Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: Dissecting the Struggles of Jared Jones & Anthony Solometo

Jared Jones and Anthony Solometo haven't done great since getting promoted, though should you be legitimatly worried about it?
Feb 22, 2023; Bradenton, FL, USA;  Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Jared Jones (81) poses for photos
Feb 22, 2023; Bradenton, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Jared Jones (81) poses for photos / Dave Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
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Anthony Solometo

The other guy that some might start worrying about is Anthony Solometo. Like Jones, Solometo got off to an outstanding start before getting promoted to the next level. But over his last 51.2 innings, Solometo has a 4.35 ERA, 3.83 FIP, and 1.22 WHIP. He has a strong 6.5% walk rate , though a so-so 1.05 HR/9 and 23% K%. Batters are also hitting .245 against him.

When you look at it on paper without context, it looks like Solometo is struggling, badly. Double-A is where you see the separation between prospects and minor leaguers, and Solometo and an ERA above 4.00 doesn’t look too pretty. But that’s without context. Here’s what I see once adding context.

The league average ERA in the Eastern League is 4.27, which Solometo is less than a tenth of a run worse than. Batters take walks at a 10.8% rate, but Solometo is well below 8%. Solometo’s HR/9 rate is 1.05, which is exactly league average. Base runners aren’t much of an issue for the lefty, as his 1.22 WHIP is better than the 1.38 league average rate.

The only rate stat he is worse than league average by 1% or greater is strikeout rate. The league average is 25.7% while his is 23%. Even though his ERA is above 4.00, if you take out his shortest start of the season where he allowed three earned runs in just one frame, his ERA drops to 3.91.

Plus you also have to take this into consideration. Solometo won’t turn 21 until December second. He’s already pitched over 50 innings at Double-A in his age-20 campaign. Over the last five minor league seasons, there have been just 24 pitchers to have thrown at least 50 IP in their age 20 or younger season at the Double-A level. That’s out of 1390 pitchers. Of those 24, five have come from the Eastern League, including Solometo.  There have been just 30 pitchers in the last decade to have thrown at least 50 innings at Double-A in their age-20 season over the last decade, and Solometo is one of them.

Instead of looking at it as a top prospect struggling at arguably the most important level of the minor leagues, maybe we should look at it as Solometo being the 13th youngest pitcher to throw 50+ innings at Double-A over the last five years in one season. He is also the youngest pitcher in the Eastern League this year to have thrown at least 50 frames by over a whole year younger. Not only has he been able to reach Double-A at an age where many top prospects are still at Low-A, he’s been able to produce league average numbers as well.

You can call it a glass half full perspective, you can call me biased, and you could say I am only looking at it through rose colored glasses. But like all things in life, context matters. Things have nuance, and what you see at first glance isn’t always the full story.

Here’s what I see: I see two young pitchers who have immense talent whose numbers aren’t great at two levels where they’re one of the youngest pitchers in their respective leagues. They’re young enough that they wouldn’t look out of place at Low-A or High-A ball. The fact they’ve been able to put up respectable numbers should mean something, even if they aren’t jumping off the page.

Next. late inning arm needed. Another Reliable Late Inning Bullpen Arm is Needed. dark