Baseball America released their top prospects from the 2013 Florida State League, and the Pittsburgh Pirates have three players on the list. Gregory Polanco, Nick Kingham, and Alen Hanson all made the top 20, giving the Pirates three players on a top 20 list for the first time this season.
Polanco was the first prospect ranked, and came in fourth overall. Baseball America noted that the biggest question with Polanco is his power potential. They said that some see him capable of Domonic Brown type power, with 30 homers a year, while others see 15-20 homers. Either way, he’s seen as an impact player who isn’t far from Pittsburgh.
I could see Polanco arriving in Pittsburgh by late July 2014, similar to how Starling Marte arrived in Pittsburgh in 2012. Polanco has a ton of speed and good range in the outfield. He also has a strong arm, so he could play any position. He hits for average, has advanced plate patience, and already hits for power, but has more room in his frame to increase that power production.
Next on the list was Nick Kingham, who was ranked 11th in the league. Baseball America noted that Kingham worked more downhill this year, sitting 90-94 MPH with his fastball. I saw him touching 97 this year, and he’s seen a velocity increase each season. He could continue to increase, sitting consistently in the mid-90s. Baseball America says he could be a solid number three starter, although I think he could be a number two starter if his fastball continues to develop. He’s got a potential plus fastball, a plus curveball, plus command, and a good changeup.
Alen Hanson was the third player on the list, ranked 13th overall. The big question with Hanson is always going to be about his defense, as his offense is a great tool. BA noted that scouts were more comfortable with him as a second baseman, and some saw him in center field. They noted that he can get careless with his defense, which is what I saw this year. Hanson has the tools to stick at shortstop, but lacks consistency and has the tendency to lower his effort on some plays. You hope that this is something that comes with a young age. If this problem doesn’t go away, then it’s not going to be solved moving to second. Ultimately he’s going to be an offense first player, and his offense at shortstop has the potential to be strong enough to make you accept the defensive lapses at short.
Here are the previous players from high-A in Baseball America’s top 20 (2008-09 were in the Carolina League):
2012: Gerrit Cole (2), Jameson Taillon (3), Gift Ngoepe (20)
2010: Tony Sanchez (6), Diego Moreno (16)
2009: Pedro Alvarez (3), Chase d’Arnaud (13)