Baseball America posted their list of the top 20 prospects in the Gulf Coast League this year and the Pittsburgh Pirates have three of the top six spots.

This list definitely has some surprises on it, mostly because BA tends to lean heavily on their rankings for the draft, leading to a lot of early round picks and high bonus international players on the lower level top 20 lists. Many of those players have a much bigger track record prior to pro ball than they do after signing.

One example of a player who didn’t make the list is Steven Jennings, who was drafted with the 42nd overall pick. He would qualify as someone who would usually make a list like this based on his track record coming into pro ball, rather than the small sample size of 26.1 innings in the GCL. Calvin Mitchell was also left off the list, despite being a second round pick and putting up an OPS that was 22 points above league average.

The fact that high draft picks with upside aren’t on the list, shows that the top 20 is fairly strong/deep and that the Pirates did well to put three players on the list. Shortstop Rodolfo Castro also had a strong season, but didn’t make the list. He had an .823 OPS in the pitcher-friendly league, doing it as an 18-year-old. So even beyond the top 20 prospects, the Pirates had a strong group of prospects in the GCL this year.

As for the players who did make the list, you would think that right-handed pitcher Shane Baz would lead the way, but BA put Lolo Sanchez ahead of him, ranking him as the second best prospect in the league. Sanchez showed off all of the tools this season, including some surprising pop from a player who has yet to fill out. The 18-year-old center fielder hit 11 doubles, two triples and four homers. For reference purposes, players have led the GCL with 5-6 homers in the past. Sanchez has plus-plus speed, stealing 14 bases and showing tremendous range in center field.

Baz was just one spot below Sanchez on the top 20 list. He didn’t dominate in the league, but everyone who saw him said that he had tremendous stuff and huge upside. The Pirates used the 12th overall pick in this year’s draft on him and Baz didn’t disappoint.

Mason Martin was the league MVP after putting up the third best OPS in league history. That got the 17th round draft pick ranked sixth on the GCL list. While he was drafted later, Martin dropped due to the bonus demands, rather than talent. He received the highest bonus the Pirates handed out after the third round this year. I still didn’t expect him to rank this high on the list because of how the rankings usually work, but he was clearly the best hitter in the league and there wasn’t really a close second best.

We will have more on each of these players in our GCL recap, which should be up today or tomorrow.

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  1. This unfortunately is the most exciting development in the organization at the moment. The ML roster has gotten stale with some stalled development and premature decline and the three top prospects (glasnow, newman and meadows) floundered in 2017. Hopefully they figure out how to employ some of those launch angle techniques for players like Luplow, Craig, Kramer and Tucker to allow them to project as more impact guys at the ML level sooner than later. Or maybe Polanco, Marte and Bell are able to incorporate some of those tactics, it’s definitely not impossible for a guy to change his profile later in their career.

    • If you ask mike sciocia about launch angles he will tell you it has always been around forever, it just didn’t have this catchy name. Once pitchers reclaim the top portion of the strike zone the whole launch or upper cut swing will once again go away.

  2. I definitely don’t ever remember them having a stronger crop of GCL prospects. Between the large HS draft class from this year (Baz, Mitchell, Jennings, Uselton, Bolton & Martin) and the International hitters (Sanchez & Castro), they have a lot of interesting guys to follow the next couple of season.

    • Not sure how fast these guys get to the power but lots of possibility for an interesting rotation pairing some of the gcl guys with schlabach and last years prep pitchers

  3. Our list of 18/19 year olds ranks as well as any other team in MLB. We just have to learn how to get them through the system healthy, which is more luck than anything else.

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