BRADENTON, Fl. – I had probably my toughest assignment of Spring Training this week. Every year I write a short prospects preview for the Indianapolis Indians pre-game program. The preview isn’t huge, just touching on the basics of the guys to watch in the system. They were going to print soon, so that article was due today.
You’d think an article on the Indianapolis team would be easy for me. They’re a team loaded with prospects, who will provide a ton of depth for the Pirates in the majors this year. That’s an easy topic to write about. The challenge? It had to be around 300 words.
If you’ve read this site for any amount of time, you’d know brevity isn’t a strength of mine. I go into detail. A lot of detail. There are no word restrictions online, so I can include as much information as is necessary. And some people don’t like reading longer articles, but I’ve never felt the desire to dumb the articles down and cut out information in order to provide a quicker read. Typically we’re around 800-1,000 words. Longer articles go to 1,500 to 2,000. My Josh Bell article from a few weeks ago was around 2,200 words.
300 words? On this team? That was going to be difficult. I cheated a bit and went around 350, since I don’t know if it was a hard cap. I don’t know how those newspaper guys do it. Anyway, here is the write up, followed by a few additional thoughts below.
Indianapolis Indians fans have gotten a chance to see some of the best Pirates prospects in recent years, but the amount of young talent in the 2016 group is hard to match. The Indians will have young talent at every position group, with nine of the Pirates Prospects 2016 top 20 prospects on the team this season.
The highlight is the rotation, which features two of the top prospects in the system. Tyler Glasnow (#1 prospect) and Jameson Taillon (4) have top of the rotation stuff, with fastballs that sit in the mid-90s, touching 99-100 MPH, and devastating curveballs that will get plenty of strikeouts. Both will join Gerrit Cole in Pittsburgh this year, and that trio could lead to one of the best MLB rotations in the future. The rest of the rotation is highlighted by top prospects like Chad Kuhl (16), who features a great mid-90s sinker, and Steven Brault (13) and Trevor Williams (24), who both have good movement, control, and deception. The bullpen will also have strong arms, with a few who can hit 100 MPH. That includes our top relief prospect, John Holdzkom (42).
The offense is also loaded. Josh Bell (3) will return to Indianapolis this year, and is the Pirates’ first baseman of the future. He is one of the best pure hitters in all of minor league baseball. He could show more power this year with his added leg kick, which started seeing results with Indianapolis in 2015. Alen Hanson (5) will return to the team, looking for more consistency with his offense. That’s the final step before he takes over at second base in Pittsburgh. Elias Diaz (8), Max Moroff (17), Willy Garcia (20), Adam Frazier (28), Gift Ngoepe (44), and Dan Gamache (51) are other top prospects who will help Indianapolis this year, while also providing depth for the majors. A few of these guys could be starters in Pittsburgh in the future, with Diaz having the best shot, potentially replacing Francisco Cervelli in 2017.
Prospects don’t always lead to wins in the minors, but the combination that Indianapolis has with pitching, impact bats, and strong defense should give them a shot at the playoffs this year, even after seeing a lot of their best performers end the season in Pittsburgh.
There’s so much more I wanted to say. I “expanded” a bit on the top guys like Glasnow, Taillon, Bell, and Hanson. You could add Diaz to that list. But there was no room to put that Glasnow needs to work on his curveball or changeup, or that he has nerve issues which throw him off early in games (and that happened again today in the B-game). I didn’t get a chance to go into Taillon’s time off vs upper level hitting, or Bell’s move to first base, or Hanson’s consistency issues, outside of a mention of the last two.
Then there’s all of the other top 50 prospects who just got their name mentioned, and not much else about them. In a normal year, I might have room for a sentence for those guys, and maybe two sentences for guys like Moroff and Frazier.
Ultimately, this is for a casual audience that wants to know which players on the field are future MLB players. It’s not an audience that needs a full breakdown. And the people who want more usually find their way to this site for that breakdown.
The thing is, I write this every year, and this group was by far the most difficult to write up in terms of meeting the word count. That’s largely because of what I’ve been writing all spring, how this is the most talented group of prospects the Pirates have had in some time in Triple-A. I’m looking forward to seeing them when I visit Indianapolis in May, and then again throughout the year when the group starts making their way up to the majors.
And writing a lot of words about them along the way.
**Since this is a free article, this is where I add the daily plug to subscribe. This time around I’m going to say that if you want to get live coverage of these prospects throughout the year, then you should definitely sign up for our low-cost subscriptions. You could also buy the 2016 Prospect Guide, which has a lot of them featured in a big way:
**An Update and Further Information on Austin Meadows. I caught up with Meadows today, who said his vision returned, and that he leaves for Pittsburgh on Monday. More info in the article.
**Ke’Bryan Hayes Prepares For Full Season Ball With a Familiar Workout. This is going to be a prospect to watch this year. For all that the new draft system has taken away, the Pirates actually have stocked up on some interesting prep position players. Max Moroff was the backup plan to Mark Appel in 2012. Austin Meadows and Reese McGuire were taken in 2013. Cole Tucker in 2014. And then Hayes in 2015. They’re not getting as many of the upside pitching prospects, but certainly are getting enough of the hitters.
**Juan Nicasio Is a Good Reliever, But Can the Pirates Make Him a Good Starter? He will most likely start a game for the Pirates this year. See what they like about him.
**Clint Hurdle Calls Himself a Crock Pot and Harold Ramirez a Bone Collector. From Wednesday, a look at Harold Ramirez and a few funny quotes from Hurdle.
**Connor Joe Moving to Third Base, Jordan Luplow Recovering From Surgery. More third base prospects. Hayes is the top guy, but Joe and Luplow might be able to move at a quicker pace through the system, and have an advantage that they’re one level ahead of the 2015 pick.
**David Todd Podcast: Final Roster Spots, Nicasio, Indianapolis Rotation. Podcast from my interview this week with David Todd.