Pittsburgh Pirates AFL Pitcher Recap

The Arizona Fall League ended this past weekend, and it was a good showing for the Pittsburgh Pirates’ prospects that participated.

While it wasn’t the case with each of them, a common theme shared between most of the pitchers sent to Arizona was that they missed time with an injury. That was the case for the original four picked to represent the Pirates, but Miguel Yajure ended up not going after experiencing a setback.

In total, Bear Bellomy, Carmen Mlodzinski, Michael Burrows and Roansy Contreras represented the Pirates by playing for the Peoria Javelinas in the AFL.

Bellomy was the late replacement for Yajure and made the most appearances out of quartet that played for the Pirates, coming out the bullpen eight times this fall. He’s also maybe the most curious of the bunch, as the other three rank in the Pirates’ top 10 prospects in Baseball America’s recently updated list.

But the 24-year-old former 28th round pick out of Wright State held his own in a league that was full of some of the top prospects in the game. Bellomy finished the fall with a 1-0 record, while posting a 3.86 ERA in 11 2/3 innings pitched. The righty struck out nine batters and held opponents to a .230 average.

Carmen Mlodzinski was the 31st overall pick in the 2020 draft, taken out of South Carolina where he had missed some time with an injury but a strong showing at the Cape Cod League was enough for Ben Cherington to pull the trigger on.

Missing time with an injury, the 22-year-old Mlodzinski only threw 52 1/3 innings this year between high and triple-A, so the fall was really a great opportunity to make up for some of the lost workload.

He was able to get 11 of those innings back in the AFL, posting a 4.91 ERA in seven appearances, all out of the bullpen. Mlodzinski picked up a win, and a save for Peoria and struck out nine batters while holding the opposition to a 1.27 WHIP and .220 average.

Drafted in the 11th round pick, Michael Burrows was one of the biggest storylines emerging in the Pirates system this past year, and as a result is now ranked as one of their top 10 prospects according to Baseball America.

Also missing time with an injury, Burrows was only able to get in 49 innings across 13 starts with the Greensboro Grasshoppers. He made them count, striking out 66 and posting a 0.90 WHIP.

During the fall, Burrows pitched mostly in a piggyback role with Contreras, following up coming out of the bullpen after the starter left the game. He did make one start, coming on the last Wednesday of the season, and it was arguably the best outing for Burrows.

In three innings, the righty struck out six batters while allowing a lone hit. On the fall, Burrows registered two wins to go along with his 3.52 ERA across 15 1/3 innings while striking out a total of 16 hitters.

Maybe the biggest breakout stars for the Pirates this past season, Contreras came back from a forearm injury and picked up where he left off, eventually making his major league debut the last week of the season.

Contreras continued the recognition into the fall, being named one of the AFL’s pitchers of the week for his efforts. He closed things out on a high note as well, striking out eight batters across four innings pitched.

Acquired from the Yankees in the Jameson Taillon trade, Contreras finished the fall with a 2-1 record, striking out 18 batters in 14 innings pitched and holding opponents to a .196 average.

While each of the Pirates’ pitching prospects had success to some degree or another, the most important things are that they stayed healthy, and were able to get back some of the innings that they lost during the regular season.

Each will be expected to start the year in the higher levels of the minors, leaving the door open for a potential impact in Pittsburgh sooner rather than later.

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