline rates Kennedy's fastball and slider as 55-grade pitches while giving his changeup a 50-grade. Kennedy has 55-grade control. All of this leads to MLB Pipeline ranking Kennedy as the 11th best prospect in the Pirate farm system.

After being drafted, Kennedy did not pitch professionally in 2022. Instead, he made his professional debut last June in the Florida Complex League. Kennedy would quickly turn heads by pitching well in Florida.

Kennedy pitched 42.1 innings in the Florida Complex League, posting a 2.13 ERA and a 3.43 FIP, while limiting opponents to a .171 batting average and allowing just 1 home run (0.21 HR/9). While Kennedy walked 11.1% of opposing batters, he countered this with a very healthy 32.2% strikeout rate.

This success led to Kennedy, who was just 18-years-old at the time, earning a promotion to Low-A Bradenton. Kennedy pitched twice for the Marauders, allowing just 1 run on a pair of hits in 4.1 innings pitched. While he did walk 6 batters with Bradenton while throwing 3 wild pitches, he also struck out 8.

Looking ahead to 2024, Kennedy appears primed to start the season at Low-A. This would be an aggressive move by the Pirates with Kennedy being just 19-years-old, but it would also be a move that Kennedy has earned.

That said, in an effort to watch his innings it's also possible that Kennedy begins the season back in the Florida Complex League once again before joining the Bradenton starting rotation. Regardless of where Kennedy's 2024 season begins, he will be one of the more intriguing Pirate prospects to watch this season.

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