Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: Two Break Out Candidates for 2023

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Pitcher Kyle Nicolas

Right-handed pitcher Kyle Nicolas is one of the three players that the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired from the Miami Marlins last offseason in exchange for catcher Jacob Stallings. There is some question if Nicolas will end up as a starting pitcher or a relief pitcher long-term, but 2023 will present him with the opportunity to answer this question.

In his first season in the Pirate organization Nicolas pitched for the Double-A Altoona Curve. Nicolas spent the entire 2022 season at Altoona, pitching 90.2 innings in 24 appearances, 22 of which were starts.

Nicolas posted a 3.97 ERA, 4.30 FIP, and allowed home runs at just a 0.89 HR/9 clip. While Nicolas had some issues with control walking batters at a 12.1% clip and hitting batters, he also generated a strong 25.9% strikeout rate.

Last season, Nicolas allowed 8 earned runs in his third start of the season. After this, he went on to pitch very well. Across his final 21 appearances, 19 starts, of the season Nicolas posted a 3.56 ERA and a 3.88 FIP while allowing home runs at a 0.56 HR/9 rate. During this strong stretch Nicolas limited opposing batters to a .203 batting average, while walking batters at a 12.4% rate and striking out 26.0% of batters faced.

The 23-year-old righty throws a power fastball with a plus slider. He also throws a curveball that has the potential to develop into a plus pitch. Nicolas also throws a changeup that he is continuing to work on and develop.

When the 2023 season begins Nicolas should once again be in the rotation for Double-A Altoona. However, if he ptiches well as prospects such as Quinn Priester, Luis Ortiz, and Mike Burrows graduate from Triple-A and join the Pittsburgh Pirates, Nicolas should be able to make his way into the rotation for Indianapolis. This could put Nicolas in line for his MLB debut at some point in 2023. Even if he does not reach the majors, Nicolas is still in position to put together a 2023 season that sees him break out as one of the organization's best pitching prospects.