Pittsburgh Pirates: Ranking Ben Cherington's High School Draft Picks

Ben Cherington has taken at least one high school pitcher in the first four rounds of each of his drafts, but which ones are the best?
Bishop Eustace's pitcher Anthony Solometo celebrates after Bishop Eustace defeated Ocean City, 2-0,
Bishop Eustace's pitcher Anthony Solometo celebrates after Bishop Eustace defeated Ocean City, 2-0, / Chris LaChall/Courier-Post via Imagn
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Anthony Solometo

Coming in at number one is Anthony Solometo. Solometo was drafted in the second round of the 2021 draft. On top of what I view as the Pirates’ top high school draftee in the Ben Cherington era, he’s generally seen as the Pirates’ top left-handed pitching prospect in the system. Michael Kennedy is the next closest, but Solometo is in a league of his own.

Solometo finished the 2023 campaign with a quality 3.26 ERA, 3.46 FIP, and 1.19 WHIP. The southpaw had a 26.2% strikeout rate and an 8.6% walk rate. He also was great at limiting home runs with a 0.65 HR/9 rate. Solometo dominated at High-A Greensboro, and while his numbers at Double-A Altoona were about league average, he was also the youngest pitcher in his league.

While Solometo does not throw hard, his velocity has improved as he’s developed. Coming out of high school, he was coming in around 88-91 MPH on the gun. Now, he’s sitting 91-94 MPH and is even hitting 95. Solometo’s slider has always been a good pitch, as well as his changeup. While nothing here seems like an overpowering offering, Solometo locates better than nearly every other minor league pitcher. He has astoundingly good command over all of his offerings.

On top of that, Solometo throws with a deceptive wind-up and arm slot. His arm slot is similar to that of Madison Bumgarner and Dontrell Willis. That adds some deceptive qualities to all of his pitches, most notably his four-seam fastball because of its vertical approach angle, giving batters much less of a window of opportunity to barrel him up.

Solometo is going to be fun to watch in 2024. He should make his Major League debut sometime next season, assuming he stays healthy once again. Solometo has a lot of great qualities as a pitcher. He has exceptional command, above-average stuff, and a deceptive motion.

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