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Perrotto: Should Pirates Fans Get Too Excited About ‘Jared Day?’



Jared Jones, Pittsburgh Pirates

I learned many years ago, through trial and error, not to get too excited about prospects.

I ranked and wrote about the Pittsburgh Pirates’ top 30 prospects for Baseball America for a long time. Many of those players were pegged as future stars by me – and other observers. Many of them never panned out.

Yet it is difficult to look at the probable pitchers for Friday throughout the organization and not get excited about what the Pirates starting rotation could look like by some point next season.

Jared Jones will pitch for the big-league club in the home opener against the Baltimore Orioles at PNC Park.

The 22-year-old had a memorable major-league debut against the Marlins last Saturday in Miami. He struck out 10 batters in 5.2 innings to get the win while allowing three runs and three hits.

Jones had the second-most strikeouts by a Pirates pitcher in his major-league debut. Nick Maddox had 11 in 1907 and Dick “Turkey” Hall matched that total in 1955 after being converted to a pitcher from an outfielder.

Jones’ performance came on the heels of not allowing an earned run in 16.1 innings in the Grapefruit League during spring training. Even the Pirates and their obsession with delaying the beginning of a player’s major-league service time couldn’t keep Jones off the opening-day roster.

This brings us to Paul Skenes, who will start Friday night for Triple-A Indianapolis as it hosts Memphis in the International League.

Skenes was perfect in his season debut last Saturday, retiring all nine Louisville hitters he faced. The first overall pick in last year’s draft had five strikeouts.

Skenes confirmed what I saw in spring training and many scouts from other organizations told me – the 21-year-old is ready to pitch in the big leagues now. However, the Pirates plan to take is slow with the big right-hander after he pitched just 6.2 professional innings last year after leading LSU to the College World Series championship.

I can understand the Pirates’ desire to protect their $9.2-million investment. Yet it seems they are wasting Skenes’ time by putting him at Indianapolis.

Double-A Altoona opens its season Friday night by visiting Akron and right-hander Bubba Chandler will be on the mound for the Curve.

Chandler has generated plenty of prospect hype since the Pirates selected the right-hander in the third round of the 2021 draft following his senior year of high school in Bogart, Ga. They convinced him to give up a scholarship to play quarterback at Clemson by providing the opportunity to be a two-way player.

However, Chandler quit playing shortstop following the ’21 season and has taken great strides since concentrating on pitching.

Baseball America ranked Skenes as the ninth-best prospect in the game before spring training. Chandler was No. 59 and Jones was No. 74 on the publication’s top-100 list.

Pitching prospects can be fickle, though. Take Roansy Contreras for example.

Contreras looked like a key part of the Pirates’ rebuilding effort just two years ago. Fans on social media called it Roansy Day whenever Contreras’ turn came up in the starting rotation.

Still just 24, Contreras is now trying to hang on in the major leagues as a reliever. Contreras would be at Indianapolis if he weren’t out of minor-league options.

Nevertheless, it’s easy for fans to get excited about Jared Day, Paul Day and Bubba Day.

However, it would be wise to look at the demise of Roansy Day as a cautionary tale. Not all prospects work out.

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