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Pirates Minor League Report: Anthony Solometo debuts in Florida

The left-hander goes three innings in first start for Bradenton; Jones strikes out 10.

Pittsburgh Pirates Photo Day Photo by Mike Carlson/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Anthony Solometo, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ second-highest ranked pitching prospect currently performing in the minor leagues, made his professional debut last week for Bradenton in the Class A Florida State League.

Solometo, who was drafted in the second round of last year’s amateur draft out of Pennsauken, N.J., started Friday for the Marauders and worked the first three innings against the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels.

The 6’5”, 220-pound left-hander, rated as the Bucs’ No. 8 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, allowed a double, two singles and two runs – neither of which was earned – while walking two and striking out three. Solometo threw 60 pitches, 36 of which went for strikes, and faced 14 batters. An error led to a long first inning that required 32 pitches.

The 19-year-old Solometo has a somewhat unusual sidearm delivery, and that might have been a factor in Fort Myers stealing four bases off him on the night.

Regardless of the outcome, it was encouraging to see Solometo finally see game action, and to do it in a full-season league rather than the rookie Florida Complex League was icing on the cake.

Speaking of the Complex League, unlike last season, the Pirates will field just one team in the lowest minor league level. League play gets under way June 6, and as of Tuesday, there was no sign of any rosters available online. But it would be nice to see a couple of other players taken in last year’s draft – most notably two-way standout Bubba Chandler (No. 9) and outfielder Lonnie White Jr. (No. 15) see some action, as neither has appeared in an official game this season.

At last look, White was assigned to Bradenton but he also was on the injured list. Perhaps some roster movement will occur with the start of the Complex League.

In the meantime, let’s take a quick look at the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Top 30 prospects currently performing at the two lower full-season leagues.

No. 7 Endy Rodriguez is hitting .268 with a .342 on-base percentage of an .814 OPS at High-A Greensboro. Rodriguez has six home runs and 20 RBIs to go with a 27.2 strikeout percentage and a 7.6 percent walk rate.

No. 17 Maikol Escotto, also playing at Greensboro at 19 years of age – three years younger than Rodriguez – is scuffling with a .173 batting average, a .228 on-base percentage and a .590 OPS. In his past 15 days covering 30 at-bats, Escotto has just two hits. In 137 plate appearances on the season, Escotto has struck out 36.6 percent of the time and walked just 5.1 percent. He has hit six home runs and driven in 19.

Hudson Head, also playing at Greensboro, has also been battling the strikeout bug, as he has whiffed 37.1 percent of the time in 151 plate appearances. The Pirates’ No. 20 prospect has a 9.9% walk rate to go with a .246 batting average, a .364 on-base percentage and a .737 OPS. He’s had a tough time lately, batting just .188 with a .552 OPS over his last two weeks.

Rodolfo Nolasco, at No. 24, is hitting just .210 with a .600 OPS in 158 plate appearances for Bradenton. Nolasco has two home runs and 17 RBIs to go with a 9.5 percent walk rate and a 31.6 percent strikeout rate.

On the pitching side, No. 12 Jared Jones showed his strikeout stuff in a big way Saturday against Asheville for High-A Greensboro, but ended up getting tagged with the loss.

The 20-year-old right-hander, who was the Pirates’ second-round pick in the 2020 draft, fanned 10 in five innings to raise his strikeout total on the season to 54 in 38 2/3 innings. That equates to a 12.6 K-per-9 mark.

Jones did give up six hits and a walk along with one run, which was earned. He threw 84 pitches, 55 of which went for strikes.

Of the unranked prospects, Brenden Dixon continues to lead Bradenton in the hitting department with a .792 OPS. Dixon, primarily a second baseman, has four homers and 17 RBIs. The top unranked hitter at Greensboro is Yoyner Fajardo, who is at .329/.832 in 73 plate appearances over 19 games. The 23-year-old Fajardo is primarily a second baseman but also has seen playing time in right field this season.