First Pitch: The Pirates Farm System Getting Hammered With Injuries

The success of a farm system depends on a lot of things. You need good drafting. You need to sign talented players in the international ranks. You need good scouts to identify talent in both places. After the players are in the system, you need to develop them.

But even with all of the things that can be controlled, you still need luck to have a successful farm system. Part of that luck involves keeping everyone healthy. The Pirates haven’t been so fortunate in that regard this season.

Over the weekend, it was announced that Jameson Taillon would have Tommy John surgery, putting him out for the 2014 season. On Sunday, the West Virginia Power game saw Harold Ramirez and Barrett Barnes go down with leg injuries, and both were placed on the DL today. Those two injuries give the Pirates six injuries to their top 20 prospects, including two major injuries. Here is an updated rundown of our top 20 prospects, along with their level, notes, and their injury status, if applicable. All links take you to their top 20 scouting reports.

1. Gregory Polanco, OF

Status: Healthy

Level: Indianapolis

Notes: Expected to arrive in Pittsburgh by mid-season.

2. Jameson Taillon, RHP

Status: Injured

Injury: Tommy John Surgery

Recovery Notes: Taillon will miss the 2014 season. He could be back for the start of the 2015 season.

3. Tyler Glasnow, RHP

Status: Injured

Injury: Lower Back Tightness

Recovery Notes: Glasnow has been pitching in extended Spring Training, building up his innings to get ready for the season in Bradenton. Depending on how his next starts go, he could be in the Bradenton rotation in a week or two.

4. Austin Meadows, OF

Status: Injured

Injury: Hamstring

Recovery Notes: Meadows will probably miss the first month of the season, then will join West Virginia.

5. Alen Hanson, SS

Status: Healthy

Level: Altoona

Notes: Should spend most of the season in Altoona, with the chance for a mid-season debut in 2015.

6. Nick Kingham, RHP

Status: Healthy

Level: Altoona

Notes: The injury to Taillon could have opened a path for him to the majors this year.

7. Reese McGuire, C

Status: Healthy

Level: West Virginia

Notes: Will spend the entire season in West Virginia.

8. Josh Bell, OF

Status: Healthy

Level: Bradenton

Notes: Has a chance to move up to Altoona in the second half with good first half production in Bradenton.

9. Luis Heredia, RHP

Status: Healthy

Level: West Virginia

Notes: Could move up to Bradenton at some point this year, although the main focus is getting him a full year pitching every fifth day.

10. Harold Ramirez, OF

Status: Injured

Injury: Hamstring?

Recovery Notes: No official word yet on the injury for Ramirez, although he left the game clutching his hamstring and went on the disabled list today.

11. Tony Sanchez, C

Status: Healthy

Level: Pittsburgh

Notes: Currently the backup catcher in the majors, although that could change when Chris Stewart returns.

12. Clay Holmes, RHP

Status: Injured

Injury: Tommy John Surgery

Recovery Notes: Holmes had Tommy John surgery in mid-March, which means he will be out for the 2014 season, and is expected to return around Spring Training next year.

13. Stolmy Pimentel, RHP

Status: Healthy

Level: Pittsburgh

Notes: Pitching in long relief, and could have a shot at the rotation at some point this year.

14. Andrew Lambo, OF

Status: Healthy

Level: Indianapolis

Notes: Was sent down to get over his struggles from Spring Training. If that happens, he could have another shot at the majors this year.

15. Joely Rodriguez, LHP

Status: Healthy

Level: Altoona

Notes: Should spend most of the year in Altoona, with a chance to go to Indianapolis in 2015, and possibly arrive in the majors that summer.

16. Blake Taylor, LHP

Status: Healthy

Level: Extended Spring Training

Notes: Could be on the Jamestown roster this summer.

17. Cody Dickson, LHP

Status: Healthy

Level: West Virginia

Notes: Breakout candidate who could jump to Bradenton in the second half of the 2014 season.

18. Barrett Barnes, OF

Status: Injured

Injury: Hamstring?

Recovery Notes: Just like Ramirez, the injury for Barnes isn’t confirmed. However, he went on the DL today. He suffered several hamstring injuries last year, and so far his injury history has prevented him from spending consistent time at any level, which has hurt his development.

19. JaCoby Jones, SS

Status: Healthy

Level: West Virginia

Notes: Making the transition to being a full-time shortstop.

20. Michael De La Cruz, OF

Status: Healthy

Level: Extended Spring Training

Notes: Will play in the GCL this year during his first year in the US.

The Injuries

The Pirates have two major injuries, with Taillon and Holmes out for the year with Tommy John surgery. They have a few minor injuries that we won’t remember in a few weeks, such as Glasnow and Meadows. It’s too early to know how long Ramirez and Barnes will be out. The injury to Barnes is a bigger concern, since it’s just another in a long line of leg injuries for the outfielder, which has prevented him from developing in the lower levels.

Currently the Pirates are missing three of their top five prospects, four of their top ten prospects, and six of their top 20 prospects due to injuries. Because of that, the success of the farm system this year isn’t looking good. Fortunately, these aren’t long-term issues. Taillon and Holmes will be back in 2015, and shouldn’t lose any of their upside. The other guys should be back at some point this year, with a few of them expected back early. Until then, things are going to be busy in the training rooms at Pirate City.

Links and Notes

**Over the weekend I’ve been working on adding new writers to the site. I’m still in that process, but we’ll have some new writers starting this week, mostly at the minor league level. Adding new writers is made possible by purchases on the products page of the site. That’s where you can buy our 2014 Prospect Guide, with information on every player in the minor league system. We also now have a Pirates Prospects logo t-shirt available. It’s my goal to keep all of the website content free, while also adding as much content as possible. The more funds received through these products, the more coverage we can add going forward.

**Prospect Highlights: Polanco Crushes a HR, McGuire Shows Off a Cannon

**Minor League Schedule: Monday Rainouts Lead To Busy Tuesday

**Minor Moves: Harold Ramirez and Barrett Barnes To The Disabled List

**Tony Sanchez, Chris Stewart, and the Depth vs Best 25 Debate

**Top Performers: Homers For Polanco, Bell, Jhang, and Osuna in Week One

**Top Performers: Even Without Taillon and Glasnow, Pirates Get Strong Pitching

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.

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  • WTM

    Lord I hate those bubble gum unis.

    • Lee Young

      Huhn? I know I am old, but I see no pics?

      • WTM

        The front page pic of Harold Ramirez.

  • bmcferren

    Notes: Making the transition to being a full-time shortstop.

    Like hearing this. Coming into the season, Jones was the one most expected to be on the disabled list. Yet, here he is knocking the ball around and earning an understanding of the most difficult position in the game. He will be in next year’s top five

    • SteveW

      Who expected Jones to be on the disabled list?? He was very durable in college, having only one minor injury in three full seasons. Missed only 9 games out of 180 possible games over three years.

      Trying Jones at SS is an interesting experiment but thus far he has made 5 errors in 9 games at that position. Most LSU followers think there is zero chance he can stick at SS up to the MLB level. Maybe 2B however, and that would be OK if Hanson sticks at SS.

      • jaygray007

        I think he’s referring to the fact that he had surgery at the end of last season. I think it was on his knee.

        whether it’s actually a surprise he’s healthy or not… i dunno. But i think that’s what bmc was saying.

        Sounds like the guy has a ton of talent and could be a nice steal whether he’s a SS, 2b, or CF.

  • Lee Young

    I think we can almost stick a fork in Barnes.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD

    “Taillon will miss the 2014 season. He could be back for the start of the 2015 season.”
    As much as that would be great to see him back in 12 months, I suspect he will likely miss all or most of next season as well. Dylan Bundy is still not back – how long has that been now?

    • WTM

      Morton came back in less than a year. Bundy’s not a normal case.

  • Ian Rothermund

    Mo prospects, mo problems.

  • wkkortas

    I know it’s a matter of debate as to whether being healthy is a skill or not, but if it is, it’s one that Barrett Barnes does not have in any way, shape, or form.

  • John

    It’s not the way you want to see how far your farm system has come. But if some guys have to move up early to cover the openings you may find that diamond in the rough without being criticized for moving kids to soon. And even if the kids just hold their own at another level after being moved early that is a good sign.