The Pittsburgh Pirates set their 40-man roster today, adding four prospects to the roster in order to protect them from the Rule 5 draft in December. The 40-man roster is now at 38, and no corresponding moves were needed, since the Pirates had six open spots. The four players added were Tyler Glasnow, Josh Bell, Harold Ramirez, and Max Moroff. Those moves were all expected, and were all mentioned in my Rule 5 preview earlier in the week. The two surprising players who weren’t added were Clay Holmes and Barrett Barnes. Here is a rundown of each player who was protected today.
Tyler Glasnow – He’s the top prospect in the organization, and should be making his debut in the majors by mid-season. The Pirates have gone heavy on prep pitchers in the past, hoping that one would break out in their system and become a potential top of the rotation starter. Glasnow is that guy. He still needs work on his mechanics, specifically repeating his delivery to improve his control problems. He also needs work on his changeup, and needs to consistently throw his plus curveball for strikes.
Josh Bell – The Pirates broke the old draft system when they signed Bell to a $5 M bonus as a second rounder, ignoring his intentions at the time to go to The University of Texas. He was drafted as an outfielder, but moved to first base this year due to the long-term need in Pittsburgh at the position, and the lack of a need for an outfielder in the majors. Bell’s defense at first base has been poor, which is to be expected from a guy making the switch from the outfield. He’s got a lot of raw power, which remains largely untapped. However, he made an adjustment to his leg kick in Indianapolis, and started seeing results with the new approach. He could take over at first base in 2016, but will need to improve his defense, and show that the new power in the game wasn’t a fluke.
Harold Ramirez – The Pirates have plenty of outfield talent in the system, between their big three in the majors, and top prospect Austin Meadows in Altoona. Ramirez only adds to that depth. He broke out in a big way this year, putting up a .337/.399/.458 line in 306 at-bats in the very pitcher friendly Florida State League. He’s one of the best pure hitters in the system, and while he doesn’t project to hit a lot of home runs, he has gap power and speed, along with the defensive skills to play any of the three outfield spots. The Pirates can take their time with Ramirez, or he could be used as a trade chip in the future, all due to their MLB and prospect depth in the system.
Max Moroff – The Pirates went over-slot to sign Moroff in 2012, using him as a Plan B when Mark Appel didn’t sign. After a few years of showing promising tools and no results, he broke out in Altoona, putting up a .293/.374/.409 line this season. Moroff was drafted as a shortstop, but has since moved to second base, where he is a better defensive option. He saw his defense improve this year, thanks to help from teammate Gift Ngoepe. He has some power from the middle infield, mostly in the form of extra base hits. He also has tremendous plate patience. In the lower levels, he was too selective at times. He found a way to get aggressive early in the counts in Altoona, which led to a higher walk rate, lower strikeout rate, and better overall numbers. Moroff could factor into the second base mix in Pittsburgh one day, or could be a utility infielder, playing second, short, and third.