Two Pirates pitching prospects who could exceed expectations

These two Pittsburgh Pirates pitching prospects could exceed expecations given how well the Bucs have done with developing soft-tossing lefties in their recent history.
Florida pitcher Hunter Barco (12) makes a pitch against Mississippi State during the SEC Tournament
Florida pitcher Hunter Barco (12) makes a pitch against Mississippi State during the SEC Tournament / Gary Cosby Jr. via Imagn Content
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Anthony Solometo

Anthony Solometo is one of the Pirates’ best pitching prospects behind the likes of Paul Skenes, Jared Jones, and Bubba Chandler. Solometo hasn’t gotten off to a great start to 2024, although do take it with a grain of salt because he’s only pitched seven innings. The second round draft pick was one of the many high schoolers the Pirates took in 2021, and has made some nice progress since.

Last year, Solometo pitched 110.1 innings between Greensboro and Altoona, working to a 3.26 ERA, 3.46 FIP, and 1.19 WHIP. Solometo had an 8.6% walk rate, as well as a 26.2% K%, and 0.65 HR/9 rate. Solometo’s numbers took a dip when he got sent from High-A to Double-A, but he still had about league-average production while being the 6th youngest Double-A pitcher with double-digit starts. Even a year later, when he’s 21, he’s still one of the 15th youngest pitchers at Double-A.

Solometo originally sat 88-90 MPH when the Pirates first drafted him, but his velocity has come a long way since then. He now sits 91-94 MPH and can even touch 95. He also has a slider and change-up, but everything in his arsenal plays to an above-average to plus level because of his ability to command his offerings and his deceptive wind-up and delivery. Solometo has a leg-kick akin to that of Mackenzie Gore and an arm slot like Madison Bumgarner that hitters have a tough time picking up.

He’s also 6’5”, 220 pounds, with some wing span. According to Statcast data from 2022 (as both Greensboro and Altoona do not have Statcast available), Solometo averaged 6.7 feet on his release point extension, meaning how far out in front of the rubber released the ball. That would put him around the 75th percentile in the Major Leagues and make his stuff look faster out of his hand than it does on the radar gun. His vertical release point was measured at 5.41 feet. Right now, there aren’t very many lefty pitchers, especially starters, who both throw that far out in front of the rubber with that low of an arm angle.

Solometo is expected to be a good pitcher, but I think the way the Pirates have handled soft-tossing lefties so far, he could be a great pitcher, maybe be a mid-tier number two arm if he develops more in the Major Leagues. Afterall, he is considered a top 100 prospect by many sources for a reason.