Hearn was traded from the Pirates to the Rangers at the July trade deadline for Keone Kela and is one of the organization's top pitching prospects, so it's unsurprising to see him protected from the Rule 5 draft. The 24-year-old lefty spent the 2018 season at the Double-A level and had a 3.12 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and .198 opponent batting average with Altoona prior to the trade. He subsequently struggled with Frisco, posting a 5.04 ERA, 1.52 WHIP and .284 BAA over 25 innings.
One of the top pitching prospects in the Pirates' system, Hearn makes for a nice headliner for Texas in this deal, as his realistic floor would seem to be a high-leverage reliever. He stands 6-foot-5, 210 pounds and throws in the mid-90s from the left side, often touching 97 or 98 with his fastball. In addition to that impressive heater, he has an above average slider and useable changeup. Hearn turns 24 at the end of August and has not yet pitched at Triple-A, so it's hard to bank on significant improvements to the command or secondaries at this stage. That said, he posted a 3.12 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 107:38 K:BB in 104 innings with Double-A Altoona prior to the trade, so he will certainly continue to be developed as a starter for now. In that role, he has mid-rotation upside.
Hearn struck out nine over six scoreless innings Sunday in Double-A Altoona's 6-5 loss to Reading. He scattered three hits and two walks in the 95-pitch outing.
The lefty has been lights out for Altoona over his last 10 outings, covering 56.1 innings and delivering a pristine 2.08 ERA over that stretch. After posting double-digit K/9 marks at each of his last four stops in the minors, Hearn has seen his strikeout rate tail off slightly in his move to the Eastern League, but the 6-foot-5 lefty still remains one of the top arms in the Pittsburgh system.
Hearn is opening the year in the rotation at Double-A Altoona, MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo reports.
He has some flaws, but 6-foot-5 lefties with upper-90s fastballs are tough to find, so Hearn should have no problem reaching the big leagues in some capacity. The 23-year-old notched a 3.41 FIP in 87.1 innings at High-A last season. If he can improve his command and his breaking ball, there's a chance he could be an effectively wild starter, but the most likely scenario is that he ends up as a high-leverage reliever, as his fastball would regularly hit triple-digits out of the bullpen.
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|Minor League Pitching Stats|
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