The Pittsburgh Pirates added two new prospects to the farm system with the Jacob Stallings trade. The biggest player coming back in the deal is right-handed pitcher Zach Thompson, who has exceeded his prospect eligibility. That said, he will get an opportunity to show if he can be more than a back-of-the-rotation/swingman starter with the Pirates.
The Pirates also received right-handed pitcher Kyle Nicolas and outfielder Connor Scott. Both could end up playing for the Altoona Curve in 2022. Below is a look at what to expect from the two new Pirates prospects.
Kyle Nicolas, RHP
2021 Stats: 5.28 ERA, 86:24 K/BB, 59.2 IP (A+), 2.52 ERA, 50:25 K/BB, 39.1 IP (AA)
Nicolas made his pro debut in 2021 as a starter, putting up some impressive strikeout totals, with some concerning control issues. Baseball America had him slated to be the 19th best prospect in the upcoming Marlins top 30. He’s got a mid-90s fastball that can touch upper 90s and hit triple-digits. The fastball generates swing and miss, and he pairs that with a curve, slider, and changeup. It will be interesting to see how the Pirates use Nicolas. He went to Double-A and did well from an overall results standpoint, but still had control issues. I could see them keeping him in the rotation, pairing him with a group from Greensboro that includes Quinn Priester, Carmen Mlodzinski, and Michael Burrows. The question would be whether they switch him to relief, and how quick they might make that change. I think if the control doesn’t improve, the change could come sooner than later. The Pirates have assembled a growing group of starting prospects. It wouldn’t be the worst thing if Nicolas starts building up the depth of hard-throwing relief prospects.
Connor Scott, OF
2021 Stats: .276/.333/.446, 10 HR, 14 SB, 435 PA (A+)
The reports I’ve seen so far on Scott point to a very toolsy player who could probably reach the majors in a bench role, with hopes that he learns to apply the tools enough to be a big league starter. The Pirates are collecting a lot of those fringe-starter types, hoping for more. The upper levels will feature Travis Swaggerty, Canaan Smith-Njigba, Jack Suwinski, Matt Fraizer, and Cal Mitchell. Connor Scott spent the 2021 season in High-A, where he put up some decent numbers that still fell shy of his toolsy upside. I’d expect him to go to Double-A in 2022, joining the likes of Lolo Sanchez and anyone else in the wave behind the Swaggerty/CSN/Suwinski group. Scott might have a shot to emerge as the best center field backup option to Swaggerty, as he’s projected to stick in center field. The hope is that his power will increase going forward, increasing his odds of being a big league starter. Baseball America had him ranked 15th in the upcoming Marlins top 30.
One thing I find interesting about this move is how the Pirates added depth in just the right spots. They have outfielders above and below Scott, but had room for outfield prospects in Double-A. They have starting prospects above and below Nicolas, but you can argue there’s a rotation spot for him in Double-A. Both of these guys join a system that has plenty of depth, waiting for the cream to rise to the top.