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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Hunter Barco

A lot of fans are still enamored with Termarr Johnson, and rightfully so. First-round competitive balance pick Thomas Harrington could potentially be a top 100 prospect by the end of the season, if not by the start of the 2024 campaign. But after the Pirates selected these two talents in the 2022 draft, they then selected Hunter Barco, who was their second-round pick.

Barco has yet to play pro ball because he underwent Tommy John surgery. Although his season was cut short because of the surgery, he pitched well for the University of Florida leading up to his injury. In 50.1 innings, Barco had a 2.50 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, and 6.27 K:BB ratio. Barco struck out over a third of his opponents with a 34.3% strikeout rate while keeping walks to a minimum. His free pass percentage was just 5.5%. His 1.07 HR/9 was his worst rate stat; it was still above average in the SEC.

Barco is not a hard-throwing pitcher, only sitting around the low-90s and topping out at 95 with his four-seamer. His best pitch is his sweeping slider, which generates a lot of movement and swings and misses. The third offering in his arsenal is a changeup. Barco uses his arm slot to add deception to his stuff as well.

The southpaw has also been able to command his stuff well. He’s able to back-foot his slider against right-handed batters, and his arm slot makes it tough on lefties to hit his primary breaking pitch. FanGraphs also states that he has more underlying pitch metrics that could help him rise above his current projected outlook.

The earliest Barco could come back is late this season. Depending on how late could determine if it’s even worth getting him on a professional mound. However, 2024 will be his first chance to take the mound regularly across a full season. Barco might not have the same sort of rise as Shim but it is a prospect with a lot to gain with a full 2024 campaign.