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Pirates Prospects Daily: Best Breaking Pitches In The Pittsburgh Pirates System


A good breaking ball can leave even the best of hitters looking silly, and be one of the key pitches that help pitchers rack up the strikeouts.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have plenty of prospects that can really spin a good breaking ball, striking out their fair share of batters in the process.

Below is a look at the best breaking pitches in the Pirates system. If you missed it yesterday, I looked at the best fastballs in the system.

Po-Yu Chen Curveball

Speaking of spinning a breaking ball, there are few in the system who posted the spin rate that Chen did last year with his curve. The 21-year-old righty averages around 2700 rpm on his curveball, and was no stranger to touching 3000. 

That’d be good enough to be one of the best curves in the majors when it comes to spin rate.

That helped him get some of the best break on the pitch in the system, and allowed Chen to strike out 103 batters in 98.1 innings pitched. 

Chen’s has a wide array of pitches he can sling, which includes a slider, cutter, and splitter. All of those pitches are worth mentioning, but the curveball stands out when it comes to the breaking balls.

Colin Selby Slider

Colin Selby could end up being one of the system’s best kept secrets. Although, after an impressive showing at the Arizona Fall League, and being added to the 40-man roster, the cat may be mostly out the bag.

Not only does Selby have an upper-90s fastball, but his slider is another potentially deadly pitch. In the limited data available from the AFL, the slider averaged 2500 rpm and generated an insane 70% whiff rate.

Quinn Priester Curveball

The top pitching prospects in the Pirates system also has one of the best curveballs in all of the minors.

Priester’s curveball has been long hyped as one of the best breaking pitches, and he continued to show why over the course of the 2022 season, striking out 89 batters in 90.1 innings pitched.

In two starts that was tracked by Statcast in the AFL, his curveball averaged right at 2500 rpm and over 50-inches of vertical break.

Mike Burrows Curveball

Perhaps no pitcher came out the gate to start the season better than Burrows, who perfectly executed the elevated fastball/curveball pairing. He even flashed in a changeup, something he didn’t show too much of the prior season.

A late season injury likely kept him from getting a Roansy Contreras-style late season callup. Even with the injury, Burrows managed to strike out 111 batters in 94.1 innings pitched.

Highlight of the Day

Pirates Prospects Daily

By Tim Williams

**Sammy Siani had a strong weekend in Australia, and John Dreker recaps everything in the latest Pirates winter league update.

**Missed yesterday? Anthony broke down the best fastballs in the Pirates system.

Song of the Day

Pirates Prospects Weekly

I’ve been low-key building a vacation for myself in the aggregate over the last few weeks. First Pitch was normally on the schedule for Monday, but I’m going for ultimate quality over timeliness for this one. The delay adds a bit of a meta effect, which might make you think this was all intentionally done.

It’s not. 2022 was a rough year for me, personally. There were good things that happened to me. But I dealt with a lot of loss, and the risk of future loss always seeming like it was around the corner. It’s difficult to navigate your progress through life when you’ve had a mostly shitty year.

Ultimately, I think one of the important keys to being an adult — a real adult, and not an Adult In Name Only — is accepting that some years in life will contain greater than 50% shitty things happening and trying your best to focus on the percentage of good things that always exist.

All we can ever do in life is focus on the progress we made from our past actions, while focusing on how to better navigate the shit in the future — trusting that this simple approach will lead to more years that are greater than 50% on the good things happening.

That makes it a lot easier to be present.

Tomorrow’s First Pitch will be about what you can expect from this site in 2023.

A year ago, I was trying to explain the concept of article drops and the future expansion to Pirates Prospects Daily. We’ve added so much to the site since then, and tomorrow’s article will make it very clear where this is heading next. The article will also featuring the special creative writing touch that is home to First Pitch.

We will also have our article drop later in the day, with several Pirates updates, if you’re still interested in that type of thing in 2023.

I figure I’ll be back on my normal schedule by the end of this week, and thus, the site will be back on it’s production schedule.

Until then, because I’ve been existing outside of time…

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Anthony Murphy
Anthony Murphy
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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