This is one in a series of stories breaking down PBN’s Top 30 Pittsburgh Pirates prospects.
The first player on our list to have already made his major league debut, Jackson Wolf made a spot start for the San Diego Padres in July before joining the Pirates as part of the Rich Hill trade.
A left-handed pitcher who stands 6-foot-7, one might think that velocity is Wolf’s greatest offering. Instead, the lanky southpaw throws from a low arm slot, with his fastball topping out around 92 miles per hour with sinking action.
That low arm slot adds to his sweeping slider, and Wolf’s shifty presence on the mound helps to keep hitters off balance. Beyond the fastball and slider, Wolf possesses the traditional starter’s arsenal with a curveball, as well as a changeup that he’s started to work on in recent years. He struck out batters at an above-average clip in the minor leagues, notching 135 K’s in 124.1 Double-A innings, but the question remains whether his velocity will play against big leaguers.
Given his height, the obvious question surrounding Wolf is whether he can build velocity to really maximize his fastball. Take Mitch Keller as an example, who saw a boost in velocity after working with Tread Baseball, a pitching development company, in the offseason.
As we stand right now, Wolf relies heavily on his breaking pitches. He has ugly lefty/righty splits because of that, allowing 17 home runs against right-handed batters in 2023, and didn’t give up a single homer to left-handed batters.
Because of that, Wolf projects as a reliever in lefty-heavy parts of the lineup. If he’s able to become more reliant on his fastball, that could change, and his size and deceptive delivery make him a tantalizing prospect.
Featured image courtesy of the Altoona Curve.