The Pirates added a relief pitching prospect in the fifth round with Patrick Reilly. The Vanderbilt right-hander is a risky prospect, given his proclivity to hand out free passes. But he’s a pitcher who, if he figures out how to harness his powerful stuff, could be a real threat out of the bullpen.
Reilly’s last season at Vandy did not go well. He pitched 48.1 innings split between the bullpen and starting rotation. Reilly allowed 31 earned runs, resulting in an ERA of 5.77. He also walked 13.3% of opponents and allowed six home runs for a 1.12 HR/9 rate. Of the few positives, Reilly had a strong 28.8% strikeout rate.
Reilly’s stuff is not in question. He is mostly a fastball-only pitcher. Though his four-seamer is a good pitch. He already averages out in the mid-90s with 2400-2500 RPM. His second pitch he’ll throw is a cutter/slider in the mid-upper-80s. Those make up two above-average to plus offerings in his arsenal. It will all come down to if he can sharpen his command up enough to be an effective pitcher.
Now sure, this is a story people have heard hundreds of times over: the kid with a lightning arm, but no idea how to use it. It's a tale as old as baseball. So why do I believe the Pirates can all of a sudden turn Reilly around? Well, they have done well with some other prospects who came out of the draft with control or command issues.
J.P. Massey has looked a lot better this season after walking 13.4% of opponents in his college career. Jared Jones has also seen a significant improvement in his ability to hit the strike zone. Tyler Samaniego is also a relief pitching prospect who greatly improved his walk rate from 2022-2023. The Pirates aren't as incompetent as some would like to believe when it comes to improving a pitcher.
Of course, three examples of Pirates pitching prospects making improvements doesn’t automatically mean that Patrick Reilly will do the same. However, Reilly has such good stuff it would be hard not to keep tabs on his development. 2024 will only be his age-22 campaign, so it’s not as if he’s an older college pick. We’ll see if he can improve his ability to locate, but if he does, at least to an average level, he could be a future set-up man or even a potential closing pitcher.