Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: Building A Rotation Of Underrated Pitching Prospects

A look at a minor league rotation built with the Pirates' underrated pitching prospects.

St Louis Cardinals v Pittsburgh Pirates
St Louis Cardinals v Pittsburgh Pirates / Justin K. Aller/GettyImages
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Khristian Curtis

Khristian Curtis was a 12th-round pick by the Pirates in 2023. But Curtis was ranked as a much better talent than a 12th-round pick. MLB Pipeline had him as the 197th-best prospect in the draft. Baseball America was significantly more bullish on him, placing him at 146. Meanwhile, Future Star Series puts him directly in the middle at 172.

Curtis’ 2023 season was not great. In 64 innings, Curtis pitched to just a 7.03 ERA, 1.73 WHIP, and 1.66 K:BB ratio. The right-hander had an 18.7% strikeout rate along with a mediocre 11.2% walk rate. His 1.69 HR/9 rate was also below average in the PAC-12. Curtis did, however, look significantly better in 2022, but only pitched 22 innings.

There were significant injury concerns going into the draft, which led to him falling so far. He did not pitch in 2021 due to ulnar nerve surgery. Elbow issues lingered into 2022 as he needed another procedure to remove stitches in his arm. Although most sites had him ranked as a top 200 draft pick, he ended up going 347th overall, but the Pirates signed him to an overslot deal worth nearly $500K.

When healthy, Curtis can run his fastball into the low-mid-90s with movement. His slider is his best breaking pitch. Scouts observed it as a very firm offering that comes in the upper-80s. Because of how hard he throws it, some say it has cutter-like attributes. Curtis’ best off-speed pitch is his fading change-up. It’s probably the best pitch of his arsenal. He’ll also throw a looping curveball, but it’s considered the worst pitch of his arsenal.

Curtis keeps his arm relatively short throughout his delivery. He mostly uses his size to generate velocity, as he does not throw with an overly complicated or high-effort delivery. His arm slot is from a high three-quarters angle as well.

Curtis has a lot of physicality on his side as he stands at 6’5”, 210 pounds. It will be interesting to see how Curtis can pitch in a fully healthy season. MLB Pipeline made it sound like he had trouble tunneling and commanding his pitches because of his injuries. Future Star Series stated that he is trending upward.