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Top 30 Pirates Prospects No. 4: Can Bubba Chandler Harness Control?



Bubba Chandler, Pittsburgh Pirates, Pirates prospects

This is one in a series of stories breaking down PBN’s Top 30 Pittsburgh Pirates prospects.

The sports world is churning out more and more multi-talented athletes. Whether it’s multi-sport or even multi-positional. The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted both in 2021 with Bubba Chandler. 

Chandler was drafted by the Pirates in the third round out of North Oconee High School in Georgia. In addition, the Lawrenceville, Georgia native was committed to Clemson to play Quarterback. 

The Pirates are no strangers to shattering signing bonuses, but Chandler’s $3 million bonus far surpassed the $870,700 slot value. I’m sure the $2,129,300 surplus aided in Chandler choosing baseball full-time. 

Through Chandler’s first full professional season, the Pirates tried the two-way player act with Chandler, but it was evident Chandler’s future was on the mound. 

During spring training of 2023, the Pirates’ sentiments were the same, and they informed Chandler that his duties would now be a full-time pitcher. 

Chandler admittedly mentioned that he was angry at first, but he eventually warmed up to the idea. Towards the end of his time in High-A Greensboro, Chandler was consistently going 5-7 innings a night. 

During his 24 starts (108 innings), Chandler showcased his strikeout ability with 120 strikeouts (10.2 strikeouts per nine). Where the righty struggled was control and command of the strike zone. 

Chandler walked 51 batters in Greensboro, which averaged out to 4.3 walks per nine. The 21-year-old got called up to Double-A Altoona on Sept. 6. 

During his lone start for Altoona, Chandler impressed. The Georgia native went 5.0 innings, one hit, no runs, no walks, and eight strikeouts against Harrisburg.

Despite Chandler’s struggle with walking batters, the potential is there. Where the most potential lies is his fastball. According to FanGraphs, Chandler’s fastball has a future grade of 60. 

Combined with his slider and a developing changeup, Chandler’s fastball has a bright future. Here’s what Brian Holmes of Full Count Baseball said on the righty’s tool belt. (Chandler’s off-season destination)

“His fastball is very, very good,” said Holmes. “That fastball is something that will always be a weapon of his. The main thing with his other stuff is just trying to make his movement and motion consistent. He’s throwing two different breaking balls with a slider and a curveball, and we’ve been trying to give him consistent feedback so he can start to separate them; they’ll tend to blend together sometimes. So we’re trying to get him to the point where there are two distinct pitches all of the time.”

If Chandler’s development with his breaking stuff continues, the Pirates may have a top pitching prospect on their hands.

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