Pittsburgh Pirates Prospects Who Made Their Pro Debut in 2023

Which top Pittsburgh Pirates prospects made their professional debuts in the 2023 minor league season?

Jul 18, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Paul Skenes, the Pirates
Jul 18, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Paul Skenes, the Pirates / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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Hunter Barco

Hunter Barco may have made his debut late into the 2023 season had it not been for Tommy John surgery early into his final college season. But Barco returned strong in the second half of the 2023 season. In 18.2 innings, the lefty pitching prospect did not allow a single home run and a phenomenal 7.7% walk rate and 35.9% strikeout rate. He had a 3.44 ERA but a 1.79 FIP. But the most impressive part of his small sample size was his 53.5% ground ball rate.

Barco’s final season at the University of Florida was great, even though he was limited to just nine outings and 50.2 innings. He still pitched to a 2.50 ERA, a 0.89 WHIP, and a K:BB ratio of 6.27. Barco had a 34.3% strikeout rate along with a microscopic 5.5% walk rate. Home run prevention was his weakest skill, as he had a 1.07 HR/9.

The southpaw is a soft-tossing arm, only averaging 89-90 MPH on his sinker but throwing it with above-average spin. His best pitch is his slider, a low-80s pitch that has crossfire action. Then there’s his changeup, a third average offering with above-average potential.

Barco’s low arm slot makes all his stuff play up. While he looked a little rusty out of the gates, Barco only allowed two walks in his final five games/ten innings of the season. He also got pretty unlucky with a .386 batting average on balls in play; however, this is likely a microcosm of a small sample size. After a normal off-season, hopefully, Barco can get stretched out as a starting pitcher.