The GCL Pirates were loaded with talent this year, featuring a lot of the top picks from the Pirates' 2017 draft class, along with a few top international signings from the last few years. That combination led to a team loaded with upside, and a few breakout performances from that group give the Pirates a lot of promise in the future. Here is our end of the year rundown of the best prospects at the level.
Top 10 GCL Pirates Prospects
The cutoff for eligibility on this list was 70 at-bats, 20 innings pitched, or 10 relief appearances. The biggest name who missed the list was 2017 second rounder Conner Uselton, who went down in his second game with a hamstring tear. Most of the list is based on upside, rather than the results this year. These players are so far away that even their upside is hard to peg.
1. Shane Baz, RHP - Baz didn't have the best surface numbers, with a 3.80 ERA in 23.2 innings, along with a 19:14 K/BB ratio. Most of the damage came in three starts when he left early due to control problems. In those three outings, he gave up eight earned runs in 4.2 innings, with six walks and five strikeouts. We were in attendance during all of those starts, and saw a trend. Baz would put the first runner of the game on base, forcing him to pitch from the stretch. His velocity dropped to the 90-93 MPH range, and his control was poor, leading to a snowball effect. When he's pitching from the windup, he's sitting in the mid-90s, and is very effective, although there are a few control issues to iron out. Baz recognized this issue after the season when I talked with him about his first experience in pro ball, noting that he will have to focus on pitching from the stretch, and making that just as consistent as pitching from the windup. It's not a big surprise that he has this issue. With his stuff -- a mid 90s fastball and two breaking pitches that can get outs -- he probably didn't have much experience pitching from the stretch in high school. He showed his talent in the other seven starts, with all of those reports being similar, with his stuff showing why he was a first round pick. The Pirates will have some work to do with Baz, but he's got the stuff to be a top of the rotation option in the majors one day.
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Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.