MLB.com has released their top 100 prospects for the 2012 season, and the Pittsburgh Pirates ended up with four players on the list. The four players ranked were pitchers Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole, and outfielders Starling Marte and Josh Bell. The Pirates already had a strong showing in the positional rankings, with four players total in the top tens. The players ranked were Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole in the right handed pitching top ten, Alex Dickerson in the top ten first basemen, and Starling Marte in the top ten outfielders. Dickerson was the only one from that group that didn’t end up in the top 100.
This is the first year that MLB.com has done a top 100 list. Previously they’ve only covered the top 50 prospects. Last year the Pirates only had one player on the list when Jameson Taillon came in ninth, rating as the sixth best pitcher and fourth best right handed pitcher in the game.
Taillon was again named the top prospect in the Pirates’ system, coming in at number eight. His overall rankings didn’t change much from last year. Along with finishing eighth overall he was the third best right handed pitcher and the fourth best pitcher. Under “Upside Potential”, he was listed as having the stuff, size, and presence to become the ace of the Pirates’ staff.
Gerrit Cole was the next Pirates prospect ranked, coming in at number 11. His upside was listed as a number one type starter who shouldn’t take very long to get to the big leagues. It’s a bit of a surprise that Taillon was rated higher of the two, since most outlets have Cole ahead of Taillon. It looks like they’re both in the same tier, since the 8-11 rankings are all right handed pitchers. MLB.com’s rankings have a history of rating college players lower than expected prior to seeing any major league playing time. But both players essentially have the same upside, so you could make an argument for either one.
Starling Marte was next on the list, coming in at number 40. MLB.com described him as an exciting, toolsy everyday outfielder, and mentioned that he and Andrew McCutchen could make a dynamic duo in Pittsburgh’s outfield. The MLB Network broadcast focused on Marte, calling him the total package. Jonathan Mayo suggested that he could be in Pittsburgh this season.
Josh Bell was the final Pirates prospect ranked, coming in at 69. MLB.com called him a potential All-Star caliber player who hits in the middle of the lineup. Bell didn’t make the top ten outfield list, but based on the top 100 rankings he was the 14th best outfielder.
One surprise was the omission of Luis Heredia from the list. Heredia is a guy who is expected to be a top 100 prospect this year, after being a top 100 prospect for a lot of outlets last year. He has the same upside as Cole and Taillon, although he’s a bit more raw. The trade-off is that Heredia might have the potential to be better than Cole and Taillon, depending on how his secondary pitches develop.
MLB graded the rankings on a points system, giving 100 points to the number one prospect, 99 to the number two prospect, and so on. The Pirates finished third with 276 points. Kansas City finished second with 290 points, and the Seattle Mariners finished first with 329 points.