Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: Po-Yu Chen Pitching Well Enough to Earn a Promotion

Pirates pitching prospect Po-Yu Chen could soon get moved to Double-A Altoona.
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Pittsburgh Pirates pitching prospect Po-Yu Chen has been dominant over the last three months, and could soon get promoted to Double-A Altoona.

Pittsburgh Pirates pitching prospect Po-Yu Chen is having a strong season for High-A Greensboro. After starting the year on a rough patch, Chen has dominated over the last three months. After his flat-out awesome outing on the ninth, Chen may soon get promoted to Double-A Altoona.

At one point, Chen looked like he was in for a rough season. Through May 10th, Chen had pitched 19.1 innings in five starts. He walked eight, allowed five home runs, and 17 total earned runs scored on his watch. He did strikeout 17, but batters hit over .300 during this stretch. But since then, Chen has found his footing for Greensboro.

Since May 11th, Chen has pitched to the tune of a 2.87 ERA, 4.69 FIP, and 1.21 WHIP in 78.1 innings. He’s striking out batters at a strong 28% rate while keeping a good enough 9% walk rate. Overall, he’s kept his K:BB ratio just over 3.0 at 3.11. Home runs have still been an issue for Chen, with a 1.38 HR/9. But Greensboro is known for its hitter-friendliness. He has a 21.3% HR/FB ratio on the season, which is the second highest among High-A pitchers with at least 50 frames.

Chen’s most recent start could have been the best of his career had it not been cut to just 4.2 innings. The right-hander struck out a career-high 12 batters, which is four more than his previous single-game best. That means he struck out two-thirds of the opponents he faced (he faced 18 total batters).

He did issue two walks, but neither impacted the game, as he didn’t allow a single run. Chen was too dominant for his own good, in a way. He needed at least 36 pitches to strike out 12 batters. He also took another eight to walk two batters. Of course, not every batter went down on three pitches or took first base on four outside the zone.

Regardless of how many pitches it took for Chen to get through 4.2 innings, it’s still 4.2 shutout innings with a dozen strikeouts and only two walks. It marks the 15th straight outing that Chen has allowed three or fewer runs. 13 of those appearances lasted at least five innings. The right-hander has been both a dominant starting pitcher and a durable one since about mid-May.

Because of how well Chen has done recently, he should be prepared to get moved to Altoona. He is still young, only 21 years old, but he’s earned a move to the next level of the minor leagues. If he does get moved to Altoona before the mid-way point of August, that would put him on a very good trajectory for 2024.

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