John Sickels Rates the Pirates as the 5th Best Farm System

John Sickels at Minor League Ball has released his farm system rankings, and has the Pittsburgh Pirates ranked fifth. Sickels started ranking systems last year, and had the Pirates 12th in his original rankings. He noted in a disclaimer that he takes a balanced approach, considering high-end impact and overall depth. Last year the knock on the system was the lack of depth.

This time around Sickels noted that the system is improving rapidly. He lists the strengths as high upside pitching arms with depth to back up the big three arms. As for weaknesses, he points out that the big investments in high school pitching haven’t paid off, and that more hitting depth would be helpful. Hard to argue with any of the points he made.

The four teams ahead of the Pirates were St. Louis, Seattle, Tampa Bay, and Texas.

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • Stephen Brooks

    Dejan? You there?

  • Ecbucs

    so how can the Bucs pass the Cards?

    The Cards have better major league roster and at least a slightly better minor league system. And they have more money.

    It seems like the Bucs will only be able to pass the Cards if the Bucco GM is a lot better than the Card’s GM.

    • Kevin Creagh

      The odd part is that just a few years ago, STL was consistently ranked in the bottom third of farm system rankings. Jeff Luhnow, now the GM of the Astros, turned the farm around.

      And as has been discussed here in recent weeks, the Cards do a much better job getting success from the draft outside of the 1st round picks.

  • Kevin Creagh

    I’ve been going along with Baseball America’s Top 10’s for each system and putting them in my own personal ranking. With only SF left to go (and they possess a sub-par system), I have the Pirates at 6th.

    Here are the Top 5 I have —
    1. SEA
    2. STL
    3. TEX
    4. FLA
    5. BOS

    The Pirates have a great top 6 in their list, with as much upside or more than any of these other orgs ahead of them. The problem is that most of it will be at the High A level or lower this year (Heredia, Polanco, Hansen, Bell).

    These other teams all have top notch talent perched at the AA/AAA/MLB level for 2013. FLA is the only one that is similar to the PGH, but I think they have a touch more depth on the back half of their top 10.

    • ctalboo

      How high would the Pirates be ranked if Sano and Appel were in the system?

      • Ian Rothermund

        lol……1st, probably.

        Every organization has stories like that though. They’ll also have the two picks in the first half of the first round in this year’s draft. So between that and any potential international signings, I could easily see them being 2nd or 3rd by the end of the season. If somehow Cole still qualified out of absolutely no fault of his own or any derailment of his career, I’d say they could be #1. But either Cole will not be eligible for prospect status by the end of ’13, or he’ll have some kind of injury which will drag the average of the farm system down.

  • jalcorn

    Baseball America ranked the Bucs 8th in the Handbook, but that is behind Arizona who still had Bauer. So, its a 7th and a 5th so far. In the handbook no other teams can top our six 60 or higher grade prospects and our number of 50 or higher guys is right up there. What is missing is still the depth 55 level guys of which we had none.

  • steve19981

    5th best farm system isn’t bad for an organization that can’t develop hitters, tries to injure its own players, squandered the 8th overall pick this past draft, doesn’t have any impact players, and has an incompetent gm/amateur scouting department/crazy player development director.

    • Kirk Lee

      A few issues with that drastically pessimistic analysis: the Pirates didn’t “squander” the 8th pick, they made an aggressive move which didn’t pay off, but also didn’t hurt, since they get that pick back this year (which means we have a top 5 farm system AND will be taking 2 players in the first half of the first round this year). Gerrit Cole is about as “Impact” a player as you can have, and Jameson Taillon is also pretty inarguably impact as well. The other points can all be argued against too, but I’ll leave it at that, since those two points were the only ones that absolutely demanded correcting.

      • Kirk Lee

        My apologies if that was all sarcasm, by the way. I couldn’t tell.

        • steve19981

          It was sarcasm.

          • piratemike

            Sorry. I missed the sarcasm so my comments to you don’t you are in another camp.

            • Ian Rothermund

              Tim really needs to hook this site up with some emoticons people can use to show whether they’re being serious or sarcastic. lol

          • Kirk Lee

            Haha, ok. My bad.

    • piratemike

      Steve my first reaction was to get angry with some of your comments but I have enough of my own issues with the GM and Hurdle that it is hard for me to get angy with someone who has their own issues.
      For instances take the deal with Cedeno and Ciriaco. They were not good enough for the Pirates, in fact Hurdle wouldn’t even play Ciriaco but guess what ? Hurdle got his buddy Barmes a really great retirement account worth 10 1/2 m when the guy was lucky to get a couple mil. for one year. The Pirates could have gotten as much if not more by keeping C&C and saving about 8m and using that money in a more productive way. What did Huntington do? He went along with it. Why ? I guess he is afraid of Hurdle.Hurdle constantly makes bad decisions with the use of players and his stupid strategies and the GM is afraid to confront him.
      Huntington goes through all the trouble of acquiring players for the 25 man roster and Hurdle ignores the players he has a problem with for reasons only he knows and NH doesn’t say a word. Who the heck is running this team?

      • whiteAngus

        still hating on the Barmes, eh?

        barmes is better than both cedeno and ciriaco even if Barmes never even gets an AB. now im not saying that barmes is great, im saying hes better than C & C…

        NH is afraid of Hurdle??? what kind of nonsense is that? if youre going to spew venom please try to at least show some proof of the poison.

        • Ecbucs

          I don’t think NH is afraid of Clint, he could fire him if he thought he was a bad manager.

          Barmes is better than C + C but I’m not sure he is 3 million dollars a year better. A lot depends upon what NH could do with that money to improve another area. Barmes is a stopgap. The criticism I have is that NH got in the position of needing stop gaps at short and catcher prior to 2012 and wasn’t able to fill either spot with someone who could be a real contributor to the team.

          • whiteAngus

            takes two to tango, amigo. had to overpay to get Barmes, what do you think it would take to get someone like Jose Reyes???
            anyway, I’ll give NH some credit for both barmes and barajas. before 2012, barajas was actually a good defensive catcher. barmes was considered a very good defensive middle infielder. well, one of them continued to be very good. lets be glad the one who under performed didnt get the 2 year, 10 million deal.

            • Ecbucs

              I guess I’m saying that it is partially NH’s fault that he had to overpay to get Barmes. He had Cedeno at short for 2 years and probably figured out pretty early on that he needed to be replaced. That the best he could come up with is Barmes is not a plus. Colorado let him go and then Houston decided he wasn’t worth keeping. He was better than C and C. NH has filled a couple holes quickly in the last 2 off seasons and deserves some credit for that but he has also jumped in to get risky players for the cost. While he gets credit from many for reading the market on karstens, he also blew the market on Maholm, Jack Wilson and Doumit.

  • tempman89

    As long as Cole is better than Bundy I’ll be happy
    And I guess we can say taillon over machado, but I don’t want to 2nd guess to much

    • NastyNate82

      I wouldn’t worry too much about what those other guys do. For too long the Bucs have gotten little from first round picks, a few recent ones non-withstanding. If Taillon and Cole aren’t better, but are still #2 starters, I’ll be satisfied. Its the “beyond the first round” picks we should be concerned with I think.

    • Ian Rothermund

      I’m still just not as high on Bundy as everyone else I think. I mean, he’s an outstanding athlete, with fantastic tools for a pitcher. Idk, there’s just some disconnect for me. It’s not as if I think he’ll necessarily flame out in the big leagues….I just feel like everyone just assumes he’ll be the greatest before he does anything.

  • tempman89

    I want championships

    • whiteAngus

      good thing youre not a fan or the Rangers, Astros, Brewers, Cubs, Nationals, Padres, Rays, Mariners, Indians……….

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