Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: Triple-A Sets Rotation For Opening Series
By Marty Leap
The top farm club of the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians, has set their starting rotation for their season-opening series this weekend. Who will be taking the ball for the Indians?
Thursday afternoon the MLB season began. For the Pittsburgh Pirates, they kicked their season off with a 5-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds. With the MLB season underway the 2023 minor league season is now set to begin.
This weekend, the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians will begin their 2023 season with a three-game series at Victroy Field in Indianapolis against the Omaha Storm Chasers. Thursday evening, the Indians set their starting rotation for this weekend's upcoming series.
Leading the way on Friday night will be righty Luis Ortiz. In the last calendar year Ortiz has shot up prospect boards to become one of the most exciting arms in the Pirate farm system. Last season Ortiz posted a 4.50 ERA while allowing just eight hits and striking out 17 batters in 16 MLB innings pitched.
Between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis last season Ortiz posted a 4.56 ERA, 4.40 FIP, 7.5% walk rate, and a very healthy 27.1% strikeout rate in 124.1 innings pitched. While Ortiz will begin the season at Triple-A, he should join the Pirate rotation at some time this summer.
Saturday afternoon's contest will see a compelte different look on the mound. This is because it will be veteran lefty Caleb Smith on the mound. After joining the Pirates as a minor league free agent and failing to make the team out of spring training, Smith accepting a minor league assignment and will begin the season in Indy's starting rotation.
Last season Smith battled injuries on his way to posting a 4.11 ERA, 5.57 FIP, 12.9% walk rate, and a 21.5% strikeout rate in 70 innings pitched. Smith will likely be used in some fashion in the majors at some point this season.
Sunday afternoon another highly touted pitching prospect will toe the rubber when the Indians send righty Mike Burrows to the mound. Like Ortiz, Burrows pitched for Altoona and Indianpolis last season. Burrows posted a 4.01 ERA, 3.29 FIP, 7.9% walk rate, and a 28.2% strikeout rate in 94.1 innings between the two levels. Also like Ortiz, Burrows should join the Pirate starting rotation some time this summer.