In his latest Ask BA column, Jim Callis released his top ten farm systems. He noted that the list was his own personal list, and not the official Baseball America rankings, which is a group effort.
The Pittsburgh Pirates finished eighth on his list. Callis had a one line summary for each system, and for the Pirates he noted that they weren’t deep, but “has impressive trios of arms and bats that most can’t match”.
Last year a lot of people wrote that the system was top-heavy and lacked depth. It seems to have gone even more in that direction this year. Breakout prospects like Alen Hanson and Gregory Polanco have given the Pirates even more potential impact players at the top of their system. They will likely finish with one of the highest counts of players in the top 100 lists heading into the season. Behind that, there’s still a lack of depth. It’s the same situation as last year. They have plenty of guys with upside, but most of them are at the lower levels and not a lot have broken out.
In 2013 we will probably see a continuation of this trend. Gerrit Cole will probably graduate to the majors, but top prospects like Hanson, Polanco, Jameson Taillon, Luis Heredia, and Josh Bell will likely remain prospects. They could be joined by other potential breakout prospects like Dilson Herrera, Tyler Glasnow, and Clay Holmes. The depth problem won’t be solved until the Pirates start seeing a lot of their prospects carrying their success over to the upper levels, but having a top-heavy system isn’t a bad thing, since you win with impact players.