Pittsburgh Pirates Mid-Season Top 20 Prospects, Minus Gerrit Cole

We usually release our mid-season prospect rankings right after the MLB draft. This not only shows the updated rankings with half of the minor league season in the books, but it also shows where the new draft picks fit in.

This year we held the rankings for a few days due to Gerrit Cole making his major league debut. Cole was included in the rankings that were submitted, and was the consensus choice as the top prospect in the system. However, I removed him from the rankings due to his promotion in the majors. I’m not sure if Cole will be up long enough to exhaust his prospect eligibility. He would need 50 innings, which amounts to about 120 more pitches based on his performance last night. We know that Cole will be up for a few more starts with Wandy Rodriguez on the disabled list. After that, if the Pirates send him down, he’d take over as the number one prospect again. For now, it’s time to see how the system looks without Cole, and with the new picks. Before we begin, here are a few notes.

**I prefer tiered rankings to a top 20. We included the top 20 below, but the feature here is the tiered rankings, since it shows the groups of talent levels.

**The rankings are made up of the average of the top 50 prospects from myself, John Dreker, John Eshleman, and Wilbur Miller. We average our lists together, come up with a master list, then debate players up or down.

**Players who exhausted prospect eligibility this year, and who weren’t included: Jordy Mercer, Justin Wilson. We also didn’t include Bryan Morris in the rankings, since he’s projected to lose his eligibility. Don’t ask me where these guys would rank, since I have no clue. I didn’t get the rankings on these guys from anyone else, so I have no idea where they’d end up on the master list. Plus, it’s nearly impossible to grade guys currently performing in the majors against prospects who have the hope of one day performing in the majors. Maybe we’ll eventually do a “top players in the system” list.

**Tier 4 include guys beyond the top 20 who were in the same talent group as guys in the top 20. If anyone drops off the top 20 list, these guys will move up as replacements.

**To learn about players beyond the top 20, buy the 2013 Prospect Guide, which is on sale for one more day with the code “2013DRAFT”.

Jameson Taillon is the top prospect in the system with Gerrit Cole in the majors.

Jameson Taillon is the top prospect in the system with Gerrit Cole in the majors.

Tier 1

Gregory Polanco, Jameson Taillon

There was some debate over whether Gregory Polanco should take the top spot over Jameson Taillon. By “some debate”, I mean I played Devil’s Advocate and asked everyone why they had Taillon over Polanco. I didn’t want a situation where people were writing down Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, and then thinking about their list. I wanted to make sure everyone was reworking their top 50 lists with an open mind, rather than just listing Taillon ahead of everyone because that’s where he naturally goes.

The main argument in favor of Taillon is that we still believe he has the potential to be an ace in the majors. The argument for Polanco is that he’s got the potential that you can dream on, and doesn’t have many flaws in his game. Every scout I talk to down here in Bradenton loves him, with one scout noting that he improves a different part of his game every time that scout sees him. So Polanco is a legitimate contender for the top spot in the system.

That says a lot about how we feel about Taillon. Taillon didn’t win out over Polanco because of a flaw with Polanco, but because of the potential from Taillon. He’s been excellent this year, commanding his four pitches well, displaying the potential for at least three plus pitches, and really showing his intelligence on the mound. One of the development focuses with Gerrit Cole was that he had the stuff but needed to learn how to pitch as he was making his way up. Taillon might be further along than Cole in that department. He still flattens out a few fastballs, and he’s always going to struggle throwing consistently at the knees with his drop and drive delivery. However, he’s got the frame, the stuff, the demeanor, and the ability to pitch, which all combined gives him the chance to be another top of the rotation guy in Pittsburgh.

If Polanco makes the jump to Altoona and starts dominating there, or if he starts adding even more power (and there’s more power that could be added), then we might revisit this discussion in the off-season. For now the Pirates have two great prospects at the top of the system, even without Cole being considered in this list.

Tier 2

Josh Bell, Tyler Glasnow, Alen Hanson, Luis Heredia, Dilson Herrera, Nick Kingham, Reese McGuire, Austin Meadows

There was a debate on where to draw the line in the top 20 rankings. There was a bit of a gap between Nick Kingham and Josh Bell. However, you could make the argument that Kingham, Herrera, and McGuire were closer to this tier than the next tier. There was some consideration given to creating two smaller groups, but the difference in talent between the two groups wouldn’t have been as big. You could also look at the current tier 3 and argue that many of those guys could join this group, since they’re close to the guys in the bottom of the group.

Tyler Glasnow is the reason this tier didn’t get any bigger. You could make the argument that there’s not a huge gap in value between Glasnow and guys like Kingham and McGuire. But I’m not sure you can make that same argument about Glasnow and guys like Kyle McPherson or Stetson Allie. Glasnow is having a breakout season, and could move up to the top tier next year if he improves his control numbers and carries his dominating results over to Bradenton. He’s got the potential to be another ace starter, but has a lower floor than guys like Cole and Taillon.

Alen Hanson struggled at the start of the 2013 season, looking horrible both offensively and defensively. He was given a few days off to clear his head and work on his defense with Pirates infield coordinator Gary Green. Since that time off he’s hit for a .299/.372/.458 line in 177 at-bats, and has just six errors in 47 games. His fielding is looking really smooth, and is a complete 180 from what he was doing at the start of the year. Some doubt that Hanson can stick at shortstop, but that’s not the consensus. I’ve seen the tools needed to stick at the position. Ultimately he’s going to have more value with his bat, and he’s not going to provide a lot of defensive value. At the same time, he won’t be a liability to the point where it will negate the value of the bat. The problems at the start of the year were more mental than skill related, and ever since he’s been showing his skill on both sides of the game.

We had Austin Meadows ahead of Josh Bell, despite Meadows having never played a game. Bell is having a good season, although he’s not exactly tearing up the South Atlantic League. He has shown improvements as the season goes on, with a .293/.393/.471 line in 140 at-bats since the start of May. His walk rate has been excellent, although his strikeout rate has been bad at times. He doesn’t get a lot of good pitches, and can often get impatient and swing at bad offerings in the dirt and out of the zone. There is also a concern that he gets a late start to his swing due to a high back elbow, preventing him from tapping into his potential plus contact skills.

Meadows, on the other hand, grades very well from a contact and plate patience perspective. He also is more athletic than Bell, with the capability to play center field (although he’ll probably end up at a corner). Meadows also has raw power potential, and could end up being the better all around player. It was a close decision, but ultimately the concerns about Bell’s swing, and the fact that he’s not really dominating his current level is what gave Meadows the edge.

You could debate between Nick Kingham and Luis Heredia for the fourth best pitcher in the system. I’ve seen them both a lot this year, and ultimately decided to go with Kingham over Heredia in the final rankings. The average rankings were close, but the consensus was that Heredia was ahead of Kingham. The argument in favor of Heredia is that he’s still very young and has a ton of upside.

The reason I went with Kingham is because he has a good upside as a number three, innings eating pitcher. He’s a very safe pitching prospect, if you can say that about any pitching prospect, and has a high floor. Kingham also brings a lot of velocity with a mid-90s fastball that has touched 97 this year, plus command, and two off-speed pitches which could be above-average offerings.

On the other side, Heredia definitely has a higher upside, but is an extreme risk with a low floor. While Heredia’s upside is a number one starter, he has a ton of work to get there. He showed up to camp out of shape this year, preventing him from making the jump to West Virginia. He’ll make one more start down here in Bradenton, then will get his assignment next week. It’s expected that he will go to West Virginia, although that’s not a guarantee. Heredia has the potential for three plus pitches. Right now he has no plus pitches. He throws his fastball in the low 90s, focusing more on his command than throwing with velocity. He has the potential to throw in the upper 90s, but he doesn’t have command at that level. He switched from a slower curve to a mid-80s sharp slider last year, aimed at getting more strikeouts. He’s still working on commanding the pitch, and it’s got some potential, but it’s not a plus offering yet. He’s also showing a good feel for a changeup, but needs more work on that pitch as well.

That sounds like a lot of negatives, but the key here is that Heredia is extremely young, and very raw. By comparison, Tyler Glasnow spent the entire year in the GCL at Heredia’s age, and didn’t start hitting 96 MPH consistently until later in the year. So the fact that Heredia hasn’t mastered his command, and still has a lot of work to do isn’t unusual. It’s just a reminder of how young he is. At the same time, you don’t want to assume everything will go right with his development (just like you don’t want to assume nothing will go right). He’s a riskier option and has a lot of work to do. He’s got the upside of a number one starter, but that’s extremely volatile at this point. Meanwhile, Kingham is a much safer pick to be a strong number three starter, and might have the chance to be more if he continues to show the improvements we’ve seen over the last two years. It’s a lot of splitting hairs, but if I could pick one right now, I’d go with Kingham. I should also note that in each of the last two years I’ve bumped Kingham’s ranking up, despite a lower average ranking, just because I’ve been higher on him than most. It seems this year there are more people joining me on the bandwagon.

Dilson Herrera and Reese McGuire rounded out the tier, and the top ten. McGuire has the potential to be a good two-way catching prospect. People don’t doubt his defense, but there are some questions about his bat. As far as our rankings, the consensus was that he’s got the hitting skills to be the best catching prospect in the system, and has a better shot of being a two-way catcher than Tony Sanchez. Guys like Wyatt Mathisen and Jin-De Jhang have a shot, but both are raw.

Herrera is putting up some impressive numbers at the age of 19. Last year we moved Alen Hanson and Gregory Polanco ahead of Josh Bell because those two had a lot of tools and were already putting up the numbers in West Virginia. You could make the same argument with Herrera. I think this year Bell wins out because his numbers have been slightly better (especially the walks), but Herrera is doing enough to put himself in the conversation, and definitely enough to make a very talented top ten.

Tier 3

Stetson Allie, Barrett Barnes, Kyle McPherson, Tony Sanchez

Very rarely do I see the consensus in voting that I did with Stetson Allie. Normally with first basemen there is a split. Some have the tendency to favor first basemen, even in the lower levels. Some have the tendency to rate them lower until they’ve at least done something at Double-A. I fall into that latter category. In this case, the rankings for Allie were 16, 16, 17, 18. It’s rare to have that kind of consensus on any player in the middle of the rankings, first base or not. Keep in mind that everyone submits their rankings not knowing where anyone else will rank a player.

After the rankings were submitted, there were actually people arguing why they had Allie where they had him. I had to point out to everyone that no one was on the other side of the debate. Everyone had Allie relatively in the same spot. There seems to be some pressure to rank Allie higher, since he’s the breakout hitter of the year so far, and has amazing numbers in low-A. The reason he’s not ranked higher is because those numbers came in low-A. Allie is going to show that he can hit for average and power in the upper levels. Right now there are some red flags, specifically his 31% strikeout rate. Last month I pointed out other 22-year-old players who were having the same dominant SAL seasons Allie is having. Those seasons didn’t result in big power hitting major leaguers. Most of those seasons resulted in average major league production at best.

Allie crushing SAL pitching doesn’t mean Allie is going to one day do the same to MLB pitching. He’s got the best power in the system, but until he has success in the upper levels, he’s going to be viewed with skepticism. That’s just how it is with any hitting prospect who is posting a 31% strikeout rate in low-A. As for that jump, Allie is definitely showing that he needs to be moved up. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see another “Matt Curry” jump, with Allie skipping over high-A and going straight to Double-A. If Allie hits anything close to this in Double-A, he’d easily jump into the top ten. For now, that’s a hard jump to make due to the quality of players in that group, and due to his strikeout issues in low-A.

Tony Sanchez has strong defense behind the plate, and has been hitting exceptionally well in Triple-A this year. You could make the argument that he’s the top catching prospect in the system ahead of McGuire, simply because Sanchez is currently doing this in Triple-A, while McGuire has yet to play a game. However, there are doubts about Sanchez’s hitting ability going forward. That’s mostly because he struggled for the last few years. Was that because of the broken jaw? If so, it would explain why he was hitting like this before the first injury, and is now resuming the hitting a year after his most recent jaw surgery. We’re going to need to see more than 159 at-bats to make the claim that Sanchez’s hitting this year is legit, and his hitting over the last two years in a much larger sample was a fluke due to an injury.

Barrett Barnes and Kyle McPherson both have the potential to be top ten guys, and tier 2 guys. However, both have dealt with injuries over the last year. With Barnes, it has been a few minor nagging injuries. In McPherson’s case it has been more serious, with elbow and shoulder problems over the last year. If healthy, both have the upside to be ranked in the 6-8 range of the system.

Tier 4

Vic Black, Elvis Escobar, Clay Holmes, Phil Irwin, Jin-De Jhang, Wyatt Mathisen, Stolmy Pimentel, Harold Ramirez, Blake Taylor

A lot of the guys on this list are rated more for their upside than their numbers. That’s the case with Wyatt Mathisen and Clay Holmes. Both have struggled this year with West Virginia, but both are being rated here for their tools and skills, and not so much because of the numbers. Mathisen is a very athletic catching prospect with a plus arm and good agility behind the plate. He also has great contact potential, and the potential to hit for some power. He’s very raw, and got an aggressive promotion to West Virginia this year, so we’re ignoring the numbers and focusing more on the potential and the skills. Holmes has been hit around and has struggled with his control. However, he’s got a great frame, touches 96 MPH with his fastball, and has the stuff to be a number three, 200 innings a year workhorse. Not every pitcher figures it out as fast as Nick Kingham and Tyler Glasnow. In fact, in Kingham’s case he struggled at first with West Virginia, then dominated the second half.

Stolmy Pimentel got off to an amazing start this season. Then he went on a run where he looked horrible. He has started turning things around lately, and his potential is probably somewhere in the middle. He’s older than Holmes, and has been in Double-A for a few years, but he’s rated here for a lot of the same reasons. He’s got a great arm, touching 97 MPH with his fastball, and throwing it with good command in the 94-96 range. He also has a slider which has developed into a good out pitch. The Pirates have been focusing on teaching him to pitch off his fastball and pitch inside. He’s got the stuff that he could be a number two starter, but he’s probably a strong number four due to consistency issues. He could also be a really good late inning reliever with the fastball/slider combo, and that might be how he enters the majors, since he’s out of options next year.

Vic Black has a very high floor, and is almost certain to be a Major League reliever, with the ceiling to be a closer. We’re usually lower on relievers in the rankings, so you might see Black ranked higher elsewhere. I think everyone agrees that the report is the same, but the value of a relief pitching prospect is where the disagreement comes in. There are some concerns with Black’s control, but he’s got such dominant stuff that he’s going to have success even with the poor control.

Harold Ramirez made the top 20, while Elvis Escobar did not. There’s not much difference between the two players, which is why I included Escobar in this tier. I’ve been impressed with both guys this year in extended Spring Training. They both have quick bats, make solid contact, hit to the gaps, and feature a lot of speed on the bases. They also both play all-out on the field, and have the speed and range to play center field. There’s some concern over whether they can hit for power. They’ll have extra base power, but might not hit a lot of homers. That’s not out of the question, since they’ve got the bat speed to run into a few pitches, and I’ve already seen them crushing a few homers down here at Pirate City. I actually have Escobar rated slightly higher in my personal rankings, since I think his skills in center field are better. Both will be guys to watch this year in Jamestown, and they’re easily the top two prospects at the level going in.

Another guy to watch, and a guy who didn’t make the top 20, is Jin-De Jhang. He’s similar to Mathisen in that he’s got the potential to be a two-way catching prospect, but he is raw. Jhang is one of the better pure hitters in the system, and has some power potential due to his big frame. The downside is that his frame would limit his positional options if he eventually has to move off the catching position.

Rounding out our top 20 was 2013 second round pick Blake Taylor. We liked Taylor for his upside, and his young age (he’s only 17). Taylor has the potential to throw in the 92-94 MPH range as a lefty, and already can touch 94. He’s also got a good curveball, and the potential for a good changeup. Taylor has the upside to be a mid-rotation lefty starter, but is obviously all potential right now.

Phil Irwin just missed the list, mostly due to his arm injury, and his history of minor injuries throughout his career. He’s got an inflamed ulnar nerve, and is currently on the 60-day disabled list. I spoke with Irwin today, and he said the hope is that he’s back pitching with Indianapolis in six weeks, which puts him back in late July. If he didn’t have the injury issues throughout his career, he’d be a tier 3 guy, and definitely in the top 20.

Top 20 Prospects

1. Jameson Taillon, RHP

2. Gregory Polanco, CF

3. Tyler Glasnow, RHP

4. Alen Hanson, SS

5. Austin Meadows, CF

6. Josh Bell, RF

7. Nick Kingham, RHP

8. Luis Heredia, RHP

9. Reese McGuire, C

10. Dilson Herrera, 2B

11. Tony Sanchez, C

12. Barrett Barnes, CF

13. Kyle McPherson, RHP

14. Stetson Allie, 1B

15. Wyatt Mathisen, C

16. Clay Holmes, RHP

17. Stolmy Pimentel, RHP

18. Vic Black, RHP

19. Harold Ramirez, CF

20. Blake Taylor, LHP

Tim Williams

Author: 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 AccuScore.com, 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.

Share This Post On
  • goldfishtank

    Good stuff. It would be pretty funny to go back and do a comparison to even 5 years ago and show how lacking in depth the system was.

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      Looking at the system five years ago is not advised.

  • deacs

    Excellent work. I did notice that you said Bell wasn’t dominating or tearing up Low A. Is this a concern? Was more expected of him or is this just a reason you had Meadows higher. Even subratcting Cole – McGuire and Herrera round out the top 10. That’s awesome.

    • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 Lee Young

      Deacs…it sounds like the elbow hitch is a concern. I’ve seen it mentioned a few times. You’d think they’d be trying to eliminate it!

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      It’s part of the numbers with Bell. He’s young, so he’s got time to improve. It’s not a long-term concern. But it is why we have Meadows ahead of him. Ultimately it’s splitting hairs, and I think you could go Bell over Meadows if you wanted.

      • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 Lee Young

        why is it not a concern? if he is getting a late start to his swing, he’ll get eaten alive as he climbs in the system, right?

        • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

          I was talking about the numbers not being a concern. Bell is only 20, so he’s still going to be adding to his game as he gets older and moves up.

          • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 Lee Young

            I agree the numbers aren’t a concern at this time. The hitch? I wished I had never read about it….lol

            Foo

            • NastyNate82

              Is the hitch the same thing as the arm bar? I think Law stated that Bell, prior to getting injured last year, had an arm bar.

        • http://www.facebook.com/azibuck Andy Zibuck

          Maybe not. Jay Buhner hitched his way to 310 big league home runs.

    • WardHolder

      Tim – love your site. Question – what has happened to Duke Welker? Is he not in your top 20 or tiers because of how badly he performed after his 1-day call up?

      • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

        Thanks!

        Welker was #44 before the season. He has moved up a bit, but he’s not in the top 20 range or just outside to the point where he could be included in the tiers. The reasons for that:

        1. He’s a bit older than someone like Vic Black.
        2. He’s had control issues throughout his career.
        3. As I mentioned in the article, we’re usually lower on the value of RP prospects than others.

        • WardHolder

          Thx!

  • Kevin_Young

    Out of curiosity, who was the most divisive player?

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      Vic Black had a big split. One person rated him much higher, one rated him much lower, and two rated him where he is now. The high and low votes cancelled each other out.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 Lee Young

    Agree that the tiers make more sense than the list.

    However, I still fail to see how someone who has never played an inning of Pro Ball (mcguire and meadows) can be rated over someone who has (sanchez and bell)

    And, if this elbow hitch of Bell’s is so bad, why aren’t they fixing it? They fix pitchers all the time…why not batters?

    Foo

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      We get that argument every year. Got it with Taillon, Cole, Heredia, etc. You’re evaluating based on potential and skills. As you move up, it becomes more about results and less about upside. Or, more accurately, the results determine the upside. But when comparing upper level and lower level guys, you only have to focus on what the player could become. For the upper level guys, that’s based on results. For the lower level guys, that’s based on skills and potential.

      The elbow hitch was an issue a scout had with Bell, and something John Dreker noticed when he saw him. That doesn’t necessarily mean the Pirates agree.

      • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 Lee Young

        thx for that clarification….I wonder why the scout has an issue and not the Bucs?

        Or are his hands so quick he makes up for it?

        Foo

        .

        • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

          That could be possible. I haven’t heard the other side of the debate. And I haven’t personally seen Bell since Spring Training.

          It’s not uncommon for scouts to have different opinions. We try to present all of the opinions we can find here. I’ve heard scouts say Alen Hanson can stick at short, and I’ve heard some say he’ll be a 2B. I’ve even heard some say they don’t see the big deal about him. It doesn’t mean any one person is right or wrong.

          In Bell’s case, I thought it was interesting enough to note, especially since he hasn’t been putting up dominant numbers. I wouldn’t rush to any grand conclusions about that. Just something to consider and watch going forward.

          • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 Lee Young

            Thx!

    • BostonsCommon

      “However, I still fail to see how someone who has never played an inning of Pro Ball (mcguire and meadows) can be rated over someone who has (sanchez and bell)”

      Using that logic, no high schoolers should ever make the list. I would not agree with that… And come on, Bell barely has 300 ABs as a “pro”. He’s about 1 year age wise, and half a season ahead of McGuire and Meadows in experience.

      I agree that Sanchez should be higher than McGuire though. Sanchez has the floor of a starting major league catcher. In fact, he will be the Pirates catcher if Martin gets injured, or in 2015 at the latest, and there is little debate to that at this point. You cannot assume McGuire will make it anywhere near the majors right now, let alone be a starter.

      • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

        “You cannot assume McGuire will make it anywhere near the majors right now, let alone be a starter.”

        Why?

        • BostonsCommon

          For me there is too much risk to assume any high schooler makes it to the bigs, let alone as a starter, let as a catcher.

          I mean we talk about floors and ceilings all the time. In my opinion, the risk involved with almost all high schoolers puts their floor as Minor League burnouts. McGuire may have the ceiling of a potential all start, but how can you assume that he will get anywhere near there at this point?

          To me he hasn’t done anything to prove he will or wont. But I think we can agree the odds are against any high schoolers sniffing the bigs.

          • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

            I think you’re taking a blanket statement, while we’re looking specifically at McGuire’s skills. He’s got great defense, and the ability to stick behind the plate long term, even though that’s rare for prep catchers. We’re not going to discount him just because other prep catchers haven’t made it. We’re only looking at whether he has the skills to make it, and he does.

        • BostonsCommon

          I know they break down the hit rate, by draft pick # and round, of players that actually make it to the bigs and have success. It would be interesting to see it broken out by position and HS/college as well.

          I’ve got to believe the % of high school catchers drafted that stick behind the plate and make it to the bigs as starters is awfully low, even for first rounders.

          • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 Lee Young

            BC…it is low…Tim had an article on this site on it.
            You have a C hitting .300 with great defense at AAA and you’re gonna put a guy fresh out of HS over him?

            Foo

            • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

              That’s not really an accurate portrayal of either player.

        • BostonsCommon

          “We’re not going to discount him just because other prep catchers haven’t made it. ”

          I don’t know if I agree with this either. The individual skill set of a player should always be the most important and heavily weighted factor in their value and ranking. But wouldn’t it be foolish to ignore the historical industry success and failure rates of these players as well? Along with relative proximity to the majors as it pertains to success/failure rates of prospects?

          My point from the beginning was, that its just hard to assume any prep player is going to make it, based on past success/failure rates.

          That is not a knock on McGuire’s skill set at all. Just something I would factor in.

          • BostonsCommon

            By the way, I think you all do a great job and I really enjoy the site and all the work you put in. I’ve been a reader for a long time before just recently beginning to comment.

          • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

            That same approach would say that Manny Machado or Francisco Lindor should have never been highly rated because prep shortstops are an even bigger risk than prep catchers. Or it would say that Jameson Taillon should have never been a top prospect before playing because prep pitchers are a risk.

            The reality is that we know those guys were top prospects because of their individual skills. That’s the same approach with McGuire. We’re looking at his individual skills, and not discounting those skills because there have been other prep catchers (who probably didn’t have the same defense) who haven’t made it.

            • BostonsCommon

              Those prospects you mentioned all had undeniably rare skill sets, so if you’re ready to lump McGuire in with them, then it’s just one more reason why it’s an exciting time to be following the Pirates.

              • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

                I’m not lumping McGuire in with those guys. I’m using those guys as examples why you don’t discount individual skill sets.

                McGuire has great defensive skills. His defense is unlike the average prep catcher that makes up those numbers you cite. That’s why those numbers don’t apply to him.

  • deacs

    Thanks Lee.

  • TNBucs

    Hanson’s triple slash line since his time off is very similar to Polanco’s season line (OPS of 830 vs. 845). Given the value of a SS with that kind of bat, I think those two should still be in the same tier. As always, though, great job.

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      The reason Polanco has always been higher is that there are almost zero questions about his ability to provide defensive value from a premium position. Hanson could stick at short, but he’s not going to provide strong defensive value. And that also makes him a risk to move to second. I think he’ll stick at short, but it’s not a guarantee, and his defensive won’t provide positive value.

  • https://profiles.google.com/116366873579930999690 Thom Kay

    Very cool!
    I was surprised to see Herrera that high. Never seen him play, but the numbers just don’t look that exciting. What’s the upside of his glove? Is he adding bulk?

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      Herrera has great hitting skills with a quick bat and plus contact ability, and he’s putting up those numbers in West Virginia at the age of 19.

  • Ecbucs

    I’m very anxious to see Heredia this year. Want to see what progress he has made from last season at State College.

  • rburgh

    What about Max Moroff, JaCoby Jones, and Cory Dickson? These guys have to be at least Tier 4 guys, I would think. Personally, they’d all be in my top 20.

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      All three were around the 30 range. That would be tier 5.

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.ervin.583 John Ervin

    Alderson? ZVR? Zero love for either?

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      Neither guy got a top 50 vote.

    • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 Lee Young

      To follow up on what Tim said, I’d be surprised if either of them makes it to the majors.

      ‘Soft Tossing’ RHPs rarely do…

  • deacs

    On a random note, but prospect related, if Taillon comes up a year from now and does something similar to what Cole did last night I’ll have a much easier time dealing with the fact that Manny Machado is everywhere on TV. Until then I have to change the channel when he comes on. I’d imagine you’re somewhat numb to this stuff though Tim. I think when Taillon comes up and starts showing all his potential I won’t care at all what Machado does even if Machado has the better career. But for now it’s nauseating how much coverage Machado gets.

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      I don’t even think of that kind of stuff. I’ve got Machado on a fantasy team. Love what he’s doing. Don’t ever think once “what if he was on the Pirates right now?”

      • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 Lee Young

        You have time for a fantasy team?

        ;)

        • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

          I set my lineups twice a week. Helps me keep track of other guys around the majors.

  • smurph

    Thanks for the report. Considering having Cole, Taillon and Glasnow as 3/5 of your rotation for 4-6 years really gets your blood pumping.

    • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 Lee Young

      we can only hope…and then there’s Heredia…..and Kingham…and…..

      :)

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD

    Guys I was a little surprised to not be on the list at all…..

    (1) Andrew Lambo – especially with this season’s performance
    (2) Alex Dickerson – yes, not doing well in AA so far, but I think he will finish strong. Third round pick who had solid year in 2012.
    (3) Orlando Castro
    (4) Joely Rodriguez
    (5) Jose Osuna
    (6) Willy Garcia

    I guess that shows how deep the system has gotten. Even so, I would probably replace Pimentel with Castro and Ramirez with Dickerson or Lambo.

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      Lambo’s numbers have been impressive, but he has been at Double-A for so long that it’s hard to take the numbers seriously. If he continues this in Triple-A, the numbers will look more legit.

      Dickerson hasn’t been hitting the last two years like you’d want to see a 1B prospect hit. We had him #33 before the season and he hasn’t done anything this year to change that.

      Castro and Rodriguez are left-handers with great off-speed stuff in low-A. Rodriguez is a bit different because he can throw 90-94 with his fastball. But generally I don’t trust the numbers from left-handers with good off-speed stuff in low-A. Usually they don’t carry those numbers to Double-A. Rodriguez might be the exception, and was rated around the 30 range. Castro was after 40.

      Osuna and Garcia have a lot of potential, but we haven’t seen the results yet. They’re more 30 range guys. And that does show how deep the system is, since these guys would have been guarantees for the top 30 a year or two ago.

      • BuccosFanStuckinMD

        So, your ratings are more based on raw tools and future potential, not current performance? How does Pimentel get on that list??

        • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

          Everything is explained in the article.

  • smurph

    I still have very high hopes for Bell. Consider that he had a very significant injury, went almost an entire year without playing any baseball, and now is playing pro baseball for the first time in his life. I am hoping by the end of the season he will get into a nice groove.

  • westonian420

    If Polanco gets moved to AA this month and continues hitting, is there any chance he could be in Pittsburgh when September rolls around?

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      No

  • BostonsCommon

    It’s incredible to see how far this system has come. I would think a number of clubs would gladly exchange their 1-5 for the Pirates 6-10.

    • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 Lee Young

      Glad they stuck with NH…

      • BostonsCommon

        Agree, the decision to prioritize big, tall, hard throwing pitchers has dramatically changed the major league staff and minor league landscape. I don’t care if some of the “protectable” guys haven’t panned out. You look at the bull pen and everyone is 6’5″ and can touch 96.

        Everytime he flushes $5M down the toilet on Aki or even as little as $1.5 on J. Sanchez, I look at all the arms he’s out together, and how remarkably healthy they’ve been.

        I think he’s gotten even better over the years too. Like they’ve said, “lets not get cute here anymore, give me the big time athlete with the big time arm”. And it’s finally paying off.

  • http://www.facebook.com/johan.graybow Johan Graybow

    Besides Escobar and Ramirez who are the other players to watch at Jamestown and FGCL? Montlia? Rivera?

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      I’ll have a preview up when the rosters are known. I just know those two will be in Jamestown.

  • http://www.facebook.com/johan.graybow Johan Graybow

    1 Gregory Polanco
    2 Jameson Taillon
    3 Alen Hanson
    4 Tyler Glasnow
    5 Josh Bell
    6 Austin Meadows
    7 Nick Kingham
    8 Luis Heredia
    9 Dilson Herrera
    10 Reese McGuire
    11 Tony Sanchez
    12 Stetson Allie
    13 Kyle McPherson
    14 Barret Barnes
    15 Wyatt Mathisen
    16 Vic Black
    17 Stolmy Pimentel
    18 Blake Taylor
    19 Clay Holmes
    20 Willy Garcia
    21 Raul Fortunato
    22 Jose Osuna
    23 Duke Welker
    24 Joely Rodriquez
    25 Andy Oliver
    26 Chase d’Arnaud
    27 Jerry Sands
    28 Orlando Castro
    29 Eliecer Navarro
    30 Jin-De Jhang
    31 Adrian Sampson
    32 Harold Ramirez
    33 Elvis Escobar
    34 Cody Dickson
    35 Phil Irwin
    36 Andrew Lambo
    37 Alex Dickerson
    38 Casey Sadler
    39 Brandon Cumpton
    40 JaCoby Jones
    41 Mel Rojas
    42 Gift Ngoepe
    43 Eric Wood
    44 Michael De La Cruz
    45 Julio De La Cruz
    46 Ulises Montilla
    47 Maximo Rivera
    48 Pablo Reyes
    49 Johan De Jesus
    50 Max Moroff

    Thats my top 50

    • http://www.facebook.com/reg.marcel Reg Marcel

      Alex Dickerson? I have no clue whats going on in the minors, but I’d imagine he’s having a terrible year? MLB.com has him at #11 on their prospect list…

  • https://profiles.google.com/113824087346904673399 Dom DiDominic

    Would have really liked to see this debate. You should go to a podcast or webcast on an off day next year.
    Also, would like to see how each of your individual top 20’s shaped up.

  • http://battlingbucs.wordpress.com battlingbucs

    Surprised no Andy Oliver. I would think he is at least deserving a of a mention like Irwin.

  • leadoff

    I have Allie rated in the top 5 ahead of Hansen, I don’t think a red flag for strikeouts is enough to keep him out of the top five, I also think if you are ranking these guys on ability, he might have more than anyone else in the minor league system, in fact I would not be surprised if he was in a different organization, he might be on the major league roster, 22 is not young anymore for calling guys up and skipping levels of the minors is not uncommon anymore either. He plays at the same level as Bell and does everything better than Bell, plus he is built like a truck. As far as the competition at low A, he still sees some pretty good pitching from time to time and Bell sees the same competition. Talents like Glasnow are in low A and the level they are at is not held against them.
    Machado got called up and could not hit a curve, but he is sticking and is very highly rated right now.