Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: Three Relievers to Keep Monitoring
By Noah Wright
Another 2022 draft pick, Cy Nielson, definitely has the name to become a good pitcher. The Pirates took Nielson in the 8th round in what ended up being a very pitcher-heavy draft. Nielsen was selected out of Brigham Young University after a strong season there. He fully transitioned to the bullpen in 2022, and it worked out well for him.
Nielson pitched 33.2 innings in his final college season, working to a 3.21 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, and 6.43 K:BB ratio, Nielson struggled with command in previous seasons but cut his walk rate down to an elite 5.1% rate. He also struck out nearly a third of the opponents he faced with a 32.6% strikeout rate. The only blemish on his season was his so-so 1.10 HR/9, which was slightly below average in the West Coast Conference.
Nielson also pitched well in the Cape Cod League, only allowing three earned runs on one home run and striking out 17 in 13.2 innings. Good Cape Cod League performances were a trend among many of the Pirates' pitching draft picks. But those numbers didn't carry over into his pro debut. He only pitched 8.2 innings but allowed eight earned runs, eight walks, and eight strikeouts.
However, the start of the 2023 season has gone much better for Nielson. The left-hander has tossed 8.2 scoreless frames. He's struck out 14 batters in that time while only allowing three to reach via free pass. With just four hits allowed, his WHIP sits below 1.00 at 0.81. Even better is his 69.2% ground ball rate.
Like Bosnic, Nielson looks to be taking up a high-leverage role, but at Greensboro. He has closed out three of his six-game appearances. He has the typical reliever pitch combo, with a four-seam fastball and sweeping slider. Nielson is another left-hander with the potential to be a future high-leverage arm.