Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: A Trend With Ben Cherington's Top Left-Handed Pitchers

There is a noticable trend with Ben Cherington's top left-handed pitching prospects.
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Ben Cherington has acquired four left-handed top pitching prospects since taking over as general manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates, all of which follow a similar trend

The Pittsburgh Pirates have a handful of left-handed starting pitching prospects in their system. According to FanGraphs, the Pirates have four top left-handed starting pitching prospects among their top 25. However, there is a trend with all four of their top left-handed pitchers that have been acquired under Ben Cherington's regime.

Those four pitching prospects include Anthony Solometo, Michael Kennedy, Hunter Barco, and Jackson Wolf. You may have already noticed the trend, but the first is that the Pirates haven't acquired many hard-throwing lefties. The hardest-throwing member of this quartet is Anthony Solometo, who sat 91-94 MPH last season and even topped out at 95. He's made significant progress in his velocity from when he was drafted in 2021 but still isn't considered a hard-throwing pitcher.

The second thing is that they are all very low-arm slot guys. Solometo was the first, with an arm slot many compared to Madison Bumgarner. Michael Kennedy and Hunter Barco were both taken in the 2022 draft, two more guys who throw from a low angle. Then there's Wolf, who was acquired from the San Diego Padres at the trade deadline. He also throws from a near-sidearm angle.

This might be a reason why you see things like this, where Baseball America ranked the Pirates' system 23rd in stuff+. Now, that doesn't mean that these pitchers don't have good stuff. As I previously talked about, Jackson Wolf rated fairly high in stuff+ in his Major League debut. But they don't have elite spin rate or velocity, which hurts them in the stuff+ statistic as spin and velocity are two main factors stuff+ takes into account. Pirates' pitching prospects still had the t-6th best chase rate and t-11th in-zone whiff rate.

While there are many lefty finesse pitchers out there, the Pirates not going after any power lefties is a bit of an interesting trend. We shall see if this sort of strategy works out for the Pirates. Of course, Cherington could draft to trade for a hard-throwing lefty starter in the future, but as of right now, the only ones he has acquired have been soft-tossing lefties who rely on a deceptive low arm slot and command.

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