Born: May 5, 1994
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 195
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Drafted: 10th Round, 298th Overall, 2017
How Acquired: Draft
College: Dartmouth
Agent: N/A

Sulser was taken in the tenth round as a college senior.  Taking college seniors toward the latter part of the first ten rounds has often been a pattern for the Pirates, particularly when they draft prep players who are likely to require above-slot bonuses in the early rounds.  They took five prep picks in the first six rounds in 2017 and, in fact, gave Sulser just a token bonus of $5000.  The slot amount was $134,200.  Sulser is a right-handed starter who was at Dartmouth for five seasons, missing the entire 2015 season due to Tommy John surgery the previous fall.  He was the Ivy League Pitcher of the Year in 2017, although he turned 23 in May, which is old for a draftee.  He made seven starts that season, posting a 1.40 ERA in 45 innings, with five walks, 52 strikeouts and a .201 BAA.  Sulser wasn’t in Baseball America’s top 500 draft prospects, but he did rank 12th in an average year for the New England area.  He throws an 88-92 mph fastball and has a good change.

A-:  2-4-1, 5.31 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 40.2 IP, 1.5 BB/9, 7.3 K/9

Sulser served in a swing role at Morgantown.  He wasn’t especially effective in either role and his K rate dropped sharply as a starter.  He had a reverse platoon split.

A:  5-8-8, 2.35 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 57.1 IP, 0.6 BB/9, 9.9 K/9

Sulser spent the season in the West Virginia bullpen, where he shared closer duties with Matt Seelinger (who was traded for Adeiny Hechavarria).  Sulser put up impressive numbers, with great walk and K rates.  Opponents had just a 205/228/286 line against him.  He held left-handed batters to a measly .388 OPS.  He was 24 most of the season, which is old for the level.

AA:  8-3-2, 2.72 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 96.0 IP, 2.9 BB/9, 5.9 K/9

It’s a little interesting that the Pirates didn’t promote Sulser at any point in 2018, given how good his numbers were, all the more so because Bradenton’s bullpen was awful.  In 2019, though, they jumped him up to Altoona, where he pitched in a swing role.  He got very good results despite a very low K rate.  He was much more effective as a reliever, holding opponents to a .618 OPS compared to .741 as a starter.  He gave up only four home runs and had a minimal platoon split.


AAA:  7-9-0, 5.65 ERA, 1.66 WHIP, 122.2 IP, 3.9 BB/9, 7.5 K/9
AAA (Balt):  2-2-0, 4.70 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 44.0 IP, 2.5 BB/9, 9.4 K/9
MLB:  0-0-0, 3.72 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 9.2 IP, 5.6 BB/9, 9.3 K/9
MLB (Balt):  0-0-0, 3.55 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 12.2  IP, 2.1 BB/9, 6.4 K/9

A little surprisingly, the Pirates put Sulser in the Indianapolis rotation.  Along with James Marvel, he served as an innings-eating mainstay, finishing fifth in the league in innings and tied for first in starts.  He wasn’t very effective, with opponents batting 299/368/498 against him.  He had no platoon split at all.  Longballs were a problem, as Sulser allowed 21.

AAA:  1-2-0, 2.13 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 12.2 IP, 1.4 BB/9, 9.9 K/9
AAA (Balt):  2-2-0, 4.70 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 44.0 IP, 2.5 BB/9, 9.4 K/9
MLB:  0-0-0, 3.72 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 9.2 IP, 5.6 BB/9, 9.3 K/9
MLB (Balt):  0-0-0, 3.55 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 12.2 IP, 2.1 BB/9, 6.4 K/9

Sulser pitched well for Indianapolis in three early-season starts, and the Pirates called him up in late April.  They needed a fresh arm due to their inability to manage with 14 pitchers.  In 8.2 innings to start his career, he gave up no earned runs, although he did allow five walks and five earned runs.  He followed that with one bad inning because Derek Shelton left him in too long in a game against the Dodgers.  Shortly after that the Pirates designated Sulser for assignment to make room for Tyler Beede.  The Orioles claimed him and he spent most of the rest of the season with their AAA affiliate, although he got into six games with the O’s in five separate callups.  Sulser’s results in AAA with Baltimore weren’t so good, but a lot of it resulted from a .371 BABIP.  The O’s designated Sulser for assignment after the season and the Pirates claimed him.

It was a classically Pirate maneuver to give Sulser away when he was pitching well and then get him back when he wasn’t.  He pitches with little margin for error and he’ll turn 29 early in the 2023 season, but the improved K rates in 2022 may be a good sign.  The Pirates outrighted Sulser to AAA after the season.

2023: Minor league salary
Signing Bonus: $5,000
MiLB Debut: 2017
MLB Debut: 4/26/2022
MiLB FA Eligible: 2023
MLB FA Eligible: 2028
Rule 5 Eligible: Eligible
Added to 40-Man: 4/24/2022 (since removed)
Options Remaining: 2 (USED:  2022)
MLB Service Time: 0.066
June 13, 2017: Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 10th round, 298th overall pick; signed on June 20.
April 24, 2022: Contract purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
May 12, 2022: Designated for assignment by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
May 14, 2022: Claimed off waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates by the Baltimore Orioles.
October 14, 2022: Designated for assignment by the Baltimore Orioles.
October 18, 2022: Claimed off waivers from the Baltimore Orioles by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
November 10, 2022: Outrighted to AAA by the Pittsburgh Pirates.