Prior to the MLB trade deadline, we released our mid-season top 50 prospects, taking a look at where all of the new members of the Pirates’ system would rank, all while factoring in the performances we’ve seen this season. When the Pirates add a new prospect, I ask around for rankings on the player, then figure out where the player fits on the list.
So when the Pirates added two prospects for Tony Watson yesterday, I asked John Dreker and Wilbur Miller for their rankings, and we figured out where the new guys would end up.
Based on the title, you can probably figure out that right-handed pitcher Angel German didn’t end up in the top 50. You could make an argument that he would belong in Tier 7, just outside of the top 50 with several other players who project as bench or bullpen guys. He probably won’t have a chance to move up until he starts having success in the upper levels, since we’re typically low on relievers.
Interestingly enough, the Pirates traded Seth McGarry for Joaquin Benoit, and German had slightly better rankings than McGarry. We had McGarry as a guy who could reach the majors, but probably would only be depth out of Triple-A. His ceiling was just below a regular MLB reliever, with his path fueled by a strong ground ball rate. German received the exact same ratings, except we see him with a slightly better chance of having a ceiling as a regular reliever. Basically, this swap of relief pitching prospects was a wash.
So that raises the question of where Oneil Cruz would end up in the top 50. He was rated 21st overall by MLB Pipeline in the Dodgers’ system. We ended up giving him a likely upside just below an MLB bench player, figuring his tools and skills could take him to at least getting a brief appearance in the majors, and maybe a role as an up and down player. He’s risky though, which is why we were in unanimous agreement that his floor was a career minor leaguer. We were also unanimous that the ceiling would be an average starter.
The overall rating put Cruz in Tier 5 of our rankings, slotting in with guys towards the end of the top 30. We ended up putting him behind Dario Agrazal, making him the 32nd best prospect in the system. However, with the way our tiers work, you could make an argument that he could rank as high as 23, depending on how you favor upside and how you calculate risk. I’d have him anywhere in the 27-31 range.
That group makes a lot of sense. Other prospects in Tier 5 include Conner Uselton and Lolo Sanchez — two promising young players in the lower levels who have high ceilings. From what we’ve read and seen on Cruz, he seems very close to Sanchez in overall value and upside. Sanchez was our number 30 prospect.
This could all easily change once we get a better look at Cruz. It could also change based on his performance the next few years. Young, projectable prospects are never locked in to their rankings, and they can change in a hurry as the players grow and develop. Cruz is only 18-years-old, so he’s got plenty of time to develop and improve. For now, he’s one of a growing group of high upside players in the lower levels of the Pirates’ system.