Pirates grab college arms with 2nd and 3rd picks

July 18th, 2022

PITTSBURGH -- After selecting an impact prep bat in Termarr Johnson with the No. 4 overall pick on Sunday in the 2022 MLB Draft, the Pirates went to the collegiate ranks to take a pair of pitchers with their next two selections.

Pittsburgh drafted right-hander Thomas Harrington out of Campbell University at No. 36 overall, then picked left-hander Hunter Barco out of Florida with the 44th overall selection. Both reached the college ranks with very different mantles, but both are entering the Pirates organization with high expectations.

Harrington, MLB Pipeline’s No. 45 Draft prospect, began his tenure at Campbell as a walk-on before entering the Camels’ rotation in 2021, when his 3.45 ERA was strong enough to earn him a scholarship. It was only a preface to an amazing second season.

The righty was durable as ever in 2022, pitching 92 2/3 innings over 15 starts while recording a 2.53 ERA, setting program records for wins (12) -- which also led the nation, per Campbell’s sports information department -- and strikeouts (111). He went six innings in all but one start, an outing that was cut short by rain.

Harrington’s quick rise and what it showed about it factored into the all-around player the Pirates saw in him.

“I think he's got some natural ability to this point,” Pirates senior director of amateur scouting Joe DelliCarri said. “... Most importantly, I think he's a learner. He's well made, he's very detail-oriented and everything he does probably comes to the forefront.”

Leading Harrington’s arsenal in grades is a tumbling changeup that MLB Pipeline says elicits swings in and out of the zone. He also has a low-to-mid 90s fastball paired with a curveball and slider.

On the other hand, Barco -- MLB Pipeline’s No. 75 Draft prospect -- has been on the Pirates’ radar since before college, dating back to his high school days in the Jacksonville, Fla., area. He was a first-team senior preseason All-American by Perfect Game, and played in the 2018 Under Armour All-American Game at Wrigley Field.

Entering the 2022 season as a COVID sophomore, Barco was ranked by D1 Baseball as the No. 1 pitcher in college baseball. He made good on that reputation with a 2.50 ERA and 69 strikeouts -- with a strong 6.3 K/BB ratio -- in 50 1/3 innings pitched in a tough Southeastern Conference, using a three-pitch mix of a fastball, slider and changeup.

However, Barco shared that he needed Tommy John surgery in May with a classy Instagram post to Gator fans. It will be a while before the left-hander, who pitches out of a deceptive three-quarter arm slot, will get to make his impact on the Pirates’ system, but the Pirates like the progress he has shown so far.

“We’ve stayed close with him up until the Draft, knowing where he was at,” DelliCarri said. “He’s excited and we’re excited to work together to take him from this point forward and mesh the two. We think he’s got a really good upside with us and what we can help him with, and he brings a lot of things that served him well on the mound even before he got hurt.” 

The Draft continues on Monday at 2 p.m. ET with Rounds 3-10 and wraps up with Day 3 on Tuesday beginning at 2 p.m. ET for Rounds 11-20.