Prospect Rankings

Pittsburgh Pirates 2017 Top Prospects: #7 – Ke’Bryan Hayes

Ke'Bryan Hayes should return to West Virginia in 2017, after missing half of the 2016 season. Photo Credit: Tim Williams
Pittsburgh Pirates 2017 Top Prospects: #7 – Ke’Bryan Hayes

The Pirates Prospects 2017 Prospect Guide is now available for pre-sales. The book will be released the week before Spring Training, and we are currently in the process of making the final changes with editing and formatting.

The book features prospect reports on everyone in the system, the 2017 top 50 prospects, and the most comprehensive coverage of the Pirates’ farm system that you can find. Subscribers to the site get discounted books, with Top Prospect subscribers getting $10 off, and Annual subscribers getting $5 off. The eBook will be released when the book is released, and will also come with discounts. Details on the promotions can be found on the products page, and you can subscribe to the site or upgrade your current plan on the subscriptions page.

While the top 50 prospects are exclusive to the book, we will be releasing the top 20 prospects over the next few weeks as a countdown to the start of Spring Training, and to give a preview of the release of the book. We will be wrapping up on Monday, February 13th. The reports will only be available to site subscribers, including those with a monthly plan. You can subscribe here, and if you like these reports, be sure to purchase your copy of the book on the products page of the site to get much more analysis on every player in the system.

To recap the countdown so far:

20. Alen Hanson, 2B

19. Luis Escobar, RHP

18. Edgar Santana, RHP

17. Elias Diaz, C

16. Max Kranick, RHP

15. Trevor Williams, RHP

14. Braeden Ogle, LHP

13. Clay Holmes, RHP

12. Steven Brault, LHP

11. Nick Kingham, RHP

10. Gage Hinsz, RHP

9. Taylor Hearn, LHP

8. Will Craig, 3B

We continue the countdown with the number 7 prospect, Ke’Bryan Hayes.

8. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B

When Hayes was drafted, he was highly regarded for his defense at third base. He had good hitting potential, with the ability to hit for average and get on base enough to be a future starter in the majors, and the chance to add some power and be more than an average starter. But the defense was clearly ahead of the offense, and ranks as the best in the system at the position.

With the defense looking smooth — highlighted by good range, quick reactions, solid glovework, and a strong arm – the focus in 2016 was on the offense. That got off to a good start, as Hayes hit for an .826 OPS in his first month in West Virginia. He started to fade after that, and really struggled in June and early July, dropping below a .600 OPS in his final month of play.

In the middle of July, Hayes went on the disabled list with a rare back injury, a swelling of the rhomboid muscles. This shut him down for a month. Shortly after his return, he was shut down again with a cracked rib, which ended his season and held him out for instructs. It’s hard to say when the back injury started up, and whether that was the reason for his decline in offense, or whether the decline was due to the league adjusting to him.

Either way, we are still left wondering what Hayes can do offensively. There is still plenty of time to answer this question. He just turned 20 years old, and the Pirates have Jung Ho Kang and David Freese under control through the 2019 season. So there’s no immediate rush for Hayes to reach the majors. Whether the problem was the injury or an adjustment, we will get a chance to see him respond in 2017, and give an indication of what he can do on offense.

Hayes still projects as an average starter in the future, although that could go up if he adds some power to his game while maintaining the same defense at third. At worst, he would be a strong defensive infielder off the bench. He should return to West Virginia in 2017, at least until Will Craig moves up to Altoona, or until Hayes forces the issue. Long-term, Hayes is the better third baseman.

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Prospect Rankings

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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