With Jameson Taillon heading to the disabled list with shoulder trouble, the Pittsburgh Pirates promoted lefty Steven Brault to make the start yesterday against the St. Louis Cardinals. He gave up two runs in four innings on four hits and two walks, fanning five. Brault hasn't received as much attention as guys like Taillon and Tyler Glasnow (who will make his MLB debut tomorrow; we'll have an update on him later today) but he is a worthy prospect in his own right.
Basic background from the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book:
Steven Brault, LHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
Bats: L Throws: L HT: 6-1 WT: 175 DOB: April 29, 1992
2014: Grade C; 2015: Grade C+
The Orioles drafted Brault in the 11th round in 2013 from Regis University in Colorado. He was traded to the Pirates in February 2016 as part of the Travis Snider deal. As finesse lefties go, I like Brault a great deal. His fastball is average in the 87-92 range but it plays up due to sharp location, plus the contrast with his curve, slider, and change-up. The change-up is the best of the secondaries but they are all solid and his feel for pitching is very impressive; he had no troubles with the transition to Double-A last year. While he doesn’t have a huge margin for error, Brault’s makeup and game feel have enabled him to skirt that margin more often than not. I think he has a good shot as a fourth starter. Grade B-, aggressive but worth a gamble.
Brault made eight starts for Triple-A Indianapolis before his promotion, posting a 2.31 ERA with a 49/15 K/BB in 39 innings with 36 hits allowed, similar to what he's done in past seasons. Scouting reports haven't changed much: he threw his fastball at 89-93 MPH in his debut, averaging 91, well in line with past reports if perhaps just a tad harder than expected. He has breaking stuff in the low-80s and change-ups in the mid-80s, a standard arsenal. His strikeout rate is a bit higher this year than in past seasons, perhaps reflecting a slight uptick in velocity, although his walk rate is a bit higher as well. It's a wash overall, he's remained very effective. Command and general pitching feel remain his best attributes.
Brault's outlook remains that of a strike-throwing fourth starter. He doesn't have the blow-you-away stuff of Taillon or Glasnow, but he knows how to use we what he does have very well.