On July 22nd the Pittsburgh Pirates promoted pitching prospect Steven Brault to the major league roster. He pitched an inning of relief against the Colorado Rockies, giving up two hits, a walk, and two runs, but he was having an excellent season in Triple-A and will receive additional opportunities. Let’s review.
Brault was originally drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 11th round in 2013 from Regis University. The Pirates acquired him in a 2015 trade for Travis Snider. He spent most of 2016 with Triple-A Indianapolis, posting a 3.91 ERA in 71 innings with an 81/35 K/BB.
You may remember Brault coming up to the majors last summer and making seven starts, posting a 4.86 ERA with a 29/17 K/BB in 33 innings, but he retained rookie eligibility for 2017. Brault ranked ninth on the Pittsburgh Pirates Top 20 prospects list for 2017 with the following commentary:
9) Steven Brault, LHP, Grade B-/C+: Age 24, 11th round pick by Orioles in 2013 from Regis University in Colorado; acquired in 2015 trade; posted 3.91 ERA in 71 innings in Triple-A with 81/35 K/BB; 4.86 ERA in 33 major league innings with 29/17 K/BB; stereotypical finesse lefty with 88-90 fastball, very good change-up, average slider; fourth starter projection if he can avoid nibbling too much in the majors. ETA 2017.
‘17 has gone quite well: 2.06 ERA in 100 innings for Indianapolis with a 95/36 K/BB and only 77 hits allowed. He’s certainly ready for another trial.
Brault is listed at 6-0, 200, born April 29th, 1992. The pre-season report underplays his fastball: he’s up to 90-95 these days and topped out at 96 in his relief outing over the weekend. Both his slider and change-up have made steady improvement, to the point that both drew above-average grades from International League observers. His command has been a bit sharper this year as well.
He’s quite tough on lefties, holding them to a .164 average this year, but his arsenal is broad enough for him to project as at least an average starter, with LOOGY work the fall-back option.