Pirates Prospects » Prospect Rankings http://www.piratesprospects.com Your best source for news on the Pittsburgh Pirates and their minor league system. Sun, 07 Sep 2014 13:23:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 Tyler Glasnow Named to Baseball America’s 2014 Minor League All-Star Team http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/09/tyler-glasnow-named-to-baseball-americas-2014-minor-league-all-star-team.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/09/tyler-glasnow-named-to-baseball-americas-2014-minor-league-all-star-team.html#comments Thu, 04 Sep 2014 00:16:34 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=87641 Baseball America has released their Minor League All-Star teams for the 2014 season. The lone Pirates prospect on the list was Tyler Glasnow, who was named as one of the top starting pitchers in the minors this year. BA said that Glasnow has a plus-plus fastball, a plus curve, and an average changeup, with better control in the second half.

Glasnow finished the season in Bradenton with a 1.74 ERA in 124 innings, along with a 157:57 K/BB ratio.

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DSL Pirates 2014: Ten Prospects to Watch http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/08/dsl-pirates-2014-ten-prospects-to-watch.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/08/dsl-pirates-2014-ten-prospects-to-watch.html#comments Fri, 29 Aug 2014 15:58:00 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=87241 Each year we post a top ten prospect list for the DSL and call it a “Prospects to Watch” list because it’s tough to pick a top ten prospect list when the players are so far from the big leagues. The last couple years, we have had many more first-hand scouting reports to go on, so the lists have become more than just educated guesses based on age, scouting reports, stats and signing bonuses. With just one DSL affiliate this year, the players on the list aren’t as good as last year, but it’s still an interesting group and it was tough to leave three players off the list(see notes at the end) Below are the previous Prospect to Watch lists, as well as the 2014 season recap, which includes scouting reports for every player on the team:

Lantigua hit his way to the top of the prospect list this year

Lantigua hit his way to the top of the prospect list this year

2014 Season Recap

2013 Prospects to Watch

2012 Prospects to Watch

1. Edison Lantigua, LF – Lantigua was ranked second among prospects behind Jeremias Portorreal coming into the season, but he hit his way to the top of the prospect list. The 17-year-old lefty batted .299/.390/.433 in 47 games, with 12 doubles and five triples. He had just three stolen bases, but Lantigua has good speed, which also gives him defensive value in left field. His arm strength is average at best, but his throws are accurate. In June, Lantigua wasn’t hitting great, though he was drawing plenty of walks. He’s naturally an aggressive hitter, so when he started to attack pitches in July, the average rose and he hit .314 the rest of the way. Lantigua is a line drive hitter that uses the entire field and as he fills out, he should add over-the-fence power. His baseball intelligence was praised, which is a great sign at such a young age. I would expect Lantigua to move to the U.S. next year and due to his age, he will probably spend the year in the GCL.

2. Adrian Valerio, SS – Valerio is an advanced defensive player, who might be the best fielding middle infielder in the system already at 17 years old. Each time I talked to someone about Valerio, they raved about every aspect of his defense, from foot speed, to glove, to range, to quickness, to his arm. His bat came with a big question mark and he hit better than was expected. Valerio batted .240, showed some pop in his bat and he showed good contact skills. He is a switch-hitter that fared much better from his natural righty side, though most of his at-bats obviously came from the left side. With more reps at the plate from the left side, he should become a much better hitter as he moves along Valerio projects as a Gold Glove shortstop that should hit enough to keep him in the Majors. If he can improve enough at the plate to exceed those expectations, then you have a future All-Star. Like Lantigua, he should land in the GCL next year and start regularly at shortstop.

3. Raul Siri, 2B – Siri was the best player with the DSL Pirates and one of the best players in the entire league this year. Despite his small stature at 5’9″, 175 pounds, he led the league with 25 doubles and also added five triples and four homers. His .324/.434/.521 slash line placed him fourth in the DSL in OPS. The 19-year-old was a rookie this season, so he signed later than normal. It’s not unusual for the player to have a breakout season at his age in this league, though they usually have prior experience. Siri signed later because some injury issues held him back in the past. With his small size, there are going to be questions as to whether he can handle the rigors of full-season ball. He had a hand injury that cost him a week this year, but other than that he was healthy and hit well all season. Siri is similar to Pablo Reyes, who made the jump from the DSL to Bristol this year and I could see him doing the same. Both are small second baseman, almost a year apart in age and both are pure hitters that run well. Siri’s defense is better and he showed more power, so he should be able to handle the jump over the GCL.

4. Jeremias Portorreal, RF – If you just looked at stats and nothing else, you would wonder how Portorreal got on this list. Only third-string catcher Ramy Perez put up a worse OPS than Portorreal. He is here because the scouting reports pegged him as a future impact bat in right field. He was actually even worse than the .529 OPS and 73 strikeouts suggest, because he also showed no other values on the field. His defense was average at best and he doesn’t run well. Portorreal was the youngest player on the team, turning 17 in August. That alone gives him some leeway, but due to high praise prior to the season, expectations were also high. He’s a 6’3″ lefty, who should fill out nicely and add pop from a corner outfield spot, possibly first base down the line if the defense is as bad as people say. Portorreal was supposed to make strong contact at the plate, but with a team-leading 73 strikeouts in 204 at-bats, he obviously didn’t show it this year. I expect him to return to the DSL next year because he has a lot to work on.

5. Luis Escobar, RHP –  Escobar is another player that rates higher than his stats would suggest. He was raw as a pitcher due to the fact he was a third baseman just two years ago. His coach decided a position change was best for him and after he showed some great improvements, including a fastball that reached 94 MPH, the Pirates signed Escobar to a $150,000 bonus. The 18-year-old righty still needs to develop a feel for pitching before he takes off, but he ran off an impressive streak after an early season game that saw him give up ten earned runs in 1.2 innings. He had a 1.57 ERA in five July starts and threw four innings without an earned run in his first August start. Shortly after his second August start, which didn’t go well, Escobar needed to have an appendectomy, which ended his season. Like any young pitcher, Escobar needs to work on fastball command and his secondary pitch lack polish, though they do have good projection. With another year of pitching under his belt next season, he could really break out.

Mitchell held batters to a .220 BAA this season

Mitchell held batters to a .220 BAA this season

6. Richard Mitchell, RHP –  The Pirates teach pitchers to throw down in the zone, work inside, pitch to contact and throw strikes. No pitcher on the DSL team embraced those teachings better than Mitchell. In his third year in the league, the 19-year-old was the most consistent pitcher, throwing a 91 MPH fastball, while complementing it with a plus change-up and a curve that is at least average. He threw 65 innings and completed 11 of his 14 starts in the DSL sense. Pitchers are allowed to throw either 75 pitches or five innings, whichever comes first, unless they reach 30 pitches in one inning, then their day is over. Mitchell had no problem completing starts while throwing 65 or less pitches. He seems like the type that could make the jump to Bristol next year, due to three years experiences and advanced command of his fastball, plus a change-up that he can use in any count. Pirates have young pitchers focus on the fastball command down in the zone and developing a change-up and Mitchell already has a good handle on both areas of his game.

7. Yeudy Garcia, RHP – Garcia was the best pitcher on the team, but he is held back on this list by his age. He turns 22 in October, which is too old for the DSL. He was also a rookie this year, which means he was really a late-bloomer. Garcia features a fastball that hits 95 MPH and he has excellent command of the pitch, overpowering DSL hitters, while also showing good separation in velocity between the fastball and his off-speed offerings. Garcia seemed to tire at the end of the year, but still ended up with a 2.41 ERA and a team-leading 47 strikeouts. He also had an impressive 2.10 GO/AO ratio, to go along with a .225 BAA. He has good size at 6’3″ and should fill out a little more. At his age, with strong fastball command already and a willingness to go right after hitters, Garcia should be in the Bristol rotation next year. His upside could make him the best pitcher from this DSL squad.

8. Mikell Granberry, C – Granberry showed great improvements as the season went along, so it was tough for him to go down for three weeks with a back injury in late-July. He was hitting well and working hard on his defense, especially trying to control the running game. He has a strong arm and quick release, but early in the season, runners were taking liberties against Granberry. Some of that blame was on the pitchers, who weren’t doing their job holding runners, but the percentages were bad. By the end of the year, his success rate improved and runners were testing him less often on the bases. Granberry posted a .760 OPS, sixth best on the team and an impressive total from a rookie catcher. He’s a very athletic player and runs well for a catcher. His strikeout totals need work, going down once every 3.5 plate appearances, but he’s a hard worker and should move up to the GCL next year. The Pirates signed three catchers during this July 2nd signing period, one to a six-figure contract, so they will need to make room for them. Granberry showed that he can swing the bat, he blocks pitches well and pitchers praised his defense, so a move to the GCL seems possible.

9. Jhoan Herrera, 3B – Herrera wouldn’t even be on this list if it wasn’t for an ankle injury he suffered during Extended Spring Training in the U.S. this year. When the ankle healed, Herrera was returned to the DSL so he could get extra playing time. Herrera has the bat to be one of the better players on this team, though he may not be able to stick at third base, so that bat might need to carry him at a more offensive-oriented position. He had a .720 OPS in 31 games, but he finished very strong, showing that there was probably some early rust from all the time off. The Pirates signed the 19-year-old, 6’1″, left-handed hitter to a $200,000 bonus in 2012 and did it because of his bat. If he was originally slated to be at Bristol this year, then it wouldn’t be surprising to see him there next season, likely starting at third base.

10. Victor Fernandez, CF –  Fernandez is easily the fastest player on the DSL Pirates, showing game-changing speed both on the bases and in center field. What wasn’t expected based on the pre-season reports, was the way Fernandez hit this year. He batted .289/.407/.461 with 17 extra-base hits. He turned 19 years old before his first game, so that always hurts a player’s prospects status. Fernandez stole 14 bases this year, but would have had more if it wasn’t for a hamstring injury that sidelined him for two weeks. When he returned to action, he went 7-for-11 in steals over his last 29 games, after going 7-for-8 in his first 16 games, so there were some lingering affects from the injury. When healthy, Fernandez was showing power, getting on base and had no problem creating havoc on the base paths. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him hitting lead-off next year in the States. His placement could depend on where Michael de la Cruz ends up, since both players are above average defensive center fielders.

Others To Watch

Luis Perez batted .302 this season

Luis Perez batted .302 this season

If this list included players signed during the current July 2nd signing period, outfielder Yondry Contreras would rank fourth on this list. He’s a toolsy 16-year-old outfielder, who lacks plate patience, which holds him back from a higher ranking. He got the top bonus among Pirates players this year, signing for a $400,000 bonus. Contreras is very athletic, with a strong arm, quick bat and he runs well. He’s probably the only new signing that would make the top ten if they were included, though a few of the pitchers would be considered for the 8-10 spots.

Three players were tough to leave off the top ten list, but judging by the opinions of everyone that helped with the scouting reports, they were just outside the top ten. Second baseman Luis Perez missed out because of his small size and the fact he didn’t show any power. He still hit well and does a lot of things right on the field. Perez is already 20 years old and limited to second base, so that also hurts him. Outfielder Sandy Santos is also 20 years old, so that’s ultimately what put him in the 11-13 range. He is 6’3″ and very toolsy, doing a lot of things right in the field and at the plate. Due to his age and overall package, he could look like one of the better players for awhile, but his upside isn’t elite like many of the others. Starting pitcher Francis Rodriguez is a very smart pitcher, with an advanced feel and great secondary pitches, plus strong results. His downside is that he doesn’t throw hard and relies too much on off-speed pitches, which works well at lower levels, but players like that usually get weeded out at the higher levels. He too could look like one of the better players from this group for a few years, but he will have a hard time reaching the Majors without added velocity and a willingness to throw more fastballs.


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DSL Season Recap: Pirates Look Strong Up the Middle and at the Top of Their Rotation http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/08/dsl-season-recap-pirates-look-strong-up-the-middle-and-at-the-top-of-their-rotation.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/08/dsl-season-recap-pirates-look-strong-up-the-middle-and-at-the-top-of-their-rotation.html#comments Thu, 28 Aug 2014 16:05:53 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=87025 The DSL Pirates went 34-36 this year, playing with an inexperienced team. Last year, the Pittsburgh Pirates had two affiliates in the DSL, so we had 70 players in all to cover in the season recap. Many of those players moved up to the United States this year to help fill out roster space due to the new Bristol affiliate. After eight DSL players were released back in May, that left the Pirates team filled with first year players and a lot of them struggled early on, especially the bullpen arms. Below, you will find a brief scouting report on every player with the team at the end of the year.

Before we start, there are four names to briefly mention. Yunelky Adames was recently released after playing four seasons in the league. He just turned 24 and didn’t do anything special at the plate this season, so it’s not a surprise that he was cut. Pitcher Jesus Perez was cut back in June after just one appearance. He struggled with the team last year during his limited time. Outfielder Rudy Guzman was supposed to be in the U.S. this year, but visa issues kept him in the DSL. He never played a game this year, spending his time recently practicing with the players that have signed since July 2nd. Finally, pitcher Leandro Rodriguez missed his second straight season, this year due to shoulder surgery. He was considered a prospect in 2012, but may have missed too much time at this point.

Siri and Valerio Make up Talented Middle Infield

Raul Siri was named the DSL All-Star game MVP

Raul Siri was named the DSL All-Star game MVP

On to the current players and we start with the three catchers on the team. Mikell Granberry saw the most playing time until he hurt his back in late July and missed three weeks. When healthy, the 19-year-old hit well in his rookie season, posting a .760 OPS. He showed strong improvements with his defense as the season went along and has a good ability to block pitches in the dirt. He needs some work on his throwing, but he shows a strong arm with a quick release.

Patrick Reyes got extra playing time when Granberry was out and Ramy Perez was hurt at the same time. Reyes is the best defensive catcher of the three Pirates in the DSL. As a fourth-year player, he finally started to show some skill at the plate, posting an OPS 143 points over his previous career best. Reyes will likely move up to the States next year due to his defensive value. Third-string catcher Ramy Perez didn’t hit at all in his second season. He is a 19-year-old, defense-first receiver with limited upside due his offense.

First base was mostly played by Adames, so we move on to second base, where Raul Siri had an outstanding season. He led the DSL with 25 doubles and he was named the All-Star game MVP. Siri is an interesting case because he signed when he was 18, but apparently waited to sign due to some injury issues. He is small at 5’9″, 175 pounds, so his size will always be in question. With injuries in his past, along with missing a week with a hand injury this year, that keeps him from being the top prospect on the team. He was still far and away the best player this year, finishing with a .324/.434/.521 slash line, drawing 41 walks, stealing 11 bases and hitting 34 extra-base hits. His defense is at least average, though some say it’s above average, as I got mixed answers from a survey of four people close to the team back in July.

Shortstop Adrian Valerio has been talked about all year, even before the season started, because he is that rare young shortstop that is almost guaranteed to stick at shortstop and provide Gold Glove caliber defense. The 17-year-old is a switch-hitter, that showed some power, but overall his season at the plate was average at best. He will go as far as his bat takes him, but his outstanding defense will give him every opportunity to reach his potential. Valerio hit much better from his natural right side, so he should see improvements in his overall stats with more reps as a lefty.

Third baseman Jhoan Herrera was supposed to be in the States this year, but an ankle injury derailed those plans. When his ankle healed, he was returned to the DSL, where he was able to play full-time. Herrera signed for a six-figure bonus and it was because of his advanced bat. He posted a .720 OPS in 31 games this year and finished very strong. Herrera is average at best at third base, so his bat will need to carry him. He seems like a strong candidate to return to the States next year.

Valerio is the best defensive player on the DSL Pirates

Valerio is the best defensive player on the DSL Pirates

Infielder Luis Perez looked good in his abbreviated playing time and saw more playing time as the season went along. He had a .302/.457/.340 slash line, with a 25:13 BB/K ratio and he was 11-for-12 in stolen base attempts. Perez fell just outside the top ten prospect list below due to his age (20) and he’s on the small side at 5’10″, 170 pounds. He didn’t show any power this year and while he played some shortstop, his position is second base due to his arm. That puts him behind Siri on the depth chart.

Johan De Jesus still has age going for him and he showed some improvements over his rookie season, but that first year was a disaster. He played shortstop his first year, then saw more action at third base this season because Adrian Valerio is a superior defensive player. De Jesus hit .204/.364/.257 this year and stole ten bases in 11 tries. When he signed for $200,000 on his 16th birthday (born 8/1/96), the scouting report was that he had no tools that stood out, but he had good contact skills at the plate, which was his main positive. Two years later, nothing really has stood out about him and he has 114 strikeouts in 359 at-bats, so he hasn’t made much contact either. He will still be 18 for almost all of next season and the Pirates really gave him a lot of playing time this year, so I wouldn’t write him off just yet.

Third-year infielder Jesus Ronco got the kiss of death for position players, getting used twice as a pitcher early in the season. He also missed time with an injury during the middle of the season. At 20 years old and being used as a bench player, he doesn’t have any upside.

Huascar Fuentes was supposed to get time in at first base, but he was injured almost the entire season with a broken wrist. At 22 years old (he signed last November), he doesn’t have much upside and didn’t get a chance to show the team anything this year.

High Upside Outfield

Left fielder Edison Lantigua established himself as the top prospect by showing great improvements at the plate as the season went along. The 17-year-old received a $275,000 bonus last year as one of the Pirates top July 2nd signings. He hit .299/.390/.433 in 47 games, with 12 doubles and five triples. Lantigua is an aggressive hitter that makes strong contact at the plate, hitting line drives to all parts of the field. He has good speed, which leads to above-average range in left field. He has average arm strength, though his throws are very accurate. There were also good reports about his baseball smarts, saying he doesn’t make many mistakes, which is great to see from such a young player.

Jeremias Portorreal was the top prospect coming into the season due the huge upside potential from his bat. As it turned out, his season was basically a disaster, with very few bright spots all season. He was the youngest player on the team, so it’s tough to get too down on him, but he is someone who had a great scouting report, so expectations were high. He’s going to have to hit, because Portorreal offers very little in the field and on the bases. He .529 OPS was only better than third-string catcher Ramy Perez among all Pirates hitters. He finished eighth in the DSL with 73 strikeouts, the highest total on the Pirates. Portorreal was given plenty of playing time, finishing fourth on the team in plate appearances and I’d expect him to be back in the DSL next year with better results.

Center fielder Victor Fernandez is easily the fastest player on this team and from the sound of it, he might be the fastest player in the organization. People I talked to said he had game-changing speed in the outfield and on the bases. Unfortunately, he injured his hamstring early in the year and that really limited his speed on the bases. The 19-year-old had an .867 OPS, showed some power and on-base skills, plus he stole 14 bases.

Sandy Santos displayed a lot of skills, stealing bases, racking up outfield assists and look strong at the plate at times. He’s a toolsy 6’3″, 20-year-old, who showed nice improvements over his rookie season. Santos was considered for the final spot in the top ten due to his tools and the playing time he received this year.

Eliezer Ramirez should see much more time next season

Eliezer Ramirez should see much more time next season

Young Eliezer Ramirez got a six-figure bonus, but very little playing time. He was considered raw when he signed and the only highlight he showed in his limited time was the ability to draw walks. That was actually good to see, because a young player seeing limited time might try too hard to impress. He should see much more playing time next year.

Rookie Felix Vinicio played 43 games and posted a .698 OPS. The 19-year-old made good contact, with a 19:16 BB/K ratio in 134 at-bats. Vinicio has a really quick bat, but not much else. He’s a small lefty, standing 5’10″, 175 pounds, and he didn’t have a single stolen base, so he needs to show more before he’s considered someone to watch. His arm is average at best and his range is limited due to his speed.

 Starting Pitching Looked Good This Year

The Pirates had three pitchers that really stood out this year and a fourth starter that quietly had a strong season. All-Star Yeudy Garcia, control specialist Richard Mitchell, hard-throwing Luis Escobar and DSL veteran Francis Rodriguez all had good showings this season. All four pitchers are righties and three of them made the top ten list below, while Rodriguez was considered for the last spot.

Garcia is the hardest thrower of the group, topping out at 95 MPH as a starter. He finished with a 2.43 ERA and 2.10 GO/AO ratio, plus led the team with 47 strikeouts. He will be interesting to watch going forward because this was his rookie season, though he is already a month shy of his 22nd birthday. Garcia has good size at 6’3″ and he has filled out a little since signing, easily exceeding his listed weight of 185 pounds.

Mitchell is probably the most familiar name, as he was listed as one of the top DSL prospects after the 2012 season. He throws 91 MPH and pounds the strike zone, embracing the “pitch to contact” teachings of the Pirates better than any pitcher in the DSL.  He throws a ton of first pitch strikes, works down in the zone and throws inside. Mitchell has a change-up that showed great improvements this year and his curve is at least an average offering. He led the team with 65 innings and that was due to keeping his pitch count low.

Garcia looked like a legit top prospect, but his age holds him back

Garcia looked like a legit top prospect, but his age holds him back

Escobar’s numbers don’t stand out, a 4.75 ERA and 31 walks in 55 innings, but he had one horrible start (10 ER in 1.2 IP) that really skewed his stats. He is also new to pitching, moving over from third base two years ago after his coach recommended the move. Escobar can hit 94 MPH and once he fills out and gets more experience, he could really break out. The Pirates signed him for $150,000 after following him for a while and noticing strong improvements, so they obviously see a lot in him with a bonus that high despite being raw. He missed his last two starts due to an appendectomy.

Rodriguez last year was described as a pitcher that relied heavily on off-speed pitches for success and didn’t have the stamina to start. He had better stamina this year, but still relied heavily on off-speed pitches, which could explain his success against younger hitters. Rodriguez is a very smart pitcher, who had great results this year and was able to throw 52.2 innings over 12 starts, posting a 2.91 ERA and 1.06 WHIP.

The other main starter was Nestor Oronel, a 17-year-old lefty from Venezuela that had a tough rookie season. It’s hard to believe he ended up with a 4.13 ERA because he had a .354 BAA, allowing 87 hits in 58.2 innings. Oronel throws high 80′s with sinking action to his fastball. He showed improvements as the year went along with his curve and his change-up had mixed results. He seems likely to be a starter again next year in the DSL.

The Pirates used six starters all season, with Jherson Esqueda getting four starts. He missed some time due to injury this year, then slowly built his way back in relief before moving into the rotation. Esqueda is a second-year player that looked good in limited time his rookie season. He throws mid-80′s, so he relies on his excellent command and a plus change-up. His brother Carlos Esqueda played four years with the VSL/DSL Pirates and then this year, he was on loan from the Pirates to a team in the Mexican League, along with pitcher Jovany Lopez.

The Bullpen Had It’s Issues

Armando Bustamante had a nice stretch in the middle of his rookie season, but during the start and finish he had control issues. The 18-year-old righty was getting extended looks in relief, but the Pirates scaled him back after a four inning outing and he finished poorly. Bustamante throws high-80′s with his fastball and his best pitch is his slider that sits high-70′s. With 36 innings pitched in relief, he seems like a candidate to move to the rotation next year, assuming his fastball command is good enough.

Bustamante looks like a potential starter next year

Bustamante looks like a potential starter next year

Edgar Santana seems like a filler, a 22-year-old(23 in October) that saw limited time in relief, with little success. He touches mid-90′s with his fastball and has a plus slider, so there is potential. He walked three batters in 19.2 innings, but none of his other stats were impressive.

Righty Julian Villamar had an 8.31 ERA and issued 29 walks in 26 innings at age 20, which is usually enough to write someone off. Hard to believe with those stats, but he actually had a nice six game stretch in which he threw 10.1 scoreless innings and was very tough to hit. He throws hard, but he can get very erratic at times, looking like a prospect at times, while other times it looks like it’s his first time pitching. It will be very tough to bounce back from this season, but he has the arm to do it.

Mister Luciano has a great baseball name and an arm to match, but his stats didn’t match the arm. The 18-year-old really struggled, but he should get another chance. He throws low-90′s with a hard-breaking curve and a change-up that is serviceable. He gave up too many runs, hits and walks, so his rookie season was a disappointment.

Cristian Mota is the only DSL player that moved up to the States mid-season. He’s a small lefty reliever, who is already 22 years old, but he can hit 95 MPH and has good command of his fastball, though he can get erratic at times. He needs work on his secondary pitches, so right now he isn’t much of a prospect, but hitting 95 from the left side should keep him around for awhile.

Luis Brun struggled with his command for a second season. He called a project last year and his stats were worse this season. He’s a small 19-year-old righty that is far from a prospect at this point.

Cesar Santos injured his hand early in the year on a collision during a bunt play. He missed the rest of the season, so his rookie year was basically lost. The 19-year-old lefty throws high 80′s and had some control issues during his limited time.

Ramon Garcia sits 90-91 MPH with a plus curve ball, but he needs to mature as a pitcher. He has issues with concentrating, getting off his game easy and he isn’t much of a fielder. He’s basically a raw pitcher with a great arm and plus curve. Garcia is a 22-year-old righty, who gets a lot of ground balls, but also gives up too many hits.

Second-year player Delvin Hiciano throws 93-94 MPH and showed improvements on all of his pitches as the season went along. He missed some time due to injury, but returned to finish strong. He will be 23 before next year starts and has thrown just 22.2 innings over two years, so he is really inexperienced for his age.

Edgardo Leon is an 18-year-old righty with good size at 6’3″, 190 pounds and room to fill out. He relies almost 100% on his fastball, which sits 87-88 MPH. His off-speed pitches need a lot of work and they were rarely used. He should add some velocity as he fills out.

The 19-year-old Alex Martinez is another 6’3″ righty, which almost seems like a prerequisite to sign with the Pirates. He had some control issues during his limited mound time, walking 12 batters in 17 innings. Martinez was throwing 94-95 MPH early in the season with no control. The Pirates gave him a new pitch and slowed him down so he had better control. Sometimes he resorts back to the hard-thrower, but he is learning to be a better pitcher.

Luylli Miranda is a small, 22-year-old lefty, who had great results in his third season. He pitches well under pressure, throwing a sinker that sits 87-88 MPH and he complements it with a change-up that rates as the best on the team.

The 17-year-old Raymond Rodriguez was the youngest pitcher on the team this year. The 6’1″ lefty made 17 appearances, threw 17.1 innings and allowed 19 walks. He threw mostly fastballs, sitting 90-91 MPH. Rodriguez worked on fastball command most of the year.

Eumir Sepulveda is an 18-year-old, 6’2″ righty, who struggled during his rookie season. In 21 innings over 14 appearances, he had a 7.29 ERA. He missed some time due to injury, looked good at times after he returned, but also had issues throwing strikes in other appearances. He has a chance to be a starter in the future.

Angel Vasquez saw limited time as a 20-year-old rookie due to an early season injury. When he returned, he was dominating, throwing all of his pitches for strikes, including an impressive 12-to-6 curve ball. He is a 6’1″ righty, who gave up one run over his last 11.1 innings.

Mikell Granberry made the top ten list due to his offense and improved defense

Mikell Granberry made the top ten list due to his offense and improved defense

Top Ten Prospects

1. Edison Lantigua, LF

2. Adrian Valerio, SS

3. Raul Siri, 2B

4. Jeremias Portorreal, RF

5. Luis Escobar, RHP

6. Richard Mitchell, RHP

7. Yeudy Garcia, RHP

8. Mikell Granberry, C

9. Jhoan Herrera, 3B

10. Victor Fernandez, CF

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Pirates Have Seven in MLB.com’s Mid-Season Top 100 Prospects List http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/pirates-have-seven-in-mlb-coms-mid-season-top-100-prospects-list.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/pirates-have-seven-in-mlb-coms-mid-season-top-100-prospects-list.html#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 04:31:52 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=84672 MLB.com has released their mid-season top 100 prospects update, and the Pittsburgh Pirates have seven on the list. That’s the second highest amount, falling right behind the Chicago Cubs, who had the most with eight.

The highest ranked prospect was Tyler Glasnow, who came in rated 20th overall. Glasnow was also the top prospect in the system in MLB.com’s updated Pirates top 20. After Glasnow came Jameson Taillon at number 32, Josh Bell at number 33, and Austin Meadows as the final player in the top 50, coming in at number 50.

Nick Kingham was ranked 66th overall, taking the fifth spot on the top 20 list. Alen Hanson and Reese McGuire were the final Pirates on the list, being ranked 80th and 81st overall, respectively.

The top 20 didn’t offer many surprises in the top ten, with Harold Ramirez, Cole Tucker, and Mitch Keller rounding out the list. JaCoby Jones was a noteworthy prospect in the 11-20 group, coming in at number 12. MLB still has Barrett Barnes in the top 20, despite a poor injury history that has limited development. They have Adrian Sampson ranked 19th overall, with the ceiling of a mid-rotation starter. Along with Tucker and Keller, the Pirates had two other 2014 draft picks in the top 20. Trey Supak came in at 11th, and Connor Joe was rated 18th.

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Pirates Have Four in Keith Law’s Mid-Season Top 50 http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/pirates-have-four-in-keith-laws-mid-season-top-50.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/pirates-have-four-in-keith-laws-mid-season-top-50.html#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 15:34:07 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=83924 Keith Law has released his mid-season top 50 prospects, and has four Pittsburgh Pirates prospects on the list. This is consistent with the previous prospect lists, which had 4-5 prospects listed.

Law has Tyler Glasnow as the top guy in the system, coming in ranked at number 20. That’s the same as his pre-season ranking. Law says that Glasnow has two above-average secondary offerings now, which shows the improvements he has made with his changeup. Fastball command is going to be a key thing for the right-hander to work on, and that’s the main thing Law points out. He says Glasnow has the upside of a number one starter.

The next prospect on the list is Josh Bell, who made a big jump to number 29, going up from 97 in the pre-season. Law says that Bell is back to where he was supposed to be, and calls him a middle of the order bat who could hit for average with 25-30 homers a year. Bell was recently promoted to Double-A, so the rest of the year should give a good view of how he performs against upper level pitching.

Jameson Taillon came in third, ranked number 38. Law was lower on him in the pre-season, ranking him 27th. Law previously said he’s got number one starter stuff, but has lack of deception and a below-average changeup. The changeup was something that Taillon was showing improvements with in 2013, so that rating could change once he comes back, if he continues to improve the pitch.

The final player is Austin Meadows, who comes in at number 40, down from his pre-season rank of 35. Law was high on Meadows as a sleeper in the pre-season, saying he could jump to the top 10. However, his hamstring injury prevented him from moving up the list. Law says he’s got the potential to be a middle of the order bat.

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Pirates Place Four in Baseball Prospectus Mid-Season Top 50 http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/pirates-place-four-in-baseball-prospectus-mid-season-top-50.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/pirates-place-four-in-baseball-prospectus-mid-season-top-50.html#comments Mon, 07 Jul 2014 14:47:13 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=83149 Today seems to be the day for mid-season top 50 prospect lists. Earlier today, Baseball America released their top 50, with five Pirates making the list. Baseball Prospectus also released their mid-season top 50, and had four Pirates on the list.

Jameson Taillon is the highest rated prospect on the list, coming in at number 26.  Taillon was second in the BA rankings, but ranked 24th overall. It seems that, despite his Tommy John surgery, he’s still considered a pitcher with a lot of upside. Taillon did drop a bit, as he was ranked 19th in the pre-season rankings.

Tyler Glasnow was the next ranked prospect, finishing at number 31. That’s a bit of a jump from where he was in the pre-season, when he came in at number 42. Baseball America was higher on Glasnow, having him as the top prospect, and ranked 21st. The BP write-up had the usual stuff on Glasnow, noting his great fastball, and how “the sky is the limit” if he learns to limit walks.

Josh Bell finished third among Pirates on the list, coming in at number 39. That’s a big jump for Bell, who entered the season ranked 77th overall. He’s been having a breakout year at the plate this season, finally showing the offensive potential that netted him a $5 M signing bonus in the 2011 draft. BP said that Bell has another bump in his prospect value on the horizon as he eventually moves up to Altoona.

The final player to make the list was Nick Kingham, who ranked 43rd. Kingham was the 80th ranked prospect by BP coming into the season. BP noted that he doesn’t have the same ceiling as other pitchers in the top 50, but has a high floor and could be a middle of the rotation pitcher. Kingham has been posting some solid numbers in Triple-A, and he could join the team later this year if the Pirates have a need for pitching.

Reese McGuire was also a player listed as being in the top 50 mix. BP has been higher on him than other outlets, so it’s not a surprise that he’d be considered that high. The list doesn’t include 2014 draft picks, although Cole Tucker wasn’t a player who was listed as drawing possible consideration for the list.

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Five Pirates in Baseball America’s Top 50 Midseason Prospect List http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/five-pirates-in-baseball-americas-top-50-midseason-prospect-list.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/07/five-pirates-in-baseball-americas-top-50-midseason-prospect-list.html#comments Mon, 07 Jul 2014 14:01:29 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=83143 Baseball America released their midseason top 50 prospect list and even with the promotion of Gregory Polanco, the Pittsburgh Pirates placed five players on the list.

The Pirates on the list, along with their ranking are:

21. Tyler Glasnow

24. Jameson Taillon

35. Josh Bell

37. Nick Kingham

43. Austin Meadows

The pre-season top 100 from Baseball America had Taillon ranked #22, tops among this group of the players. Glasnow jumped all the way up from the 46th spot  and Austin Meadows moved up six spots despite just beginning his season last week. Nick Kingham was 64th, so he also saw a big jump, while Josh Bell was the most improved, as he didn’t even place in the top 100.

A couple notes on the list. The Twins also placed five players in the top 50. This list doesn’t include any draft picks, so that is why a player like Meadows can move up. Promotions to the Majors have eliminated some of the better players.

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Pittsburgh Pirates Mid-Season Top 20 Prospects, Minus Gregory Polanco http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/06/pittsburgh-pirates-mid-season-top-20-prospects-minus-gregory-polanco.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/06/pittsburgh-pirates-mid-season-top-20-prospects-minus-gregory-polanco.html#comments Thu, 12 Jun 2014 03:59:32 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=81344 We usually release our mid-season prospect rankings right after the MLB draft. This not only shows the updated rankings with half of the minor league season in the books, but it also shows where the new draft picks fit in. For the second year in a row, the Pittsburgh Pirates have graduated their top prospect the week following the draft. This adds the ability to see what the system looks like with a new top prospect. Before we begin with the new top 20, here are some notes.

**I prefer tiered rankings to a top 20. We included the top 20 below, but the feature here is the tiered rankings, since it shows the groups of talent levels.

**The rankings are made up of the average of the top 50 prospects from myself, John Dreker, and Wilbur Miller. We average our lists together, come up with a master list, then debate players up or down.

**Players who exhausted prospect eligibility this year, and who weren’t included: Tony Sanchez. We also didn’t include Stolmy Pimentel in the rankings, since he will return to the majors when healthy, and is projected to lose eligibility. We did include Casey Sadler, since I think he’ll go back down when Pimentel returns. Don’t ask me where the missing guys would rank, since I have no clue. I didn’t get the rankings on these guys from anyone else, so I have no idea where they’d end up on the master list.

**Tier 5 include guys beyond the top 20 who were in the same talent group as guys in the top 20. If anyone drops off the top 20 list, these guys will move up as replacements.

**To learn about players beyond the top 20, buy the 2014 Prospect Guide, which is on sale for 24% off with the code “2014DRAFT”.

Tier 1

Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows, Jameson Taillon

There was a consensus on the top three prospects. All three rankings had Jameson Taillon first, despite the Tommy John surgery. The reason for this is that Taillon’s upside doesn’t change due to the surgery. He just gets delayed an extra year. The recovery time for Tommy John is usually one year, which means Taillon could be pitching in the majors by this time next year.

Tyler Glasnow finished second in all of the rankings. He’s not dominating this year in the way he did last year. However, he’s working almost exclusively off his fastball, mixing in about 10-12 changeups per start. The result is that he’s not using his curveball as often, which makes his success lately even more impressive.

Austin Meadows hasn’t played yet due to a hamstring injury. He’ll be returning in a few weeks to rehab in the GCL, before spending the final two months in West Virginia. This is another case where the injury didn’t change his upside. There’s also not really a big need to rush Meadows, as the current outfield of Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, and Gregory Polanco gives him plenty of time to develop.

All three prospects in the top tier are great prospects, likely ending up in a lot of overall top 50 rankings at the end of the season. That said, none of them have really stepped up to put a strong claim on the top spot. While we had Taillon as the consensus top guy, it’s not that big of a gap between him and Meadows. If Glasnow continues to show he can dominate pitching off the fastball, or Meadows shows he can hit well in low-A, then there might be someone challenging Taillon for the top spot going into next year.

Tier 2

Josh Bell, Alen Hanson, Nick Kingham, Reese McGuire

This group was about as close together as you could get a group. When we did the numerical rankings, everyone had a different choice at number four. Reese McGuire got an edge in our rankings, but this is so close that you could re-arrange the order in any way, and you wouldn’t be wrong.

McGuire hasn’t shown much power this year, including during his 19-game hitting streak. He got a jump because of some of the things that don’t show up in the stat line, and because some of the things that show up beyond his basic stats. He’s got outstanding plate patience, showing a mature approach at the plate. While he’s not hitting for power, he has always made solid contact when I’ve seen him, driving the ball to the middle of the field. That’s an approach that will lead to power down the line. Scouts I’ve talked to love him, both offensively and defensively. There’s a lot to love on the defensive side, and he could end up ranking the best defensive catcher in the minors by the end of the season. The questions he comes with are on the offensive side, and from what I’ve seen, he’s got the skills to put up numbers in the future.

Nick Kingham has struggled at times with his control this year, which isn’t normal for him. He’s done a better job lately of limiting the walks, and is starting to get back to posting top numbers at the Double-A level. His upside hasn’t changed with the slow start. He still profiles as a middle of the rotation guy who can eat 200 innings per year. He could possibly be a number two starter, especially if he keeps showing the stuff he had in his last start.

Nothing has really changed with our evaluation of Alen Hanson. He started slow this year, struggling the first two weeks of the season. Since then, he’s been hovering around an .800 OPS offensively. The issue with him has been defense, and it’s not a question of tools or abilities. He’s got the skills to stick at shortstop, but makes a lot of errors on routine plays. This can be chalked up to being young, and making some mental mistakes on the field. However, the closer he gets to the majors, the less acceptable this will be. Hanson profiles as an offense-first shortstop, and has the defense to stick at the position and not be a liability. He just needs to improve his consistency at the position.

Josh Bell has been a fantastic hitter in Bradenton this year. He doesn’t show a lot of home run power right now, but makes hard contact, and drives the ball to the gaps, using the opposite field from the left side. A big issue with him is that he has struggled against left-handers, batting from the right side. His swing from the right side looks awkward at times, looking off-balanced and almost like he’s learning how to swing from that side of the plate. He does show some positive signs, but is very inconsistent from the right side of the plate.

Tier 3

Luis Heredia, Harold Ramirez, Cole Tucker

This group is another one that was very close together. It’s another case where you could put them in any order, and you’d be right. However, there was a clear gap between this group and the previous group.

Harold Ramirez isn’t your typical outfielder. He doesn’t project to hit for a ton of power, doesn’t have elite defense in center field, and while he has some speed, it isn’t enough to be a game changer. While he doesn’t do any one thing to an exceptional level, he does a little of everything, making him a solid all-around player. His combination of hitting for average, good plate patience, speed, and the ability to play center makes him a well rounded prospect who could have a future in the majors as a starter.

Cole Tucker saw a surge in his value as the draft got closer, due to improvements in his offense, and a strong performance in a major tournament. Peter Gammons says that Tucker would have gone to Oakland next if the Pirates didn’t take him at 24. He’s got a good arm and hands, and has a good chance of staying at shortstop. He doesn’t have much power, but has a lot of speed and hits well from the left side. The Pirates were higher on his offense than most teams, and if he proves them right, he could move up this list in a hurry.

Luis Heredia dropped a bit in our rankings, in part due to his injury that prevented him from pitching for two months. It’s not that Heredia’s upside changed. However, he has dealt with some bad control problems, and until those are fixed, he’s going to continue seeing people passing him. He probably wouldn’t drop lower than 11th anytime soon.

Tier 4

Clay Holmes, JaCoby Jones, Mitch Keller, Andrew Lambo, Joely Rodriguez, Casey Sadler, Adrian Sampson, Blake Taylor

Mitch Keller was close to the top draft pick from the 2014 draft, and he just missed the previous tier. Keller has a lot of upside as a starter, with the ability to hit 95 with good movement out of high school, along with the potential for some good secondary stuff. He has the potential for an above-average curve, and while he doesn’t have much of a changeup yet, that’s a pitch that the Pirates have had success teaching in the lower levels. He’s a nice project, and has a lot of upside, possibly the most of the Pirates’ 2014 draft class.

Clay Holmes is in the same situation as Jameson Taillon. He had Tommy John surgery, which will delay him a year, but won’t change his upside. He’s young enough that the missed year also won’t hurt him. Holmes has a big frame and the upside to possibly be a middle of the rotation innings eater. A more conservative approach has him as a strong number four starter. That will all be determined by the improvements he shows with his control going forward.

Adrian Sampson has made big strides in Altoona this year, putting up fantastic numbers at the age of 22. A big reason for his improvements has been is changeup. He spent most of the 2013 season in Bradenton working on the pitch. That led to poor results in Bradenton, but also led to him getting more comfortable with the offering. Now that he has that to pair with his 91-94 MPH fastball and solid curveball, he has the three pitch mix you’d want from a starter. His upside is a solid number four starter, with a chance to jump higher than that with further improvements.

JaCoby Jones is getting attention for a nice year in West Virginia, although he’s probably getting more than he deserves. Right now he has a few big things going for him, mainly that he’s playing shortstop and hitting for power. Despite these two things, his defense at shortstop is largely unproven, and the results so far have been mixed. The power is great, but it comes with a lower average and a high strikeout rate, which isn’t a good combo for a college player in low-A. If he didn’t have these question marks, he’d be one of the top prospects in the system. For now, he’s showing some positive signs, but still has a lot to work on.

Blake Taylor hasn’t played yet this year, so the reports are similar to where he was at prior to the season. He throws 89-92 MPH from the left side, with good movement. He’s touched mid-90s before, although he lacks command of the fastball and has some control problems. He lacks a changeup, and his curve is developing, but has the chance to be a plus offering. Taylor is a high upside project. He didn’t really move up or down on this list, staying around the same place he was during the pre-season. He could move up with a strong performance this year.

Casey Sadler is currently in the majors, but doesn’t project to stay there long enough to lose prospect eligibility. He ranks at the top due to his high floor, and the ability to be a back of the rotation starter in the majors. The early results haven’t been good, although Sadler has been on a strange schedule, working out of the bullpen as an emergency guy, with a lot of time between appearances.

Andrew Lambo is currently on the DL after having thumb surgery. He didn’t win the first base job out of Spring Training, and the Pirates went another direction for the long-term with Ike Davis. He’s done nothing to show that his 2013 offensive numbers were a fluke, putting up strong results with Indianapolis. His value is more of a trade chip, since the Pirates have no need for him at first base or in the outfield. Unfortunately, he doesn’t project to be back until right before the trade deadline, which might not provide enough time to re-establish value after the injury.

Joely Rodriguez dropped a bit in our list, mostly due to the lack of strikeouts at the Double-A level. At his best, he sits 91-94 MPH, touching 96, and has an average or better slider and changeup. Without the strikeouts, he profiles as a back of the rotation starter. There’s a chance he could go the Justin Wilson route and be a dominant lefty out of the bullpen. It’s also early for Rodriguez in Double-A, and there’s a chance the strikeouts could come with more playing time.

Tier 5

Stetson Allie, Barrett Barnes, Buddy Borden, Michael De La Cruz, Elias Diaz, Cody Dickson, Gage Hinsz, Jin-De Jhang, Connor Joe, Wyatt Mathisen, Mel Rojas, Billy Roth, Trey Supak, Erich Weiss

Michael De La Cruz and Trey Supak round out the top 20. De La Cruz looks like he could be the next big thing coming out of Latin America. He has a similar profile to Harold Ramirez, doing a lot of things well, without doing one thing great. He’s also very young, turning 18 in July. He should go to the GCL this year, and has a chance to follow up on the .292/.436/.367 line he put up in the DSL last year. When he matures and adds some muscle to his athletic frame, he could also add some power, and soar up this prospect list in the process.

Supak has a big upside, sitting in the low 90s, and touching 94 with his fastball. He doesn’t hold that velocity deep into games at this point, although that could change as he adds strength to his 6′ 5″ frame, and gets used to throwing every day. He projects to have an average curve and an average changeup, with the chance to be a solid starter in the majors one day.

We feature the top 20 prospects in our nightly Prospect Watch, although we remove guys who are out for the season, or currently in the majors. That would remove Taillon, Holmes, and Sadler from this list for the moment, and would bump up Buddy Borden, Stetson Allie, and Gage Hinsz, in that order.

Borden has put up some great numbers with West Virginia, with a 3.36 ERA in 56.1 innings, along with a 46:25 K/BB ratio. His control is a problem at times, and he has the occasional disaster start. The arm is what gets him here, with a fastball that can reach 96.

Allie has shown a ton of power, and has the most raw power of any prospect in the system. The problem is that he has a low average and a poor strikeout rate in Altoona, hitting for a .224/.339/.444 line with a 27.9% strikeout rate. He profiles as being a poor-man’s Pedro Alvarez at first base, although Alvarez could hit for average and limited the strikeouts somewhat when he was in the minors. Allie will have to do the same to be this type of player in the majors.

Gage Hinsz was one of the most interesting day three draft picks for the Pirates this year. He’s a 6′ 4″ right hander who was hitting 90-93 at the end of the 2014 season, and has some room to add more velocity. He needs work with his secondary pitches, but gets on this list due to the fastball, and the potential to be a starter in the majors.

Top 20 Prospects

1. Jameson Taillon, RHP

2. Tyler Glasnow, RHP

3. Austin Meadows, CF

4. Reese McGuire, C

5. Nick Kingham, RHP

6. Alen Hanson, SS

7. Josh Bell, RF

8. Harold Ramirez, CF

9. Cole Tucker, SS

10. Luis Heredia, RHP

11. Mitch Keller, RHP

12. Clay Holmes, RHP

13. Adrian Sampson, RHP

14. JaCoby Jones, SS

15. Blake Taylor, LHP

16. Casey Sadler, RHP

17. Andrew Lambo, OF

18. Joely Rodriguez, LHP

19. Michael De La Cruz, OF

20. Trey Supak, RHP

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Gregory Polanco Now Considered a Top Three Prospect in the Game http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/05/gregory-polanco-now-considered-a-top-three-prospect-in-the-game.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/05/gregory-polanco-now-considered-a-top-three-prospect-in-the-game.html#comments Fri, 30 May 2014 15:40:14 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=80073 **Keith Law updated his top 25 prospects, removing a few guys who have already graduated, and adjusting some of the rankings for what has happened this year. The only Pirates prospect on the list was Gregory Polanco, who was ranked third overall, behind Byron Buxton and Carlos Correa. Polanco moves up ten spots from Law’s original rankings, likely due to his huge season.

Law didn’t give much analysis on Polanco, other than mocking the idea that he has things to work on. Oscar Taveras was ranked fourth, and Law noted he was in a similar situation, with both outfielders expected in the majors next month.

**At Baseball America, Ben Badler has Polanco as the top fantasy baseball prospect. He also adds the note that Polanco would rank second in his top 100 if he was re-ranking the list today, and removing guys who no longer had prospect eligibility. Badler also has Buxton first overall. Badler notes that Polanco is only in the minors due to service time, and that he will be up in a few weeks.

**Earlier in the week, Baseball Prospectus had a report on Polanco, noting that he does actually have things to work on. The report on his defense in right field wasn’t good, and that’s a key area for future improvement. But count me in as someone who believes he’s only being held back for service time reasons. Polanco legitimately has things to work on, as does every young player. But a few weeks from now, he will be working on those same things in the majors, and it’s not because he’ll be showing drastic improvements with his fielding or any other issues during those weeks.

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Pirates Still Top Farm System in Baseball America’s Updated Rankings http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/04/pirates-still-top-farm-system-in-baseball-americas-updated-rankings.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/04/pirates-still-top-farm-system-in-baseball-americas-updated-rankings.html#comments Wed, 02 Apr 2014 14:43:07 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=75435 Baseball America has posted their updated rankings of the top farm systems in baseball and the Pittsburgh Pirates still top the list. The Pirates were ranked 11th overall in 2012 and they moved up four spots for the 2013 list.

Baseball America had seven Pittsburgh Pirates players in their top 100 prospect list. Earlier in the off-season, we heard that the Pirates were the top ranked system according to Baseball America, but that could have changed in the off-season depending on what teams did up to this point. The Pirates remained at the top though, three places ahead of the division rival Chicago Cubs and six spots ahead of the St Louis Cardinals. The Cincinnati Reds came in at #17 and the Milwaukee Brewers were one spot from the bottom, which is where most rankings place them.

John Manuel mentions that Willy Garcia is a sleeper prospect with high ceiling potential, if he controls the strike zone. That is a big issue with Garcia, who has power, excellent defense, a plus arm and decent running speed, but he doesn’t take walks and strikes out too much. He was the only player in the Pirates farm system to strike out over 100 times more than he walked last year and it wasn’t even close. Garcia had 23 walks and 154 strikeouts. Both of those numbers went the wrong way from his 2013 season in West Virginia, which wasn’t good to begin with and it is also a bad sign. Moving up to Altoona will be a big test for Garcia, who will start the season as the everyday right fielder. It is important to point out that he will play this entire season as a 21-year-old, so he will be among the youngest players in the Eastern League all season.

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