Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: Two Left-Handed Pitchers Deserving of an Extended Look in 2024

The Pirates have two left-handed pitching prospects who deserve an extended look in the Majors in 2024.

Bishop Eustace's Anthony Solometo delivers a pitch during Bishop Eustace's 2-0 victory over Ocean
Bishop Eustace's Anthony Solometo delivers a pitch during Bishop Eustace's 2-0 victory over Ocean / Chris LaChall/Courier-Post via Imagn
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Jackson Wolf

Jackson Wolf is one of the three players the Pirates got back for Ji-Man Choi and Rich Hill during last year’s trade deadline. Wolf spent nearly all of his 2023 season at Double-A, both for the San Diego Padres and the Pirates’ affiliates. However, he has already made his MLB debut. Wolf will likely open the year Triple-A Indianapolis, but since he’s already part of the Pirates’ 40-man roster, he has a good chance at getting a look in the big leagues.

But Wolf’s final four starts to the year inflated his numbers. Before August 30th, Wolf had a 3.79 ERA, 3.71 FIP, and 1.05 WHIP in his first 107 innings/23 games of 2023. Wolf’s walk rate remained at 6.3%, while his HR/9 didn’t become significantly worse as he had a 1.09 HR/9 before these four outings. But his strikeout rate was dramatically different at 29.3%. Four starts and 18 innings might not seem like much, but it changed his bottom line by a non-insignificant amount.

But while it may have changed the trajectory of his numbers, it probably didn’t change the trajectory of his next MLB start or how the Pirates view Wolf. The Southpaw doesn’t throw hard and only averaged 88-89 MPH and topped 90+ just once in his MLB debut. But Wolf displays a solid slider that he throws with about 42-43 inches of vertical break along with a low-80s change-up. He also tossed a curveball in the minor leagues that has average potential.

But, like Solometo, multiple factors to Wolf’s game make his stuff play up. Wolf adds a couple of ticks of velocity because of his release point. Wolf releases the ball about seven and a half feet in front of him, making his fastball, which averaged 88.9 MPH on the radar gun, look more like 91.2 MPH out of the hand. Of course, that goes for all his pitches and not just his fastball. He also spins his fastball very well and had a 99% active spin in his debut. This helped his fastball have average carry with only 21.5 inches of drop, but more impressively, 12.9 inches of break. Last year, there were only 21 qualified Major League pitchers whose fastball had more than 12.5 inches of break.

Despite his stuff not standing out on paper, Wolf registered a Stuff+ rating of 117, according to FanGraphs. That puts him above Dylan Cease, Brandon Woodruff, Shane McClanahan, Yu Darvish, and even the National League Cy Young winner and former teammate, Blake Snell. I think Wolf deserves a look as a starting pitcher next year.

Next. '23 recpa nielson. 2023 Prospect Recap: Cy Nielson. dark