Three Pittsburgh Pirates pitching prospects on the rise

The Pittsburgh Pirates have a some pitching prospects who are gaining momentum to start the year.
West Virginia pitcher Carlson Reed (17) throws a pitch against the Texas Longhorns at UFCU
West Virginia pitcher Carlson Reed (17) throws a pitch against the Texas Longhorns at UFCU / Aaron E. Martinez / American-Statesman /
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Last year, prospects like Jared Jones, Bubba Chandler, and Anthony Solometo made some significant gains in prospect stock. They all played well and improved upon things that they struggled with in previous seasons. Every team has prospects who take a step forward, and while the 2024 minor league season just started, there are definitely some early standouts in the Pittsburgh Pirates' system who could be on the rise and ones you might soon hear more about as the season goes on.

Carlson Reed

Carlson Reed was the second college arm the Pirates took in the 2024 draft after Paul Skenes. Reed is a right-hander who attended West Virginia University. Heading into the draft, Reed was mostly seen as a relief pitching prospect. He saved seven games for the Mountaineers while working to an excellent 2.61 ERA, 34.7 percent strikeout rate, and 0.47 HR/9 through 38 innings. However, he struggled to limit walks and had a 14.5 percent BB rate. This led to a worryingly high 1.53 WHIP.

But while Reed was a dominant late-inning arm for WVU, he’s been excellent as a starting pitcher for Bradenton so far into the 2024 season. He has pitched 15.2 innings with 23 strikeouts, only three earned runs allowed, and 11 hits. Free passes, however, have still been a bit of an issue, as he’s handed out ten walks. Reed has also yet to allow a home run. Carlson has gotten a ton of swings and misses with a 39.5 percent whiff rate, the 4th highest among pitchers who have thrown at least 200 pitches at A-Ball. Even when batters are making contact, he’s getting them to ground out softly with an 83 MPH exit velocity and a ground ball rate of 53.3 percent.

As a starting pitcher, he’s sitting around 93-94 MPH with his sinker and four-seam fastball and topping out around 95. His primary breaking pitch is a slider that sits 83-84, and his primary off-speed offering is a change-up that also has similar velocity. His fastball has shown good ride through the zone with only 15.4 inches of drop, but also has some movement to it with 7.8 inches of arm-side break. His slider has been next to untouchable. Batters have a whiff rate of 62.7 percent against it with a .176 wOBA. He’s gotten even more swings and misses on his change-up at 83.3 percent. While his sinker hasn’t induced nearly as many swings and misses, opponents have produced a meager 74 MPH exit velocity against it. 

If Reed can stick as a starting pitcher, it would be a massive revelation for the Pirates. His command is a little shaky, and that could be exploited by hitters as he moves up each rung of the minor leagues. But his stuff looks outstanding. He’s getting a ton of swings and misses and not allowing opponents to get any good batted balls off of him.