2-2-23 By Craig W. Toth (aka @BucsBasement on Twitter)
At this point I am sure everyone already knows the story about how the Pirates pried Bubba Chandler away from his commit to Clemson; where he was set to compete to be the starting quarterback, as a Four Star Recruit. And, all it took was a signing bonus of $3 Million-approximately $2.2 Million over-slot-with a promise to at least let him try to be a two-way player.
This is a tall order for almost everyone not named Shohei Ohtani, but even more so for a young man that is determined to develop on the mound, still wants to play the field and is a switch hitter. Does everyone understand how many reps, bullpens and batting cage sessions are involved in all of this?
It’s enough to exhaust even the most hardened workout junkie. Yet, it’s not like many of us are predicting that this will continue for much longer.
Across his first 162 professional plate appearances Chandler has slashed .189/.329/.364 with 5 homers and 11 total extra base hits, while striking out 35.4% of the time. On a positive note, he had posted a walk-rate of 15.5% , so there is at least some promise that he could adjust to batting three or four times a week between outings.
However, after watching a bunch of tape and thinking about the possibility of letting this experiment continue, the thing that makes the most sense to me is to have Chandler focus on batting from one side of the plate. The reason for this would be to cut down some of the time he is spending to get his bat to come around from the weaker side; which could be put toward developing the command and control that is missing from his three pitch mix.
In 41.1 innings across the FCL and Low-A Bradenton, Chandler posted a 2.61 ERA and a 1.234 WHIP with a 13.06 K/9 to 6.01 BB/9 rate. At first glance these numbers don’t look half bad; however, when you take out his time in the FCL you get a 4.15 ERA and a 1.462 WHIP with a 11.42 K/9 to 6.23 BB/9 rate.
Speaking candidly, the kid is raw; very talent, but still raw.
Still, it’s that raw talent on the mound that is getting the now 20 year-old noticed by experts outside the Pittsburgh Market.
Almost immediately following the release of Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects, Chandler was identified as one of 10 prospects who could join the list at some point in 2023.
Then just a couple of days ago, he made Keith Law’s Top 100 for the Athletic.
In each publication’s analysis, Chandler’s athleticism was punctuated; along with the potential of his pitch mix, his current command/control struggles, and the need for him to focus on pitching in order to unlock his full capabilities.
What isn’t discussed, is where Chandler should start the season in 2023.
Well, if it was based purely on his arm and talent, I probably still say Bradenton; although the Pirates could be aggressive with him, in the same way they were bold by promoting Jared Jones this past season.
After posting a 4.64 ERA and a 1.470 WHIP, while striking out 103 batters and walking 34-good for a 14.05 K/9 to 4.64 BB/9 rate in 2021-Jones found himself in Greensboro at the beginning of 2022. Sure, his K and BB rates were slightly superior to Chandler’s, but it’s not like they were light-years better.
For now, I guess we will have to see how Chandler looks when he shows up for Spring Training in a couple weeks.
One thought on “Through The Prospect Porthole: Bubba Chandler”
All of his pro samples are small so far, and really none of his splits look good. As much as I want to see Chandler succeed as a two-way player, the hitting doesn’t seem to be there.