Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: Triple-A Rotation Should Be Strong

SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game
SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game / Kevork Djansezian/GettyImages

When the season begins, the Pittsburgh Pirates should have a strong starting rotation at the Triple-A level

Last week we discussed that the Pittsburgh Pirates should have what will resemble a legitimate MLB starting rotation during the 2023 season. Not just that, but the Pirates should also have quality rotation depth.

Quality rotation depth is something that the Pittsburgh Pirates have not had in quite a few years. In recent years there have been far to many instances of waiver claims, career journeymen, or pitchers such as Jerad Eickhoff making starts when the Pirates need to starting dipping into their starting rotation depth.

A driving force behind the team's starting pitch depth will be their starting rotation at Triple-A. When the 2023 season begins, the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians will have a starting rotation that could be one of the more talented and exciting ones in all of minor league baseball.

Headlining the Indian starting rotation will be Quinn Priester. The 18th overall pick in the 2019 draft was in need of a strong bounce back campaign in 2022, which is exactly what he did across the Double-A and Triple-A levels.

Priester posted a 3.29 ERA, 3.59 FIP, 8.0% walk rate, and a 23.6% strikeout rate in 84.2 innings pitched in 17 starts across the two levels. The strong season saw Priester rise to being the no. 5 prospect in the Pirate farm system according to FanGraphs, and no. 3, as well as 44th best prospect in all of baseball, according to MLB Pipeline.

Another highly touted right-handed pitching prospect that will join Priester in Indy's rotation to start the season is Mike Burrows. Burrows ranks as the team's no. 11 prospect per FanGraphs and no. 8 per MLB Pipeline.

Last season, Burrows had a 2.94 ERA, 2.72 FIP, 8.9% walk rate and a very strong 32.4% strikeout rate in 52 innings pitched in 12 starts at Double-A. This earned him a promotion to Triple-A. With Indy, Burrows posted a 5.31 ERA in 42.1 innings pitched in 12 innings. However, things go a bit deeper than the results.

While Burrows strikeout rate dropped to 24.3%, which is still strong, his walk rate also dropped at the Triple-A level as it was just 6.7%. Burrows began to have his innings limited late in the season. This contributed to his ERA ballooning some due to not having as many innings to improve his ERA after a few poor outings.

What was most important for Burrows in 2022 is that he developed his changeup. Burrows entered the season in need of a third pitch. Not only did his changeup come a long way last season, it developed into a pitch with plus potential.

Luis Ortiz, who impressed while getting a cup of coffee in the majors last September, also appears ticketed for Indy's rotation to begin the season. Ortiz had a meteoric rise last season, starting the season as a little talked about prospect and finishing it by throwing a 100 MPH fastball to go with a nasty slider in the majors.

While Ortiz will likely begin the season in the rotation at Triple-A, he may be the first starting pitcher the Pirates go to when they need rotation help next season. If Ortiz pitches anywhere near as well as he did last season, he will be a mainstay in the Pirate rotation by the end of the season.

Next. Offseason Additions Compliment the Roster Well. dark

If all goes according to plan, Priester, Burrows, and Ortiz will all have spots anchored down in the Pirate starting rotation by the end of the 2023 season. Having this trio at Indianapolis to begin the season will give the Indians a strong rotation to begin the season.