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Don’t Forget About This Flame-Throwing Pirates Prospect When Building Future Rotation

The near future is very bright for the Pirates pitching staff.

Paul Skenes has taken MLB by storm since his call-up. The No. 1 prospect already looks like one of the best pitchers in baseball with an electrifying fastball and devastating splinker that has flummoxed opponents at the highest level. Jared Jones, blessed with an equally dominant right arm, has been nearly as good despite being slightly overshadowed by Skenes.

Oh, and Mitch Keller looks poised for a second straight All-Star appearance while it’s Bailey Falter who actually leads the team in bWAR.

And it’s hard to believe that another reinforcement could be on the way, assuming Pirates prospect Bubba Chandler can follow the same path laid forth by Skenes and Jones.

The Athletic’s Keith Law recently posted his updated top 50 in-season prospects, and Chandler was Pittsbugh’s lone represenative at No. 46.

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“Chandler missed a start in May due to forearm tightness but returned on the 29th to throw 75 pitches in four innings, working almost only with his fastball and changeup in the outing without much feel for the few sliders he threw,” Law wrote. “He still needs to work on fastball command and control, but his stuff is so good, particularly his fastball life and the deception and fade on the changeup, that he has as much upside as any pitcher on this list.”

The 2021 third-round pick also entered the season as a top-60 prospect from Baseball America, as he continues to develop with more seasoning after being selected out of high school. On the surface, the numbers don’t look great; Chandler is 1-5 with a 4.81 ERA at Double-A Altoona, but his 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings speaks to his stuff. The walks number has to go down with Chandler issuing 19 free passes in just 33 2/3 innings. Yet, it’s easy to forget with someone who already has almost 200 professional innings under his belt that Chandler is still almost four years younger than the average Eastern League player.

The Pirates have plenty of work to do when it comes to building an offensive core, but it’s clear with each passing day that Ben Cherington and company are building something pretty special on the mound.

Featured image via Kim Klement Neitzel/USA TODAY Sports Images