The Pirates Prospects 2014 Prospect Guide is now on sale. The book features prospect reports on everyone in the system, the 2014 top 50 prospects, and the most comprehensive coverage of the Pirates’ farm system that you can find. While the top 50 prospects are exclusive to the book, we will be releasing the top 20 prospects over the next few weeks. Be sure to purchase your copy of the book on the products page of the site.
To recap the countdown so far:
20. Michael De La Cruz, OF
19. JaCoby Jones, OF
18. Barrett Barnes, OF
17. Cody Dickson, LHP
16. Blake Taylor, LHP
15. Joely Rodriguez, LHP
14. Andrew Lambo, OF
13. Stolmy Pimentel, RHP
12. Clay Holmes, RHP
11. Tony Sanchez, C
We continue the countdown with the number 10 prospect, Harold Ramirez.
10. Harold Ramirez, OF
When the Pirates signed Ramirez to a $1.05 M bonus, they were clearly valuing him higher than other teams. Ramirez is a center fielder with plus-plus speed and an above-average to plus arm. There were concerns that he didn’t have the defensive skills to stick at center field, and that he couldn’t hit enough to be a corner outfielder.
Ramirez proved the Pirates correct, showing off some good defensive skills in center field, along with speed on the bases and a strong hitting ability. He has a quick bat and a line drive stroke, with the potential to hit some home runs. He’s a threat on the bases with explosive speed. Ramirez also has strong plate patience, and improved his walk rate this year.
The numbers in 2013 were impressive, as they came in a very pitcher friendly league. The performance by Ramirez was good enough to be named Baseball America’s top prospect in the New York-Penn League. He should follow that up with a move to West Virginia in 2014, where he might have to move off center field due to the presence of Austin Meadows at the same level.
Ramirez isn’t a prototypical outfielder, but has a ton of all-around value. He has a good feel for hitting, great baseball instincts, and quick, strong hands. His bat plays better in center field, although if he moves at the same pace as Meadows he will probably be limited to a corner. Ramirez doesn’t project to hit for the power you normally see at a corner spot, but he makes up for that with defense, speed, and gap power.
The Pirates don’t have a strong need for a center fielder, or even for an outfielder. They’ve got Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, and Gregory Polanco projected to be together at least through the 2018 season. Austin Meadows is ahead of Ramirez, and profiles to be the first replacement down the line when one of the major league outfielders move on. It’s also possible that Ramirez could eventually be used as a trade chip, although that would require another team seeing the same value in him that the Pirates currently see. His 2013 season opened some eyes to his potential value, and he can continue improving his stock with a strong season in West Virginia in 2014.