By Ryan Lang
Left-Handed pitcher Anthony Solometo was drafted with the 37th overall pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2021 MLB Draft. The Pirates signed him for 2.8 million dollars which was $800,000 over the slot value. The signing bonus was the 6th largest in MLB history for a second-round pick.
The Pirates took a large risk drafting him, as there were questions of his “signability,” but spending over the slot amount locked him in. The organization, under GM Ben Cherington, have made a practice of this, as a way to lock in young talent at affordable salaries for a team that is often cash-strapped.
Many considered the Solometo signing a steal, with many MLB Draft experts as a first-round talent. He was undoubtedly the best available player on the board when the Pirates picked and they didn't hesitate to pull the trigger on drafting the best available instead of for “need.” But, In the “Bigs,” a team can never have enough left-handed pitchers anyway.
Although the Pirates drafted three high school prospects in a row in the 2021 MLB draft, many think Solometo may have the most potential. In his senior year at New Jersey high school Bishop Eustace, he allowed just one run in 32 ⅔ innings and threw back-to-back no-hitters (one combined). He had an ERA of 0.21 with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 64/5 while only allowing 5 hits all season.
Solometo’s velocity sits around 90-92 mph, but with his funky delivery it plays like 93-94 mph when it crosses the plate. His best pitch is a slider, which he demonstrates masterful control over at this point in his development. His third pitch is a changeup, which he doesn't throw often enough, and in truth, will need some work. But he has shown improvement with this pitch since playing in the minors.
His first year in professional ball was in single A, where he posted a great 5-1 record with a 2.64 ERA. He had a 51/19 strikeout-to-walk ratio with 9.6 strikeouts per 9 innings and a 1.049 whip in 47.2 innings. This was a very good start on his journey to the big leagues and showed incredible promise throughout the season.
He showed great signs of progression all throughout his first season, and in July of 2022, he had a really rough stretch. At one point, his ERA was a cringeworthy 6.75 for the month, but he showed that he can adapt, handle adversity, and progress. In August he bounced back and went on a hot streak to finish the season posting a 1.77 ERA.
So far this year in A+ he has thrown 29.2 innings with a 0-2 record and a 3.94 ERA and a 40/21 strikeout-to-walk ratio. While these numbers aren't as good as last year, he has plenty of time to improve these numbers since it is only May and has proven to do better towards the end of the season. He is currently the Pirates 10th ranked prospect and has an (eta) of 2025 to the big leagues but that can always change if he can start pitching with more consistency.
Solometo was compared to Madison Bumgarner during the pre-draft process, mainly because of his delivery. While it's going to be very difficult to live up to that comparison, he can be a top guy in the Pirates rotation for years to come. With Mitch Keller looking like a solid ace this season and young prospects like Solometo, Quinn Priester, Bubba Chandler, Luis Ortiz, and Mike Burrows, the Pirates could have one of the best rotations in baseball within the next five years.