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Top 10 Pirates Prospects Update: Skenes Sizzles for 1st Win, Ashcraft Turns Corner

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Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Braxton Ashcraft throws during a baseball spring training workout Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024, in Bradenton, Fla. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

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

By now, everyone has seen or heard about Paul Skenes’ shutdown start against the Cubs at Wrigley Field, but there was plenty more going on down on the Pirates’ farm.

Among the notable performers were Termarr Johnson, who started to break his slump to start the year and right-hander Braxton Ashcraft, who totaled 10 innings pitched on the week.

Full updates on the top 10:

1. RHP Paul Skenes (Pittsburgh Pirates)

  • Weekly stats: 1-0, 0.00 ERA, six innings, no runs, no hits, one walk, 11 strikeouts, one appearances/one start
  • 2024 stats (MLB): 1-0, 2.70 ERA, 10.0 innings, six hits, three runs, three walks, 18 strikeouts, two appearances/two starts

Skenes had one of the more impressive starts of the season across the league in his first road appearance on Friday afternoon. The big right-hander was every bit as advertised since the Pirates took him first in last year’s draft.

2. INF Termarr Johnson (High-A Greensboro)

  • Weekly stats: .304/.429/.565, three doubles, one home run, four RBIs, seven games
  • 2024 stats: .193/.390/.294, 23 for 119, four doubles, one triple, two home runs, 14 RBIs, four steals, 37 games

Johnson started to break out of his lengthy slump with back-to-back excellent games to end the week. He’s starting to show his expected power as evident by four extra-base hits this week including his second home run of the season.

3. RHP Bubba Chandler (Double-A Altoona)

  • Weekly stats: 0-1, 67.16 ERA, 0.2 innings, five runs, no hits, five walks, one strikeout, one appearance/one start
  • 2024 stats: 1-3, 5.84 ERA, 24.2 innings, 16 runs, 18 hits, 18 walks, 30 strikeouts, eight appearances/seven starts

It was a nightmare start for Chandler, who completely lost control of the zone in his start on Friday. Perhaps his woes were related to an injury, as the Curve placed Chandler on the injured list because of his forearm.

4. LHP Anthony Solometo (Double-A Altoona)

  • Weekly stats: 0-1, 12.00 ERA, three innings, four runs, five hits, no walks, no strikeouts, one appearance/one start
  • 2024 stats: 0-2, 6.55 ERA, 22 innings, 16 runs, 23 hits, 15 walks, 15 strikeouts, seven appearances/seven starts

Solometo continued to scuffle and allowed a pair of home runs for the second-straight start. The Pirates will need their top left-handing prospect to start showing the potential that has landed him on top 100 lists.

5. RHP Thomas Harrington (Double-A Altoona)

  • Weekly stats: 0-0, four innings, no runs, no hits, no walks, five strikeouts, one start.
  • 2024 stats: 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 10 innings, no runs, one hit, two walks, 12 strikeouts, three starts.

Harrington has been lights out since returning from his shoulder injury and threw four perfect innings in his second start with Altoona (third overall).

6. RHP Braxton Ashcraft (Double-A Altoona)

  • Weekly stats: 0-0, 0.90 ERA, 10 innings, one run, eight hits, one walk, 14 strikeouts, two appearances/two starts
  • 2024 stats: 1-2, 4.08 ERA, 35.1 innings, 18 runs (16 earned), 37 hits, five walks, 36 strikeouts, seven appearances/six starts

After a shaky start to the season for the Pirates’ pitching prospect, Ashcraft has really come on of late and pitched well over two starts last week. In the first of his two outings, the right-hander threw seven-shutout innings.

7. INF Mitch Jebb (High-A Greensboro)

  • Weekly stats: .167/.167/.276, 3 for 18, one triple, five games
  • 2024 stats: .202/.270/.302, 26 for 129, two doubles, one triple, three home runs, 17 RBIs, eight steals, 33 games

It was another lackluster week for the Pirates’ second-round draft pick from a year ago. The struggles come as somewhat of a surprise given his solid start to his professional career in 2023.

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

  • Weekly stats: .167/.286/.389, 3 for 18, one double, one home run, two RBIs, five games
  • 2024 stats: .200/.338/.327, 22 for 110, two doubles, four home runs, 17 RBIs, six steals, 32 games

For the most part, the hits still aren’t falling for Cheng. The good news, however, is that two of the three hits he had last week went for extra bases and he continues to draw walks at a healthy rate.

9. INF Jack Brannigan (High-A Greensboro)

  • Weekly stats: .235/.480/.412, 4 for 17, one home run, three RBIs, six games
  • 2024 stats: .218/.362/.403, 27 for 124, three doubles, one triple, six home runs, 13 RBIs, five steals, 34 games

While the Pirates would like to see a higher batting average, Brannigan continued to display his keen eye by drawing eight walks in six games and connected on his sixth home run of the season.

10. RHP Mike Burrows (Triple-A Indianapolis)

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

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