When it comes to pure stuff, not many can match what Kyle Nicolas brings when he is on the mound. Acquired in the Jacob Stallings trade, the righty out of Ball State topped the century mark in strikeouts during his first season in the Pirates system.
Due to a crowded picture in Indianapolis, Nicolas is beginning this season in Altoona once again, although that isn’t all bad having to repeat the same level.
The Pirates could have shifted him to the bullpen, and have him pitch in Triple-A, awaiting the call to the majors.
They liked him enough to keep him as a starter, and although that means starting the year in Double-A again, it shows the Pirates have big plans for him.
He got the Opening Day start for the Curve, and showed exactly what he has to offer, as well as the battle he’s still fighting.
Nicolas was unhittable for the majority of the day, in fact it was just a lone double he allowed in his 4.2 innings of work. It was just the fact that the double was after he loaded the bases with three straight walks.
K-Nick @kylenicolas19 putting his name to good use with a perfect first inning on the mound! pic.twitter.com/Do4Dkn1LtH
— Altoona Curve (@AltoonaCurve) April 6, 2023
After the bases-clearing double, he retired 10 of the next 11 hitters he faced, before getting pulled from the game after 83 pitches.
When thinking about the upper level pitching prospects, Nicolas is mostly an afterthought. From a pure stuff standpoint, he’s closer to the rest than people think.
The Pirates put him in a position to put it all together and become a legitimate starting pitcher candidate. While the control is still obviously something to monitor, we saw exactly why they are so excited about him on Thursday.
– Travis Swaggerty picked up four hits between two games, including a home run (game one) and a triple (game two) to lead-off each half of the doubleheader. He’s had some swing and miss issues early, but he’s been one of the more consistent hitters on a team still looking to find its footing offensively.
– I wrote about Tucupita Marcano the other day, but he just continues to impress. He’s played four different positions, and has made a strong defensive play in almost all of them. Not only that, but he’s also hitting, and doing so for power.
He will always be a little tricky fitting onto the Major League roster, as the positions he plays already have a heavy influence of left-handed hitters there. If he keeps producing like this, he may force his way into a chance regardless.
– Nicolas isn’t the only prospect to watch this season in the Altoona rotation, as both Jared Jones and Sean Sullivan are also ‘sleepers’ in their own way. Jones has some of the best stuff in the system, and like Nicolas it’s more about harnessing it than anything.
Sullivan was beat up in Greensboro, and could benefit as much as anyone with the move up to Double-A. He has great command of his fastball, and plays his breaking pitches well off of it.
Daily Video Rundown
Welcome to the Pirates Prospects daily video rundown, where we pull some of the top videos of the Pittsburgh Pirates across the internet.
Travis Swaggerty with a lead off home run to get game 1 of the double header started #LetsGoBucs pic.twitter.com/G9Q1jJ700x
— Anthony Murphy (@__Murphy88) April 6, 2023
Swaggerty had himself quite a day, picking up four hits across two games. He led off with a home run in game one, followed by a triple in game two.
Travis Swaggerty leads off game 2 with a triple, after hitting a home run during the first game #LetsGoBucs pic.twitter.com/D6vwfSfnLN
— Anthony Murphy (@__Murphy88) April 7, 2023
Matt Gorski was well on his way to a potential 30-30 season in 2022 when a quad injury cut his year short. He’s back in Altoona to begin the year, and got things off to a great start by hitting a home run on Opening Day.
The first home run of the season belongs to @matthew_gorski7, a solo shot to make it a 3-1 game!
WATCH: https://t.co/6GP894jPtF pic.twitter.com/IGLxGHVapp
— Altoona Curve (@AltoonaCurve) April 6, 2023
Pirates Prospects Daily
By John Dreker
No Pirates game yesterday, but we were busy on the site with minor league previews, news and thoughts. Here are the links from yesterday. The Pirates are at PNC Park today for their home opener. They have a 4:12 PM start time.
**Prospect Watch: Indy Gets In The Win Column, Altoona Routed In Opener
**Pirates 2023 Minor League Previews: Indianapolis Indians
**Pirates 2023 Minor League Previews: Altoona Curve
**Pirates 2023 Minor League Previews: Greensboro Grasshoppers
**Pirates 2023 Minor League Previews: Bradenton Marauders
**Minor Moves: Altoona Sets Active Roster for Opening Day
**Prospect Notes: Chandler, Solometo and Cheng Impress; Indianapolis is Among the Best
**Williams: Three Prospects I’m Following in the Pirates System This Year
**Mets Claim RHP Edwin Uceta from the Pirates
**Pirates Prospects Daily: Six Observations, Six Games Into The Season
Song of the Day
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.
This is a new situation. “Show me why you’re better than the other two prospects who play your position.”
Spring Training: PA 34 K 7 AVG .379 OPS 1.160
2023 AAA: PA 26 K 7 AVG .292 OPS: .930
Meanwhile the MLB club, lacking a true Center Fielder, is holding in game Center Field auditions for Second Basemen, Left Fielders, and Right Fielders. Center Fielders need not apply.
Not difficult to envision in the upcoming weeks the possibility of :
Swaggerty for Suwinsky
Marcano for Castro &
Yohan or Yerry for DeJong
Agree, nice to have these competitive situations. Hopfully someone steps-up.
Yes, still have to sift through the Castillos and Newmans; but at least there are multiple possibilities. (and possible trade bait).
As always, great article AM, for someone like me focussing more on The Masters and NFL draft, it is quite cool to catch up up on our youngsters in the minors on here… Nice to see Swags keeping it up, banging on the door on readiness, as well as Gorski, Marcano, Nicholas, others showing the same… This is a fun time to be a fan, well for me, will not talk for others🙏👍
Gorski 109 mph oppo taco on a low fastball on outer half is eye opening.
My god do I love watching him take beer-league-softball hacks up there.
He is not going to go away, except I see him as a small add-on in a trade. I hope not, because I think he is a legitimate part-time 4th OFer, IB, DH next year. Hope he forces his way into the starting OF picture.