This is the one in a series of stories looking at members of the Pittsburgh Pirates 40-man roster.
Max Kranick is an interesting pitcher to consider for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He offers a basic pitch mix with a four-seam, slider, curveball, and sometimes a changeup, with average to above average velocity on his four-seam.
Yet, Kranick has the makings of an above-average arm the Pirates could use during a grueling 162-game schedule in 2023.
Kranick, who was drafted in the 11th round of the 2016 draft out of high school near Scranton and, thanks to a $300,000 signing bonus, de-commited from the University of Virginia and joined the professional circuit.
The 25-year-old Pennsylvania native found himself rising through the Pirates system, despite landing on the injured list more often than not, but 2020 is when everything would change for the young prospect.
Since the pandemic eliminated any minor league season from happening, Kranick was only left with a few options once he was invited to the Pirates satellite camp in Altoona.
Vic Black, a former Pirates and Mets pitcher, found himself with the Pirates again as a pitching coach. After several conversations with Kranick, Black retooled everything about Kranick’s delivery.
Kranick would then have a more short arm approach, which helped his nagging shoulder issues tremendously and even gave him a boost in velocity.
Fast forward to 2021, and Kranick made his major league debut on June 27 against the St. Louis Cardinals. Kranick would pitch five perfect innings, using his slider, curveball, and four-seam. Things started as best as they possibly could for the youngster.
Kranick’s pitching arsenal was interesting to watch unfold as the season continued. His four-seam got hammered to the tune of a .367, but his slider (.240) and curveball (.188) had fairly good success against major league competition.
One could argue that Kranick should rely more upon his curve and slider and potentially cut back on his four-seam usage, which was at 48.5%.
When the ’21 season ended, Kranick had things blow up in his face and finished the season with a bloated 6.28 ERA in 38.2 innings pitched, but hope remained as the 2022 season approached.
The Pirates would use Kranick for just five total innings before he ended back on the IL for the entirety of the season, and it eventually came out that he had Tommy John surgery.
Typically, it takes around nine months to a year for a pitcher to recover from said surgery fully, but each person’s body is different, so it’s hard to tell if Kranick will return to the mound in 2023 or not.
If Kranick does indeed return, you can expect the Pirates to use him sparingly and with the utmost caution. Another typical side effect to Tommy John is an uptick in velocity, so maybe expect Kranick to shoot up towards the upper 90s as opposed to his typical 94-95.