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Pirates Top 10 Prospects Update: Skenes Debuts, Johnson’s Struggles Continue

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Paul Skenes, Pittsburgh Pirates

This is one in a weekly update on the top 10 Pittsburgh Pirates prospects.

There is a lot to discuss in this week’s update as top Pirates prospect Paul Skenes made his long-anticipated debut.

The top 10 is also going to look different than in the past.

Jared Jones, who had been the Pirates’ No. 3 prospect, has graduated from his prospect eligibility and is no longer included in the top 10. Additionally, Bubba Chandler jumped Anthony Solometo in the rankings and Mike Burrows now slides into the top 10.

Full updates on the top 10:

1. RHP Paul Skenes (Pittsburgh Pirates)

  • Weekly stats: 0-0, 6.75 ERA, 4.0 innings, six hits, three runs, two walks, seven strikeouts, one appearances/one start
  • 2024 stats (MLB): 0-0, 6.75 ERA, 4.0 innings, six hits, three runs, two walks, seven strikeouts, one appearances/one start

Though the final line isn’t too pretty, Skenes pitched better than the numbers would indicate in his MLB debut. His first-career start turned out to be one of the whackiest games in PNC Park history with the Pirates ultimately defeating the Cubs 10-9.

2. INF Termarr Johnson (High-A Greensboro)

  • Weekly stats: .063/.375/.063, 1 for 16, six games
  • 2024 stats: .167/.382/.229, 16 for 96, one double, one triple, one home run, 10 RBIs, four steals, 30 games

Johnson’s struggles to start the season continued but it’s not due to strikeout issues that we’ve seen before. He posted a healthy 12.5% strikeout rate last week and a 29.2% walk rate but still hasn’t seen hits fall.

3. RHP Bubba Chandler (Double-A Altoona)

  • Weekly stats: 0-1, 9.81 ERA, 3.2 innings, four runs, four hits, three walks, six strikeouts, one appearance/one start
  • 2024 stats: 1-2, 4.13 ERA, 24 innings, 11 runs, 18 hits, 13 walks, 29 strikeouts, seven appearances/six starts

Chandler struggled in his lone start this week — primarily with control — but was still able to strikeout six. The right-hander is having a solid year in the Pirates’ organization even with the subpar start.

4. LHP Anthony Solometo (Double-A Altoona)

  • Weekly stats: 0-0, 9.00 ERA, three innings, three hits, four walks, one strikeout, one appearance/one start
  • 2024 stats: 0-1, 5.68 ERA, 19 innings, 12 runs, 18 hits, 15 walks, 15 strikeouts, six appearances/six starts

Solometo’s early-season struggles dragged on as he allowed three runs and two home runs in three innings pitched. The left-hander now has as many walks as strikeouts on the season.

5. RHP Thomas Harrington (Double-A Altoona)

  • Weekly stats: 0-0, 0.00 ERA, six innings, no runs, one hit, two walks, seven strikeouts, two appearances/two starts
  • 2024 stats: 0-0, 0.00 ERA, six innings, no runs, one hit, two walks, seven strikeouts, two appearances/two starts

Harrington made his return off the injured list and made a pair of starts — one with Low-A Bradenton and one with Double-A Altoona. The Pirates’ prospect looked to already be in midseason form.

6. RHP Braxton Ashcraft (Double-A Altoona)

  • Weekly stats: 1-0, 0.00 ERA, five innings, no runs, two hits, two walks, five strikeouts, one appearance/one start
  • 2024 stats: 1-2, 5.33 ERA, 25.1 innings, 17 runs (15 earned), 29 hits, four walks, 22 strikeouts, six appearances/five starts

Ashcraft made perhaps his best start of the season after struggling for the majority of his start to the season. He showed plenty of encouraging signs in his latest start with the Curve, however.

7. INF Mitch Jebb (High-A Greensboro)

  • Weekly stats: .050/.208/.050, 1 for 20, two RBIs, two steals, five games
  • 2024 stats: .207/.285/.306, 23 for 111, two doubles, three home runs, 15 RBIs, seven steals, 27 games

Jebb was one of the hotter hitters in the organization last week but scuffled at the plate in his most recent action. Overall, his first full season as a professional has been a disappointment so far.

8. INF Tsung-Che Cheng (Double-A Altoona)

  • Weekly stats: .222/.300/.222, 4 for 18, three RBIs, two steals, five games
  • 2024 stats: .207/.348/.315, 19 for 92, one double, three home runs, 15 RBIs, six steals, 27 games

Cheng collected a hit in four of his five games on the week and stole a pair of bases but failed to make much of an impact offensively. On the season, Cheng has been a league-average player with a 101 wRC+.

9. INF Jack Brannigan (High-A Greensboro)

  • Weekly stats: .250/.375/.250, 5 for 20, one steal, six games
  • 2024 stats: .215/.339/.402, 23 for 107, three doubles, one triple, five home runs, 10 RBIs, five steals, 28 games

Like the other top 10 prospects at the plate this week, Brannigan didn’t have a major impact. At least he was able to raise his batting average and on-base percentage but the Pirates need more from their notable hitting prospects.

10. RHP Mike Burrows (Triple-A Indianapolis)

  • HAS YET TO PITCH IN 2024 (RECOVERING FROM TOMMY JOHN SURGERY)

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