Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline has reported the Pittsburgh Pirates have signed their 2nd round pick Hunter Barco. Barco has reportedly signed for a bonus of $1,525,000. The slot number for the number 44th pick came in at $1,776,100, so the Pirates saved $251,100 with this under-slot deal for Barco.
Barco, in May, announced via social media that he would undergo Tommy John Surgery, effectively ending any chances of him being able to pitch for the Pirates in 2022 and may hinder him from competing for a ton of innings in the 2023 season. Typical recovery time for Tommy John usually takes about a year, but in some cases, it could take longer.
Before his Tommy John surgery, Barco was electric for the Florida Gators. In 50.1 innings pitched in 2022, Barco struck out 69, walked 11, and carried an ERA of 2.50. During his entire collegiate career at Florida, Barco posted an ERA of 3.18, struck out 189, and walked 43 in 152.2 innings of work.
Barco was ranked 75th on MLB Pipeline’s prospect board and had his slider rated as his best pitch at a 60-grade. The rest of his pitches graded were his fastball (50-grade) and changeup (55-grade). MLB Pipeline mentioned that Barco’s fastball can hit 95 mph and sits around 92-93. “His ceiling is a number three or four starter,” said MLB Pipeline.
With Tommy John surgery, it is no surprise if a pitcher comes back even stronger and shows an uptick in velocity. If Barco sees an uptick in velocity and continues to show command in the zone, his fastball/slider combination could make him, at the very least, a decent bullpen arm. Now we wait and see how the Pirates handle Barco’s recovery time.