By Jason Shetler
2016 will mark an exciting year for the Pirates in terms of their prospects, more specifically from the pitching side. Tyler Glasnow, Jameson Taillon, Nick Kingham, Trevor Williams, Chad Kuhl and Steven Brault could all find themselves in Pittsburgh this season. After this year, who will be the next wave of Pirates pitching prospects? – Here are the ones that should be in that category.
Clay Holmes: The Pirates selected Clay Holmes in the ninth round of the 2011 MLB Draft. The 6’5 right-hander was starting to emerge as one of the better pitching prospects in the system before Tommy John surgery wiped away his 2014 season. Holmes returned last year and posted a 2.48 ERA with a 1.07 WHIP in nine starts combined with the Gulf Coast League Pirates and High A Bradenton. He throws a low-90’s fastball with tons of sinking action along with a good changeup and a decent curveball, which could be a plus pitch moving forward. Holmes is likely to begin 2016 with AA Altoona.
Gage Hinsz: In the 11th round of the 2014 draft, the Pirates chose Gage Hinsz out of a prep high school in Montana. Last season, he had a 3.79 ERA while holding opponents to a .252 average in nine starts for the short season Bristol Pirates. Control was an issue however for him, as he put up a 5.4 BB/9. Hinsz’s arsenal includes a low-90’s fastball that should increase along with a curveball and changeup, both of which have a chance to become above average offerings. He could start the season with Low A West Virginia.
Jesse Biddle: The Philadelphia Phillies took Jesse Biddle in the first round of the 2010 draft. Biddle was rated the Phillies top prospect in 2012 by Baseball America. During his six seasons in their organization, he posted a 3.81 ERA with a .240 batting average against and a K/9 of 8.8. Biddle throws his fastball low-90’s, which can reach 94 mph, as well as a good curveball and changeup. This past offseason, he underwent Tommy John and will miss all of 2016. The Pirates acquired Biddle from the Phillies in February in exchange for reliever Yoervis Medina. Once Biddle returns in 2017, he should be pitching for AAA Indianapolis.
Mitch Keller: With their second round pick in 2014, the Pirates selected Mitch Keller. He had a commitment to pitch for the University of North Carolina, but chose to sign with the Pirates for $1 million instead. Keller dealt with a forearm strain in 2015, which led to a 5.49 ERA. He did however show terrific strikeout ability with an 11.7 K/9 in six starts for Bristol. Keller’s fastball currently tops out at 94 mph, and he also throws a decent curve that could be a plus pitch when all is said and done. Pirates Prospects just recently announced that Keller will begin this year with the West Virginia Power.
Stephen Tarpley: The Pirates acquired Stephen Tarpley last year from the Baltimore Orioles as part of the Travis Snider deal. The 23-year-old southpaw was exceptional in 2015 for the West Virginia Power, posting a 2.48 ERA along with a 1.15 WHIP and an 8.1 K/9 in 20 starts. Tarpley possesses a mid-90’s fastball that can touch 97 mph. His secondary pitches include a good slider, a decent curve and above average changeup. Tarpley is expected to start out 2016 with the Bradenton Marauders.
Yeudy Garcia: In 2013, the Pirates signed Yeudy Garcia out of the Dominican Republic. Garcia made a real impact last season with the Power, as he put up a stellar 2.10 ERA while opposing batters registered just a .204 average against him in 30 games, 21 of which were starts. The Pirates named him their 2015 Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Garcia throws a mid-to-upper-90’s fastball and compliments it with a power slider. He should begin this season with Bradenton.