Pirates are Loaded With Young Talent

Baseball Prospectus posted their list of the top 175 players in baseball who are 25-and-under. This list is different from the prospect list in that it just goes by age, so it’s top heavy with players who are already making an impact in the majors. The Pirates have eight players on the list, two from the majors and their top six minor league prospects.

Gerrit Cole is ranked fifth overall on this list, trailing only Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Carlos Correa and Manny Machado.

Gregory Polanco, who just signed a long extension to stay in Pittsburgh until possibly 2023, ranks 31st on this list and he has yet to truly breakout. Assuming they do this list again next year, he has a chance to be near the top if he has a big season.

Tyler Glasnow is the top prospect for the Pirates and usually ranked in the 10-15 range among all prospects. On this list, he is ranked 40th overall, so that gives you a good idea of the Major League talent at the top of the list. You can also tell by three players in the top 40, that the Pirates stack up well against other teams with impact talent.

Next up is Austin Meadows at #62, and again when looking at his prospect rankings where he is usually in the 20-25 range, you see how much weight is given to success in the majors already on their list.

The last four Pirates on the list are Josh Bell(116), Jameson Taillon(118), Reese McGuire(155) and Harold Ramirez rounds it out at 161st. For reference with Ramirez, he ranked 80th on BP’s top 101 prospects list back in late January. They said they made some minor adjustments to the list, but with McGuire ranking four spots ahead of him on the top 101 list and six spots on this list, it doesn’t look like anything changed with that part of the list. So about half of the top talent ahead of Ramirez already lost their prospect status in the majors.

With 175 players on the list and 30 teams, the average team would end up with 5-6 players on the list. The Pirates have eight in the top 161 and all eight are either in the majors already, or at the top two levels in their farm system this year. That’s a good sign for the immediate future of the team, as well as the long-term.

  • The interesting thing about the rankings is that they are in tiers.

    Gerritt Cole is in Tier 3 with Jose Fernandez and Nolan Arenado. (Tier 1 is Harper/Trout and Tier 2 is Correa/Machado).

    Polanco is in Tier 6 with Joc Pederson, Joey Gallo, Steven Matz, Sal Perez, Michael Conforto, Alex Reyes, and Carlos Rodon. Pretty much all guys with explosive breakout potential.

    Glasnow is in Tier 7 with Wacha, Yelich, Nola, Yordano Ventura, Orlando Arcia (the SS), Stephen Piscotty, Trea Turner, and Maikel Franco.

    Meadows is in Tier 10 with Brendan Rodgers, Blake Snell, Lance McCullers Jr., Ender Inciarte, Javier Baez, and Marcell Ozuna. I’m not sure I like this batch of comps.

    They stop at tier 14 with the top 101. From there, 114 through 120 are Archie Bradley, Schoop, Josh Bell, Jesse Winker, Taillon, Brent Honeywell, and Clint Frazier.

    MxGuire is in the middle of Billy McKinney, Jean Segura, Amir Garrett, and Yadier Alvarez.

    Harold Ramirez is in the middle of Delino DeShieds Jr’, Michael Taylor, Jose Peraza, and Robbie Ray.

    I love these things, but they really don’t mean squat.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    April 5, 2016 8:44 pm

    I agree – but will they ever trust their prospects enough to actually use the talent? That is the question…..the Cubs, Astros, and Mets obviously all do – and they are reaped the benefits last year.

    • Yeah, if only we used our young players to help us win. Then Cutch, Marte, Polanco, and Cole would be happy.

  • In the “for what it’s worth” category…PRNW just got his first hit…2 run HR. Not to start an argument, just a comment. Still like the trade to acquire Niese.

    • I really think you should qualify that statement before anyone jumps all over you for hating the Pirates. 😉

    • BuccosFanStuckinMD
      April 5, 2016 10:20 pm

      Although just one game, Niese was awful tonight….and kind of what I expected from him….

      • I appreciate that some fans will forever not trust/like Niese, but awful is just not fair to his play tonight.

        He wasnt great, but he really wasnt awful. The stuff was down in the zone, and he located good enough. His defense hurt him to the tune of 1-2 runs and he gave up the dinger. Average night.

        But im sure it’ll be looking at the runs and ERA as final judgement.

      • Niese was not awful. That’s a biased and stupid statement. If he has the stuff all year to strike out seven and walk only one, he will be extremely successful. No unbiased view can evaluate how well a pitcher pitched based on the results of five innings.

      • Not awful…not great. Decent first start. Defense didn’t help.

  • Just a thought, if Cole Tucker stays healthy, he easily could be a top 100 next spring.

  • terrygordon30
    April 5, 2016 1:48 pm

    Will the owners and the players now get together and “level the playing field” since the Pirates now have “too many good young players” and that is not fair? Perhaps a special distribution draft where the have nots like the Yankees and the Red Sox will be able to pick the Pirates farm system clean. Back in the early 60s there was a system in place where it was difficult to protect young talent. That is how the Pirates lost Bobby Tolan who would have looked great in a Pirates uniform. This first year draft may have been put in place to stop the Yankees from hoarding young talent, but it was a very bad idea. Eventually, the first year draft was done away with, and we got the amateur draft. Eventually, the Pirates were doing too well in the draft, and our way of doing things was shut down. It could happen again.

    • It already has happened. They totally redid the draft spending rules after we “broke the draft” (copyright Tim Williams) by throwing a ton of money at Josh Bell in order to get him to sign.

      • terrygordon30
        April 5, 2016 6:12 pm

        Yep, that was what I meant by saying that our way of doing things was shut down. Sorry for the lack of clarity on my end.

  • Bridgevillebuck
    April 5, 2016 1:18 pm

    Is Jose Osuna over 25???

  • what’s the latest with the Indy roster BTW? when will that be set?

  • What “No List”! We were defrauded by this slight.

  • I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that Mike Trout is still only 24.

    • He’s less than a year older than Kris Bryant. Chew on that for awhile

      • And Harper is just 23.

        Seems like Harper has been around so long that he surely has to be 25, but he’s just the 23 year old coming off that near 10 WAR season.

        • Yeah those two are absolute freaks that we really need to appreciate while they are doing this.

          • Harper has really only been good 1 year…..

            • If we define “not good” as 4 WAR.

              I get that the expectations were wildly out of this world for the kid and it makes for unfair expectations, but he was good in 2012 and 2013. If we ignore the media hype and look at what he did, he’s only had 1 bad year. Gets on base well, hitting for a decent average, instant power from the word go, etc.

              The difference that we saw last year wasnt from “okay” to “good”. It was “good” to “elite”. Sustaining that level of success if a whoooole different animal, but for last year Bryce Harper wasnt good, he was the best in baseball.

              • * He has only had one elite or superstar season* I didn’t mean he has only been “good” one year. He hasn’t lived up to any of the hype until last year though….so there is no reason for people to be comparing him to trout whom has already done it 3 years.

                • Thats really not his fault though. Living up to the hype wasnt ever realistic since the hype was he was already Ruth.

                  The kid did about the best you can in terms of showing up and being really good really soon. I can compare him to Trout last year, and say that the only thing stopping him is doing it 1-2 more years. Talent is there, proof is there, longevity is all thats missing.

                  • We are in agreement Luke- my statements were merely pointing to the fact that he’s only lived up to the hype of being one of the top 3 or 4 players in the league…….once. Once he stays healthy and repeats it two more years i’m on board.

                  • and Jose Tabata did the best he could to pretend he was 23 when he was probably 28……..your point? just being a smart ass, don’t take this seriuosly luke

            • Dude posted offensive numbers comparable to Cutch’s first 1200 at bats in his rookie season, before he turned twenty f*cking years old.

              If you aren’t impressed by that, you’ve got some ridiculous expectations.

              • I’m comparing him to his counterpart, Trout. If i’m not impressed by his results, honestly its his own fault based on the hype he’s created for himself since he was in high school #Lebronjr? Harper was expected to be WAY better than Cutch, so no…….i’m not impressed, he almost got sent down in 2014 you forget.

              • I don’t care about his age……he has only played as a star 1 year, he needs to repeat it. It isn’t that I don’t think he can- I just want to see him do it and stay healthy

              • Different handle
                April 5, 2016 10:15 pm

                Dude look at ya. Gittin all emotional again.

        • I agree with all of the above statements, but I can remember a 19 year old phenom in a shortstop named Robin Yount (HOF). I think for every generation we can compare players ages.

  • I was thinking about this concept of getting young talent lately and am just not sure if it means anything for a small market club in a free agency era. Our goal should be to ensure that we get the top 6 and 7/12th years of a player’s career (to avoid paying them extra money).

    For instance, in 1960 it was great to have 21-year old rookie perform decently because that would have meant we had him for possibly the next 19 years – great return on investment! Now it just means he will be gone after his 27th birthday with probably three years 28-30 that will better than his 21-23 years. Back then if the rookie was 26, you already lost 5 years of potential productivity.

    Now it is probably best to see if his agent is Boras (or someone similar). If so, bring him up at around age 24 or 25, so that you get their prime years. If, however, you think he is extendable, bring him up early so that their stats aren’t that great when you are negotiating an extension (Cutch and Polanco).

    • I am in total agreement with this, but it drives me absolutely crazy when a player complains about this system and everyone calls them greedy.

    • The Pirates do very well with being able to sign their best players to extensions that mean they will keep guys for 7 or 8+ years. ‘Cutch, Marte, and Polanco are good examples. But, if you have a strong management team combined with a strong developmental staff, it is unnecessary to want to keep folks too long. Even with guys like Cole, the Pirates assure that their development is geared to the team getting at least 6.5 years of service, if the team wants it.

      At the present time the Pirates are developing talent that may never play for the Pirates simply because what they have in place will preclude many of these guys from being promoted. Therefore, trades happen using some of these prospects to bring “now” talent to the team when needed.

      • There may come a day when the Pirates make one of those mythical multiplayer blockbuster trades that yields an Überprospect in return. An example: Holmes, Kingham and Brault for Profar. Three mid-rotation pitchers for a nicked shortstop.

        It’s better to trade the blocked players than to lose them while getting nothing in return.

        It’s easier to concoct these trades than making them proves to be in practice.

    • Prime years arent a totally firm situation though.

      There are guys who can be in “prime” years from 22-30, and some data does suggest that guys able to reach high levels at younger ages will sustain it generally up until that plateau point around age 30.

      So while most absolutely do peak from roughly 24-30, some of the more elite young talents can be in a “prime” area at age 22-23. I think the goal is just getting 6 good to great years out of them void of their age, and attack extending them if/when the opportunity arises.

      Promote for his best interests, deal with extensions later.

      • Agree with your points, but I still feel that where as you could bring up an unfinished Clemente in the 50s and throw him in the fire, you would never want to waste those development years on an unfinished Bell in 2015.
        (Note: I realize Clemente was a Rule V player but you get the point.)

  • HartHighPirate
    April 5, 2016 11:42 am

    John, how do the big market teams weigh in the aggregate on this list. NYY, LAD, etc. You stated ‘the average team would end up with 5-6 players on the list.’

    • Not sure where the Yankees rank but i would assume the Dodgers have quite a few. They have a highly regarded farm system and a few young players as well.

  • This is good news, and I note the fact that many of the pitchers stacked up in AAA and AA behind Taillon and Glasnow are not yet recognized.
    John, have you heard if the Polanco deal is a pure extension with no additional compensation flowing to him this year? That is what is being put out there and I am surprised if that is totally accurate.

    • Agreed. One would assume he at least got a signing bonus this year

    • For comparison’s sake, McCutchen got $1.25M signing bonus, and Marte got $2.0M. Tabata got $1.0M.

    • I’ll second that “agreed”. It’s pretty cool that all of the AAA pitchers are prospects and decent ones at that.

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