The Pittsburgh Pirates could see these two pitching prospects make a major impact in the big leagues in 2024
The Pittsburgh Pirates upper-level minor leagues have gained a lot of talent this month. However, just over the past week, two pitching prospects have risen to Double-A and Triple-A, that being Anthony Solometo and Jared Jones, respectively. Now that they're at the two highest levels of the minor leagues, you have to seriously consider that they could have a major impact on the 2023 season.
Jones' promotion was the most recent. Before getting moved to Triple-A Indy, the hard-throwing right-hander owned a 2.23 ERA, 3.42 FIP, and 1.08 WHIP. Opponents only managed a batting average right around the Mendoza line at .201 while also striking out over a quarter of the time vs. Jones (26.3%). Not only was Jones striking out batters at a healthy rate, but he also had a solid 8.9% walk rate, which has so far been the best of his minor league career, and has an HR/9 of just 0.61.
Jones can crank it up around 97-98 MPH with over 2500 RPM of spin. His fastball might just be the best in the Pirates' system. However, he pairs that with a plus slider, an above-average curveball, and an average changeup. When the Pirates drafted Jones out of high school in 2020, both his command and control were in question and would be the difference maker in his development. His control has certainly come a long way, though his command is still a little spotty.
A year after the Pirates selected Jones in the second round of the 2020 draft, they then picked Solometo in the same round in 2021. Solometo's first season of pro ball was outstanding, and was moved to High-A Greensboro to open the 2023 campaign. Through 58.2 innings, Solometo owned a 2.30 ERA, 3.16 FIP, and 1.16 WHIP. While he had a sub-par 10.7% walk rate, he also struck out nearly 30% of the opponents he faced (29.1%) while having a strong 49.6% ground ball rate and 0.31 HR/9. It's impressive how well he was able to suppress home runs while playing for Greensboro. Solometo's first game at Altoona had its ups and downs. While he allowed two earned runs in five innings (one home run allowed), he also had an outstanding 7:1 K:BB ratio.
Solometo, unlike Jones, does not throw hard. His velocity is trending in the right direction, sitting around 91-94 MPH. The lefty also throws a slider/slurve and changeup. All three of his offerings are average to above average, but everything plays up because of his ability to locate, as well as the deception in his wind-up and delivery. Solometo throws with a big leg kick and arm slot reminiscent of Madison Bumgarner. He also has the best command in the Pirate system.
Both Solometo and Jones should start the 2024 season at Triple-A Indy. Jones has a chance to make his major league debut if he keeps pitching well and is healthy. That doesn't mean I think he'll be promoted next month, but he could get a late-season call, akin to Roansy Contreras in 2021. However, both Solometo and Jones could both be in the Pirate starting rotation by this point next season.