Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: Three More Potential 2023 Debuts

The Pittsburgh Pirates should debut these prospects this year.
Feb 22, 2023; Bradenton, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Malcom Nunez (78) poses for photos
Feb 22, 2023; Bradenton, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Malcom Nunez (78) poses for photos / Dave Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
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Anthony Solometo

The Pirates drafted Anthony Solometo in the second round of the 2021 draft with high hopes he could become a long-term and highly effective member of their Major League pitching staff. While Solometo was a second-rounder, he was an over-slot second-rounder. Many had him going to a team in the second half of the first round. But teams passed on him because he was a high schooler, and he fell to the Pirates with the 37th overall selection.

Solometo’s first chance at facing professional batters went swimmingly. In 47.2 innings at Bradenton in 2022, Solometo owned a 2.64 ERA, 2.83 FIP, and 1.05 WHIP. Solometo didn’t allow a single home run and struck out 27.1% of opponents. He walked a surprising amount of batters, handing out a free pass at a 10.1% rate, but it was the only blemish on an otherwise excellent start to his pro career.

Despite pitching just under 50 frames at A-Ball, the Pirates let Solometo try and tackle High-A opponents, which he did with flying colors. In 58.2 innings, the Southpaw pitched to a 2.30 ERA, 3.15 FIP, and 1.16 WHIP. He upped his strikeout rate to 29.1% and allowed just two home runs. Again, his walk rate was a tad high at 10.7%, but this was more than good enough for the Bucs to give Solometo the promotion to Double-A.

Double-A is where you typically start to see the real talent get separated from the minor leaguers. So far, Double-A has not given Solometo any challenge. He currently has a 3.14 ERA, 3.04 FIP, and 1.08 WHIP. Solometo has finally cut his walk rate down, sitting at just 5.7%, but he’s maintained a strong 28.7% strikeout rate. His 0.98 HR/9 is a slight uptick from Greensboro, but it’s still a more than manageable rate. He’s 50/50 in allowing a home run vs not allowing a home run in his six starts for Altoona.

While Solometo was never going to develop into an Aroldis Chapman, he’s gained velocity since the Pirates drafted him. He’s now sitting 92-95 MPH, which is significantly more than in 2021 when he was averaging out at 87-91 MPH fresh out of high school. Solometo also throws a pretty good slider, as well as a quality changeup. However, everything plays up because of his elite command and his delivery, which adds deception.

Solometo is probably the longest shot of any of the Pirates prospects I’ve discussed so far. However, I do see him making a late-season debut, ala Roansy Contreras in 2021 and Luis Ortiz in 2022. I wouldn’t rule out the chance the Pirates give him the nod for 1-3 starts in September, just to see what he can do at the Major League level. Solometo has ace potential and could start showing that late this year.