GEOFF HARTLIEB, RIGHT HANDED PITCHER
|Born: December 9, 1993
Height: 6′ 6″
Drafted: 29th Round, 885th Overall, 2016
How Acquired: Draft
College: Lindenwood University
WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE
|Hartlieb was drafted by the Mets in 2015 in the 37th round, but didn’t sign and returned to Lindenwood. The Pirates selected him as a college senior and he signed quickly. The college stats weren’t good, with a 7.62 ERA and a 49:34 K/BB ratio in 65 innings his senior year. His other seasons weren’t better, with a high ERA and a lot of walks. His stuff is more appealing. Hartlieb’s fastball at the time of the draft sat at 91-93 MPH and touched as high as 95 as a starter. As a reliever now, his four-seamer sits at 96-97 and has been clocked at 100 mph. He also throws a sinker that sits at 95 mph, a slider and, occasionally, a change. Hartlieb is a former basketball player who’d only been playing baseball for three years when drafted. He was a slightly older player, turning 23 in the off-season after being drafted, but had a live enough arm that the Pirates probably thought it might play up in the bullpen.
Hartlieb pitched in relief for Bristol and had an interesting season. In one way, his ERA is misleadingly low: of the 22 runs he allowed, nine were unearned. His peripherals, though, were better than the ERA, especially his walk and K rates. Of those 13 earned runs, 11 came in three of his 16 games. And five of the unearned runs came in a game in which he was victimized by a string of errors. He finished with a 2.84 ERA and 10.7 K/9 in August after posting a 7.84 ERA and 7.8 K/9 in July.
Hartlieb’s 2016 season was arguably more promising than not. The Pirates seemed to think so, as he moved up to the West Virginia bullpen. He had great numbers, except for just a solid K rate, and in June the Pirates moved him up to Bradenton. He was less successful there, although his K rate was sharply higher. A lot of the difference was BABIP-related. Hartlieb had a very low BABIP of .236 at West Virginia and a slightly high one of .321 for Bradenton. Largely for that reason, he actually had a lower xFIP at Bradenton (2.52) than at West Virginia (3.24). On the season, Hartlieb was very tough on right-handed hitters, holding them to a .506 OPS, while doing fine against left-handed hitters, with a .659 opponents’ OPS.
Hartlieb spent the season in the Altoona bullpen, serving as closer at times. He pitched reasonably well, but didn’t dominate the way you’d hope for a guy with his stuff. He had control issues at times, mainly in the month of July, when he issued nearly half his season’s total of walks. He had a mild reverse platoon split. Hartlieb started and ended the season strongly, and had some trouble in between, including a very bad month in May. His opponents’ slash line by month:
Hartlieb opened 2019 at Indianapolis. He was inconsistent there, mainly due to control problems. With the Pirates’ pitching staff on the verge of collapse in mid-May, though, they added Hartlieb to the 40-man roster and called him up. Other than most of July and the last half of August, he spent the rest of the season with the Pirates. He pitched better in his later stints in AAA; he had a 3.32 ERA there the first time around and 1.74 in July and August. He struggled badly throughout his time in the majors. He had trouble throwing strikes, gave up eight home runs in 35 innings, and allowed opponents a batting line of 351/412/608. Left-handed hitters destroyed him for a 1.226 OPS.
The Pirates called Hartlieb up just after the abbreviated season started. He ended up becoming one of their key relievers. He didn’t actually pitch all that well — his xFIP was 5.48 — but he gave up just one home run and opponents batted only .203 against him. Obviously, he had major control problems, hitting three batters in addition to the walks, and didn’t miss all that many bats. Hartlieb dropped his four-seamer and went almost entirely just with his sinker and slider. His velocity on the sinker was about 94 mph, 1-2 mph lower than previously. His groundball rate was sharply higher, going from 46.5% to 59.3%, and opponents slugged only .282 against him.
Hartlieb changed his approach in 2020 and had to do it in the majors rather than AAA. He competed for a 2021 bullpen spot, but continued to have trouble with the strike zone in spring training and was optioned to AAA.
UPDATE: The Pirates designated Hartlieb for assignment at the beginning of July to make room for John Nogowski.
|2021: Major league minimum
|Signing Bonus: N/A
MiLB Debut: 2016
MLB Debut: 5/18/2019
MiLB FA Eligible: N/A
MLB FA Eligible: 2025
Rule 5 Eligible: N/A
Added to 40-Man: May 17, 2019
Options Remaining: 1 (USED: 2019, 2021)
MLB Service Time: 1.091
|June 10, 2015: Drafted by the New York Mets in the 37th round, 1109th overall pick.
June 11, 2016: Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 29th round, 885th overall pick; signed on June 16.
May 17, 2019: Contract purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
July 3, 2021: Designated for assignment by the Pittsburgh Pirates.