Pittsburgh Pirates: Prospects That Could Be On The Opening Day Roster

These three Pirates prospects could make the team's Opening Day roster.

San Diego Padres v Detroit Tigers
San Diego Padres v Detroit Tigers / Duane Burleson/GettyImages
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Jackson Wolf

The Pirates acquired Jackson Wolf from the San Diego Padres in the Rich Hill/Ji-Man Choi swap. Although Wolf has just one game played above Double-A, which happened to be his big league debut with the Padres, the side-arm southpaw could find himself as part of the Pirates' Opening Day pitching staff.

Before getting traded, Wolf had a solid 4.08 ERA, 3.86 FIP, and 1.09 WHIP for the Padre Double-A affiliate. Wolf had an outstanding 29.3% strikeout rate and a walk rate of just 6.3%. His 1.22 HR/9 rate was slightly worse than the league average, but with a 12.5% HR/FB ratio, he could see that go down in the future.

Wolf then made eight starts for Altoona. The first four were very good. He pitched 18 innings, only allowing five earned runs, striking out 19, walking six, and giving up one home run. Through this point of the season, Wolf had pitched 106.1 innings at Double-A with a 3.81 ERA, 3.73 FIP, and 1.05 WHIP. He was striking out just a shade under 30% of opponents (29.2%) with a 6.6% walk rate and 1.1 HR/9. He had an elite 4.43 K:BB ratio.

But Wolf would have a poor end to the 2023 campaign. His last four starts to 2023 were rough. Throughout his final 18 innings, he allowed 12 earned runs, struck out just 11, and allowed four home runs. He still only walked four batters, which was a positive. Still, it was only four outings and 18 innings. That doesn't eliminate the 105+ frames where he had good numbers.

Wolf doesn't throw very hard, as his four-seam fastball only averaged 88-90 MPH in his MLB debut. But because of its high active spin, it has well above average movement. He also displayed a solid slider and changeup. Of course, it was only one game, but stuff+ loved Wolf's game at 117.

Wolf is already on the 40-man roster and could compete for an Opening Day roster spot. Wolf could even be an option for a starting rotation spot. But with the Pirates having few left-handed options in the bullpen, he could end up as a long reliever/spot starter hybrid to start the year. Wolf turns 25 in late April, too.