Former Greenbrier baseball star Brandon Cumpton made his big league debut a year ago with the Pittsburgh Pirates. And, with Pittsburgh’s pitching depleted by injury, Cumpton was able to make six appearances (five starts).
He was impressive, going 2-1 with a 2.05 ERA in 31 innings of work. That alone turned a few heads in the Pittsburgh front office.
However, looking deeper into the numbers brought more reason for Pittsburgh to pay close attention to the sturdy right-hander.
First, he did not allow a run in his final three appearances – an active 15-inning scoreless streak.
He also was basically thrown to the wolves a year ago. In five of his six appearances, he faced teams that made last year’s playoffs, including his big league debut, where he went up against Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers, and left after five innings tied at 1-1.
This spring Cumpton continues to make it difficult for the Pirates to ignore him. Pittsburgh is loaded with young, highly-touted pitching prospects, but Cumpton has been one of the standouts for the Pirates down in Florida. He worked 42/3 innings Wednesday to pick up the win as Pittsburgh topped Boston 4-2. Cumpton allowed three hits and one run, while striking out two batters.
He currently leads the team in innings worked this spring with 15.1 (no one else has pitched more than 10).
That is good news.
It means the Pirates are very much considering Cumpton for an opening-day roster spot. So far this spring, he has made five appearances with one start, and stands at 1-0 with an era of 2.93. He has eight strikeouts, but does have five walks. Even so, he is making it very tough for the club not to keep him on the opening day roster.
One person definitely in his corner is Larry Broadway, Pittsburgh’s director of Minor League Operations, who had this to say about the Greenbrier product.
“He’s got good enough stuff and all that,” Broadway said, “but the separator that makes him a successful competitor is the fortitude he has on the mound. That’s the first thing that comes to mind with him – how competitive he is.
“When he takes the mound, he almost pitches angry. He won’t back down. He’s not going to throw 96-97 or have a huge breaking ball, but he won’t get scared.”
Cumpton may or may not make the opening day roster, but it is quite clear he is in the Pirates’ future plans. Let’s just hope the future is now.