Ben Badler of Baseball America had some discussions today on the state of the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system. The conversation started with this tweet from Badler.
Lost in recent criticism of Pirates' development program: They probably have four top 50 prospects, maybe five Top 100, plus Starling Marte.
— Ben Badler (@BenBadler) September 24, 2012
The five players are most likely Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, Luis Heredia, Alen Hanson, and Gregory Polanco. Marte has 146 at-bats in the majors, and no longer qualifies as a prospect.
Badler responded to a few comments about high picks and the international market, mostly pointing out the success of raw players such as Alen Hanson and Gregory Polanco. He also noted that Luis Heredia couldn’t do a push up when he was signed, to illustrate how raw the right-hander was (and that just makes his success against college hitters two years later all the more impressive).
The most interesting thing was that Badler was asked if it was more of a drafting problem than player development. In his response he noted there were some notable whiffs identifying talent in the US, but that the Pirates have a “very good system”.
I’d have to agree with a lot of what Badler said. There’s a lot of doom and gloom lately, but the Pirates have a good farm system. They have guys at the top who are regarded well enough to be considered for top 100 and top 50 lists. A big strength this year has come from the development of the international players. The entire international process is working well, from finding guys like Polanco and Hanson for $75 K and $150 K respectively, to adding strength to these players, and then developing them in the US.
Badler is also correct that there are some notable whiffs on the US side. I wrote last week about how the 2009 draft is shaping up to lack any impact talent. That said, the Pirates have found talent through the draft. 2009 was the first year the Pirates went heavy on over-slot prep players. The results in following years have been more promising, with Nick Kingham (2010 4th round), Tyler Glasnow (2011 5th round), and Clay Holmes (2011 9th round) as the notable players standing out in their first seasons in the system.
Instructional League Reports
The first game of instructs started today with the Pirates taking on Toronto’s farm system. There were a few reports out there on individual player performances.
The Bradenton Marauders’ Facebook page notes that Mel Rojas Jr. went 1-for-2 on the day, and Brandon Cumpton faced six batters, striking out five of them.
Kiley McDaniel of ESPN noted that Victor Black was hitting 99 MPH closing out the game. Last year during instructs, Black hit 98, and was working in the upper 90s all year, so this isn’t new. It’s definitely good to see that continuing. Black will be heading to the Arizona Fall League later in the off-season. McDaniel also mentioned that Stetson Allie was playing first base today.