Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: Most Surprising Performer at Each Level

These Pittsburgh Pirates prospects have been the most surprising this season
Second baseman Alika Williams (7) throws to first for an out during the Montgomery Biscuits vs
Second baseman Alika Williams (7) throws to first for an out during the Montgomery Biscuits vs / Gregg Pachkowski / gregg@pnj.com / USA
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Low-A Bradenton - Derek Diamond

We have our first pitcher and our second 2022 draft pick of the day in the form of RHP Derek Diamond. Diamond was selected after Gonzalez. Fresh off a College World Series win with Ole Miss, Diamond has become a potential ‘diamond in the rough’ (pun intended). Despite his uninspiring surface numbers, there are some more metrics here that make him an intriguing player.

Diamond owns a 4.26 ERA on the season, but that’s mostly inflated by a .335 batting average on balls in play. The right-hander has been outstanding at limiting home runs and walks. He has a quality 0.67 HR/9 rate while only walking 4.9% of the opponents he’s faced. He also has a ground ball rate above 50% at 51.7%. Diamond’s ability to prevent walks is nothing new. He had a 4.4% walk rate in his last season in college. However, his ability to prevent home runs has become significantly better. Throughout his entire college career, Diamond had a 1.90 HR/9 rate.

All of this has led to a significantly better-looking 3.73 FIP and 3.80 xFIP. Diamond allows so few walks that it helps his sub-par 20.5% strikeout rate play up. The right-hander is one of just 14 players at the Low-A level with a K:BB ratio of at least 4.0 in 50+ innings of work. Diamond clocks in at 4.14, the 12th highest rate.

Diamond isn’t a super hard thrower but has shown some velocity in the past. In one of his most recent games, he was averaging out at 92.2 MPH with his four-seam fastball and with an above-average spin. His changeup averages out with well under 2000 RPM of spin, and he also tosses a slider and curveball with regularity.