In the latest issue of Baseball America, J.J. Cooper and others ranked the top players by age(from 16 to 25) and the Pittsburgh Pirates had five representatives on the list. For each age, Cooper listed the top five players, so 50 names in all made the list.
Michael de la Cruz was named the fifth best 17-year-old. The center fielder was also named one of the top 20 players from the 2013 DSL/VSL season and one of ten international players with breakout potential this year. He is in his first season in the States and will likely open up the year in the Gulf Coast League.
Next up is the 18-year-old players and another center field made the list, Austin Meadows. He was ranked third overall in the group after a strong pro debut in 2013. The ninth overall selection in the 2013 draft will miss some regular season time due to a hamstring injury and cold weather in West Virginia.
The 22-year-old class is full of talent with Mike Trout, Michael Wacha, Kris Bryant and Jonathan Gray, but Gregory Polanco managed to sneak onto the list in fourth place. The Pirates right fielder of the future will likely join the club around mid-season and should help out the lineup immediately.
Gerrit Cole is the third best 23-year-old, falling behind Yasiel Puig and Wil Myers, the reigning AL Rookie of the Year.
Finally, Starling Marte ranked as the fourth best 25-year-old, falling behind Chris Sale, Elvis Andrus and Matt Harvey, who will miss the entire season, but still has the upside of an ace if he fully recovers from his Tommy John surgery.
Baseball America also recently released their list of best players 25-and-under, which included their ranking of each team based on their young talent. Baseball Prospectus ranked the Pirates fourth among 25-and-under talent. While he didn’t make the age list, Jameson Taillon(along with Polanco) was named one of the top 20 rookies for the 2014 season.