Pirates Prospects Daily: What’s Next For The Pirates Rotation?

Every year there is always an example of the old baseball saying ‘you can never have too much pitching’.

The Pittsburgh Pirates depth that they tried to create is certainly being put to the test, with two of their original rotation members sidelined to long-term injuries, and another one of their top prospects out for the season.

Maybe at the worst possible timing, Roansy Contreras is now struggling and looks like he either needs some time in the bullpen or a built-in break period to try and reset and work on some things.

Unfortunately, the Pirates may not be able to go with that.

In a series that started off rough, despite the win, and only got worst, Contreras allowed seven earned runs while only recording a single out on Wednesday against the Oakland Athletics.

When Vince Velasquez returned from the IL, Contreras was set to work out of the bullpen briefly, to work on some issues he’d been having. But now with Velasquez out again for who knows how long, Contreras was thrusted right back into the rotation.

The Pirates have two of the next five days off between playing for 13 straight, so they were able to get a little creative with things on Wednesday, having Contreras and Luis Ortiz pitch on the same day.

Having those multiple days off should allow the Pirates to skip Contreras, or have him throw once out of the bullpen in a limited setting but beyond that, they may have to dig deep into the system to find some help

— Quinn Priester is the team’s top pitching prospect, or second behind Ortiz, in most national outlets and is having an up and down season in Indianapolis. His breaking stuff has been fantastic, but the fastball has been hittable, and really maxing out around 93 mph.

We’ve seen Contreras, Ortiz, and Johan Oviedo have success using mostly breaking pitches, but at the same time have seen how limited they can be in doing so.

— Caleb Smith and Kent Emanuel were two minor league free agent signings that have been pitching out of Indianapolis’ rotation, with limited success – although the later has one of the better xFIP in the system.

Smith has previous experience pitching in the majors and did post a complete game (7 IP) shutout earlier in the season.

— Maybe a wildcard in all of this is Osvaldo Bido. He wasn’t much of a strikeout pitcher coming up before putting up career numbers in Triple-A last year. He’s always had issues with his control, and seemed more of a bullpen option if he were to make it to the majors, but is once again showing he can at the very least be an innings eater should they need someone for a start or two.

Jared Jones was recently added to Baseball America’s Top 100 prospects, a deserved milestone for the righty who has really taken big steps in his development. His fastball was reaching 99 mph in his last start, and paired with his slider there is no doubt he could get major league hitters out right now.

Just maybe not as a starter. Messing with his timeline would seem like a risk not worth taking. Kyle Nicolas is on the Altoona team with Jones, and while he has shown flashes, is still searching for some consistency on the mound.

There are a lot of things the Pirates probably want to try when it comes to their rotation, it’s just starting to look like they are going to be forced to going with what they got.

That could mean forcing Contreras to remain in the rotation and work things out the hard way. Or, they could slide him into the bullpen, bring someone else up and be prepared to take some hits while Contreras works things out.

Daily Video Rundown

It was quite a day for Cal Mitchell, coming up with a couple of big hits. First off, he hits this two-run home run that tied the game in the third inning. Later, he drives in another run with this RBI double.

Henry Davis was held off the box score hit wise in his first Triple-A game, but corrects that in his second. In the first inning, he blasts this RBI triple for his first hit at the level.


By Tim Williams 

Looking for the Prospect Watch, Pirates Recap, and Daily discussion? Check out Pirates Prospects Live

**P2Live: Roansy Contreras and Quinn Priester on the Same Schedule

**Aaron Shackelford adjusts swing and relocates power

**Mitch Keller Struggles Continue Against Oakland Athletics


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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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Verlander only goes 3 IP, Mets into their bullpen very early……bodes well for Bucs.
On the other hand, they clobber Strider with 8 runs, 8 hits in 4 IP. I think it’s his worse start of his career. Unlike Keller he still was at 97 and had 8 K’s. I’m not hopeful with this Mets series…..it’s a strong lineup.

Last edited 3 months ago by 1979andCounting

I’d call up Jones.

Not saying I’m right, but I’ve come to view hitter dev and pitcher dev as distinctly different.

The nature of the game will always inherently give the pitcher the upper hand in a manner that leads me to believe there’s little “damage” to be done by rushing a promotion, and at the end of the day every man only has so many bullets in the chamber.

Unless Jones is working through a substantial mechanical change that requires focus on process over results, let him air it out for a month and see what happens. He’s a big leaguer in some role next year regardless.


I’d like to see him in Indy for a couple starts before the majors. He’s still my 1a but I’d hate to burn an option for him to get exposed right away. Let’s see him dominate some AAAA players and prospects on the brink of the big leagues. He does that, let’s use those bullets for the pirates.


Jones had another dominant outing again today, and honestly I dont see the harm in this. If he’s bad then he’s no worse than what we had up and if he’s good enough, maybe that buys time until priester is ready for a shot.

Kinda related, but harrington has also been filthy tonight and hes going back out for the 7th. I wouldnt be surprised if hes in altoona by july


Just noticed, last year they gave burrows 12 starts to dominate altoona before going up to indy. Jones is in his 8th start now, so hes probably a few weeks from a promotion regardless


Just looked up Burrows numbers in Altoona, he was closer than I remembered to Jones.


Yeah he was very very good at altoona before stumbling a bit at indy. Maybe that’s an indication that jones should take on indy for a bit, but i dunno


I think he’s made a ton of progress this year, but has been getting better progressing up the line. I’d prefer a stop in Indy, because I fear he could regress with to much of a challenge (lose the control he’s showing and confidence). If he can dominate at Indy then give him the opportunity in Pittsburgh.


Burrows wasn’t as dominant as Jones in Altoona. Hopefully they can get him to Indy sooner.


Orioles on verge of getting swept, overcome a 3-0 deficit to Brewers getting to their pen (including Bryce Wilson).
That team is such a pleasure to watch. Why can’t BC duplicate? Well, start with Hyde is way better than Shelty. Frazier having a nice season, has 2-run double. Gunnar Henderson hits 2 run go ahead dinger. O’s pen is lock down good, no weak arms. O’s win 6-3!!


Their success is mostly draft driven…


Some interesting vets too. Frazier (we get Owings), James McCann (we get Hedges), Aaron Hicks (we get Palacios). There’s a clear difference in GM expectations for this season.


Their core + is draft and development driven…


We have a michael kennedy sighting in the FCL!


3.1IP, 1H, 1R, 1ER, 3BB, 5K. Not bad.


What the hell did the Pirate coaching staff do to take away Ortiz’s ability to strike batters out? It seems any pitcher that comes to the Pirates, comes there to die or end their respective careers. Contreras has suddenly become ordinary. Why? What did they do to him? So they gave up Cole and seemed to have gotten nothing in return, unless you think Yuri or Smith N are going to suddenly morph into superstars for them. Especially if Contreras fails. On the subject of failure most pirate top draft choices have failed: Tucker, Siani, Gonzo, Swaggerty, perhaps Priester and I am sure I am missing dozens more. In order to pick very high in the draft as a team you have to be piss poor as a team, which the Pirates have been for years now. So to give them a chance at improving they get high draft picks and what do they do with those picks/players, they screw them all up by either picking the wrong player or not being able to develop them to make it to the majors. HOw can a team string year after year of failure; I guess you have to ask Pirate ownership and management for that answer. Yes, I am upset and tired of losing year after year, game after game. This madness has to come to an end!!! But will it ever????

Last edited 3 months ago by joesolo6181

Every year I read about all the great picks the Pirates have made in the draft, yet when I read about the minor league teams, there are no prospects really tearing up their league. It seems like all their pitchers are not progressing and it seems like their hitters are all batting in the low 200’s. I’ll be honest I don’t follow the teams very closely, but that is the impression I get just glancing through the articles.


I’d like to see more of these young high picks come in and tear it up. For every Solometo, I see too many Bubba Chandler and Lonnie Whites. I see guys have great years. only top fall off a cliff the next. The pitching and big hitting with power still isn’t in the minors with this org.


I still think it’s too soon to form a judgement, but so far I haven’t seen evidence that this administration is better at development than the previous one was. I’m remaining open-minded, especially since some of the principles seem sound, but I’m also anxiously waiting for something tangible. Maybe it will be Jones or Solometo or Chandler or Davis or Polanco or…


Every player the OP complained about was a Huntington pick. The OP can either give BC a chance or not, but if HE WONT and considers him a flop already then he is the one who looks ignorant. Cherington fired everyone for the most part. He is building the minors from scratch, essentially.

Give it time and see if this is a new pirates or not. The OP ended asking if it will ever end!! Well maybe! Support the current efforts and stop whining!

Last edited 3 months ago by cardpunk

I took the OP’s post to be about the minor league players in general, which would include picks from both GMs. But in any case, I don’t think it was about talent before but instead about development. I agree it takes time to evaluate whether we’ve gotten better at developing the talent we draft and sign as IFAs. We’re in year four and there isn’t evidence yet, but I agree that it is still too soon to form a judgement, as my prior post stated.


Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.


For what my opinion may be worth (nothing), I’d ask Bido to take a few starts and have Contreras pitch out of the minor league bullpen for a while. I’m in no way suggesting it would have the same impact that Keller’s stint had but maybe a break can get him refocused.


I would far prefer Ro in the major league pen than minor league


Yes, I think the only debate should be low-leverage vs. higher-leverage. Initially, I’d use him in low-leverage situations, in a role similar to De Jong’s.


Agreed. It does no good to move him to the pen in the Minors unless you plan for the move to be permanent. I would move him to the MLB pen, and call up Priester or Bido to take some starts. Might be a good time to see if Bido might be for real.


Let the catching rotation begin!

Indianapolis (28-30)

C Endy Rodriguez

Game stats: 2 for 5, one double, one RBI, one run
Season stats: .252/.344/.399, six doubles, three triples, four home runs, 17 RBIs, four steals, 40 games
RF Henry Davis

Game stats: 1 for 3, one triple, one RBI, one walk
Season stats: .200/.429/.600, one triple, one RBI, two games


Unfortunately you left out the part where Endy allowed 5 stolen bases.


At least one of those was stolen entirely on Priester. It doesn’t seem to me that we do a good job developing pitchers who hold runners on base.


I was amazed to see Ruiz from the A’s already has 29 SB’s. Acuna on his tail with 28. Wander with 21. Glad to see Wander having a nice year. “Wander” if he is related to Julio.


Oof, though they have two guys with a ludicrous amount of SB so that shouldnt be the case every night


Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be any good answers in this conundrum. And, if Keller continues his slide………..AARGH!

I think I jinxed us when I said a couple of weeks ago that at least our SP was strong. I take full blame!🤓🤓🤓


Pirates rotation is indicative of entire team…consistently inconsistent.


Jared Jones popped up into the BA top 100 at 91. That’s new isn’t it? Should be a headline here. Priester fell out. So that’s interesting and meaningless.

Anyway, you mentioned Jones in the article and suggest messing with his timeline may not be smart. That idea needs to go by the wayside. A pitcher has so many bullets and injury can happen any time. Forward thinking teams are calling up successful pitching kids earlier and earlier but the pirates are not on the forefront of that. They should be.

Phillies we’re going to give Painter a shot. Reds brought up Abbott. Braves Smith-Shawver. Bryce Miller and woo in Seattle. There are many others getting a chance at 20 and 21 and 22. We should have given burrows a shot last year. You can always send them back down and stop their clocks.

Just give Jared Jones a shot. Why not? There is no “timeline” for pitchers that can be stuck to. They are too risky injury wise and unpredictable.

Kudos to giving Ortiz the look late last year, but he is 24. That’s why they did it. If he did what he did at 21 would they have?

BC needs to talk to some of the new thinking pitching gurus about this. Solometo and Harrington could be a year to 18 months away instead of 3 or 4 as pirates have always done.

Last edited 3 months ago by cardpunk

Agree with Jones- he’s not going to get that much better wasting 100 more innings in the minors.


Absolutely agree on Jones–if he can get MLB hitters out now, he should be given a shot. As another example, the Braves brought up Strider last year essentially from AA as a 22-year-old. What better time to bring Jones up than when there is someone like Hedges to work with (if we trust what the coaches and FO say about Hedges, though with the regression of Keller and Contreras and mixed results from Oviedo and Ortiz, maybe we should question that narrative).

Last edited 3 months ago by TNBucs

Is it me or does Quinn’s velocity seem to vary more than the average arm?


Any a multi year timeline maybe but this season alone he’s almost exclusively in the 91-93 range.


I could’ve sworn that I just read where it was smoking up again. But, I have come to trust what AM reports..


Hope and a prayer, Priester is not ready for prime time and unless he improves a good bit he may never be ready. Otherwise not much help…

A trade may be the Pirates’ only option, as they do have excess middle infielders to offer, they won’t get a #1 but could fetch a #4 or 5…


Maybe we can trade for PJ Sears? 😁😁😁


Throw in Roebuck and that’s a deal…


Ed Roebuck retired years ago. 😂😂😂


Might still be an upgrade…


Priester is only hitting 93?! Really? Thats discouraging


93 and a bad movement profile makes it even more discouraging


Dang – has his fastball always been that bad?
Isn’t he super smart sports science guy? Seems like everyone can add velocity these days.


I suspect we will find out soon that he is injured. It doesn’t make much sense the way he’s fallen and even the smartest kids hide soreness and pain because they are in denial.


Ro and Ortiz have also lost significantly velo from their peaks; I’m leaning toward just simply not trusting pop up stuff.

Quinn got huge pub in the pandemic year from hitting upper 90s in practice but hasn’t shown anywhere close to that since.


Also, suffers from a lack of command but that seems to be prevalent in the Pirates organization…

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