Prospect Notebook: Farm System Evaluation, Instructional League Reports

Ben Badler of Baseball America had some discussions today on the state of the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system. The conversation started with this tweet from Badler.

The five players are most likely Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, Luis Heredia, Alen Hanson, and Gregory Polanco. Marte has 146 at-bats in the majors, and no longer qualifies as a prospect.

Badler responded to a few comments about high picks and the international market, mostly pointing out the success of raw players such as Alen Hanson and Gregory Polanco. He also noted that Luis Heredia couldn’t do a push up when he was signed, to illustrate how raw the right-hander was (and that just makes his success against college hitters two years later all the more impressive).

The most interesting thing was that Badler was asked if it was more of a drafting problem than player development. In his response he noted there were some notable whiffs identifying talent in the US, but that the Pirates have a “very good system”.

I’d have to agree with a lot of what Badler said. There’s a lot of doom and gloom lately, but the Pirates have a good farm system. They have guys at the top who are regarded well enough to be considered for top 100 and top 50 lists. A big strength this year has come from the development of the international players. The entire international process is working well, from finding guys like Polanco and Hanson for $75 K and $150 K respectively, to adding strength to these players, and then developing them in the US.

Badler is also correct that there are some notable whiffs on the US side. I wrote last week about how the 2009 draft is shaping up to lack any impact talent. That said, the Pirates have found talent through the draft. 2009 was the first year the Pirates went heavy on over-slot prep players. The results in following years have been more promising, with Nick Kingham (2010 4th round), Tyler Glasnow (2011 5th round), and Clay Holmes (2011 9th round) as the notable players standing out in their first seasons in the system.


Instructional League Reports

The first game of instructs started today with the Pirates taking on Toronto’s farm system. There were a few reports out there on individual player performances.

The Bradenton Marauders’ Facebook page notes that Mel Rojas Jr. went 1-for-2 on the day, and Brandon Cumpton faced six batters, striking out five of them.

Kiley McDaniel of ESPN noted that Victor Black was hitting 99 MPH closing out the game. Last year during instructs, Black hit 98, and was working in the upper 90s all year, so this isn’t new. It’s definitely good to see that continuing. Black will be heading to the Arizona Fall League later in the off-season. McDaniel also mentioned that Stetson Allie was playing first base today.

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I thought Badler and DK had an interesting twitter exchange. DK clearly isn’t happy that the Pirates minor league system is so highly regard. So, (not sure how to properly quote Twitter), he asked:

@BenBadler Also, do you know of another team in baseball where, if you count Marte, half of top eight prospects are from Latin America?

Badler’s response was:
 dejan_kovacevic Probably not. Speaks well of their Latin program, not so well of their ability to ID talent (draft, trades) consistently.

John Lease

I guess you can always find someone to support your position, if you look hard enough. The hundreds of opposing views, just background noise. If you pick players, some will pan out, no matter what ‘system’ you use. And if you are picking at the top of the draft constantly, you better have more than just the residual amount you’ll have no matter what. But the Pirates will be ready to win all brawls in the future, with their combat training. The old Pirates won fights too, by having guys who were big, mean, and could actually play baseball.

John Lease

Tell you what, do you want me to ask Dejan to give you a list? Is seeing the most important thing? What happens to beloved ‘metrics’ then. Actually, plenty of informed people are saying the Pirate system is a joke. I’ll link Dejan’s article if you’d like. Marte signed by whom? Neil, or Dave Littlefield? Guys in A ball, sure things? Kingham, improved over short season ball this year in Low A, or not?
Not by the metrics.
Tyler Glasnow did pitch ONE game in short season A ball. In this, his first year actually playing. Holmes made it thru a whole season in State College! Pitched very well too. Kyle McPherson shot thru the system that was supposedly ‘stocked’ this year. He’s been like the second coming of Dwight Gooden, not. Holt, hit well in Bradenton, repeated AA this year and hit well, stayed hot in AAA, and has hit well in the majors. Yet, his fielding is so suspect, according to you, he shouldn’t get a shot at playing short over Mr. UZR, also known as Clint Barmes. Hanson hit well in A ball, at a young age too. WIth all his speed though, still got thrown out over a third of the time, in A ball. Great training down there on the farm. Polanco hit well on the same team, turned himself into a prospect after hitting .229 overall last year. Not exactly a sure thing either.


Haha, you say that and then cherry-pick the reports that fit YOUR view . . .

John Lease

Really? GIve me an example.


The fact that the “hundreds of opposing views” come from random bloggers and yinzer fans doesn’t help. Badler at BA is one of the very top authorities and every late season prospect report rated our system highly. Callis at BA said our system is one of the most improved.

Hey don’t let facts get in the way of Kovacevic’s smoke and mirror rantings.

John Lease

Ah, fans and bloggers. And all the people working for other systems that find the Pirates laughable? Must be fans too, huh?


Thank you…with the recent failure of the MLB club people for some reason have decided to declare our system a failure…the system is producing talent…the bigger issue i have is not utilizing our system when it is time too…when guys are ready they dont call them this year with morris, locke, wilson, and owens. I still think its hurdle like why on Gods name is he not starting marte…the season is over from a playoffs standpoint…give him some is giving presley ABS going to do anything for next year???…

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