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Pirates Prospects Daily: Pitchers Highlight Opening Weekend In System

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The first weekend with each minor league affiliate in action saw some impressive pitching performances, especially from the starting pitchers.

In quite a few cases, it was really one play that completely altered the outcome of that particular game for that pitcher. 

For Kyle Nicolas and Jared Jones, they allowed just a single hit each. It just happened that runs were scored on those given plays. Nicolas allowed a bases clearing hit after walking the bases loaded, while Jones gave up a two-run home run. Both pitched 4.2 innings, finishing with five strikeouts for Nicolas and six for Jones.

Thomas Harrington (pictured above) made his professional debut, and showed that he may be a little advanced for Single-A already.

Luis Ortiz carried a no-hitter in the fifth inning, finishing with seven strikeouts on the night. Anthony Solometo got the nod in the opening game for Greensboro. He pitched four innings, allowing two hits and one run, while striking out five. He hung a slider that was punished for a home run, but was solid outside of that.

Quinn Priester got off to a somewhat rocky start in his second outing of the season. He struck out the side in the first, but also walked two and needed 28 pitches to get out of the inning.

While it seems he gets punished among the national media outlets for not putting up the strikeout numbers you’d expect from a top prospect, Priester showed exactly how he can still be a successful pitcher the rest of the way out.

He needed just 45 pitches to finish the next four innings, and got seven outs with ground balls (two were a double play).

It will be an interesting year, as the Pirates may really be on to something with their pitching depth. We haven’t seen some other promising arms yet, and Braxton Ashcraft is just now getting acclimated back on the field. 

They may be top heavy with hitting prospects, but the depth in system could very well be on the mound.

–Speaking of Ashcraft, he made his first appearance in a live game since July of 2021, and looked fantastic, striking out five over three innings. He hit 97 mph on his fastball, and got plenty of whiffs on the breaking ball. He’ll be one to watch as they ease him back into the fold.

The Oneil Cruz injury stinks, not just for the Pirates, but baseball in general. Such a promising talent missing any amount of time is unfortunate, but losing someone who can do what he can do hurts the game.

We can argue over the slide, or the blocking of the plate. The point is that it happened. Hopefully he can make a full recovery, and doesn’t have any lasting effects from it.

— While it’s going to take a collective team effort to replace his production, the Pirates do have another player that should slide into the lead-off spot perfectly, Ji-Hwan Bae. I wrote about him the other day, and the impact he is having at the bottom of the lineup. There’s even more potential there hitting directly in front of Bryan Reynolds, as opposed to Jason Delay.

Daily Video Rundown

Jase Bowen had a strong opening weekend at the plate, but also chipped in defensively, making this nice catch.

Travis Swaggerty continues to hit the ball hard from the lead-off spot. Here he drives in a pair of runs on a triple.

On the very first pitch of the game, Greensboro infielder Mike Jarvis hits his first home run of the season. The Grasshoppers would go on to win the game.

Pirates Prospects Daily

By John Dreker

The Oneil Cruz injury is obviously the big news item from yesterday, but there was a lot more going on.

The Pirates won their game, and they saw a potential high upside pitcher return from Tommy John surgery.

The Houston Astros come into town for a three-game series, starting tonight.

**Williams: The Middlegame of the 2023 Pirates Season

**Ben Cherington Gives Update on Mike Burrows

**Minor Moves: Braxton Ashcraft and Kent Emanuel Join Bradenton

**Pirates Prospects Daily: Maikol Escotto has an Encouraging Day at the Plate

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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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