Austin Meadows had a strong debut in the GCL this year, being named Baseball America's top prospect in the league.

Keith Law Releases His Top Ten Pirates Prospects

Keith Law wraps up his prospect rankings this week with his top ten prospects for every NL team. Here is his list of NL Central top ten prospects, along with the write up on the players for ESPN Insider subscribers.

The top seven prospects went in the same order that Law had them listed in the top 100. Gregory Polanco was first, followed in order by Tyler Glasnow, Jameson Taillon, Austin Meadows, Nick Kingham, Alen Hanson, and Josh Bell.

Reese McGuire was next on the list, coming in at number eight. Law says he has a very high floor as a premium defender behind the plate, with a tremendous arm and improved receiving skills.

Harold Ramirez was next, being ranked at number nine. Law singles him out as a sleeper to watch, saying he looks like he can hit for high averages with a ton of extra base hits in an outfield corner role.

Rounding out the top ten was Luis Heredia, who Law points out is hard to grade due to his age. He says that if Heredia was graduating from high school this year, he’d be a late first-rounder this June. That’s decent praise, since the 2014 draft looks loaded with quality pitching, although it doesn’t suggest Heredia has a good shot at being an ace.

Law expanded the rankings, talking about his next four prospects. He had Clay Holmes, JaCoby Jones, Jaff Decker, and Wyatt Mathisen ranked 11-14. The high ranking on Jones isn’t a big surprise, since Law was really high on him out of the draft. The high ranking for Decker is a bit of a surprise. Law loves his OBP, and feels he’d be good in the right field platoon due to those skills and moderate power.

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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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  • marty

    Keith Law hates Taillon, always has. Not sure what everyone else sees that he doesn’t. His 11-14 is also interesting. Decker? Really?

    • Tim Williams

      He just said the other day that Taillon could be one of the top 30-40 starters in the league. That doesn’t seem like hate.

    • Jeff

      When did being a top 30/40 starter in big leagues become a bad rating?

    • Kenny Moore

      I don’t think he dislikes the kid at all. To be honest Taillon has not set the minors on fire. I to think that Glasnow will be the better pitcher with the potential to be our best prospect that we have overall, even better than Polanco.

  • stickyweb

    Law hates the Pirates so much I’m surprised he concedes they have 10 prospects. :-)

  • jaygray007

    It’s easy to forget that Jaff is as talented as he is.

  • Shawn Inlow


    Interesting that KLaw has Jaff Decker at #13 and P2 has him at #29. Seems to me that Law’s opinion of JD is that he’s “legit.” I see P2 has him as a Tier 5 guy with medium tools and moderate risk.

    I’m gonna ask you to posit an opinion on what someone else thinks, as unfair as that is to do: What do you think Law likes best about Decker over, say, Lambo, who P2 has at #14?

    This, to me, is the fun of these ratings systems. Is KL just not as familiar with the Bucs’ system? Or is he just crazy about OBP guys? (I am.)

    What’s your take?


    • Tim Williams

      We see Decker as a fourth outfielder, and maybe a platoon option. Lambo has a chance to be a starter, possibly dropping down to a platoon option. That’s the difference. Decker’s upside is a platoon, while Lambo could do better. I’m guessing Law disagrees on Lambo. And maybe he values Decker’s skills higher. You’ll have a lot of that. We tend to rate first basemen and relievers lower than most. The upsides are the same as other people, but we have a lower value on them than others in comparison to players at other positions.

      • Mr. Goodkat

        I personally think he’s just overvaluing the name.

        Without looking I have no clue where Law has had Decker ranked over the years — but I’d imagine it would be difficult to drop a player off the face of the ranking earth when he was recently highly regarded.

        We see that every year though in the Top 100 lists. Former top prospects who still make the list over “no-names” with better stats/tape.

        I take Pirates Top 10/20 lists that aren’t from this site with a grain of salt. They’re fun to look at and compare, but I think this site has a firmer grasp on the real picture.

  • leefoo

    *********FREE JAFF DECKER!!!!!!!!!!**********


  • BuccosFanStuckinMD

    He’s definitely not top 10 material for 2014, but the player I am most intrigued by going into 2014 is Ulises Montilla. I think he may be a potential top 20 guy by the end of 2014, if he breaks out this year like I am expecting he may.

    Tim or John – do you think Montilla goes to Jamestown in 2014, with possible promo to WV if he plays well there?

    • Tim Williams

      I think he’s got a shot of going to WV right away, just because of his age. Definitely Jamestown if he doesn’t make it to West Virginia.

  • leadoff

    Could be Law sees Decker as someone that can be worked with to achieve a high ceiling and he might see Lambo as a guy that has plateaued at the AAA level. IMO, Lambo is only 25 and could do as well in the Majors has he did in the upper minors if given the chance, but unfortunately I see him more of getting a Moss type look see. IMO, someone else is going to get a good hitter when Lambo hits 28-29 years old, I really see him on the same path as Moss and Batista. Unless your name is Alvarez you better show something out of the gate these days or teams are going to get rid of you in a hurry. Even though Lambo has not played much Major league baseball, he is already being labeled a platoon player in some circles.

    • piraddict

      I see Decker and Lambo offering two very different skill sets offensively. Decker is a top of the order OBP guy. Lambo is a middle of the order power and RBI guy. Right now the Pirates biggest offensive need is increasing team OBP, which would give an edge in RF (pre-Polanco) to Decker as far as a platoon with Tabata in RF. Lambo at first base and middle to bottom of the order in the lineup looks like a better defensive and offensive fit for the Pirates. If he hits for power and higher OPS than Gabby he’ll displace him a first base.

      • leadoff

        The Pirates are going to have more top of the order guys than they need in a couple of years, I agree about Decker, but he will have to compete with Hanson, Marte and Polanco and maby even Rameriz for top of the order positioning, might be he will be a candidate that is more suited to be traded before he ever sees Pitt.

        • Y2JGQ2

          Decker is probably better than Tabata, so Tabata would more likely be traded in that scenario for a 4th OF based on Tabata’s contract

          • BuccosFanStuckinMD

            Why do you assume Decker is better than Tabata? Tabata has been injury prone and somewhat a disappointment, but he’s been in the majors for 3-4 years and has generally hit well. And, he is still pretty young. Decker has been in the minors for 6 years, even though the Padres were starving for offense and outfielders who could produce consistently. I would be happy if he proved me wrong, but I see Decker as another Snider, Sands, etc. – a AAAA player.

        • Y2JGQ2

          Marte is not a top of the order guy, hes a guy we put there cause we don’t HAVE a top of the order guy. Polanco will be one at first until his power develops, like Cutch. Ramirez…..I’ll buy that, he actually may be that super fast gap hitter OBP guy we need, maybe a better 2? Hanson, I doubt he’ll be a good enough hitter but that’s just my opinion I think he’s a bottom of the order guy or maybe a #2. I can see Ramirez, Hanson, Polanco in 2017 1-3

      • Y2JGQ2

        Lambo will never hit for a better OPS and don’t forget defense vs. lefties than Gabby- Never. Unless Gabby really becomes worthless. That being said, i don’t like platoons and if Lambo can do decent vs. lefties (read as same power output and an OPS not under .750) then i’d prefer us getting rid of gabby AFTER the season. Having two first baseman is a roster waste

    • Y2JGQ2

      No offense I see what you are saying, but Moss was awful. He was given plenty of opportunity and did nothing with it. Batista wasn’t awful, but we got all we were going to get from him, he’s a one in a million turnaround into a completely different type of player. Any lefty who has trouble making contact and a poor past vs. lefties, is likely to be a platoon player, especially when you have someone at that position who crushes lefties already. If we had a southpaw crusher at 3rd base, Alvarez would be a platoon player too.

  • Aaron James

    It frustrates me beyond belief that Keith Law is recognized as anything more than a completely incompetent “guesser.” I get that the prediction business is full of busts and hidden gems, most of which cannot be deciphered until it’s too late; but Keith Law is the absolute worst. He’s the type people read so that they can believe the opposite to be true. How he is employed in this industry after all these years is mind boggling. Call me a hater or a troll if you’d like, but do me a favor and look back over the last 5 years or so and compare his predictions with any other source (except Bleacher Report, as they come in 2nd on the incompetence scale). Keith Law is, in fact, the devil.

  • ballparkfranks

    I think Tony Sanchez is the forgotten man on Law’s list. I thought his catching skills were quite good last year when I saw him, and he is the kind of hitter that will keep improving. I think his floor is a late blooming starter like AJ Ellis and his ceiling is a top 10 catcher like Carlos Ruiz. I don’t see how he can be discounted as a prospect.

    • Y2JGQ2

      I’m guessing Law no longer sees Sanchez as a prospect based on ML time, not because he doesn’t see him as being young and good, but i could be wrong

  • Bucnasty

    So, wait… Law’s 2014 impact players are Taillon by mid-season, Kingham not far behind, and Decker in RF? Polanco’s still alive, right?

  • NastyNate82

    This is kind of off-topic, but I wanted to throw this out there. Given the Pirates’ glut of OF prospects and young stars at the ML level, would anyone want to see a prospect-for-prospect type trade with another organization. Keeping in mind how unlikely that is, A) what position would you target and B) what organization might fit.

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