Pirates Prospects Daily: Sean Sullivan Continues To Thrive In Altoona

Overall, the numbers weren’t kind to Sean Sullivan’s time in High-A Greensboro, but there were some encouraging things if you dug deep enough — like how he did when he wasn’t actually pitching in Greensboro.

Now up in Double-A with the Altoona Curve, he’s showing exactly what he can do in a non-hitter friendly environment. 

Sullivan pitched a career high seven innings on Tuesday, kicking off Altoona’s series against the Hartford YardGoats. He allowed seven hits and three runs while walking one and striking out five.

While he isn’t a big swing and miss guy (29 K in 34.2 innings), Sullivan floods the strike zone with pitch after pitch, getting through innings at a quick pace. It took him just four pitches to finish the first inning, and need just 83 overall to get through the seven frames.

The ability to put the ball in play and get quick outs has allowed him to complete at least six innings in each of his last three starts. Last year he completed six innings twice over 15 starts (20 overall appearances).

Sullivan was an intriguing name coming out of Cal University back in 2021, easily getting overlooked by the prep players the Pirates took earlier in the draft. He was ranked in MLB Pipeline’s Top 250, and the Pirates were able to take him in the eighth round.

Other publications heralded his fastball command, pitch sequences, and high floor as a potential back of the rotation starter.

The lack of swing and miss will probably limit his upside, but he continues to be a big part in a Altoona rotation that has the third lowest staff ERA in the Eastern League currently.

Prospect Notes

— It wasn’t a game that he is going to put in his highlight reel, but Owen Kellington grinded his way to a four inning start on Tuesday, tied for his season long.

The control was spotty (two walks), and he didn’t miss a lot of bats (only one strikeout), but he found a way to bounce back from a 30 pitch first inning to still finish four full frames.

Kellington has one of the best pitches in the system, and even though he should dominate Single-A hitters with it on most nights, there are some where it won’t get the chase it usually does.

I would like to see the velocity come up just a bit, but he’s a prospect I’ve certainly started to plan around watching when Bradenton is on stream.

— Maybe the two best leadoff hitters in the system are both playing in Greensboro right now – Tres Gonzalez and Tsung-Che Cheng

Cheng has almost exclusively batted out the cleanup spot, even going all the way back to 2022 with Bradenton, but Tuesday Tres got the edge. He responded with a pair of walks, a run scored and stolen base. 

Batting in the two-hole, Cheng walked once, picked up two hits, scored twice and stole a base.

A lot happening at the top of the order for the Grasshoppers right now, who broke an eight game losing streak on Tuesday.

Daily Video Rundown

Known more for his defense, Scott still came up with this big triple that completed the Altoona comeback.

Jacob Gonzalez hits his third home run of the season, finally putting the Curve on the board in the eighth inning.

Canaan Smith-Njigba destroys this baseball to give the Indianapolis Indians a 2-0 lead.


By Tim Williams 

I had a chance to see Sullivan pitch a few weeks ago. I’ve got articles coming from that Altoona trip this week, possibly rolling out one a day. Here’s a look at Sullivan from that trip, along with the latest updates on the site. 

Williams: The Next Phase at Pirates Prospects


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.

Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.

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Swaggy 1 for 1 with 2 BB, harrington 6ip 2h 1bb 3K in bradenton for game 1


Watched some, Harrington fastball gets hit hard, fortunately at fielders. Sweeper is easily above average.


I posted a comment a few days back saying that Burrows and Jones are my favorites pitching prospects due to their fastballs, but burrows health and Jones command are a problem.


In Altoona the team is facing former Pirates’ prospect Nick Garcia.

Wilbur Miller

His ERA is almost identical to Connor Joe’s OPS. If you move the decimal a bit.


Off subject, LSU v Arkansas today, I think Skenes is pitching and Crew’s got a couple hits yesterday.


Arkansas won 5-4. Crews hit a HR in the 9th. Skenes gave up 5 runs, only 2 were earned


I watched it, watching Florida v Vandy currently.


Baseball being baseball: Indy posts 12 runs on 14 hits and the best hitter in the organization goes 0 for 6 with his first 3-K game in a calendar year.

(Also 4th passed ball of the year already; only one qualified big league catcher in all of baseball had more last year)


I was sooooo disappointed to see Endy’s results after seeing the final score. Oh well, just a blip hopefully.


I think this is a good thing. The organization likes to see these guys fight back after a struggle. I never knew if I understood that philosophy but maybe Endy took the off season a bit too lightly or is putting undue pressure on himself due to the building hype. AT any rate, let’s hope the hype was deserved and he fights through this in AAA rather than MLB>


Nicky G with a dinger off a breaking ball!


Off a breaking ball??!??


Either that or an 81mph fastball, lol




GTFO. Not sure if that is the official abbreviation but you get the idea.


Hopefully in the next few weeks something clicks for Nick and he adjusts to breaking pitches and cuts the strikeouts in half. If not try to work out a trade.


And who would want a aaa player who can’t hit a curve? Asking for a friend.


Hopefully Seattle, although the 26 year old Jose Caballero they brought up is doing good but it’s a SSS. Other than him 2nd is a black ⚫️ there.


Well, 2b is a black hole here, too. 😙😙😙


Yep, but we got like 10 of them, let’s try and get something for one of them


Just 10? 😂😂😂😂


Glad to finally have a ‘real’ P2 article again. Great stuff as always, AM.

Wilbur Miller

Crazy day in the system yesterday. Bradenton was rained out, but everybody else put up football scores. Plus a big day for Solo.


All those hits for Altoona not one XBH.

Wilbur Miller

Got some w RISP though


Sean sullivan to indy and harrington to toona! Really just harping on harrington moving up from bradenton


Could Sean Sullivan be the next Karstens or Fogg or better?

Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

I was thinking more Greg Maddux, but didn’t want to get ahead of myself


I feel like every time I went to a Pirate game in the early 00’s Fogg or Kip Wells was pitching. Should have planned better to see Oliver Perez.


I was such a big Kip Wells believer…..


Me too. I think he came over in the trade with Josh Fogg. Maybe from the Chi Sox. Yeah. It was for Todd Ritchie. Sean Lowe also came in that epic swap.


I still remember that Oliver Perez commercial.

Wilbur Miller

For Karstens he’s gonna need a mask.


Yeh, but did you ever see his girlfriend/wife? Oh to have been a major league ball player where even ugly guys get good looking women.


Kip’s ball n chain don’t look half bad either. At least the picture I saw when I looked up how long ago he was hurlin for the Bucs.


Yeh, but Kip wasn’t bad looking. Jeffy boy? Not so much.


Maybe that is why he could get away with his stuff for a little while. Gave the batter a smile and threw them off a little.


The big thing with Sullivan is depth, next year on what hopefully is a playoff caliber team. Injuries happen and an extra arm with the potential to eat innings (even if only a 4 or 5) could be very valuable.


Now all we need are some batters who can, you know, hit? 😅😅😅

Wilbur Miller

They’re short rn. If VV is OK, that’s six. Priester soon should be seven. I figure you need eight minimum. Need one more at least.

Last edited 11 days ago by Wilbur Miller

Next year will get Brubs and burrows back too so future depth isnt terrible at least


Yep, probably mid season at the earliest though. They’ll probably need to sign a temp to start the season.

Last edited 11 days ago by melkel

Jones is the wild card, if he keeps improving his control and command he could be an option. Still think they’re a year away from playoff contention.
On a different subject, have you heard or seen a slight change in CSN swing? He’s striking out more but is getting to his raw power more as well.


Jones’s ceiling with command/control is probably some of the highest in the system. He could be the next impact arm that really boosts the rotation


He was a 10.4/3.7 K/BB/9 at A+ in 122 IP. Only 24 IP so far at AA but he’s 10.5/2.6. He’ll turn 22 later this year, and is in the right place to put his name in the hopper for the Pirate Rotation possibly early in 2024. The Pirates got a break that he was still around in the 2nd Round – easily with the stuff to have been a First Rounder. Was it a signability issue?


My thought as well.


Not sure Sullivan can break into the MLB Rotation, but his stuff plays well as an innings eater out of the BP.

The players currently at AA are going to be adding a lot of depth to the MLB Roster soon. Liover Peguero is hitting and fielding much better in May than he was in April. He had 5 E’s at SS in only 11 games in April and in May he has 2 E’s at SS in 14 games. An OPS of .626 in April has increased to .887 in May. Also like the K Rate of only 16.8% and a BB Rate of 10.2%. 12 doubles (team lead) and 4 HR (4th behind Davis, Martin, and Gorski), and 13/15 SB’s. Will play all of 2023 as a 22 year old!

Some other really strong numbers are Henry Davis with 10 HR and is 17.8% K/17.8%BB. Mason Martin with 7 HR, 27.5% K/25% BB.

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