Through The Prospect Porthole: Call To Arms

5-18-23 By Craig W. Toth (aka @BucsBasement on Twitter)

There’s a trend taking place across Major and Minor League Baseball; not just in the Pirates Organization.

Pitchers are going on the shelf in rapid succession.

Just two days ago it was announced that the Texas Rangers #9 Prospect, and 3rd Overall Pick in last year’s MLB Draft-you know,the guy the Pirates were supposed to be tanking for back in 2020-Kumar Rocker would be receiving Tommy John Surgery.

That same day it was announced that the Oakland Athletics #2 Prospect, Mason Miller was being shut down for an undetermined amount of time due to a Mild UCL Sprain, after only 4 starts with the Big League Club; during which he posted a 3.38 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP with 22 strikeouts in just over 21 innings of work.

Barely a week ago, Blue Jays Top Prospect Ricky Tiedemann was listed as week-to-week with left bicep inflammation, while pitching for Double-A New Hampshire.

Prior to the start of the season, the Washington Nationals #4 Prospect Cade Cavalli-who was the team’s presumptive 5th starter-suffered a grade three sprain of his ulnar collateral ligament; which resulted in TJ on March 22nd.

On the Major League side Rockies Opening Day Starter German Marquez, Seattle’s Robbie Ray and the Braves Ian Anderson have all undergone Tommy John Surgery since the beginning of April.

For the Pirates, both Major League Starter JT Brubaker and #9 Prospect Mike Burrows have both gone under the knife. Now they 14 to 16 month journeys ahead of them.

Throw in the top bullpen acquisition from the off-season, Jarlin Garcia not being able to grip a baseball, along with a somewhat unexpected hit to the starting rotation in the form of a Vince Velasquez IL stint.

All of a sudden the pitching depth doesn’t look as boundless as it once did.

Yes, the Pirates still have Quinn Priester and potential late bloomer Osvaldo Bido in Triple-A Indianapolis, both of whom have looked sharp at different points early on; especially Priester over his last three starts.

Across 19 innings, the 22 year-old hurler has posted a 1.42 ERA, with a 0.84 WHIP and 17 strikeouts; including 9 on Tuesday.

Down in Double-A Altoona, Kyle Nicolas, Sean Sullivan and Jared Jones all have the potential to be reliable starters; although Nicolas has struggled at times to the tune of a 5.12 ERA and a 1.74 WHIP after impressing early on in Spring Training.

In Jones’ case he is working himself back from a placement on the IL that cost him a couple of weeks, while Sullivan has simply been motoring along; following the promotion from Greensboro to start the season.

Both have experienced success, but neither is really ready for the bump to Triple-A just yet. I mean, Jones is still young and somewhat raw, whereas Sullivan needs to work on refining his four pitch mix; hopefully sprinkling in a few more whiffs.

Moving even further down through the Pirates System there is talent and potential, yet it’s hard to place many of them on the radar as being able to help the team in Pittsburgh for at least the next couple of years.

And, before anyone thinks I am forgetting Roansy Contreras, Luis Ortiz and Johan Oviedo, I honestly am not. But, I’m also not counting on all three to be in the rotation of the future at this moment.

Even so, clearly this isn’t the definition meager by any stretch of the imagination. However, I think it does illustrate just how many pitchers are too many in any system through Major League Baseball.

Simply put, in the words of the great Lindsay Lohan, “The limit does not exist.”

Published by Craig W. Toth

Former Contributing Author at, Co-Host of the Bucs in the Basement Podcast and life-long/diehard Pittsburgh Pirates Fan!

One thought on “Through The Prospect Porthole: Call To Arms

  1. Yeah, Looking at all of the injuries to pitchers on MLBTraderumors looks like a surgery schedule for an ortho practice. While being concerned about the Pirates depth, I’m beginning to believe this is a major problem in professional baseball and that something needs to change with pitch usage, frequency and volume of pitching or???. At some point there is going to be a backlash rather it be the union or a class action lawsuit claiming that MLB is aware of the danger to the players and not protecting them.


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