Morning Report: Breaking Down the Mid-Season Top 50 Prospects

We released our mid-season top 50 prospects list yesterday. It included links to a recent article on all 50 prospects, plus we even gave some names for players who just missed the list. All of the players, including the extra names, were broken down into tiers so you could get a better idea of the talent level. It also helps for a comparison between the strength of the system now and before the year started. Those preseason tiers would be listed in our 2017 Prospect Guide, which you should already own.

What I wanted to do today is break the list down in others ways, so you could see how the Pirates acquired the talent, how far away the talent is from the majors and which positions are a strength or weakness in the system. For positions I used their primary position, such as Max Moroff played three spots in the minors this year, but his best spot is second base. The relief pitchers aren’t counted in the LHP/RHP groups. For current teams, injured players are listed with the team they are expected to play for when healthy, so Austin Meadows is Indianapolis even though he will probably play his next game in the GCL as a rehab player.

I wrote this up before the shortstop moves yesterday, but adjusted the team listings below accordingly. Obviously Altoona and Bradenton didn’t change in their count, but Indianapolis picked up one prospect and West Virginia lost one.

Where Did the Pirates Get Their Top 50 Prospects?

Draft: 33

International: 12

Trade: 5

Of the 33 Draft Picks, What Year Were They Taken?

2017: 6

2016: 5

2015: 8

2014: 7

2013: 1

2012: 4

2011: 1

2010: 1

Where are the Players in the System?

Pirates: 1

Indianapolis: 13

Altoona: 11

Bradenton: 9

West Virginia: 4

Morgantown: 1

Bristol: 3

GCL: 8

Primary Positions

C: 2

1B: 1

2B: 4

3B: 4

SS: 4

CF: 3

LF/RF: 6

RHP: 16

LHP: 6

RP: 4

** Just an update on yesterday’s Morning Report. Hunter Owen suffered a hamstring injury. I think most people assumed that he did the way this season has been going. So when I wrote about bad timing for him, it’s definitely true because depending on the severity of this hamstring, we might not see him play again. The hard part might be telling Owen that, because he is a hard-nosed player who will try to get back as soon as possible. A hamstring injury is obviously not something you want to rush back from, especially late in the season with a handful of games left.

** David Lee, the 27th round draft pick, made his pro debut on Wednesday in thee GCL. I heard a couple of great reports on him from his brief outing, including very high praise for his curve. That’s a good sign from someone who barely pitched in college. Shea Murray (18th round) is now the only draft pick who hasn’t made his debut yet. All of the other 36 draft picks have played with one of the three lower level clubs.


Source: FanGraphs


Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates won 3-2 in ten innings over the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday night. The Pirates will send Jameson Taillon to the mound this afternoon. He has not faced the Brewers yet this season. Taillon has made six home starts and six road starts this year, posting a 3.86 ERA at PNC Park and 2.31 elsewhere. Milwaukee will counter with right-handed pitcher Jimmy Nelson, who has a  3.27 ERA in 115.2 innings, with a 1.22 WHIP and 127 strikeouts. He faced the Pirates once this season in a rain-shortened outing, throwing three shutout frames.

In the minors, Tyler Glasnow gets his seventh start for Indianapolis. His last outing was seven shutout innings with no walks. He has allowed two or fewer runs in each of his six games. Mitch Keller tries to bounce back from two poor outings in which he issued a total of nine walks and surrendered 12 hits and ten runs in 9.1 innings. Eduardo Vera has a 1.09 WHIP, which ranks tenth in the SAL. Braeden Ogle is due to start for Bristol and Shane Baz is the probable for the GCL Pirates, making his fourth pro start. Ogle went six innings for the first time in his career in his last start. Baz threw three shutout innings in his last start and looks to continue to increase his pitch count this outing. Morgantown lists Stephan Meyer for today, but I’ve been told that Brandon Waddell has moved his rehab there and will start today.

MLB: Pittsburgh (47-48) vs Brewers (52-44) 12:35 PM
Probable starter: Jameson Taillon (3.06 ERA, 22:64 BB/SO, 67.2 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (53-43) @ Gwinnett (47-48) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Tyler Glasnow (1.49 ERA, 15:55 BB/SO, 36.1 IP)

AA: Altoona (49-45) @ Bowie (50-36) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Alex McRae (3.82 ERA, 24:59 BB/SO, 106.0 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (52-40) vs Fort Myers (51-42) 6:30 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Mitch Keller (3.70 ERA, 18:50 BB/SO, 58.1 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (41-50) @ Kannapolis (49-45) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Eduardo Vera (3.04 ERA, 9:64 BB/SO, 77.0 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (17-12) vs State College (17-12) 7:05 PM  (season preview)
Probable Starter: TBD

Rookie: Bristol (8-19) @ Elizabethton (17-10) 7:00 PM

GCL: Pirates (7-13) vs Blue Jays (14-5) 12:00 PM

DSL: Pirates (21-18) vs Astros Orange (12-25) 10:30 AM (season preview)


Here is Eric Wood hitting his 13th home run of the season on Monday night. He hit 16 last year for Altoona.


7/19: Brandon Waddell assigned to Morgantown on rehab.

7/18: Starling Marte activated from restricted list. Phil Gosselin optioned to Indianapolis.

7/18: Hunter Owen placed on disabled list. Nick King promoted to West Virginia.

7/15: Taylor Hearn placed on disabled list.

7/15: Cody Dickson activated from Altoona disabled list.

7/15: Raul Hernandez promoted to Morgantown.

7/15: Brandon Waddell assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab.

7/14: Brent Gibbs placed on disabled list. Yoel Gonzalez added to West Virginia roster.

7/14: Will Reed assigned to GCL Pirates.

7/14: Montana DuRapau promoted to Indianapolis.

7/13: Dany Hernandez promoted to Bristol. Will Reed assigned to GCL Pirates from Bristol.

7/13: Pasquale Mazzoccoli promoted to West Virginia. Andrew Potter released.

7/12: Luis Escobar activated from temporary inactive list. Nick King assigned to Morgantown.

7/11: Hector Garcia assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab.


Three former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including a Hall of Fame outfielder. We also have a game recap from the 2002 season. Starting with the two lesser known players born on this date, we have pitcher John Lamb and outfielder Harry Cassady. Lamb was a member of the 1971 World Series champs. He also played for the team in 1970 and 1973. He signed with the Pirates out of high school in 1964 and spent all 11 seasons of pro ball in the Pirates’ system. Cassady joined the Pirates in August of 1904 and hit .205 in 12 games before he was loaned to a minor league team, which ended his time in Pittsburgh. He played one more season in the majors, seeing time with the 1905 Washington Senators.

The Hall of Fame outfielder born on this date is Heinie Manush, who played briefly for the Pirates in 1938-39. He was used almost exclusively as a pinch-hitter, making one appearance in the outfield during his 25 games in Pittsburgh. He went 4-for-28 for the Pirates and when they released him, it was to make room for Chuck Klein, who is also a Hall of Fame outfielder. Manush was at the end of his big league career when the Pirates got him, but he was a much better player in his prime. He hit .330 during his 17-year career.

On this date in 2002, the Pirates got a big day from Adam Hyzdu during a 15-6 win over the Cardinals. He homered twice and drove in seven runs. He hit three-run homers in the first and fifth innings. This big game came one day after he hit a grand slam in a 12-9 win over St Louis. You can find the boxscore for the 15-6 game here. The link above has a full game recap.

  • How do the Bucs international prospects compare to other teams? Have they been hurt by unwillingness to load up/pay into the penalty like a number of other teams have done?

  • Any sense as to when Craig gets bumped to Altoona?

  • terrygordon30
    July 20, 2017 9:57 am

    I remember when Lamb, Moose, and Veale were on the same 1971 team. Not quite as good as White, Wine, and Boozer with the Phillies in 1966. I believe that they batted 7 th, 8th, and nineth one or more times in that particular order for the Phillies.

  • FYI: The link to the P2 survey results are in Monday’s Morning Report.

  • John … Are you saying that for instance the Tier 2 in the book (just Newman) is an equivalent talent group to the mid-season Tier 2 (that have people joining Newman)?
    That would mean you don’t feel Newman has dropped in value just that the others have increased to match him.

    Also, the breakdown is interesting because it still shows a top heavy prospect distribution even while it feels like the top dramatically thinned out.

    • John Dreker
      July 20, 2017 9:25 am

      The tiers are based on the current level of the system. If Meadows and Keller had somehow lost their prospect status before the list, then everyone from tier two now would be in tier one.

      You can use the mid-season and preseason lists as comparisons for the best players in the system. You know that Meadows/Keller tier is obviously weaker without Glasnow and Bell

      I don’t see tier two having more people as a sign it got stronger. Newman did drop back some due to performance, so he is now with those other players. Instead of being separated from them, the group now includes him and the separator is further back. Basically, the opposite of what you said.

      There is no set amount of tiers for the rankings. If the talent was all bunched up, there would be fewer tiers. If they had a lot of top-end talent and no depth, you would probably have more tiers.

      • Thanks for that clarification! My novice take on the top players are that:

        – Keller – produced enough to maintain both his tier 1 status and his previous expectations
        – Meadows – I know you feel that his injury hasn’t sapped any speed but I still feel like it increases his risk of staying on the field as his offseason yoga and increased water consumption did not resolve this ongoing issue. So I would have dropped him to Tier 2
        – Tucker – Based on his performance in a pitcher’s league, I would be seriously tempted to put him in with Meadows in Tier 2
        – Newman – I agree with your statement that he dropped based on performance, so he would be in Tier 3. (I also agree he would be grouped with Baz and Hayes.)
        – Diaz – I would put him in Tier 3. Less upside but less risk also