Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects: Very Early Look at Potentially Exciting 2024 Risers

While the 2023 season is far from over, let's take a way too early look at three potentially exciting prospects who could get extended looks next season.

Florida pitcher Hunter Barco (12) fields a bunt and throws to first to record an out against
Florida pitcher Hunter Barco (12) fields a bunt and throws to first to record an out against / Gary Cosby Jr. via Imagn Content
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Jun-Seok Shim

In my unprofessional opinion, Jun-Seok Shim has the highest ceiling among all the Pirates' current pitching prospects. Shim’s professional debut is likely one he’ll remember, pitching four perfect innings at the Florida Complex League, striking out eight of the 12 batters he faced. Sure, while it was just one contest in the FCL, you can’t say he couldn’t have made a better first impression.

However, Shim was considered one of Korea’s top draft prospects before his impressive debut. There was a real argument he could have gone first overall in the Korean Baseball Organization’s (KBO) Draft. But, instead of heading into the draft, he decided to take his talents stateside. The Pirates landed the right-hander for $750,000 and was considered the best international pitching prospect at the time.

There’s a reason why he was so highly touted in Korea and why I believe he could become the Pirates’ next top pitching prospect. He’s already topping out in the triple-digits as a teenager. He typically sits around 94-96 MPH, which is still highly impressive for such a young arm. He also tosses an above-average 12-6 curveball with a slider and change-up that both look like they could be complementary offerings.

But the biggest reason why is because he’s not just a flamethrower with little command. He’s displayed solid command for his age and his velocity. Shim is athletic with a repeatable delivery, both of which are factors that could help him improve his ability to locate in the future.

Shim is currently at the Pirate Florida Complex League affiliate. He’s one step away from Bradenton, and playing a full season in 2024 could make him skyrocket through prospect rankings. He certainly has the potential to be one of baseball’s highest-touted prospects.