21 earned runs in 10.2 innings. That’s how Brandon Cumpton started his 2011 season with West Virginia. The 2010 9th round pick signed out of Georgia Tech, where he didn’t have the best numbers, putting up a 5.50 ERA in 73.2 innings, along with a 6.5 K/9 and a 3.9 BB/9 ratio. Cumpton pitched in State College last year, with a 2.53 ERA in, coincidentally, 10.2 innings after signing. But it was after 10.2 very bad innings this year that Cumpton was removed from the rotation.
His absence from the rotation only lasted 13 days. Part of that was due to an injury to Tyler Waldron, which opened a rotation spot. Part of that was also due to three perfect innings out of the bullpen, with three strikeouts. From that point forward, Cumpton hasn’t looked back, dominating low-A, and getting promoted to high-A, where he’s put up decent results.
In his starts in West Virginia, after his poor first three outings, Cumpton combined for a 1.76 ERA in 56.1 innings. He had a 6.7 K/9, a 1.9 BB/9 and a 0.3 HR/9 ratio. The most impressive thing might have been his control. He had a 4.2 BB/9 ratio last year in State College, and struggled some with his control in his junior year at Georgia Tech. So far in high-A he has a 4.33 ERA in 43.2 innings, along with a 34:6 K/BB ratio. He’s had some rough starts, but is starting to come around recently, with three earned runs in 12innings over his last three starts, along with a 14:2 K/BB ratio.
Like all promising pitching prospects, the Pirates will give Cumpton every opportunity to make it as a starter. He throws an 89-93 MPH fastball, with an inconsistent curveball. As a starter, he’s more of a back of the rotation option, although with the starting prospects that surround him in the lower levels (Jameson Taillon, Colton Cain, and after August 15th, Gerrit Cole), he might not get a chance to crack the rotation. That might not be a bad thing, as he profiles as a power reliever in the bullpen, getting his fastball up to 95-96 MPH in short relief outings. In either case, Cumpton has been a bright spot in a system filled with pitching issues this year.
Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.