Potanko: Pirates Made Right Decision With Bubba Chandler
Sam Dykstra of MLB Pipeline reported Tuesday afternoon that the Pittsburgh Pirates have decided to move Bubba Chandler to a full-time pitcher as the 2023 season starts.
This news comes as no surprise, as Chandler has shown much better flashes as a pitcher than a hitter.
Chandler was drafted as a two-way player in the third round of the 2021 MLB draft out of North Oconee high school in Georgia.
In the box, Chandler had a long road to get his swing right. The power potential was there; when he made contact, the ball would register high exit velocities, but the problem was actually making contact.
In his 88 plate appearances in Single-A Bradenton, Chandler struck out 39.8% of the time, and he looked outmatched by anyone with a somewhat advanced breaking ball.
It was better to nip this in the bud now and let Chandler develop strictly as a pitcher.
The arsenal is there for the former Georgia native. His fastball has registered impressive numbers, averaging 95.3 mph at 19 years old.
It’s probably not far-fetched to say that Chandler has the most advanced fastball in the Pirates’ system as we speak.
Thanks to Anthony Murphy of Pirates Prospects, we have some advanced numbers on Chandler’s fastball and slider. Chandler had a 34% CSW (strike or swinging rate), putting him in the “excellent” category.
In the swinging strike rate category, Chandler registered 16.5% on his fastball.
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Chandler’s slider put up around 14.7% in swinging strikes.
Overall, Chandler had a 16.8% swinging strike rate, which would put him around the 72nd percentile with pitchers who registered at least 20 innings pitched in the FSL.
Simply put, Chandler missed bats and should be a full-time pitcher to reach his full potential.
In terms of what Chandler’s full potential is, remains murky.
From a previous talk I had with Full Count Baseball (Chandler’s off-season workout facility), it seems his secondary stuff is coming along well.
Their main focus has been harnessing what he already has and learning how to control his repertoire: a four-seam, slider, curveball, and changeup.
If Chandler can have a consistent, repetitive motion and get into a routine, I’m sure his dreadful 6.23 BB/9 will reduce drastically.
One of Chandler’s biggest tests should come during the ’23 season, with High-A Greensboro being his likely destination.
With Chandler’s sweet spot being a four-seam at the top of the zone, it will be interesting to see how he can limit the home runs in Greensboro, known for being a home run haven.
The development of his secondary stuff will be crucial if he wants to make it as a starter, and the Pirates forcing him to focus strictly on pitching should’ve given Chandler a push in the right direction.