Williams: Five Pitchers Who Could Be in Pittsburgh in the Next Year

The Pirates need pitching. The future has arrived for their offense, and the rest of the year will see that future adjust to the present. Their pitching staff lacks 50+ potential.

Quinn Priester had a rough debut last night, giving up three runs through five innings, then four more runs in the sixth inning. Despite that start, Priester profiles as a guy who can stick in the rotation. Right now he looks like a back of the rotation guy, with his advanced learning ability giving him a chance to develop higher.

Priester is joined by Mitch Keller and Johan Oviedo as current fixtures in the Pirates’ rotation. They’re going to need more help to contend. The present-day options are thin, but the Pirates have a few pitchers who could help in Pittsburgh by next summer.

Jared Jones

After the debut of Quinn Priester, the biggest remaining boost in the farm system for 2023 is Jared Jones. He was promoted to Triple-A last month, and has a 5.18 ERA in 24.1 innings, despite a 29.1% strikeout rate and a 7.8% walk rate. His FIP is 2.76, due to an unsustainable .349 BABIP. I wrote in Baseball America this month about how Jones made an adjustment to throw more strikes from a comfortable starting spot. On Sunday, he gave up three runs in five innings, with no walks and six strikeouts. The runs all came in a single inning from a two out, three run homer. At this point, Jones is the sleeper prospect to join the current group in 2023. He would also give the Pirates their first three draft picks under Cherington in the majors, joining Nick Gonzales and Carmen Mlodzinski from the 2020 draft.

Mike Burrows

Burrows was going to be one of the top pitching prospects to arrive this year, but went down with Tommy John surgery. He could be in line to join the rotation by the end of next year, giving a guy who could develop into a middle of the rotation option, while providing depth the final few months of 2024.

Braxton Ashcraft

It’s hard to say what his upside is, after missing time with Tommy John. Braxton Ashcraft has pitched well in his return this year, with a 3.76 ERA in 26.1 innings for Greensboro. Prior to the injury, he was a higher rated draft prospect than Burrows, and rated similar in pro ball, despite Ashcraft having a bigger frame. He had a 26.4% strikeout rate and a low 4.5% walk rate in High-A this year. That has carried over to Double-A through nine innings. The Pirates will continue to keep a reduced workload as he returns. He could enter the depth picture next year.

Anthony Solometo

The 37th overall pick out of high school is already pitching in Double-A in his age 20 season. Solometo features a deceptive delivery from the left side, complete with a 5.4% walk rate so far in Altoona. He’s striking out 28.4% of batters in 19 innings, with a 2.37 ERA. If the Pirates hadn’t just drafted Paul Skenes, there would be a serious debate as to who is the best pitching prospect between Solometo and Jared Jones.

Paul Skenes

Not long after publishing this article, Skenes was officially signed to the Pirates system. There has been talk about building Skenes up to pitch in 2023. With the way the Pirates are playing right now, that wouldn’t make much sense. He spoke about what he needs to work on in pro ball, highlighting the need to adjust to a five-day pitching schedule over a longer season. Skenes could also work on further improvements to his pitches. His stuff is already MLB-quality, and the Pirates won’t have to develop him far to get to MLB-starter quality. Once he’s in the majors as a starter, he still has more upside to reach than anyone else on this list.

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Tim is the owner, producer, editor, and lead writer of PiratesProspects.com. He has been running Pirates Prospects since 2009, becoming the first new media reporter and outlet covering the Pirates at the MLB level in 2011 and 2012. His work can also be found in Baseball America, where he has been a contributor since 2014 and the Pirates' correspondent since 2019.

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Can Oviedo be in the rotation next year? How about Harrington?
Which pitchers will transition to RPs?


A run!


For a guy who supposedly doesn’t chase. Cutch just swung at ball four at least 5 inches off the plate. And tried to pull it.

Last edited 2 months ago by bucsws2014

Im certainly over hedges as much as the next guy, but i wonder if its coincidence or not that mitch’s first start with endy is going so poorly? Not blaming the kid but maybe mitch is more hesitant or something which has hurt him


Ask Shelty or the FO who had the bright idea to make these mind boggeling almost sabatoge like decisions before and after the break

Sat July 8th- Keller throws 1 hitter yanked after 7 with 1-0 lead
at 99 PC.
Why not let him at least start the 8th with bottom of line up and last start before the break?

Ok to be a spectator as most would lean on the side of caution rather than Pitch a meaningless ASG on 3 days rest

Not so someone chose sheltless to help coach and MK is on the mound and not a spectator.

So instead of opening the 2nd half on Friday with your Ace on 6 days rest you decide its better to skip his turn completely and wait until
Tue the 18th

One inning pitched in 10 days after taking the mound every
5 days like clockwork

How did that work out wreckless shelty?

Keller got hit the hardest all year and now the punch line

Down 7-1 early he leaves him in there for 6 inn and over 100p

Yiou will soon see how good Endy is and how much more he cares and knows about this game than laughable unfit puppet poser of a skipper

My only hope is he doesn’t ruin any of these kids or hold them back before he is removed and then beaten with a bag of nickles for letting his wife or 4 year old niece make up the line card and defensive subs

Can’t take him not 1 more day


We’ve never learned the length of Shelton’s extension, other than it was “beyond 2023”. So I’m guessing it’s one year that Nutting will agree to eat.

With Skenes in the fold along with Cruz and some promising 2nd year guys, this should be a fairly desirable destination for a good managerial candidate in 2024.

Scam likely

Getting out scored 18-0 through the first 12 inning of this series. Oh well.


I dont think we have good keller today


With 0 K through 3.2, I’m not sure it’s even bad Keller. It’s like non-Keller.

Finally a K to end top 4th.


Back to back games that were basically over before I could even tune in.


Last night they were into the 4th inning before crumbling. Plenty of time for those who did tune in on time to think we might be watching something special with the 9 up 9 down in 25 pitches thing. So consider yourself lucky you didn’t have your hopes stomped out like a moose attacking a kayak.


Funny thing was with the delay last night I wasn’t able to tune in till the fourth!


Davis is brutal in RF, can’t catch grounders and his arm is not accurate, hope he gets better.


He seems to be very accurate to 2b.


I remember that throw!


He’s done that throw a few times.


Hope he starts catching.


I’m skeptical that’s gonna be any better.


This is a club who’s played Oneil Cruz at SS and Jack Suwinski in CF, on purpose.

Says all you need to know about Hank Davis behind the plate.


Suwinski is an above-average CF, why shouldn’t he play CF?


With a meteoric rise, not predicted by a soul in this earth.

Credit to the man, but you have to appreciate the leap of faith (at best) it took to run him out there.


I will make a weak counter argument that they don’t have better options at SS and CF…….I’m going with that.

Last edited 2 months ago by PirateRican21

Not weak at all, but they actually do have a competent defender at catcher….no you’re not allowed to ask about his bat.


It’ a Netflix night.


I’m so glad the Guardians have a shitty offense….


Keller watched Priester last night and said, “hold my beer.” WTF?!?


IMHO, Priester will soon join other first round pick busts like Swaggerty


I think Swaggs was injury issues…poor dude couldn’t buy a injury free month…


I heard somebody today suggest Priester was a righthanded Jeff Locke, meaning if he can work around his crappy fastball, he could be serviceable as a 4 or 5 for awhile.

I meant to say, Jeff “All-Star” Locke.


I blame a lot of TSwag’s ‘bust’ label on personal issues and injuries. I can’t label someone a bust for having to deal with injuries and life. Only performance.


Per usual I just don’t agree with Skenes going to FSL???
What purpose does that serve?
Minimum he should be in Greenville and you could argue Altoona — even if he doesn’t pitch at all those are where he should get comfortable being. Jeesus this FO is so stuck in the mud…


It’s likely due to the fact that Bradenton is their hub. He has more access to coaches, trainers, facilities, etc.


nothing wrong with him pitching an inning or so there imo. basically bullpen sessions for him at that level lol


Not to defend the FO, but who cares? They are promoting players left and right, no one is getting held back that deserves to be up. The FCL is where they monitor players a bit better, this is why Contreras is there. Blue jays sent Manoah there, not as a punishment, but for the same reasons, they have better facilities.


Plus Skenes has not pitched in a month. June 22 against Wake Forest. He will need some time to ramp back up. I could see him make a couple of appearances in September in Altoona.


What about Brubaker?


I think Tim is referring to MiLB pitchers,


Roansy will be back, right?


So who is left that the Pirates should consider overspending…


I can’t imagine Mueth getting over $2 million. Cuvet is a pipe dream, a little confused where the extra money will go to?


[Note: I had not seen the news on the Skenes signing.]
Right now they could offer Mueth $1.6M and Cuvet $1.25M. I don’t know if that’s enough for either, but you’d have to think it would at least get Cuvet’s attention. That’s CB-B money.

Last edited 2 months ago by CTBucco

good chance they don’t even use the 5% overage


Skenes officially a Bucco!

Wilbur Miller

9.2. Got money left.


And no over slot guys worth spending it on.


gonna go to mueth/curtis/lopez i guess


Do you think that they will be able to scrape enough together to entice Cuvet?

Wilbur Miller

They’ve got over $2M extra to spend. Can’t imagine Mueth getting all of it. Solometo was probably a better draft prospect and he got about 900K over.


Just got my MLB alert. $9.2 Million, a new League Record!!


Who’s gonna score and drive in runs? Pitching no matter how good cannot win baseball games if the team doesn’t score and the scary stat that one of every three MLB pitchers is having TJS has to factor into this somewhere.


They are going to have to bite the bullet and sign at least one legit position player a to $10-$15 million per deals. Or they can’t compete. first base maybe.


Nutting doesn’t have to do nutting!!


I believe at 1 quality bat like you mention and at least one more in the range between 5-10 million range to have better roster depth. They will sign one quality starter to go with keller, Ovieto, eventually Skenes and the winner of the competition from the rest. Some of the rest will be in the pen and the rest will be in Indy and they will be needed.


A “quality” bat at that range, I guess I need a name to even wrap my head around such player.

Wilbur Miller

They need one quality lineup.


I think with a couple of quality bats to go with Cutch,Endy, Davis, Reynolds,Hayes,Suwinski,Cruz, Peguero, and Gonzalez, they will have a quality lineup. Time will tell.

Last edited 2 months ago by robertkasperski
Wilbur Miller

Andy Haines begs to differ.


Yeah for sure. I’m thinking he’d tell Babe Ruth “You know Babe I think you need to start bunting a little more”.


we literally just brought up all our best position players. Who is going to drive in runs? Cruz, Reynolds, maybe Cutch, Rodriguez 1 and 2, Suwinski….i mean


Now we just have to hope these run producers actually produce runs. As my good buddy likes to say “Time will tell”.


Yep, They are here, now let them develop. expect nothing until a year from now.


He has been pounding the table for a position player at 1,1 for months. He isn’t going to stop anytime soon. Lmao.

Last edited 2 months ago by tom2125

And I’ve been helping him pound. I guess we didn’t make enough noise,


Really? Last night, the offensive future got 4 hits against the Cleveland Guardians bull pen. As for the pitchers you selected, I fear another group that pitches with ‘reverse Weaver’ effects, i.e., put a man or two on base (by walking them, of course) then give up a home run.


Pretty crazy Contreras & Ortiz — two recent FG Top 100 prospects – aren’t even referenced. People cite Keller’s rebound & adjustments but I don’t recall him dropping velocity like both of these guys have (Priester too?)


I recalled he did, Keller was really bad there for a year, year and a half, no command, was only a two pitch guy (4 seamer and curve) and his fastball to my recollection was around 94, not that much different than Contreras. Do I believe that Contreras will turn his shit around? No, not really, at least not as a starter. Just hope that he and Ortiz at least become late innings options.


I have not given up on Ro as a starter yet. About a month ago, I remember someone in the know talking about Romand his mechanics and that he was not putting his plant foot in a foot place and that his mechanics were off. If they can work on that at the team facilities in Bradenton and get him right mechanically and consistent, he can be the solid #2 -3 type guy that they need. He is still only 23. Heck, Mitchie the Kid did not figure it out til he was 26 so all hope is not lost yet.


He doesn’t have a starter’s arsenal and his fastball is not dominant, he’s a one trick pony…things could change, but I really doubt it.


He does have a starter’s arsenal (fastball, slider curveball, change up), he just sucks right now. His mechanics are trash at the moment. His only hope is getting outside help (Tread) to fix his issues since this Pirates coaching staff hasn’t helped him resolve any problems.


Pretty remarkable that the only tangible improvement to player dev in the Cherington Era has come from the explosion of quality private sector training.


I hope you are right.

Contreras relies on 4 pitches.  Slider (44.3%)   4-Seam Fastball (40.2%)   Curveball (11.7%)   Changeup (3.9%). 8 out of ten pitches he throws are either FB or Sliders, but technically you are right.

Last edited 2 months ago by PirateRican21

I think it’s a complete lack of confidence from him. His curveball doesn’t get hit. He upped his slider usage so much because it’s his best pitch because he was struggling with his mechanics leaving his fastball all over the place along with a drop in velocity. He also got an increase in swing and miss on the change up this season.

Then only hope for Ro is to be able to add velocity to make up for his lack of command. I doubt he can be an effective starting pitcher sitting at 93.

Last edited 2 months ago by tom2125

technically correct, the best kind of correct.


Hey, I was 80% correct….


I’m hoping for a pair of good (thinking they’re worth three wins or more) starting pitchers from this group of five plus Q.


I think that is a bit of a stretch. Things just don’t seem to work that way with performance/development issues and TJ. I hope that I am wrong and it seems like there is a good chance if Solmeto and Skennes remain healthy.


They often don’t and you’ll inevitably have injuries, you’ll get the flash in the pan who looks like a keeper but really only has one good year, and so on. It’s why I subscribe to the Branch Rickey theory on hotshot pitching prospects, which is: if you have three, one will pan out, one will be waylaid by injuries, one will frustrate and not reach his potential. So if they’ve got six of those guys, I’m gonna hope for two good ones.

If they get two pitchers who pan out and then you add in Keller (with an extension), then we’re playing with some juice. My picks are Skenes and Sol to work out, Jones and Q to frustrate, Ashcraft and Burrows to be injured.


Their offense missed the bus last night.


As depressing as this season has been, the future pitching is what gives me hope. I really think a rotation of:


And a veteran like Santana, Velasquez, etc….

Could be very good. The rest of the young arms can be depth or in the bullpen.

b mcferren

need to make a trade for a front end veteran to join Keller


I’d prefer they invest money in the starting rotation through a Keller extension and signing a mid-rotation type guy in free agency for 3-4 years while most of the position players are on rookie deals. Then when decisions about who to extend, trade or just cut bait with offensively in about 4 need to be made they have payroll coming off the books to help out.


The Pirates have nothing, zero, zilch to offer for front-end SP…


I’d like to seed 2 controllable vets added between the deadline and next spring using some of our prospect capital. No need to deal top guys to build a package like the Stros did when we dealt Cole Not saying that we have a chance at a Cole, just a reliable number 3 or maybe 2.

b mcferren


on my list are Kopech, Beiber, Cantina and Snell


another dominating start from kennedy. those crafty soft tossing lefties, i tell ya


Send him to tread, throw 3-5mph harder and watch him rocket through the minors


yeah. i’d like to see him move up, despite that 88-89 probably not workin out that well. hope he can gain some velocity tho!


Certainly have a good amount of depth and ceiling coming in the next year or so from the farm. The lineup OTOH is pretty much what we got rn


Sounds like Skene’s signing is very very close to happening…maybe even today…


Seems like it happened.


Lets hope so!🤔

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