The Pittsburgh Pirates will be sending eight players to the Arizona Fall League this off-season, with the eight players playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions. The Scorpions will be managed by Jeff Banister. Tyler Glasnow, Josh Bell, and Nick Kingham headline the list of players who will be playing in the showcase league.
The Pirates will be sending their two top healthy pitching prospects in Glasnow and Kingham. Glasnow should start the 2015 season in Altoona, and could finish with Indianapolis. Kingham will start in Indianapolis, and could be in the majors by mid-season. Joining those two pitchers will be 2014 breakout pitcher Adrian Sampson, who also could have a shot at arriving in the majors next season.
Tom Harlan and Joely Rodriguez are the final pitchers who have been selected by the Pirates. Harlan has posted strong numbers in the lower levels, and was moved to the rotation this year after being promoted to Altoona. Rodriguez was a top prospect coming into the year, but has struggled in Altoona, so the extra work should do him well.
Josh Bell is currently one of the top hitting prospects in the system, and will get more of a taste of the upper levels this fall. He had great numbers in Bradenton this year, but struggled a bit after moving up to Altoona. That is to be expected, since the jump to Double-A is a hard one to make for hitters. Gregory Polanco also struggled in the jump to Altoona last year, then used the off-season to adjust to upper level talent, which really benefitted him this year. Bell could do the same thing, and if all goes well, could be an option for the Pirates by the middle of next year.
Elias Diaz and Dan Gamache are the final two guys who will be going to the AFL. Diaz has had a breakout season this year at the plate, and is one of the best defensive catchers in the system behind the plate. He just moved up to Indianapolis, and is another guy who could reach the majors next year. Gamache has posted some decent numbers with Altoona, with a .787 OPS and some improved power in the form of extra base hits. He can play third base, and he plays second base, but not very well. He’s got a chance to be a utility guy in the majors one day, with strong defensive skills at third base.
With Glasnow, Kingham, Bell, and the breakouts like Sampson and Diaz, this is one of the best AFL groups the Pirates have had in years.