Prospect Roundtable: Brennan Malone Makes His 2022 Debut

In one of the very first trades from Ben Cherington, the Pittsburgh Pirates sent Starling Marte to the Arizona Diamondbacks, getting top prospects Liover Peguero and Brennan Malone.

Peguero is one of the top prospects in the system, currently playing in Altoona.

Malone hasn’t gotten much chance to pitch, due to injuries the last two years. The latest delayed his start of the 2022 season until this past week, rehabbing earlier in the week in the FCL, followed by his appearance on Sunday for Bradenton, when he went two innings, giving up a run on a solo homer and striking out three.

This week, we took a different approach with the Prospect Roundtable format. We all had a unique look at Malone during that Sunday game, which combined gives a full look at what the right-hander is working on, and what his future looks like.


The best way to describe Malone’s first game with the Marauders is that he looked like a rusty version of a really good pitcher.

He wasn’t hitting his spots with his fastball or his curve most of the time. He didn’t have consistent velocity on the fastball. Some of them were straight as an arrow, others had tailing action. Yet, he threw all four of his pitches and each one showed some potential.

He was mostly working fastball/curve, so I need to see the other pitches more to get a better report on them. He hit 97 MPH on one fastball, but his best looking fastball was 95 with a ton of late movement in on a right-handed batter — which got a weak pop up to the catcher. He threw some great looking curves that started out of the zone and dropped in for strikes, both called and swinging varieties. When he started the curve lower in the zone, it wasn’t getting chases and dropped out of the zone and usually in the dirt.

The slider showed a nice sweeping movement with late break that looks like it could be tough on hitters from both sides, if he can command the pitch. The changeup had nice late life and good separation from the previous fastball. He used that effectively to get a swinging strike three.

What I really liked is that the pitches had four different speeds, as he ranged from 75 MPH up to 97 MPH. He’s going to need to be more consistent with his pitches to have success, but he also has everything you want to see in a pitching prospect, including a look of confidence on the mound.


**Malone’s stuff was far better than when I saw him a year ago.

**His sinker sat at 93-94 in his first inning, dropped a tick in his second. Averaged 92.8, hit 97 once.

**His main secondary pitch was a curve with tight break. The first few times he threw it into the ground, but he got better command of it after that — getting both called strikes and swings-and-misses.

**He threw a few sliders and got a strikeout on one of them.

**Exit velocities on everything were very low, mainly popups and weak grounders. The only exception was the home run, hit by a guy who’s been hitting the ball hard all week. It just got over the fence — in fact I think Sergio Campana got a glove on it.

**Malone had above-average spin rates on all his pitches. His control will need to improve, but it’s not too far off.


Malone was set back with an injury and an illness in Spring Training, and spent his downtime working on command drills at Pirate City.

I spoke with John Baker on Monday about what the Pirates have seen from him during this time.

“With Brennan, he’s got great stuff,” said Baker. “It’s always going to be command, and staying healthy. If he’s in the strike zone, and he’s healthy, he’s a top pitching prospect. We’re hoping that’s where he is now. He put his head down, put all of the work in, in rehab; approached everything professionally and responsibly at Pirate City. We felt it was the right time to move him back to Bradenton.”

Malone won’t necessarily be held to just Single-A this year if things go well.

“It’s going to be up to his performance,” said Baker. “Anyone who throws strikes and is successful for a month and a half or two months is going to have an opportunity to move.”

ANTHONY MURPHY: The Future Report

There was a time when it was a legitimate discussion as to who was going to be the best prep pitcher in the 2019 draft class — Quinn Priester or Brennan Malone. Injuries have obviously derailed that conversation, but the talent is still there for Malone. You saw it on the field. The movement on the fastball, that nasty curveball that looked as if it broke from the top of the strike zone and into the dirt for a swing and miss strike three.

The biggest thing will be getting him as many innings as possible to play catch up on his development. The control issue was, and has been, an issue and stuck its head out on Sunday as well. It could have been rust, but we will have to see.

One thing to watch is the fastball velocity, he averaged right at 93-mph, but was anywhere from 91-97 on the day. In his brief time in Bradenton last year, he had one outing where he was between 92-96 but the rest were 89-92. If he can keep that up, that will only help his ascent back into prospect status.

The injury history does somewhat point to a potential future in the bullpen, but with the fastball and curveball we saw on Sunday, the bullpen looks like something that Malone may succeed at.

He has enough of an arsenal that, health permitted, could still be a very successful starter. It wasn’t too long ago Malone was one of the best pitching prospects in the system, staying on the mound consistently will be key in getting him back to that.


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Prospect Roundtable: Brennan Malone Makes His 2022 Debut

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Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.

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Didn’t he get hurt again in his last game pitched? I have my doubts that he will ever be able to reach his unlimited potential.

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

“It’s going to be up to his performance,” said Baker. “Anyone who throws strikes and is successful for a month and a half or two months is going to have an opportunity to move.”

Unless it’s a promotion to Indy. They don’t promote to Indy.


indy is the pirates prospects wasteland


My new favorite prospect to watch! Just hoping for a healthy rest of the season for him, the rest of the development will come with time but this guy just needs to pitch consistently


Same here. Rooting real hard for this kid


General Question for the Roundtable. Jose Quintana is this year’s Tyler Anderson and will be gone by the trading deadline. Which of the following are leading candidates to join the Pirates after Quintana is traded:

Cody Bolton 24, AAA
Mike Burrows, 22, AA
Kyle Nicolas, 23, AA
Luis Ortiz, 23, AA
Noe Toribio, 23, AA
Omar Cruz, 23, AA


Bolton is next up.


Im thinking bolton will be first in line and if all goes to plan then burrows might get a start or two at pnc like roansy did last year. I think the rest of the guys will follow the more traditional path to AAA. Nicolas is someone that I am really high on and interested to keep following- I think he could finish the year as a top 10-15 prospect with how good his stuff is

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

Eh, idk if Bolton will. As much as I want to see it, he just doesn’t have the endurance yet to be a full time SP in the majors.

Last edited 11 months ago by Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

Maybe hes a piggy back candidate then?

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

That would be the more likely scenario.


Deadline is August 2nd…. Q might be gone before that but using that date, I assume we will have an injury, maybe two, and Bolton may get a look before that… honestly this is when I thought we would bring back up Beau Sulser, to do what he does, fight and eat innings, but that ship has sailed, sure others are out there🤷‍♂️


The White Sox pitching has been cursed so far in 2021 with injuries and poor performances, and I thought they would be a prime contender to try to get Q back in the fold – to help them, and also to remove the possibility of him going to another AL Central contender such as Cleveland or Minnesota.


Great to see him start to get success.


Success has to be just being out there competing. Last year on the Fangraphs Top Prospects for the Pirates, Quinn Priester was #2 with a 55 FV, while Brennan Malone was #9 with a 45+ FV. That gap between the two increased greatly in 2022 with Priester #5 , 50 FV, while Malone has dropped to #5 6 , 35+ FV.

If he can get 50 – 75 innings in 2022 with the pitches he has, he will be back up in the Top 10 or 15. He has the ability

Pirates Prospects Daily



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