Rum Bunter Staff Predictions For The 2023 Pittsburgh Pirates: Noah Wright
Breakout Pitcher - Johan Oviedo
Johan Oviedo is one of the many young pitchers the Pirates acquired during this rebuild. He's one of their more recent pickups, as he, alongside Malcom Nunez, went from the St. Louis Cardinals to the Bucs for Jose Quintana and Chris Stratton. Oviedo was considered a top-10 prospect in the Cardinals' system in 2021 and is now looking for an extended look in the big leagues.
Oviedo was mainly used as a reliever with the Cardinals this past season but became a part of the Pirates' rotation in September. He only made seven starts and pitched 30.2 innings but worked to a strong 3.23 ERA, 3.47 FIP, and 1.27 WHIP. Oviedo's walk rate (11.9%) and strikeout rate (20.9%) were not impressive, but he only allowed one home run and had a ground ball rate well over 50% at 54.5%. He was also about league average in terms of exit velocity, coming in at 88.4 MPH.
Oviedo's stuff played well with the Pirates. The right-hander averaged out at 96.5 MPH with his four-seamer. Usually, when a pitcher moves from the bullpen to the rotation, their velocity decreases, but not Oviedo. This was a 0.9 MPH increase. His slider also gained speed, going from 84.9 MPH to 86.5 MPH. He also threw a curveball that induced an exit velo of just 83.8 MPH and a change-up that had a 40% whiff rate.
Oviedo deserves to start the season in the rotation, and 2023 should be his first extended look as a major league starting pitcher. He definitely has a chance to become a vital member of the Pirates' long-term starting pitching core. His stuff is very promising, and he induced a ton of soft contact. He also has the potential to consistently strike out a quarter of the batters he faces or more.