The Pirates were already high on Chad Kuhl coming into the 2016 season. They knew he was a good pitcher, and looked at him as a guy who could start for them at the MLB level. If that wasn’t already the case, Kuhl would have opened their eyes this year. He’s got a 1.24 ERA in 58 innings in Triple-A, with a 46:9 K/BB ratio. That includes a 1.21 ERA and a 29:5 K.BB ratio in 37.1 innings during the month of May, which was enough for him to be the Pirates Prospects Pitcher of the Month.
This might be the last full month that Kuhl is eligible for the award. The Pirates need rotation help in the big leagues, and Kuhl looks like a guy who can help them this year. He has been working on the development of his slider, learning to use it in different situations. That development has looked good in his last few outings, leading to early strikes from the pitch, and looking like a strikeout offering when he needs it.
Kuhl’s changeup has come along this year, giving him a nice three pitch mix that looks ready for the big leagues. The third pitch, of course, is his sinker, which is his go-to offering. He’s a pitch-to-contact guy, and the quality of his sinker — sitting 91-94 and touching as high as 97-98 at times with good break on the pitch — means he doesn’t give up a lot of hard contact. He also commands the inner half of the plate, and attacks hitters, which is a good approach for a sinkerballer at the MLB level.
We could very well see Kuhl in the big leagues at some point in June. He doesn’t have the upside of Tyler Glasnow in the long-term, but right now, Kuhl looks like he’s ready to compete in the big leagues more than Glasnow.
PITCHERS OF THE MONTH BY LEVEL
Indianapolis – Chad Kuhl, RHP (1.21 ERA, 29:5 K/BB, 37.1 IP)
Altoona – Jared Lakind, LHP (0.00 ERA, 16:5 K/BB, 15.1 IP)
Bradenton – Austin Coley, RHP (2.17 ERA, 24:8 K/BB, 37.1 IP)
West Virginia – Mitch Keller, RHP (2.50 ERA, 36:4 K/BB, 36.0 IP)
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.