Super Sleeper Pitching Prospect
One of the Pirates' later-round picks in 2021 was Sean Sullivan. Overshadowed by the likes of Henry Davis, Bubba Chandler, Anthony Solometo, White Jr., and Braylon Bishop, the Bucs' 9th-round selection certainly wasn't a flashy pick, but one that has a chance to thrive next year given some better-batted ball luck.
Sullivan worked to a 4.68 ERA, 5.47 FIP, and 1.36 WHIP throughout 75 innings. The right-hander's 25.8% strikeout rate and 8.3% walk rate were both above the league average of 25.2% and 10.5%, respectively. Where Sullivan struggled was home runs as he gave up long balls at a 1.92-per-9 rate.
But his home run issue may not be an issue next season. While Jones had a 16% HR/FB ratio, Sullivan's was even higher at 26.7%, the 4th highest among all minor league pitchers with 70+ frames. Sullivan didn't even have a terrible ground ball rate at 41.3%. If his HR/FB ratio was a much more reasonable 12%, he would have had an 0.86 HR/9 (assuming he would induce the same amount of ground balls).
Sullivan isn't much of a flamethrower, averaging out in the low-90s. He throws a slider, curveball, and change-up, but with decent command. Overall, everything plays at about an average level, but his command helps his stuff get the extra oomph. For Sullivan to break out, he just needs better flyball luck. Almost no pitcher is able to sustain an HR/FB ratio over 25%. Since batted ball data started being tracked, an HR/FB ratio of 25%+ has happened just 13 times in the minor leagues and six times in the majors (min. 70 IP),