In its just-published annual Prospect Handbook, Baseball America ranked the Pirates’ farm system 13th in baseball, up from 19th a year ago. The system no doubt was helped by the addition of two high-end talents in the 2011 draft–pitcher Gerrit Cole and outfielder Josh Bell–as well as by breakout seasons by Starling Marte, Robbie Grossman and Kyle McPherson. On the down side, the improvement in the organization’s ranking was probably tempered by disappointing seasons from many of their upper level prospects, particularly Tony Sanchez, Rudy Owens and Andrew Lambo, as well as the fact that none of the high school pitchers drafted in 2009 took more than small steps forward in 2011.
Two Pirates pitching prospects figured prominently in top 50 prospect lists assembled by several of the BA writers. Jim Callis rated Cole 11th and Jameson Taillon 13th, J.J. Cooper ranked them 10th and 13th, Will Lingo 8th and 14th, and John Manuel 12 and 13th.