By Jason Shetler
The Pirates farm system in recent years has begun to provide high upside pitching. 2016 will likely mark the arrival of three potential impact arms to Pittsburgh with Tyler Glasnow, Jameson Taillon and Chad Kuhl. So far this season, Brandon Waddell was promoted to AA Altoona last month while Mitch Keller is putting up very superb numbers in Low A for the West Virginia Power. Keller isn’t the only pitching prospect doing well in West Virginia, as his teammate Jonathan Brubaker (also referred to as JT Brubaker) has been opening some eyes.
Brubaker was chosen by the Pirates as a sixth round selection out of Akron University in the 2015 MLB Draft. He signed with them for $200,000, which was below slot money. His pro debut last season was with the West Virginia Black Bears, and he put up very good numbers with a 2.82 ERA and had a .216 batting average against in 15 starts. Brubaker is pitching his first full season for the Power, posting an ERA of 3.70 and holding opponents to a .248 average in 11 starts. John Dreker of Pirates Prospects provided me this scouting report on Brubaker.
“He sits 90-93, touches 94 with his fastball. Second pitch is a slider, then he has a rarely used curve and an occasional changeup. Last year he had excellent command down in the zone, this year he has been leaving pitches up too often.”
This makes sense, as Brubaker seemed to be pitching more to contact last year, and was trying to work more down in the zone as John mentioned. Brubaker’s K/9 was only at 6.0, although he had an excellent 1.5 BB/9. This season however, the walk figure has been higher at 3.7, but so has the strikeouts, at 10.9. As a matter of fact, Brubaker is currently leading the South Atlantic League in strikeouts with 68. John also mentioned to me that the slider is Brubaker’s best offering in terms of a strikeout pitch. If Brubaker can continue to strike batters out with regularity, as well as cut down on the free passes, then he could become a dominant arm moving forward.