Keith Law Ranks the Pirates Farm System 7th

Keith Law released his organizational rankings today for ESPN Insider subscribers, and had the Pittsburgh Pirates ranked as the 7th best farm system. Law had the Cardinals, Twins, Rays, Astros, Cubs, and Padres as the top six systems.

In his comments on the system, Law said that Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon rival any club’s top two pitching prospects. He also noted that West Virginia had one of the strongest teams for prospects last year, including up the middle bats.

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Good news – the Pirates project to be one of the better farm systems in the league.

Bad news – two of the teams ahead of us are in our division.

Can’t wait for MLB to address the financial imbalances between large and small teams (that was sarcasm).

Ian Rothermund

My laughing to myself, I actually missed the part about it being sarcasm at first.


In all fairness he has the Cubs ahead of us. He’s likely one of the few people on the planet that would take that position.


I don’t have insider, but my guess would be that he has the Cubs ahead of the Bucs because of the depth of their system. The Cubs don’t have the high-end pitching prospects the Bucs have, but they have a lot of good position players and are pretty deep in B-type prospects, and the Bucs have a fairly deep drop from the top 6.


There are any number of reasons the Pirates have been terrible for two decades. But from my vantage point virtually ignoring Latin America for many of those years is at the top of list. At this point nearly what 33% or so of the players in MLB are from Latin America? It’s pretty tough to compete if you’re only drawing from 2/3 of the talent pool.

It’s amazing that Marte is LA signing to advance to majors since Jose Castillo, which says pretty much everything you need to know. Given the indifference Littlefield seemed to have with regard to LA (capture by DK in his feature piece for the PG a few years back) I’m hesitant to give him much ‘credit’ for Marte.


It is really sad the Pirates were for so long a non-factor in Latin America, when one thinks that back in the 1960s and 1970s they were somewhat pioneers in that part of ther baseball world. For years, they produced players like Rennie Stennett, Many Sanguillen, Omar Moreno, Miguel Dilone, Tony Armas Sr, Frank Taveras, etc.


Probably the biggest difference in Huntington vs Littlefield farms is the international signings and better use of NO.1 picks, finances might have had something to do with that however. Huntington has a lot of very good Latin talent, Littlefield did not persue Latin talent very much, although I think is responsible for Marte.

Nuke Laloosh

That is the biggest difference. Look at the number of Latino players in the top 20. Building the Dominican Academy was something the Pirates were 20 years behind in doing. Now look at the results.


The Bucs sure have come a long way from the farms under Littlefield, being ranked in the high 20’s was normal, if MLB had not screwed the Pirates in the draft Appel would have been a Pirate and our ranking might have been in the top 3.


MLB did not screw the Pirates. There’s no conspiracy here. There were changes that affected all 30 teams. Most teams, including the Pirates, found an interesting loophole by drafting underslot players to conserve their bonus pool.

The Pirates were willing to go up to the 1st penalty threshold, but not be in risk of losing a draft pick to sign Appel. Scott Boras “advised” his client that he should not accept a $3.8M offer.

Life goes on and we’ll see how the Pirates apply that pool of money this year. It was two sides that did not agree to a deal. Nothing more.


If a human being is offered $3.8M to sign his name on a dotted line and does not because his feelings are hurt, thinking he should sign for $6M, then that is not MLB’s fault or the Pirates’ fault.

Only an idiot, or a greedy idiot more accurately, would not realize that by signing 1 year earlier and getting his career going, he could make up that $2M perceived loss much quicker.

Oh, and Appel isn’t all that great to begin with. He’s not going to be a potential ace, more of a mid-rotation pitcher.


I’m not disagreeing with you on the decision made by Appel (or Boras…whoever was running that show); frankly, I think it was foolish and highly risky of him to not sign. Coming back he has NO leverage and little margin for error. More can go wrong than right for him back at Stanford.
But why could they only offer 3.8 instead of 6? Because of the new CBA and the incredibly stiff penalties they would incur by signing him. Frankly, I just shake my head at the millions being tossed out at free agents not drawing the commissioner’s ire one bit, but the Buccos and other small market teams tossing around what amounts to pocket change in the draft causing massive changes.
Here’s a question for you or anyone. If there were NO draft caps, how do you think the top 10 would have gone? Do you think Appel goes #1 ? Top 5?


It’s not like the “advisors” didn’t know about these changes, too. They would see the penalties, especially how onerous it would be with draft pick loss in the following year, and have to adust expectations accordingly.

I agree that’s it wrong that draft pick pools are suppressed while FA’s are not, but that is the standard now. All parties need to adjust to it.

There were more than a few teams that did NOT have Appel #1 on their boards. For instance, I don’t think the Orioles had Appel over Gausman. Appel’s most likely landing spot would have been KC at #5 . I think all the other teams in front of that legitimately wanted the players they picked.


The cynic in me wonders if Boras used Appel as a blunt instrument in his jihad against the new CBA. I wouldn’t be surprised if he did.
Of course you’re right, all have to adjust. More than anything else, it bothers me because it dictates how a team should spend their resources; and if the resources are limited for teams (like the Bucs) they get much more bang for their buck in the draft pool, then they would in free agency. But, they have to adjust. Hopefully, they can load up with a couple of good picks this year, blow some on seniors from Yale in the middle rounds to save some scratch, and draft high later.
I think you’re right about Appel not being on the top of everyone’s board. But I think a team like Houston picked Correa because of the strategy they had in place to sign him under-slot and sign above-slot guys later. While they may have liked Correa a lot (and I would have taken him over Appel) thats also NOT the same thing as having him as a higher rated player on their board.


The Astros played the 2012 draft perfectly. Instead of going $6M on Appel and have a lackluster remainder of the draft, they got Correa/Ruiz/McCullers and a couple other interesting players.

The Astros adjusted very well to the new landscape.

Ian Rothermund

They didn’t screw the Pirates directly….the Bucs just happened one of the several small market teams to get shafted.


Well, I think the new system was designed to decrease bonuses given to amateur talent. And the Pirates (and other small market teams) realized that spending $$ there is definitely the best way for them to compete.
However, I do agree with you that loopholes exist (such as drafting underslot players) but I wonder about the long-term effects of this new agreement. More good prep players may end up in college rather than in the minors and while that isn’t always a bad thing for players, I wonder how many will fall thru the cracks in college.


It was two sides that did not agree to a deal, but MLB took away the Pirates bargaining power. They had to offer what the slot price was, before they could have gone to 8mil or so to get the deal done, that is screwing the Pirates.

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