The amount of pitching depth the Pittsburgh Pirates have within their minor league system is noticeable. All you have to do is look at the talent that is gracing the fields at Pirates City in Bradenton, Fla. The brigade of young talent includes Tyler Glasnow, Jameson Taillon and Nick Kingham, as well as non-roster invites Chad Kuhl and Trevor Willams. However, one pitcher in particular that should attract attention will be non-roster invite Steven Brault.
In January of 2015, the Pirates acquired Brault, along with fellow left-handed pitcher Stephen Tarpley, from the Baltimore Orioles for outfielder Travis Snider. The trade, which ended up being a huge win for the Pirates since Snider returned to the team late last year, brought another star in the making to the organization.
Brault, an 11th-round pick of the Orioles in 2013, emerged as a key pitching prospect last season, compiling a 13-4 record with a 2.43 ERA and 125 strikeouts in 155.2 innings while playing for the Bradenton Marauders (Class A Advanced) and Altoona Curve (Class AA). The 23-year-old also held opposing hitters to a combined .229 batting average while playing for the two minor league clubs. Brault, who is listed as the Pirates seventh best pitching prospect (17th best prospect overall), was a huge surprise for the organization in 2015 as he finished in the top-five in the system in ERA, Wins, Strikeouts, WHIP and Batting Average Against.
Both Brault and Tarpley, a third-round pick of the Orioles in 2013, made an impact while playing in the minors last season. Tarpley spent the entire 2015 season with the West Virginia Power (Class-A Full Season) and compiled an 11-4 record with a 2.48 ERA while holding opposing hitters to a .248 batting average.
While Tarpley was not chosen as a non-roster invitee to Spring Training, Brault was. In his first action of the spring, Brault was simply flawless in the annual Black and Gold Game on Monday, retiring all six batters that he faced in the contest.
Despite the success of Tarpley at the Class-A level, Brault was arguably the best piece of the deal for the Pirates. After a breakout season in 2015, Brault is likely to begin the 2016 season playing for Class-AAA Indianapolis, and, even after only one appearance, he has made people notice his talents while playing in Bradenton. He has established himself as a legitimate top pitching prospect and fans should not be surprised if they were to see him playing at PNC Park within the next few years.
Pirates fans are expected to remember the names of top prospects such as Glasnow, Taillon and Kingham. However, the Pirates have a ton of pitching talent that could be following right behind them. Brault is one of those talented pitchers on the road to ensuring that his name is one that Pirates fans should not soon forget.