David Todd Podcast: Breaking Down the Pirates Depth and Top 50 Prospects

I had my weekly radio segment with David Todd on 970 ESPN yesterday, discussing all of the latest news in the Pirates’ minor league system, including some of the depth options who can help the team this year. The podcast can be heard below. Here is a summary of what we discussed.

**David thinks the Pirates are better off playing Pedro Florimon at shortstop and putting Jung-ho Kang at third base with the current roster construction. I agree with him for all of the reasons stated: Florimon has excellent defense, he doesn’t hit but neither does Sean Rodriguez, and Kang is better at third.

**I talked about Radhames Liz and his success in the rotation in Triple-A. This doesn’t really help the Pirates, because Liz hasn’t had success in the bullpen, and that’s his best role for the team.

**Speaking of pitching depth, I discussed where John Holdzkom and Casey Sadler are with their rehab. An update on Holdzkom: he joined Morgantown today for rehab.

**The Pirates will probably go with Vance Worley if they need an additional starter. But if they need two, their depth is questionable. I think Adrian Sampson is the best option, but he needs to improve on his recent consistency issues before the Pirates can turn to him.

**We discussed our recent top 50, and I highlighted a few players, including Harold Ramirez, who is probably going to get higher grades with us than most, since I’ve loved what I’ve seen from him in Bradenton this year.

**We also discussed the promotion of Barrett Barnes, and how his power has been held back in Bradenton this year.

**Finally, we discussed some of the prospects just outside of the top 50, and how the Pirates have guys who could reach the majors as bench and bullpen guys, despite not being one of the best 50 prospects in the system.

  • Blogs are dissing NH for not having more major league ready prospects.


  • I find the continued love for Adrian Sampson both comical and confusing. I’d much rather turn to Liz, Worley, or add a back-end guy from another org than push our chips in for a guy who can’t get AAA guys out with any consistency. Also, I’m unsure as to why Liz would profile better for the bullpen on this team than the rotation, especially in comparison to Sampson. The former is at least dominating AAA, while the latter has resorted back to his avg K, hit-around type of guy he’s almost always been.

    Again, outside this site and other Pirates-centric sites, no one thinks much of Sampson, especially as a realistic option to pitch meaningful game in 2015. Sure, they could all be wrong and Tim could be right…..but a consensus is formed for a reason, and, in Sampson’s case, the consensus is that he’s a meh level guy that prospectors don’t even discuss. It’s all very strange to me the love for him on this site, in particular.

    Thankfully, I’m rather sure NH agrees with everybody else. I’d wager a good amount that, if injury should strike again, Sampson is like 4th or 5th on possible replacements. He simply isn’t good enough.

    • John Dreker
      July 23, 2015 1:24 pm

      As Tim said in the podcast, Sampson needs to find more consistency like he had earlier in the year. Right now he isn’t the best option and that’s because he isn’t pitching great this year, but he has the stuff to be a back-end MLB starter. This is his first year in AAA and he’s 23, he’s also the 16th ranked prospect, not a top ten guy, so that should tell you that he isn’t ready right now and isn’t a front end starter.

      Without injuries, Taillon, Kingham, Cumpton and Sadler would all be better options right now. He is the best of what is left as far as prospects, but there is a reason that he is a prospect still and not in the majors. Not every pitcher flies through AAA at 23 in their first shot at the level. That’s usually reserved for top tier prospects

      • I am curious about Stetson Allie. Tim and John and anybody else who has seen him play……….does he have a chance?

        • John Dreker
          July 23, 2015 1:43 pm

          He hasn’t improved over last year while repeating the same level, so it’s hard to see him having any success. He’s striking out more often, walks are down, average is down, he’s still learning RF, so while the power is great and he can still throw, he’s strictly a 2-tool player at this point and power doesn’t work well without the hitting tool

    • Did you listen to the actual podcast?

      • joebaseball
        July 23, 2015 4:49 pm

        it would be a help if you added a transcript to the podcast since it is SO much faster to go through the transcript.

      • I did. It’s not a consistency issue; it’s a talent issue. For all the talk about his improved offspeed stuff both this year and last year, he still doesn’t have an out-pitch. Coupled w/ an average FB that is mainly used to induce ground balls rather than strike people out, I find it hard to believe that he wouldn’t get hit around at the major league level. Especially considering that he’s getting hit around at the….AAA level.

        I don’t think it’s a consistency problem. I just don’t think he profiles anything more than a middle-reliever, Quad-A type guy that can be found anywhere in the Minors and on any teams 25th spot of the roster. Labeling him as a Top 15 prospect – and even higher pre-season, I believe – is not accurate. Guys that project to be middle-relief aren’t worthy of having ranked higher than high-ceiling arms or even Super UTIL players.

  • Where would the team be this year without Kang?