Pittsburgh Pirates Triple-A players who could soon get promoted to the Major Leagues

Who are some players currently at Triple-A who could soon get promoted to the Pittsburgh Pirates?
Pittsburgh Pirates v Cincinnati Reds
Pittsburgh Pirates v Cincinnati Reds / Andy Lyons/GettyImages
1 of 6

The Pittsburgh Pirates are in a rut right now. At the time of writing this, they just ended a six-game losing streak. Something will probably change in terms of roster construction in the next week if something doesn’t change (of course, there are much larger changes I’d like to see). The Pirates could definitely use a hot bat and another relief arm to further bolster their bullpen, as they’ve been an inconsistent group to start the year.

Several standout performers from the Indianapolis Indians have caught the attention of the Pirates' management, demonstrating promising potential for the big leagues. With the Pittsburgh Pirates aiming to bolster their roster with talent from their Triple-A affiliate, the performances of these players serve as a testament to the depth and skill within the organization's farm system. As fans eagerly anticipate the call-up of these rising stars, the Indianapolis Indians serve as a crucial developmental ground for future success in Pittsburgh.

Kyle Nicolas

The Pirates will probably make a move to bring up two relievers over the next week. Hunter Stratton struggled mightily in his most recent game, and Ryder Ryan has been awful. While Mlodzinski and Heller are definitely options, Kyle Nicolas should also be on the docket for a potential promotion. Acquired via the Jacob Stallings trade in the 2021-2022 off-season, I thought that Nicolas would have an inside track for one of the last bullpen spots, but with his hot start to the year, he definitely should be in the conversation for the next reliever up.

So far in 2024, Nicolas has pitched 10.2 innings, striking out 13, allowing two hits and one earned run. However, walks have been giving him some issues. He’s handed out nine free passes, though his control looked much better last year, and it’s still a small sample size so far in the minor leagues. Nicolas struggled badly in his first Major League game last season but then pitched five innings, allowing one earned run and striking out seven with just two walks.

Nicolas also had a strong run of games late last season. In the 15 innings he pitched prior to his MLB promotion, the right-hander had a 1.20 ERA, 2.64 FIP, and 0.80 WHIP. He had a solid 10.3% walk rate but struck out over 40% of the batters he faced with a 41.4% K% and allowed only one home run for a 0.60 HR/9.

Nicolas is still sitting 96-97 MPH and topping out at 99. He’s also throwing with a lot of movement. I’ve previously made the comparison to Gerrit Cole and his four-seam fastball. Both throw with about the same velocity (Cole sat 96.7 MPH last year), with about the same vertical ride (11.6 inches on Nicolas’ four-seamer, 12 inches on Cole’s), and horizontal break (8.8 for Nicolas, 8.4 for Cole).

Along with an elite fastball, he mixes in two breaking pitches. One is a curveball that sits in the low 80s. But the better of the two breakers is his slider. This pitch sits in the 88-90 MPH range but has an incredible 59.1% whiff rate so far in the short season. This offering from Nicolas typically sits with around five inches of horizontal break.

Nicolas has some potent stuff on the mound. His control has been a little inconsistent to start the year, but he showed improvement down the stretch last year and in the Majors during his brief September promotion. We shall see if Nicolas will get the call.