This is one in a series of stories breaking down PBN’s Top 30 Pittsburgh Pirates prospects.
The second of a number of prep arms on this list, the Pirates selected left-hander Michael Kennedy out of high school in the fourth round of the 2022 draft.
Pittsburgh needed to shell out a $1 million signing bonus to convince Kennedy to forego his commitment to LSU, and in return they received a 6-foot-1 southpaw with a three pitch mix, along with a repeatable delivery that helps him mask his offerings.
Kennedy’s fastball maxes out in the low nineties, but it comes with a 55 grade on MLB’s 20-80 prospect evaluation system because it appears to rise. He also mixes in a slider that sits in the high seventies and a changeup that clocks in in the low eighties. Although changeups run toward a pitcher’s arm side, often making them a subpar offering for batters of the same handedness, Kennedy throws them to lefties along with righties, again relying on his delivery to mask his approach.
Kennedy is still just 18 years old, which makes his ETA of 2026 extremely impressive for a high school arm—a testament to how polished pundits think he is.
2023 marked his first season of professional baseball, and he began the year as a starter with the Pirates’ Florida Complex League club. Kennedy began shifting into a relief role as the season went on, eventually making his last two appearances of the year for Single-A Bradenton.
The left-hander managed a 2.12 ERA across 42.1 innings pitched and punched out 63 batters, good for an excellent K/9 of 13.5. Given his velocity, Kennedy may not have the highest ceiling—he’ll have to continue to walk the tight rope with his delivery—but he’s shown flashes of excellent play and has time on his side at 18.