Last season, the Pittsburgh Pirates had the poorest record in baseball and were expected to be in competition for the first overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft.
The club sought to add depth to the organization after rebuilding and shipping off two members of the starting rotation in Joe Musgrove and Jameson Taillon.
The Pirates accomplished this by acquiring right-handed pitcher Duane Underwood Jr. from the Chicago Cubs at the time.
Underwood, a former second-round pick who threw in the mid-to-upper-90s with a curveball and a changeup, was once a top 100 prospect according to MLB Pipeline.
He has a 2.25 ERA and 1.18 FIP in 2021, with a 36.5 percent strikeout rate and a 7.7 percent walk rate, demonstrating the qualities that originally made him a promising prospect.
The Pirates have been able to use him in a variety of ways out of the bullpen, pitching in low and medium-leverage innings because they are not expected to compete. He has proven his ability to miss bats and throw strikes.
Despite just making one Major League start in his career, Underwood made ten starts in 2019 and twenty-one starts in 2018, giving him the experience to pitch many innings.
While the Pirates utilized Tyler Glasnow in the bullpen in the hopes of reintroducing him to the starting rotation, it’s possible that the same will be done with Underwood.
There have been lots of pitchers who have displayed good talent but also had some doubts when they first arrived in the majors as relievers.
How Much Does Duane Underwood Jr. Make?
Duane Underwood Jr. earns a base salary of $725,000.