Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: Top Age-20 and Below Talents
By Noah Wright
The Pirates added what is likely their best under-20 prospect this past off-season when they signed Jun-Seok Shim at the international signing deadline. Shim opted to head to the United States instead of partaking in the Korean Baseball Organization's draft. Shim is a 6'4", 215 pounds right-hander who will turn 19 two days after PNC Park Opening Day (April 9th). Shim is known for his big fastball that sits mid-upper-90s but has hit triple-digits. His curveball has a 12-6 shape, and both his slider and change-up project as average.
Not only does he have a strong arsenal of pitchers, but he has a ton of makeup. Shim is an athletic pitcher. On top of that, he has clean mechanics, which are two factors that will help his command improve over time. He already has a feel for the strike zone, so he could develop above-average command by the time he's 21-22 years old.
The Pirates' next best teen pitching prospect was another arm they added fairly recently, that being Michael Kennedy, the Bucs' 4th round pick from 2022. Kennedy is a southpaw from New York who has a three-pitch arsenal. That includes a fastball, slider, and change-up. His fastball currently sits in the upper-80s/lower-90s and tops out at 92 MPH. He's still young, as he only turned 18 on November 30th, but he'll never be a flamethrower. He mostly uses deception and ride to make the pitch play to an above-average level. Even then, if he can sit 91-93 MPH in the future, he'll make his fastball a very good offering. Kennedy throws an upper-70s slider that gets swings and misses, as well as a change-up.
Kennedy has a clean and repeatable delivery, showing a good ability to command his stuff. He's one of the youngest players we'll talk about today, so he still has ways to go before he even gets to Altoona. That means there is still some projection left for the southpaw, which is only beneficial for him in the long run.