The Baseball America Top 100 Prospects list came out today, and surprisingly only two players from the Pittsburgh Pirates made the list. I say surprisingly because one of those players was not Jose Tabata, despite being rated as the number two prospect in the Pirates’ farm system by Baseball America, and despite being rated in the 50-75 range by most other top 100 ranking lists.
The two that made the list were Pedro Alvarez at #8, and Tony Sanchez at #79. Having Sanchez over Tabata is significant for the fact that Sanchez was rated third behind Tabata in the Pirates’ top 10 rankings. It also represents a switch from the idea that the Pirates reached for Sanchez, although top high school players from the 2009 draft like Tyler Matzek (#22) and Jacob Turner (#26) were ranked higher.
Baseball America also provided a breakdown of the top 100. Looking at that breakdown, it’s not surprising to see the Pirates with so few players in the top 100. Half of the players on the list were first round draft picks. The Pirates have their first round picks from 2008-2009 on the list, but there’s no way Daniel Moskos makes this list from 2007, and the only other qualifying players would be Brad Lincoln from 2006 (just missed on a few other lists), and Neil Walker from 2004 (also not shot to make the list).
Of the remaining 50 players, 32 were drafted in the second round or later, and 18 were international free agents. Of those 32 players drafted in the later rounds, none came from the 2009 draft, and only six came from the 2008 draft. Those six included Dee Gordon of Kansas City (4th round), Ryan Westmoreland of Boston (5th round), Dan Hudson of the White Sox (5th round), and Jay Jackson of the Cubs (9th round) as the only players after the second round.
The Pirates really started committing to rebuilding through the draft in 2008. I expected them to have three guys on this list, but I didn’t expect more, mostly because a lot of their top prospects have come from the last two drafts. Since only six players outside of the first round from the last two drafts were on the top 100 list, it seems that expecting the Pirates to have someone on this list other than Alvarez and Sanchez is expecting too much.
The other way the Pirates have been rebuilding is through trades, and it would be reasonable to expect some of their acquisitions to be on this list. The top prospects they’ve received via trade, who still qualify as prospects, are Jose Tabata, Bryan Morris, Gorkys Hernandez, Jeff Locke, and Tim Alderson. Alderson (#45) and Hernandez (#62) were both on the 2009 top 100 list, although if both retained that top prospect status, they probably wouldn’t be in the organization right now. Once again, I’m surprised about Tabata, for reasons stated above, but also because he was #75 in 2009 after a down year in 2008, only to miss the list in 2010, after doing very well during the 2009 season.
I, for one, am not discouraged by this list. I don’t take it as an indication of the current plan not working, mostly because I never expected guys like Zach Von Rosenberg, Colton Cain, Brett Lorin, Aaron Pribanic, Chase d’Arnaud, or Rudy Owens to make the list this soon. That said, I will go on the record now by saying that I will be extremely surprised if the 2011 top 100 prospects list doesn’t have at least five Pirates, and that’s assuming Pedro Alvarez, Jose Tabata, and Brad Lincoln won’t be able to qualify. Specifically I’m thinking:
Tony Sanchez - Very likely he returns in 2010, especially since he was named “the best defensive catcher in the minors” by Jim Callis.
2010 1st Round Pick - With the number two pick, it would be almost impossible to not get a guy rated in the top 100, especially since we likely won’t sign him until August 15th, making his ranking based on potential alone.
Tim Alderson/Gorkys Hernandez - They both fell from top 100 status, but all it takes is a rebound year to get them back on the list.
Chase d’Arnaud - If he has success in the jump to AA, on par with his success in 2009, then it would be hard to see him missing the list.
Rudy Owens - Same as d’Arnaud.
Starling Marte - Might be a long shot, but he showed a lot of promise in 2009, and could be a very special player.
Zach Von Rosenberg - If he makes a strong debut, I could see him making the back end of the list.
I’m not saying all of those guys will make it, but there’s no doubt we’ve got some talent on the cusp of being considered some of the top prospects in the game. So if Sanchez, Alderson, Gorkys, the 2010 first round pick, and d’Arnaud are on the top 100 this time next year, I won’t be surprised one bit.