Pittsburgh Pirates 2015 Top 20 Prospects

Over the last month, we have been counting down our top 20 Pittsburgh Pirates prospects for the 2015 season. We finished the countdown on Friday, with Tyler Glasnow being named the top prospect in the system. If you enjoyed the write-ups for each prospect, I recommend purchasing the 2015 Prospect Guide. It includes 30 more write-ups like these for the complete top 50 prospects. It also includes up-to-date biography information, grades and risk evaluations for each prospect that aren’t published anywhere else, and profiles on every other player in the system. If you missed any of the top 20 countdown, here is the complete list, with links going to the scouting reports.

1. Tyler Glasnow, RHP
2. Jameson Taillon, RHP
3. Austin Meadows, OF
4. Josh Bell, 1B
5. Reese McGuire, C
6. Nick Kingham, RHP
7. Alen Hanson, 2B
8. Mitch Keller, RHP
9. Cole Tucker, SS
10. Elias Diaz, C
11. Harold Ramirez, OF
12. Adrian Sampson, RHP
13. John Holdzkom, RHP
14. Cody Dickson, LHP
15. Trey Supak, RHP
16. Gage Hinsz, RHP
17. Clay Holmes, RHP
18. Willy Garcia, OF
19. JaCoby Jones, SS
20. Luis Heredia, RHP

  • And the wild card. Very, very favorable evaluation of Kang, with much evidence. Don’t like the leg kick? Tell Joey Bats or Josh Donaldson. Won’t be able to hit chase-me breaking stuff? Tell it to the Marines!


  • I’ve read the reasons given before, but IMHO this site underrates players like Willy Garcia and JaCoby Jones – and I hope they both continue to out produce their ratings. They both have flaws, as every prospect has, but they are both extremely athletic, have high upsides, and seem to be getting better with each level they advance to. The biggest problem with Garcia is where will he play in Pittsburgh, other than as a 4th outfielder. But, sometimes things happen very unexpectedly.

    • “The biggest problem with Garcia is where will he play in Pittsburgh, other than as a 4th outfielder.”

      The biggest problem with Garcia is his lack of plate patience.

      • Currently, yes. But, maybe that can be addressed to at least reduce the K’s to a more acceptable level? That obviously will be the key to his 2015 season. But, I would much rather have a player who K’s that much, but possesses the other physical attributes that Garcia obviously has – speed, arm, power, etc. – than a player who seldom K’s and is below average in every other facet of their game.

        Mark Reynolds strikes out at a ridiculous rate, but he’s been in the majors for 10 years

        • The reason we rate these guys low is because generally people with strikeout issues don’t reduce their strikeouts to a more acceptable level.

          Typically the counter to Garcia is what you just said — pointing out someone who has strikeout issues in the majors. Guys like Reynolds made it to the majors because they didn’t have the same horrible strikeout issues in the minors. Reynolds struck out 22.8% of the time in A+. He struck out 25.1% in AA. In his career in the majors, he’s at 31.9%.

          By comparison, Garcia struck out 30.6% of the time last year in AA. Jones struck out 26.3% of the time in low-A. And neither came close to the walk rates that Reynolds put up in the minors. In fact, they didn’t even have half the walk rates that Reynolds had.

          So you’ve got two guys who are much worse than Reynolds was in the minors at striking out and walking. And Reynolds saw a big increase in his strikeouts when he jumped to the majors. Garcia and Jones can be expected to see similar increases.

          By rating them where we have them, we’re not saying they have no chance of future improvements. We’re just not giving them credit for improvements that haven’t happened, and we’re grading them for the players they are now, and the players they will most likely become.

          • I understand that Tim, and that makes a lot of sense – both of these guys have uphill battles to improve their grasp of the strike zone.

            Question for you, are there any recent examples of players with similar K issues as Jones and Garcia at lower and mid levels, yet overcame them and made it the majors and were successful?

            • K issues alone, sure, there’s a few. George Springer struck out 27% of the time in High-A as a college sign. Paul Goldschmidt as well, albeit younger.

              But the issue with Jones and Garcia isn’t just that they strike out *too much*, it’s that they also walk *too little*. Those other two have power at least a full grade better than Garcia/Jones.

              Just really, really difficult to do enough at the plate to be a productive hitter when you make such little contact. Doesn’t mean it *can’t* happen, just that the odds are long.

            • Javy Baez will be a player to watch if you’re looking for comps.

            • John did an article on Garcia a while back, showing some examples of guys with such a wide split between their strikeouts and walks. The results weren’t encouraging. I’ve done a few articles looking at guys like Jones and Allie, who have had monster years in low-A around the age of 22, with poor strikeouts. The majority of guys who made it were bench players or platoon options.

  • To justify a rating that is 7 slots higher, why is Harold Ramirez rated so much higher than Willy Garcia? I assume he more selective at the plate, as Garcia does K a lot. is that it?

  • One thing that stands out as the Pirates minor league system matures is that now there is more variety in the system.
    The Cardinals are the best example of a mature minor league system.
    They have had a stable organization for decades and it shows.
    The Pirates under Nutting and NH have started what never should be abandoned and that is a stable and mature minor league system.
    The Pirates may never win another World Series (I hope they do) but as long as they maintain what they are doing in the draft and foreign player acquisition they should remain a competitive team and I know a lot of fans want more than competitive but given the RESTRAINTS on small revenue teams… in the REAL world… isn’t it a lot better to at least have great young talent to root for than some aging veteran who is holding on for another pay day as Littlefield did ?

  • I’m glad the pirates have such a good farm system now, it gives us something to complain about besides how bad they used to be. Nice to be able to discuss and compare and complain about guys who actually have a chance to make the big leagues.

    • I was thinking and I believe player development hurt the farm more than the draft picks. They had a lot of pretty good prospects fail before this group took over. It seemed like prospects didn’t even reach their floor under Littlefield.

      • True, they had lousy coaches and they also traded a lot of guys that they wound up getting little or nothing for.

  • Tim – you usually wait for SpringTraining I think but any ideas on a sleeper prospect?

    • I wait for Spring Training because that’s when I get to see everyone before the season, and notice who is standing out.

    • I will step out on the plank and give you one of my sleeper picks. Edward Salcedo. He was rushed through Atlanta’s system, but he has pretty decent plate patience and even being young for each level that hasn’t changed. I don’t believe that he is going to turn into a .300, .360, .450 player overnight, but I do think he has the skills to stick at third and become a viable contributor.