Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: Building A Rotation Of Underrated Pitching Prospects

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

Justin Meis is our second 2021 draft pick of the day, joining Sean Sullivan. Meis was taken in the 11th round of the draft. It’s more likely he’ll end up as a relief pitcher long-term. But he still started a handful of games. A look at Meis’ numbers may make you wonder why he’s on today’s list.

Meis pitched 83 innings, working to a 4.55 ERA, 5.34 FIP, and 1.46 WHIP. The right-hander had a strikeout rate of just 20.9% with a mediocre 12.7% walk rate. He also struggled to limit home runs with a below-average 1.41 HR/9 rate. But Meis did have a strong second half to the season, catching fire after the All-Star Break.

Through his final 34.1 innings of the year, Meis pitched to a 2.08 ERA, 3.59 FIP, and 1.04 WHIP. Meis saw his strikeout rate go from below 18% in the first half to 28.1% in the second half. He averaged 2.05 home runs allowed per nine innings prior to the break but dropped that to just 0.52 in the second half. The only thing that got worse was his walk rate. His 12.2% walk rate was poor already, but saw an uptick to 13.7% in the second half.

Meis throws in the 94-95 MPH range, but his best pitch is his wipeout slider. It sits somewhere between a slurve and a sweeper and comes in around the mid-upper-80s. Meis’ arm action is somewhat whippy as he quickly brings his arm back in his wind-up. Maybe a slight simplification could help improve his command.

Meis made ten starts last season for Altoona, and his numbers out of the bullpen were slightly better than when he was a starter. We shall see the role Meis takes on next season. He’ll likely end up as a reliever where his velocity and break can play up, and lack of control can be hidden to a degree. Still, I decided to include him on this list because he made double-digit starts.

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