MAX KRANICK, RIGHT HANDED PITCHER
|Born: July 21, 1997
Height: 6′ 3″
Drafted: 11th Round, 345th Overall, 2016
How Acquired: Draft
High School: Valley View HS, Archbald, PA
WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE
|Kranick was rated 84th overall by Baseball America, along with 179th by MLB.com and 88th by Keith Law. He got high ranks due to a fastball that already sat in the low 90s, touching 95, at the time of the draft. His delivery still needed some work. He relied a lot on a changeup and was working on a 12-to-6 curveball to replace his slider. More recently, his fastball has been sitting in the mid-90s. The Pirates figured to have a difficult time signing Kranick away from his commitment to the University of Virginia, but they managed to do so two weeks after the draft for $300,000, which is $200,000 above the slot value for all picks after round 10.
Kranick had a good debut, not missing a lot of bats but showing excellent control. He had a huge platoon split, allowing a .946 OPS to left-handed hitters and only .407 to right-handed hitters. Of course, the sample sizes were very small.
The Pirates shut Kranick down during extended spring training due to shoulder soreness and played it very conservatively in bringing him back. He finally made it to the GCL for three starts beginning in early August. The starts were a little uneven — he allowed no earned but six unearned runs — and he had some pitch count issues. He made it to Bristol for two starts, though, and pitched very well in both. He showed good control throughout, although he didn’t strike out a lot of hitters.
The Pirates kept Kranick in extended spring training to limit his workload, then assigned him to West Virginia in late May. Except for a couple brief absences due to a blister and a three-inning save near the end of the year, he stayed in the rotation and, importantly, stayed healthy. Kranick had a very good season, with a much higher K rate and good control. Over his last 44.2 IP, he fanned 53.
Kranick stayed in the Bradenton rotation all year, until the Pirates shut him down at the end of July to limit his innings total. He had a solid season, throwing strikes but not missing many bats. Opponents had a line of 246/307/388 against him, which was similar to the league average of 242/313/353, except he had a little trouble with gopher balls. His HR/9 was 0.9 compared to the average of 0.6. He had no platoon split at all. Kranick had a bad stretch in May, posting a 6.41 ERA for the month compared to a 2.94 figure the rest of the year.
Kranick would have been in Altoona in 2020. He reportedly impressed the Pirates in summer camp and was added to the 40-man roster in the fall.
Kranick had an adventurous season. He started off with three starts for Altoona, then got promoted to Indianapolis. After four starts there, he got called up to the Pirates. His major league debut was memorable, as he threw five perfect innings, coming out due to a long rain delay. After that, he spent the rest of the season shuttling back and forth between Pittsburgh and Indy, often throwing just one game at a location. He ended up making a dozen starts in AAA and nine in the majors. In AAA, Kranick was erratic, often alternating good and bad starts. In the majors he struggled in most starts after that first one. He was beset by a .350 BABIP and had extreme difficulties after the first time through the lineup. Opponents had an OPS against him of just .500 the first time they saw him in a game, but 1.173 the second time and 1.046 the third. He also had trouble with left-handed batters, allowing them an OPS of .911.
Kranick opened the season on the injured list with a forearm strain. Once he came back he quickly worked his way up to the majors and made two scoreless outings for the Pirates. He looked good in his limited action, with his velocity reaching the upper-90s. Unfortunately, he went back out with forearm troubles and, somewhat predictably with that sort of problem, had Tommy John surgery, ending his season.
Kranick’s career has seen a long series of disruptions, between injuries, the lost 2020 season and the frequent travels of 2021. After all this time, he’s still seen only limited action above Class A. The Tommy John surgery obviously was the biggest setback yet. He had it done in early June, so he’ll probably miss most or all of the 2023 season.
|2023: Major league minimum
|Signing Bonus: $300,000
MiLB Debut: 2016
MiLB FA Eligible: N/A
MLB FA Eligible: 2026
Rule 5 Eligible: N/A
Added to 40-Man: 11/20/2020
Options Remaining: 2 (USED: 2021)
MLB Service Time: 0.028
|June 11, 2016: Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 11th round, 345th overall pick; signed on June 27.
November 20, 2020: Contract purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates.