First Pitch: The Top Prospect Lists

Baseball America released their top 100 prospects today, and four Pittsburgh Pirates made the list. The release of Baseball America’s list means that pretty much all of the major prospect lists have been released. We’ve already heard from Jonathan Mayo of, Keith Law, and Baseball Prospectus. John Sickels is expected to release his list on Friday. For now, let’s take a look at how the Pirates prospects have stacked up on each list.


Player BA BP Law
Gerrit Cole 12 9 10 11
Jameson Taillon 15 13 16 8
Josh Bell 60 43 67 69
Starling Marte 73 56 72 40
Luis Heredia 110* 42 110* NR
Robbie Grossman NR 76 86 NR

*Mentioned as one of ten prospects who just missed the top 100

The lists had anywhere from four to six people ranked. Baseball America and each had four players in the top 100. Luis Heredia was mentioned as one of ten players who just missed the cut for Baseball America, while didn’t release any such lists. Baseball Prospectus had all six of the above players ranked, while Keith Law had five and had Heredia in his ten players that just missed.

Gerrit Cole was named the top prospect in three outlets. was the only outlet that put Jameson Taillon ahead of Cole. Cole and Taillon were pretty consistent with their rankings, both staying in the 8-16 range. The Pirates only had three other players who drew top 50 consideration. Josh Bell and Luis Heredia both made the Baseball Prospectus top 50, while Starling Marte made’s top 50.

A breakdown and analysis of each individual player:

Cole – His ranking was around the same area for each outlet, ranging from 9th to 12th. He fell behind a few guys from the 2011 draft, although as Jim Callis notes you could make an argument for any one of Cole, Trevor Bauer, or Dylan Bundy to be the top guy from the 2011 draft class.

Taillon – strayed, ranking Taillon 8th overall. That was actually the highest ranking any Pirate received on any list. The other three lists had Taillon in the 13-16 range.

Bell – Baseball Prospectus was the highest on Bell, ranking him 43rd. The other three lists had him in the 60-69 range. It’s easy to dream about Bell’s upside, but until he plays a game and starts proving himself it wouldn’t be reasonable to see him ranked higher than this. If he lives up to his hype on the field this year it wouldn’t surprise me to see him make a huge jump up the lists.

Marte – Marte was hit or miss. had him as the 40th best prospect. Baseball Prospectus had him ranked 56th. Keith Law and Baseball America had him lower, at 72nd and 73rd respectively. He’s a consensus top 100 prospect, but I feel weight placed on the plate patience issues are what separate the high rankings from the lower ones.

Heredia – Technically Heredia only made one list, coming in at number 42 on the Baseball Prospectus rankings. However, Keith Law and Baseball America both had him as one of ten prospects to just miss the cut. Heredia is still raw, and his value is based more on potential than results. There’s a ton of upside, which justifies a top 50 ranking if you want to dream on his potential. But if you’re looking for more results, he’s appropriately placed outside the top 100. He’s only 17 years old. If he would have made the Baseball America rankings, he would have been the youngest player on the list. Only three players on the list were under 19, and none were under 18.

Grossman – He finished on the back end of the lists for Keith Law and Baseball Prospectus, but was unranked by Baseball America and There’s no question that Cole and Taillon are good. Bell and Heredia have a ton of upside, but not a lot of experience, which explains the splits in opinions for those two. Marte is good, but the split in his rankings seems to be a question of how good he is. With Grossman, scouts have been split for awhile. Some like the total package, and think he can do enough to warrant being a starter. Some feel he doesn’t have the speed to play center field, where his numbers work best, and doesn’t have the power numbers to have value in a corner. My guess is that’s what led to the split in opinions for Grossman on the above lists.

Links and Notes

**Kristy Robinson had two stories from Spring Training about players who are looking to bounce back this year: Casey McGehee and Nate McLouth.

**Jim Callis of Baseball America looked at where the top draft prospects would fit in with the current top 100 prospects. The rankings for some of the guys we’re following on the site: Mark Appel (22), Lucas Giolito (26), Byron Buxton (32), Deven Marrero (39), and Mike Zunino (54).

**Zunino was the only draft prospect that played tonight. He had a big game against Bethune-Cookman, going 2-for-3 with two home runs and two walks. Zunino and Florida play again tomorrow, taking on UCF.


  • I agree with Grossman not being on most of the top 100 lists. I see him as having Nate McLouth type potential. He is a guy thats not going to wow you with any of his skills but plays hard and gets the most out of his talent. i see him more as an average outfielder or a 4th outfielder on a strong team. That said, i really like this kid and hope he makes it!

  • The Rankings we see are almost always about the top draft picks teams make, too me all they mean is that the Pirates are doing well in their choices of top draft picks and they can miss, who knows they might have missed on Alvarez, but that won’t be their fault, they picked the right guy, time will tell on that one.

    I am going to go on record and say that I do not think that Cole is going to come out of the gate smoking, I think he has some mechanical issues that the Pirates will try to fix and I think he might get hit around a little bit, especially since I think he will probably start in Bradenton. Most people forget that he got hit hard by college hitters last year.

    Unfortunately players get labeled from the time when they are drafted, I don’t see the Pirate farm as just the Players that make the top 10 or 100. I think a guy like Mercer is a major league SS prospect and D’Arnaud did show that he can play and be very useful to a major league club, Harrison IMO is a major league utility player at the very least.
    There are others that I am very high on like:
    Justin Wilson
    Kyle McPherson
    Nick Kingham
    Tony Sanchez
    Alex Dickerson
    Matt Curry
    Clay Holmes
    Jeff Inman
    Tony Sanchez
    Philip Irwin
    These players are not rated as 5 star or 4 star, but they are very talented and most of them will make the majors, these are players that I look at when I judge the Pirate farm system.
    Very few teams have more than two or three players that came out of their systems that are stars on their 25 man rosters.

  • I’m very curious to see where many of these guys show up next year on the list.  If Taillon has a strong showing, I could easily see him in the top-5.  Overall, I’m just interested to see if Cole or Marte have a chance at seeing time in Pittsburgh this year.  A rotation of Cole, Burnett, Bedard, Morton, and McDonald sounds nice.  Same in the outfield, Cutch, Tabata, and Marte.  That right there could be the 1,2,3 in the lineup. 

    p.s. Sorry Presley & Karstens

    If they keep Marte and Cole down in the minors all season, I could foresee a tremendous jump in the rankings for next season.  I see a strong possibility of both seeing some time in Sept. but not enough to lose their prospect status.  So I see two top-10’s in Taillon and Cole, and maybe Heredia sneaking up into the top-100.  If Marte continues to do the same thing in AAA that he has his entire career, plus 15-ish HR, I’m going to be very surprised if he isn’t a consensus top-50, and possibly even a top-25; even if he K’s 100 times and only walks 10 times.  Then there’s Grossman.  He may be a guy that will never get his proper respect even if he’s in the middle of an all-star season in Pittsburgh.  However, it would be very nice to see him have another great season in ’12, as he could serve as some awesome trade bait down the road.  That, or if Marte turns out to be legit, McCutchen would be even more valuable on the trade market in a couple years.