Keith Law’s Top 20 Pirates Prospects, Plus More From Baseball America

Keith Law followed up his top 100 and farm system rankings with his top ten for each club, though Law went 20 deep for the Pirates. From his top 100 list, we already knew that he had Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows, Kevin Newman and Josh Bell as his top four in that order. We also knew from his list of players who just missed the top 100, that Ke’Bryan Hayes was his fifth best prospect for the Pirates.

His top 20 Pirates list(subscription required) also includes(in order from 6-10): Harold Ramirez, Jameson Taillon, Cole Tucker, Alen Hanson and Reese McGuire. He has Taillon lower than most due to his uncertainty. Tucker is higher than most, and it seems that Law believes he can stick at shortstop and hit for average. As we saw with Kevin Newman, those two tools are big selling points for Law on prospects. He doesn’t think(or isn’t sure) that McGuire will ever hit enough to be a regular, but his defense will get him to the majors.

As for the 11-20 range, he has some interesting names in that group. He has Nick Kingham at #11, followed by Luis Escobar. That’s a name that should be familiar to readers of our site, and someone we have mentioned as a sleeper prospect, but he is far from on the radar of most people. Escobar has only pitched for three years, switching to the position after his coach thought it would give him a better chance than making it as a third baseman. He can hit 95 MPH, and his command got much better in 2015, but he is still considered a raw pitcher with high potential. We put him in our top 50, but kept him near the bottom due to how far he is from the majors. Escobar was promoted to Morgantown at the end of last year, which is a decent indicator that he will be with West Virginia this season.

After that, Law had(in order from 13-20): Yeudy Garcia, Elias Diaz, Chad Kuhl, Trevor Williams, Clay Holmes, Mitch Keller, Kevin Kramer and Jacob Taylor. No big surprises in that group, other than Taylor being ranked that high going into a season in which he will likely miss the entire year due to Tommy John surgery. Before the injury, that seemed like a good placement for him, but others have since passed him on our list. He will go into 2017 with just two innings pitched in his first two seasons of pro ball, so there is no need at this point to be aggressive with his placement.

Law also listed Connor Joe as the prospect who has dropped the most, and he lists Garcia and Escobar as his sleeper picks. I’m not sure Garcia can be considered a sleeper prospect at this point, since he led the SAL in ERA in 2015 and has been getting strong scouting reports since shortly after his debut in the DSL. Our view of him could also be skewed due to how long we have been talking about him, so maybe he is still a sleeper to most people who don’t follow the system closely. We covered Escobar being a potential sleeper prospect a couple weeks ago.

As for Joe, we didn’t rank him high last year, so he didn’t drop as much for us. A 23-year-old first baseman, who had a .670 OPS and one homer in Low-A, is usually far off any prospect trail. He has power potential(mostly a lot of doubles), and an impressive 50:34 BB/SO ratio, so you can’t totally write him off just yet. Joe is not a top 20 prospect though, at least not in a strong system like the Pirates have right now.

More From Baseball America

On Friday, Baseball America posted their top 100 prospects list. In it, they have four Pirates. Tyler Glasnow ranked 14th, Austin Meadows 22nd, Josh Bell 38th and Harold Ramirez 95th.

BA always follows up their top 100 list, with a list of players who just missed the list. They expanded on that a little on Monday afternoon, posting that just missed group, then the 20 closest players(101-120), and finally the list of all 108 players who got votes for the top 100, but didn’t make the top 100 list. The Pirates had a player(s) in each group.

Jameson Taillon was in the first group of five players who just missed. During their podcast on Monday, they mentioned his uncertainty after so much time missed as the reason he didn’t make the top 100.

Reese McGuire was in the group of 20 players who would be classified as 101-120 if they went that far with their rankings, though they didn’t give any specific order. Since he wasn’t in the “just missed” group, McGuire falls in the 106-120 range.

Finally, Alen Hanson, Cole Tucker, Kevin Newman and Ke’Bryan Hayes were all mentioned at least once on the prospect lists submitted at the start. Each of the six contributors from BA gives their own top 150, which are then averaged out to begin the ranking process. No specific spot was given for any of those players, so they could have been in the top 100 for a couple people, or they may have just been #150 for one person.

  • Moroff and/or Frazier seem like guys Law would like. With all the positive reports I’ve read on this site over the last year, I thought they’d be regarded highly enough to at least get a mention, at least before Kramer did. I realize minor league success and MLB prospect status are two different things (Frazier didn’t even make the PP top 20 despite winning the AA batting title), but when you don’t get to see these guys play, it’s sometimes confusing how to tell the difference. Since I’ve never seen them play myself, I’m curious what the PP community thinks about those two guys as prospects.

    • More than likely a matter of being a numbers game more than anything, all of those guys being in the same general “tier” of prospects. I’d probably still take Frazier over Kramer, but that’s just me.

  • I am not a fan of inconsistent logic. He drops Taillon for TJ surgery yet he does not penalize Jacob Taylor for the same surgery. JT at least proved his mechanics were sound and looked to be ready to dominate. There is no guarantee that Taylor can pitch professionally yet.

    • Good point. Maybe he got confused because there are too many JT’s having TJ’s… 🙂

    • I’d guess he’s punishing Taillon for the extra downtime due to the hernia. It is a bit odd, since its basically saying the 5 starts or so Taillon would have gotten in the minors last year would bump him.

      I get it, but at a point its saying you gotta distrust him a ton because he didnt get 2 starts in A ball and 2-3 in AAA to end last year.

      • We are aware of the difference between ranking Taillon 7th and Taylor 20th, correct gentlemen?

        Law also didn’t drop Taillon because of TJS, he dropped him because of TJS *and* subsequent hernia surgery. There isn’t a prospect in baseball that *anyone* would rank exactly the same after missing two entire season’s worth of play.

        • Good point. I was mixing logic with assumptions:
          -My logic was that if he thinks TJ is a big deal, and knocked down Taillon about 5 spots. Then, he must have done the same with Taylor which would put him in the top 15 without TJ. (Mind you I think falling from 2 to 7 is much farther than 15 to 20 but I am being conservative.)
          – My assumption was that he didn’t have Taylor at 15 because no one seemed to.

  • Luis Escobar and Jacob Taylor over Brault and Tarpley?

    That IS a surprise.

  • I wonder be caused I’m bored today when will Keith Law wake up and realize he is infatuated with Kevin Newman?

  • Am I just really high on Jordan Luplow or is he pretty underrated? I’m hoping for a big breakout for him this year.

    • Good-not-great A-ball performance from a college sign without big tools and no defensive value will definitely go under the radar, so to speak. Still think he has a great shot as more of a role player than above average starter, though.

      • Maybe it’s the OBP. He’s got some size on him. I feel like he’s a power spike away from being a legit prospect.

    • He could definitely be a breakout player, placing much higher next year. You should expect a college player to hit in Low-A in his first full year, so it’s hard to take too much from his stats because he didn’t dominate(though he had a strong second half). He still needs to work on defense at third base. If it was a given that he could stick there, then he would be rated higher. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the 10-15 range next year, especially with so many players at the top possibly losing prospect eligibility.

  • *Great to see eight(!) arms in Law’s 11-20 list including attention to Garcia, Escobar, and Kuhl (“…gets ground-ball outs while throwing 92 to 97 mph and flashes a 60 slider but is nowhere near consistent with it.”)

    *If I’m reading that correctly, BA having only eight additional names get Top 100 votes seems ridiculous when coming from six different writers. There should be far less consensus than that unless an awful lot of groupthink is going around.

    • Agreed…I wonder how many arms the Braves had in their 1-20 list…good lawd they’ve been stocking those for a bit now during their tear down.

    • It’s 108 extra players who didn’t make the top 100, but that is out of 150 votes each. So basically, 208 players got at least one vote among the six ballots.

    • I am excited about Kuhl’s potential.

      • Seeing someone throw a 60 on his slider while also explaining it’s lack of consistency as the reason he misses so few bats certainly gets my attention. Never made sense that he had two plus pitches but just chose not to strike literally almost anyone out. Makes much, much more sense that the slider is real, just not nearly ready to be used as a weapon.

        There’s a huge step there still left to go, but it’s a good start.

      • And more than anything, it looks like FINALLY the Pirates will be able to back fill the rotation and mid relief with prospects and not have to pay the Mortons and Nieses of the world $8-10m.

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