RIGHT HANDED PITCHER
||Born: November 16, 1988
Height: 6′ 2″
Drafted: 9th Round, 267th Overall, 2010
How Acquired: Draft
College: Georgia Tech
WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES
|When he was drafted, scouting reports on Cumpton said he threw around 89-93, but his command of his fastball and breaking ball were inconsistent. According to Baseball America, he reached the mid-90s out of the bullpen, so that may be where he’s destined to end up. He also threw a curve. His K rate obviously fell off a lot as a junior. By the time he reached the majors in 2013, he was sitting at 91-92, with a decent slider and a change that still needed improvement. His fastball, although a four-seamer, has natural sink, so he’s generally been a strong groundball pitcher. He’s been a lot tougher against right-handed than left-handed hitters.
After signing a week before the deadline, Cumpton got into brief action at State College, pitching reasonably well.
Cumpton opened the season in the West Virginia rotation and got off to a terrible start, allowing exactly seven runs in each of his first three starts. After a brief move to the bullpen, he returned to the rotation and immediately began pitching well. Cumpton himself credited the fact that he started throwing inside. After posting an ERA of 13.83 in April, his ERA in May and June was 2.28. He didn’t, however, miss a lot of bats. The Pirates promoted Cumpton to Bradenton at the end of June and he was a little less effective. His ERA was solid, but opponents hit .280 against him. His walk and K rates were low. His fastball generally sat in the low-90s. He was much more hittable against right-handed batters, with a higher BA and much lower K rate, but he had more trouble with longballs against left-handed batters.
Cumpton pitched in the Altoona rotation all year and had a solid season, although the low K rate leaves some question about how he’d do at higher levels. He had a very high groundball rate, but had some trouble against left-handed batters. They batted .272 against him, compared to .253 for right-handed batters, but they also had a higher walk rate and hit seven of the nine HRs he allowed.
The Pirates sent Cumpton back to Altoona to begin the season. He had two bad starts, but with Kyle McPherson and Phil Irwin both hurt, they needed him in AAA anyway. He pitched well there, not dominating but getting a very high percentage of grounders, keeping the ball in the park (just six HRs), and keeping the walks to a reasonable level. He had a large platoon split, yielding a .776 OPS to left-handed hitters and only .542 to right-handed. The Pirates called him up for three short stints during the season, the first when A.J. Burnett went on the disabled list. He also got a September callup. He pitched remarkably well over six games, five of them starts, including a game against St. Louis in which he threw seven three-hit, shutout innings.
Cumpton divided his time between Indianapolis and the Pirates, including ten starts in the majors due to various injuries to the team’s starters. He was called up for two starts near the end of April, spent over a month in the major league rotation starting in late May, then went back to AAA for one start and returned to the Pirates for one July start. Starting in mid-August, Cumpton made a half dozen relief appearances with the Pirates. His fastball gained some velocity in relief, topping out a little over 95. In AAA, Cumpton got good results but missed very few bats. His high ERA in the majors was probably the product in part of a BABIP of .338, which is on the high side (the Pirates as a team came in at .290). His xFIP was considerably better, at 3.98.
Cumpton still might profile best as a reliever, although having him as a starting depth option has been very helpful to the Pirates the last two years. He has one option left, so it’s very likely he’ll continue to serve in that role in 2015, alternating between AAA and the majors.