Thomas Harrington was the organization's competitive balance pick last year. The right-hander may not have the most potential in the system, but he has some attributes that could help him play up and become one of the Pirates' best prospects. This is one of the players the Bucs should be a bit aggressive with.
Harrington's last season at Campbell University went great. The right-hander pitched 92.2 innings, working to a 2.53 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, and 6.17 K:BB ratio. He had a 30% strikeout rate and a walk rate of just 4.9%. Both his strikeout rate and walk rate were outstanding, but his ability to prevent home runs was his greatest strength, allowing just one dinger for a 0.10 HR/9 rate.
Harrington only hits 90-93 MPH on the radar gun but tops out at 96. There's certainly potential for him to maintain a higher average velocity, something closer to 92-94 MPH. Despite being a college arm, he still has some projection with a 6'2", 185 pound frame. His athleticism will likely play a factor in his development.
Aside from his fastball, Harrington has a slider, curveball, and changeup. All four offerings project as average to above average. But his one plus-plus pitch is his changeup. It's the off-speed pitch he generates most of his swings-and-misses with. Everything comes out of a three-quarters arm slot, and he certainly has plus command.
So how can the Pirates be aggressive with Harrington? They should start him at Greensboro. Harrington is 21 but will be 22 by mid-season (July 12th). It's not as if Harrington is so young he would be out of place at High-A. The average age of pitchers at this level last season was 22.6 years old, while the average age of batters was slightly younger at 22.2 years. By the end of the season, he'd be as old as the average batter.
Starting him at Greensboro rather than Bradenton may also help him boost his prospect stock. Greensboro is a notorious home-run-friendly park. Overall, the South Atlantic League is hitter-friendly, with an average of 5.10 runs scored per-9 innings (earned runs and unearned runs combined). If Harrington can conquer Greensboro and the hitter-friendly league the team is in, he may gain significant prospect stock.