One of the most notable things about Anthony Solometo is his funky delivery.
The 6-foot-5 lefthander extends his arms wide from his body, at one point flashing the ball well behind his back, before smoothly whipping around to deliver a pitch with a low arm slot and extreme angle from the first base side.
Since drafting him in the second round in 2021 and signing him for $2.8 million out of Bishop Eustace Prep in New Jersey, the Pirates haven’t tried to change him.
Instead, they’ve been trying to make small adjustments to help the 20-year-old Solometo be more directional to the plate.
One of those adjustments came this year. Solometo had a tendency to leap and hop off the mound, and the Pirates got him to stay planted, using the ground for force.
“It didn’t feel as if I had made this crazy change,” Solometo said. “It just felt like I had finally put together the missing piece of the puzzle.”
Solometo finished his time at High-A Greensboro with 20 scoreless innings, giving him a 2.30 ERA in 58.2 innings. He was promoted to Double-A Altoona in mid June, where he pitched better than his 4.73 ERA would indicate.
He struck out 52 in 51.2 innings in the Eastern League, and his control improved after he made directional changes.
Solometo added a new breaking pitch last offseason. He previously threw a 75-78 mph slurve until he lost feel for the pitch. He worked last December with Pirates pitching coordinator Josh Hopper, among others, to turn his slurve into a hard sweeper.
The pitch sits 85-88 mph and touches 90 on a good day.
“It’s just been a game changer,” said Solometo. “Then just other things with my form, trying to refine it and sharpen my tools. That’s what they’ve done the best with.
“They just helped me find ways to be not leaking energy, and more efficient with my power.”
— The Pirates also drafted righthander Bubba Chandler in 2021, paying him $3 million in the third round. He and Solometo were both part of the Pirates’ draft strategy to go under slot at No. 1 overall with Henry Davis and load up on high-upside prep players. Chandler, drafted out of high school in Bogart, Ga., had an incredible second half of the season, posting a 1.85 ERA in 43.2 innings with High-A Greensboro, along with a 43-to-13 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He was promoted to Double-A Altoona at the end of the year, throwing five shutout innings with one hit, no walks and eight strikeouts.
— Outfielder Lonnie White Jr., drafted out of Malvern (Pa.) Prep in that 2021 group, also had a big season. White missed most of 2022 with an injury but returned this year to hit .259/.395/.488 with eight home runs in 200 plate appearances at Low-A Bradenton. The 20-year-old broke a commitment to Penn State to sign with the Pirates and is starting to show some of the power that made him so highly regarded in 2021.