Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects Who Could Push For Promotions Early in the Season

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Kyle Nicolas

Kyle Nicolas is sort of like this year’s Jack Suwinski. Despite performing great at Double-A the year prior, he is still stationed at Altoona at the start of next year. Nicolas, who was acquired for Jacob Stallings, was a 2020 second-round pick. Armed with a big fastball his stuff played in the upper minor leagues, and you may see him in the majors sometime this year.

In 90.2 innings, Nicolas had a 3.97 ERA, 4.30 FIP, and 1.30 WHIP. While Nicolas had a healthy 25.9% strikeout rate and 0.89 HR/9, he walked 12.1% of the opponents he faced. These numbers are a tad inflated. In his third start of the year, he allowed eight earned runs in just two innings. Of the nine hits he allowed, four were home runs. Aside from this one outing, he had a 3.25 ERA and 0.51.

Nicolas typically sits in the mid-90s and pairs that with an outstanding slider. His curveball has also come a long way and has developed into a decent pitch. He occasionally throws a changeup, though it’s a well below-average off-speed pitch. But with three above-average to well-above-average offerings, Nicolas looks much more like a starting pitcher. That was one thing that was in question when the Pirates acquired Nicolas.

Now granted, in some cases, Double-A can be more competitive than Triple-A. Triple-A usually houses roster depth. For example, the Pirates currently have Caleb Smith, Chris Owings, and Ryan Vilade at Indy. That doesn’t mean that Double-A is free of organizational depth, but there’s more at Triple-A than Double-A. Plus, Double-A is where you start seeing the separation between good and bad prospects.

But Nicolas’ 2022 performance definitely should have earned him the promotion to Triple-A at the start of this year. He may not have had a great 2023 debut, but there’s no doubt that after his 2022 campaign and now that he’s in his age-24 campaign, he would be the first noteworthy prospect moved to Triple-A.