Pittsburgh Pirates: Prospects Who Could Force Themselves Into Long Term Plans

These Pirates prospects could make their case to be involved in the team's long term plans.
Philadelphia Phillies v Pittsburgh Pirates
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Ryan Harbin

Ryan Harbin is the latest draft pick we'll look at today. He was the Bucs' 17th-round pick in 2019 as a high schooler. Harbin opened the year with Bradenton, and while his numbers at Greensboro have not been nearly as pretty, there's still potential here for a guy who could force himself into a long-term higher leverage relief role.

Harbin opened the year, reeling off 32.2 innings of 0.83 ERA, 3.07 FIP, and 1.04 WHIP ball. The hard-throwing right-hander succeeded in two areas. The first was strikeouts, in which he had a 33.6% rate. The second was home run prevention and ground ball induction. He allowed just a single home run while getting opponents to hit a grounder at an insanely high 70% rate. The major downside to his season was his 11.5% walk rate, though with so many positives, it was easy to overlook.

Since moving to Greensboro, Harbin has allowed 14 earned runs in 19.2 innings. His walk rate has gone up to 14.1%, while his striekout rate has dipped to 23.9%. He's also given up two home runs despite pitching less than 20 frames. In Harbin's defense, he is still young, as this is his age-21 campaign. Plus, he was on the injured list a couple of times this season and has only pitched eight innings dating back to mid-August.

Harbin throws a three-pitch mix. That includes a cutter that he tosses in the upper-80s and a sinker and four-seamer that sits in the mid-to-upper-90s. The right-hander has an arsenal he could use to get a lot of ground balls, as well as some strikeouts. Harbin showed he could handle late and close games at Bradenton, and while High-A has given him some issues, it's a little too early to consider his numbers at A-Ball a complete fluke.

If Harbin can replicate his Bradenton numbers next season, he could make a name for himself as one of the Pirates' best relief pitching prospects. Harbin has the ceiling of a closing pitcher. Even if there is another arm blocking that position, such as David Bednar, he could settle into a set-up man role and still be effective.