Born: September 3, 1997
Height: 6’5″
Weight: 220
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Drafted: 10th Round, 304th Overall, 2019
How Acquired: Draft
College: Notre Dame University
Agent: N/A

A big right-hander, Junker struggled with his control in his sophomore year at Notre Dame (he pitched less than an inning as a freshman), but made considerable strides as a full-time starter in his junior year.  He cut his BB/9 from 6.4 to 4.1, while his ERA dropped from 8.74 to 4.19.  He had a respectable strikeout rate, with 73 in 77.1 IP.  Junker throws 90-95 mph with a slider that could be an average pitch.  According to scouting reports, his change isn’t good and he probably projects as a reliever.  When the Pirates drafted him, he had an extremely long pause in his delivery, but he dropped it by 2021.  Baseball America ranked him 391st among draft prospects and 6th in Indiana in a weak year for the state.  He signed for slightly under the slot value of $143,900.

A-:  5-0-5, 1.29 ERA, 0.86 ERA, 28.0 IP, 3.5 BB/9, 14.5 K/9

Junker pitched in short relief for West Virginia and dominated.  He had a very high K rate and opponents managed just a 143/233/198 line against him.  Right-handed batters had a pitiful .283 OPS against him, but left-handed batters did fine, putting up a .712 figure.


A:  2-0-1, 3.00 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 30.0 IP, 6.0 BB/9, 14.1 K/9
A+:  0-0-0, 9.00 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 4.0 IP, 2.3 BB/9, 15.8 K/9

A little surprisingly, the Pirates sent Junker to Bradenton rather than Greensboro at the start of the season.  Over 14 games, he missed a ton of bats and held opponents to a .143 average.  He did have problems with walks, which kept him from totally dominating.  In mid-July, the Pirates moved him up to Greensboro, but after three games he suffered an unknown injury and didn’t return.

A+:  6-3-12, 3.64 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 47.0 IP, 4.6 BB/9, 11.9 K/9
AA:  0-0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.46 WHIP, 4.1 IP, 2.1 BB/9, 14.5 K/9

Junker spent most of the season at Greensboro, often serving as the closer.  He had a rough time in May and June, but came around very well in the second half.  From July on, including four strong late-season outings with Altoona, he had an ERA of 1.85, WHIP of 1.07 and K/9 of 1.32.  The early-season scuffling can’t be blamed on the Greensboro ballpark, as he was dramatically more effective there than on the road.  He also had a huge platoon split, except this was a reverse split.  Left-handed hitters had only a .471 OPS against him.

Many of the Pirates’ pitching prospects have struggled when they’ve reached Greensboro, so it was good to see Junker go in the other direction.  He could see Indianapolis in 2023.

2023: Minor league contract
Signing Bonus: $125,000
MiLB Debut: 2019
MLB Debut:
MiLB FA Eligible: 2025
MLB FA Eligible:
Rule 5 Eligible: 2022
Added to 40-Man:
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 0.000
June 4, 2019: Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 10th round, 304th overall pick; signed on June 11.