Thanks to the draft getting pushed back towards the All-Star break, we have started to see fewer pitchers make the jump to pro ball, even after signing.
Taken 36th overall in 2022, Thomas Harrington finally made his professional debut, pitching in the season opening game for the Bradenton Marauders. There was plenty of interest in Harrington, who checked in as the 12th best prospect in the system according to MLB Pipeline. It didn’t take long for him to show why the Pirates invested so much in him.
The former Campbell standout pitched five shutout innings, allowing just four hits, while striking out seven and not walking a batter.
He showed good command of the fastball, and a wide array of offerings that should serve him well in the minors, and potentially help him move quickly.
His fastball showed great metrics as well, throwing anywhere in between 88.8-to-94.7 mph with his four-seam and sinker. He didn’t get much swing and miss with them (7.14 Whiff%), but the nine called strikes brought his CSW% (called strike plus whiff rate) up to nearly 30%.
It was his secondary offerings that really stole the show, mainly the slider and changeup. The offspeed pitch itself was given a ‘60’ grade by Pipeline, and it certainly showed the part.
|Spin Rate||1739.6 rpm|
|Vertical Break||29.6 inches|
|Horizontal Break||15.2 inches|
|Hitters Average||1-4 (.250)|
In the first inning Harrington went primarily with the fastball/changeup approach, even getting his first strikeout with the offspeed pitch, after fighting back from a 3-0 count.
There’s about a five mile-per-hour difference between the fastball and changeup, and the break on the pitch really dove away from the left-handed hitters. Harrington was especially able to establish the change early, as Clearwater had a very left-handed heavy lineup.
Of the nine offspeed pitches he threw, six were swung at and he got whiffs on three of those. He went a little more breaking ball heavy later in the game which helped him the second time through the lineup.
|81.98 mph||Velocity||78.97 mph|
|2744 rpm||Spin Rate||2458 rpm|
|29.6 inches||Vertical Break||51.5 inches|
|17.5 inches||Horizontal Break||15.2 inches|
|0-5 (.000)||Hitter’s Average||0-0 (.000)|
The slider was fantastic, posting a 100% strikeout rate in plate appearances that ended with the pitch. He was able to use it against hitters on both sides of the plate, with some of the best pitches coming against lefties, using it as a backdoor pitch to hit the outer half of the plate.
Harrington threw 15 sliders in his debut, 10 of which were either whiffs or called strikes. He didn’t throw the curveball too much, but still managed to get a swing and miss with it as well.
One thing that really stood out to me for Harrington was his control, and his ability to mix pitches in the same at-bat.
In the first part of the clip, Harrington throws four pitches on the outer half of the plate and gives the hitters three different looks. He jumps out ahead 0-2 with a pair of fastballs before trying to get him to chase with a changeup in the dirt. A backdoor slider that frisbees in on the corner finishes it off for a called strike three.
The second clip shows how well the slider and changeup worked together, again jumping out 0-2. He gives up a hit, but that was only after the hitter barely fouled off the 1-2 curveball. The command of his secondary stuff gets him ahead, and he’ll win more of those battles in the future as long as he continues to get favorable counts like that.
Finally, the last video shows him against a righty, starting the fastball for a called strike, before striking the hitter out with back to back sliders.
I was kind of curious where the Pirates were going to assign Harrington to start the season. My initial thought is that Greensboro would be the best place for him, due to being a college starter with good control and secondary pitches.
Bradenton was a bit of a surprise, and his first outing showed he may be a little advanced for the level already. Spending a month or so here can’t hurt to help him get acclimated in pro ball, but overall Greensboro may be a more challenging placement for him.
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.
COMMAND? A Pirate pitcher that’s starting with command is astonishing. One hope’s he avoids the Pirate injury jinx.
Was a big fan when I thought it was a good change and good command guy, add that slider and now I’m all in, don’t care about FB shape if change, slider and command are that good.
Phenomenal work, Murph!!! This gets a bookmark.
This dude comes with the Cleveland Indians Pitcher Pipeline starter pack. Might be my favorite arm in the system right now.
Im in awe of these clips, this dude looks absolutely filthy. Honestly could/should get a taste of ‘toona before the end of the season imo
I almost considered a graphic content warning.
don’t forget the NSFW tag
Murph posted that first backdoor slider on twitter and I quite literally spit out my beer when I saw it.
I was mid bong hit myself when I saw that video, and it made me feel like the first time I ever got high.