Pirates Ranked as Sixth Best Farm System

Jim Callis provided a post-trade deadline update to his ranking of the farm systems in baseball and he has the Pittsburgh Pirates as the sixth best overall. The Pirates were ranked fourth in his preseason top ten and they have five prospects on their mid-season top 100 list.

Callis cites the injuries to Jameson Taillon and Nick Kingham as setbacks for the pitching side, but has encouraging words to say about the hitters, mentioning Josh Bell, Alen Hanson, Austin Meadows, Harold Ramirez and Reese McGuire. Specifically, he calls McGuire one of the top catching prospects in the minors.

The Pirates were passed by the Dodgers and Rockies. The Dodgers were only two spots behind them in the preseason, but the Rockies bolstered their farm system through a strong draft and the Troy Tulowitzki deal. They were outside the top ten prior to the season.

The Cubs are ranked fourth, while no other NL Central team made the top ten.

  • If the Cards aren’t in the Top 10 and lost one of the best prospects in baseball in Taveras, where the he!! do they keep finding these guys?

    Jeez….someone goes down and they just plug in a Grichuk or Martinez or Piscotty……

    I am sooooooooooooooooooooooooo tired of it.

    Where are THEIR Morels?

    • You haven’t noticed the dumpster fire they’ve had at 1B all year? Or the 250 PA they’ve given to Peter Bourjos and Tommy Pham?

      • If you look at some of the deadline deal interviews Theo Epstein provided he discusses at length his view that his prospects are “currency” that has to be spent to acquire the impact players the Cubs want. Some prospects develop and stay. Some prospects develop and are used as currency. He talks openly about his plan to acquire young arms under team control by trading prospects. He indicates the Cubs tried for an impact deadline trade but couldn’t get it done. Assuming our TJ arms all get healthy I think the question becomes what among our total pool of prospects/currency
        is valued high enough by trade partners to get us what we need. With Rule 5 issues looming NH will probably have to be active this winter. How he spends his prospects will be a big story and a key part of his record.

        • NH already clearly does that, fans just dont like the level at which he is doing so. He was fine with moving Herrera for Byrd, and guys like Grossman and Owens for Wandy.

          NH seems fully on board with using mid level prospects as trade chips, but the difference is NH isnt using top prospects in any move that isnt a blockbuster. I dont see a ton of difference from the NH years and what Epstein is describing.

          Keep some prospects (top guys) unload others and at times try to make an impact deal if it fits.

          • Agreed. Also, Bucs have done a great job finding and developing Polanco and Marte, and signing Kang. On the draft until recently it was pitching. I wish we had more big bats at AAA and AA but it could be the pitching and OF depth in prospects will give NH the currency to get some bats.

    • Or that they felt they had to give up four years of Shelby Miller for a one-year Jason Heyward bandaid?

      Or a prospect on the level of Nick Kingham for a couple shitty months of Brandon Moss?

      • The Shelby Miller trade looks bad right now…despite the fact that Heyward isn’t bad and does provide great defense. I think they will probably have the money to sign him after the season and they had the pitching depth, but Miller has been really, really good.

    • Can you say Kozma, Pete, Lee ? Or, Pham, Tommy ?

  • How is Mcguire defensively since he was drafted? Better, worse, the same, progressing?

    • Consistently rated best defensive catcher in his league. Some analysts consider him the best defensive catcher on A-ball.

    • I am sure being one of the top defensive catchers in all of MiLB means he isn’t regressing.

      • Once upon a time, Ol’ Double Barrel Beer Shotgun Tony Sanchez was a #2 rated prospect. But for now I will err on the side of the experts.

        • Go for it. And if he doesn’t make it, Diaz will. People like you are hilarious.

          • Been a whole hell of a lot of guys that could put up great numbers in the minors and just could not make them jump, Leo. I don’t know a whole lot about minor league ball, but some of the guys on here that do say you have to take A Ball with a grain of salt. Because the talent gap between the best and worst players is fairly wide. We’ll see when he gets to the Eastern League when across the board the skill level is better.

    • Well, he just won for “Best Tools” defensive catcher as rated by BA.


  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    August 14, 2015 1:07 pm

    This is a great ranking…I just hope, starting next year, the Pirates actually start using their farm system and trusting in their own prospects more.

    • When JHay and Mercer are back, six of their eight starters will be from their farm system. Three of five starting pitchers are from their farm system. I swear I’m not trying to troll, just trying to understand where you’re coming from. For the record, I’d love to see them bring up Glasnow, Taillon, Hanson, etc., at some point next year, if they’re ready.

      • It does seem like pretty absurd expectations. Seems like a few fans think that it’ll take a rotation of Cole-Glasnow-Taillon-Kingham and the current 6 of 8 starting position players to prove we trust of farm system.

        Even the best systems have to fill out a roster with outside resources. Us winning 90 consistently with our current level of system guys is impressive.

        • I think BFSMD is talking generally about the speed at which they progress their prospects. But even so I disagree with him. Bell and Glasnow are simply not ready, and even if they were it would be idiotic to burn a non-arbitration year on a month of baptism by fire. I wish everyone would get that out of their heads.

          • I think what often happens is prospects all get lumped together. So someone sees a college arm reach the majors in 2-3 years, our guys reach in 4-5 years, and paint with a broad brush. Many people note the difference, but some dont.

            Its not surprising that a team that drafts a good deal of HS arms takes longer to get them here. PGH is cautious in promoting (more level to level than other teams) but im never really upset at it. For reasons you stated.

            • Agreed. The other issue clouding the big picture is that we’ve had a ton of major injuries, notably TJ, and the Pirates have been known for a much more conservative recovery timeline for TJ than other organizations. So you lose the year due to the injury, plus an additional 4-6 months relative to other teams’ recoveries.

          • Management learns from its mistakes. Pedro was rushed, and look at him. Polanco was rushed, and struggled greatly until recently. Marte, Cutch, Walker, Mercer, Jayhay went the slow safe root and are realizing their potential.

            But yes – I am a Rocket Scientist and that’s why I can understand their management process, and that it is ever changing based upon results both internally, and by evaluating the rest of the league.

            • Idk if its fair to throw Polanco in that. Many rookies struggle period, due to the talent gap. Im not so sure Polanco being down another 6 months helps him avoid transition issues.

          • BuccosFanStuckinMD
            August 14, 2015 3:17 pm

            Explain trading a young promising starter for a JA Hapless?

            • I know what you are saying there, but Sampson was not doing well as of late, and we needed someone right now. Also, the jury is still out on that pickup since Happ has only had one start. It may have been a miss, but I don’t mind the attempt. Gotta balance preserving the future and trying to win now.

            • Nobody’s perfect.

            • Thats the most absurd way to phrase Sampson. Even before he was struggling at AAA, many were calling him a likely back end rotation arm. Young? Yes. Starter? Yes. Promising? Only if you think a guy many go “back end SP” is promising.

      • Other than Cole, i didnt think any of their starters were homegrown. Taillon, Glasnow, Kingham next year sometime maybe.

        • They aren’t, although Locke spent time on their farm. All but Cole came by trade or free agency.

          • Me personally, other than a #1 overall in Cole and #2 in a underperforming Pedro, im pretty disappointed where things are draft wise under NH. And other than Marte, I think a lot of the Gayo signings are TBD.

            But again, thats my opinion.

            • It’s a good opinion. Ha. I think the next two years are big in terms of how we’ll evaluate NH’s drafts. As I mentioned before, in AAA you have Taillon, Glasnow, Bell, Hanson, Diaz and Garcia.

              • Im interested how they tackle the starting pitching issues in the offseason. With all these TJ recoveries, Glasnow needing AAA innings, they need an arm for sure, maybe two.

                Id like to see them look into Buchholz again if hes healthy.

            • I don’t think it’s wrong at all to be underwhelmed with the early Huntington drafts, but this conversation would be an awful lot different if it weren’t for the literally unprecedented Tommy John epidemic. Not just for the fact that 3/5 of the starting rotation and at least a couple depth arms would be drafted pitchers, but the entire focus of those pitcher-heavy early drafts themselves.

              Look at how Huntington’s drafts have evolved since 2013 and it’s clear that he would’ve done things differently. Theo and the Cubs get a lot of love for focusing on hitters, but even he drafted 8 pitchers in his first 10 picks of the ’12 draft, his first with the Cubs.

              • I think the jury’s still out from 2010 and on. We can all agree that 2009 was a crapfest but 2010 would be pretty solid if not for injuries to Taillon, Kingham, Cumpton, and Sadler.

                • But remember the Pirates followed the same process in 2009 as 2010, it is just the outcomes are different. Its a volume game.

                  • Same process, but I don’t think it’s at all out of the question to believe that they could’ve gotten better at evaluating the talent that fit within said process.

                    None of these guys were necessarily experienced when they were hired. You’d *hope* that they’d learn and improve, and I think they have.

                    • I’m not sure about the lack of experience, Huntington spent his formative years working under John Hart.

                      There is a criticism that I think is valid. Tim has written that the Pirates seemed to focus on hitters from Latin America and pitchers domestically early in the Huntington era, which is fine in itself but those are some long development timelines.

                      Did they have a long rope, or was that what resources allowed, I don’t know. Sometimes in comparing the Pirates to the Astros or Cubs we forget the depths of the Pirates futility, and the legacy costs associate with it.

                    • Also the “Collapse II” in 2012 is painted as an inflection point, but I think it actually occurred the prior off-season. The Pirates shuffled a lot of in-house staff, drafting strategy appeared to change. In addition, there were moves at the major league level (while not all were successful) that would mirror the future moves for which the Pirates are now known.

                    • That’s fair, but I still believe looking back at the type of arms they were throwing big money at in those first two drafts were questionable at best. They seem to have focused those kind of investments on guys with a higher talent base than literally just picking a tall skinny kid that threw in the mid-80s.

                      There’s still admittedly plenty of bias at play there, however.

                  • That’s essentially what I believe is the most inaccurate part of these “can’t draft” hot takes. The implication is that drafting ability is static over eight years, as judged by only the first three.

                • Exactly.

              • Everything would have been just fine if we would have kept Edision Volquez he is having another good year whatever was wrong with him we fixed only wanted 10-11 mil a yr that’s on the cheap end if you ask me for a guy that we turned his career around and I would bet he would take a little less for the appreciation of what we did for him but we didn’t even offer him any contract

          • Yeah, the Pirates didn’t draft Locke and Morton. They got them in a trade with the Braves. Morton was essentially a big league player when they got him. I was wrong. However, Locke spent time with Pirates A/AA/AAA teams. They developed him. Maybe the results aren’t wonderful, but they have given Locke a shot.

      • I think it’s more a reference to using the Brett morels and gorkys Hernandez of the world as AAA depth rather than say, Keon broxton and alen hanson, when injuries occur. Which they really should be able to not rely on the washed up A AAAA guys next year like they did this year now that indy should be loaded with a lot of guys ranging from bench fillers to tyler glasnow.

        • That makes sense. I suppose you could make the argument that they want those young guys to get reps. Maybe next year is the time to bring them up for spots on the bench or as a #4/5 starter.

        • You don’t want to bring up still maturing prospects unless you plan on giving them regular ABs.
          You don’t bring them up to be pinch hitters and 4th outfielders unless you believe that is their ceiling.
          Prospects are better serve getting regular ABs in AAA as opposed to sporadic ABS in the major leagues.

          When JHay and Mercer went down an opportunity did exist for someone like Hanson to come up. But they didn’t want him to switch positions so instead they traded for Aramis.

          Maybe Hanson, Garcia, Broxton etc can be September callups once AAA season ends, but there is no need to bring them up this year if they weren’t getting regular ABS in Pittsburgh

      • @Brad S : He comes from the position this Front Office is very seldom correct in anything they do, if at all. It would be a high bar for you to get over to understand the thinking there.

        • The fact that he is on here every day gives hope that someday BFIM will understand.

      • BuccosFanStuckinMD
        August 14, 2015 3:16 pm

        None within past 2 years…they got zero from their system this year..

        • You’re right, nothing this year. Taillon and Kingham would have had a shot if not for injuries.

          As for the past two years, I’d disagree on Polanco.

          • Not to mention turning a drafted reliever, Justin Wilson, into the fourth most valuable catcher in all of baseball this season.

          • Who Brad ? Gregory Polanco ? He never heard of him.

        • I did this before, but its fun since you are going all “SALE THE TEAM”.
          2012-Marte, Mercer

          So this FO has taken what it had in system, Cutch and Walker, gotten them to the bigs (Walker, 2010…Cutch, 2009) and then since 2011 had at least 1 solid piece graduate around them. All while taking the rest of their farm system and using it to acquire things like Cervelli.

          So yeah, they dont graduate a SP or star every year. But since 2011 its pretty dang close. If not for 2 TJ injuries for Taillon and Kingham this year, it’d be the 5th straight year they bring up a quality option.

          • Folks also forget about Brock Holt.

            • I always kinda avoid it because i dont wanna get a “well man, Hanrahan made that trade happen so who knows how big Holt was in making that deal” stupid match.

              System (and some money thrown in) got us AJ, Cervelli, some return on the Melancon deal, etc.

              • Admittedly, I only mentioned him because I thought we were still in the what-has-the-system-produced part of the conversation but I was mistaken. But didn’t it seem weird that Cherrington supposedly insisted on Holt as part of the deal at the time, as was reported? Well, I guess we see why.

            • I hate that we lost Holt. I really really liked him

  • That midseason MLB.com update was bizarre one IMO. No where else did I see so many of the 2015 draft class rate so high, and I think it’s influencing this ranking in an undesirable way